By John Crumpacker
In this age of social media and instant gratification, what happened 25 years ago might as well have been 250 years, especially for young people who get their news from looking at a hand-held device rather than leafing through old newspaper clippings.
Thus, when Molly Goodenbour was hired as San Francisco’s women’s basketball coach on Sept. 28 to replace Jennifer Azzi (who had resigned suddenly two weeks earlier) her new players might have had a muted response, at least initially. It probably didn’t take them long to appreciate their new coach’s resume, however.
Goodenbour was an accomplished player in her day for national power Stanford from 1989-93 under renowned coach Tara VanDerveer, won two NCAA championships and was named MVP of the 1992 Final Four.
“They don’t have to know that I played,’’ she said. “Those are special teams and special experiences I have.’’
Still, the Dons have to be impressed that Goodenbour made 18 3-point shots on the way to being named MVP of a Final Four that took place before any of them were even born.
“It gives you some validity that at one time you may have been able to make a basket,’’ Goodenbour said in self-deprecation.
The new USF coach has the Dons off to a 2-0 start to 2016-17, with a Friday date at Washington State that will certainly prove more challenging than the first two opponents were in Seattle University and Sacramento State.
Goodenbour will rely on three holdover players to ease her transition to the Hilltop after four years at Cal State Dominguez Hills and an aborted stint at Cal State East Bay in June. Although standouts Taylor Proctor and Zhane Dikes are gone, guards Rachel Howard and Anna Seilund and forward Michaela Rakova remain to provide continuity after the Dons’ run to the NCAA Tournament last season.
“You can tell they have a real sense of enjoying playing with each other,’’ Goodenbour said. “That can be a huge asset. The last two years they made a good run through the conference tournament. They’re a good group of women – focused, smart and articulate. You can have a good conversation with them about non-basketball topics.
“It’s nice to have a well-rounded group around you to talk about what’s next for them. They all have goals other than basketball, which is nice.’’
The basketball is pretty good, too. The Dons were 21-11 a year ago and as a No. 6 seed stunned No. 1 BYU 70-68 to win the WCC Tournament with an impressive display of hustle, verve and teamwork.
“It’s a really solid foundation,’’ Goodenbour said of her team. “They have some good players. They’re going to have to transition into new roles because they lost their two best players (Proctor and Dikes). Our goal is to perform consistently well through the conference season and put ourselves in position to be one of the top teams at the end.’’
Until Azzi unexpectedly resigned in September, Goodenbour was set to coach her first season at another hilltop campus, Cal State East Bay in Hayward. But when the Dons came calling, she couldn’t say no after serving two stints as an assistant coach at USF.
“Nothing surprises me about Jennifer,’’ she said. “Certainly the timing was a surprise. I was more surprised when Jennifer said she was going to take the USF job.’’
Goodenbour is one of two new women’s coaches in the WCC this season. Bill Carr took over at Santa Clara when J.R. Payne left after eight years for Colorado. Carr’s initial Broncos bunch is off to a 1-1 start with a Sunday game at San Jose State.
While some men’s coaches concentrate on the women’s game, this is Carr’s first season as a women’s coach after 11 years heading up men’s teams at Point Loma Nazarene, UC San Diego and Spring Hill College. He is a 1987 USF graduate who played two years for the Dons under coach Jim Brovelli, so the WCC is not new to him.
“I have deep roots in the league,’’ Carr said. “I think it’s a huge advantage because I know what the conference stands for, what the universities stand for. That is huge. The league has grown since I played in it in 1985 to ’87. I’m excited about the opportunity at Santa Clara, to try to improve, to take the program from where J.R. had it. It’s a good starting point. She did a good job.’’
Whether coaching men or women, Carr described his coach style thusly: “There’s a fine line between being stern and being demeaning. You can still hold people accountable for how they handle themselves off the floor.’’
The Broncos started off the season with a four-point win over Idaho State at the Leavey Center but took a 73-58 loss at Cal in their next game. In that one, junior guard Taylor Berry had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Santa Clara, both career-highs.
“Taylor played like an experienced guard and I’m proud of her,’’ Carr said on the Santa Clara athletics web site. “I’m happy with everybody. Even in a loss. I thought the effort was there.’’
This week in the WCC
Three WCC teams will test themselves against Pac-12 teams on Friday, highlighted by Gonzaga at Stanford. The Zags are 0-7 lifetime against Stanford in a series that began in 2009. Gonzaga’s impressive 25.5 rebounding margin in the first two games will likely take a dip against the Cardinal.
The other WCC vs. Pac-12 games are Portland at Oregon State and USF at Washington State. The weekend brings two more non-conference games of interest when Oklahoma visits BYU on Saturday and Saint Mary’s travels to Boston College on Sunday.
For BYU, picked to finish second behind Gonzaga in the conference, guard Makenzi Pulsipher is averaging 16.5 points per game while WCC Newcomer of the Year Kalani Purcell and Jasmine Moody are pulling down 8.0 rebounds apiece.
Stat of the week
It's always nice to be No. 1 ... in anything. Geanna Luaulu-Summers of Pacific and Pulsipher of BYU are tied for first in the nation in free throw accuracy at 100 percent -- with 99 other players.