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USF Hires Former Tennessee Star

By Michelle Smith
San Francisco Chronicle

April 29, 2006

It's not easy to follow a coach who was in the job for 19 years, much less one who's name hangs from the rafters in the gym.

But that's exactly what Tanya Haave will attempt to do.

USF announced Friday that it hired Haave to be its women's basketball coach, succeeding longtime coach and USF Hall of Famer Mary Hile-Nepfel, who stepped down in March following a 9-20 season.

Though this will be Haave's first Division I head-coaching job after seven years as an assistant, the 41-year-old Colorado native has a long basketball resume, including an outstanding college career at the University of Tennessee and 14 years of international playing experience.

Haave "has played and coached at the highest level of Division I basketball and has extensive contacts overseas from her time playing professionally. She has been mentored by two coaching legends in Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Colorado's Ceal Barry," said USF athletic director Bill Hogan.

Haave began her coaching career in 1999 at Regis University in Denver, followed by four seasons at Colorado under Barry (2001-05) and one season at University of Denver under Pam Tanner. Denver finished 15-13 this past season, including a 64-59 loss at USF in December.

Haave inherits a USF program that has had just one winning season since 1996-97. Haave's new team will return eight players -- four starters -- including All-WCC guard Dominique Carter, the team's leading scorer at 13.9 points a game. Guard Shay Rollins was a WCC all-freshman pick.

"I know this is a good team because they beat us. I know there's a good core, we just need to add to it,'' Haave said. "We are not that far away."

Haave said she welcomes the opportunity to follow Hile-Nepfel.

"But I know she's a legend at USF. I mean her jersey hangs next to Bill Russell's," Haave said. "It's an honor to follow someone like that."

Haave said she will use her international contacts to bolster USF's roster with players from overseas.

"Those are players that will help us,'' Haave said.

Haave, a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, played for Summitt at Tennessee from 1980-84. She was a three-year starter who played in three Final Fours, was a Kodak All-American in 1983 and is a member of the Lady Vols Athletic Hall of Fame. After college, she spent 14 years playing in France, Italy, Sweden and Australia.

Haave said she spoke to Summitt about the USF job.

"She thought this was a great opportunity and she told me she thought I was ready,'' Haave said. "I definitely feel ready."

Tanya Haave file

Hometown: Evergreen, Colo.

Job experience: Asst. coach at Regis (Denver) '99-01; Colorado '01-05; Denver '05-06

Athletic background: 6-foot-2 forward for Tennessee '80-84; played 14 years in France, Italy, Sweden and Australia