This year’s basketball season made history for both the USF women’s and men’s basketball teams, but in two very distinct ways. The men had a 17-game losing streak, the longest in school history. On the opposite and more encouraging end of the spectrum, the women’s team garnered a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the first-ever bid in program history.
For the women’s basketball team, winning or losing have been essential parts of the equation, of course. Looking at the big picture, however, these wins and losses were smaller components of achieving a larger task. The team began its season with the goal of making it to the NCAA Tournament, not setting its sights too high or too low. With hard work and perseverance, the Bulls were able to do this.
“It was a journey, and this was something we have strived for,” senior forward Ezria Parsons said after learning of the team’s seeding in the tournament. “This was a goal that we set early, and I had a feeling that we had a special team and had a chance to make the tournament.”
Like the men’s team, the women had to deal with a lack of depth – with only nine active scholarship players – and injuries. Projected starter and senior Tristen Webb went down early in the season with a torn ACL, while Parsons, the team’s leading rebounder with 8.4 per game, missed two games due to two head injuries. Even Jessica Dickson, who was the nation’s leading scorer for a good portion of the season, was out for half a game due to a tailbone injury. Still, coach Jose Fernandez and the team remained focused on the main goal of making the tournament.
This focus may have wavered during the Big East Tournament, however, losing against Notre Dame in the first round, as the team had what Fernandez called in the March 6 Oracle “too many mental breakdowns.” Yet when the women have kept their eyes on the prize, they succeed.
Regardless of how far the women go during tournament play, getting there has been half the fun thus far. It is an achievement that should be lauded – no other USF women’s basketball team has done it. Through proverbial baby steps and continually striving to improve, the men’s and women’s teams can take the highs and lows from their history-making seasons to better themselves in their second season of Big East play.