3 Questions for ...  
  Wendy Davis,
Women's Basketball Coach

Stan Ogrodnik,
Men's Basketball Coach



 


  Wendy Davis:

What skills do your players take from the basketball court into the classroom? 

During the long basketball season, November to February, student-athletes must possess excellent time-management skills. While non-athletes have many hours in a day to do their schoolwork, athletes need to find blocks of time before or after practice to do their schoolwork. There is virtually no time for procrastination.

Being part of a team helps students when they are assigned group projects by their professors. Student-athletes already understand how the dynamics of a group work and how important it is for the whole group to work toward a common goal. I believe in many instances a student-athlete will end up being the leader of a group project because she is consistently enhancing her leadership qualities in her respective sport.

Every coach strives to get his/her team to communicate with each other on the court. We also encourage them to ask for help whenever they don’t understand something. Being able to communicate with coaches and professors is important for student-athletes. We, as coaches, try to instill in them the notion that it is “OK” to request help from us, professors, trainers, etc.

Playing a sport is a positive experience that not only helps in the classroom but extends to life in general. Many employers look at resumes to see if the potential employee played on a team. Employers clearly value a “team player,” due to the numerous positive characteristics that person will possess.

Why is college basketball in general, and the NCAA tournament in particular, so popular?

I think college basketball is so popular because it is a fast-paced game with the 30- (women) and 35- (men) second shot clock. Also, the 3-point line has allowed for many exciting comebacks. It’s basketball in its purest form. It is team basketball with screens being set and defenses designed to help each other if needed. There is no comparison, in my opinion, between watching a Duke/UNC men’s or women’s game compared to watching an NBA game where it’s all about one-on-one moves and “clear outs” and zero team defense. As a coach who values team play, I find it enjoyable to watch college basketball and extremely difficult to watch professional basketball.

What is your greatest memory as a coach or player?

My greatest memory as a player was being a part of the very first UConn women’s basketball team to make it to the Final Four. The Final Four was in New Orleans that year, 1991, which now makes it even more special.

  Stan Ogrodnik:

What skills do your players take from the basketball court into the classroom?

What we’ve seen is that the work ethic you need to be successful on the basketball floor rubs off on people, so that average students learn to bring that work ethic into the classroom. They raise their own expectations and make basketball part of their educational experience. I’ve had guys call me years after they’ve graduated to tell me that the hours and work that they put into being better players helped to make them better people. The commitment that they made to basketball not only helped them in the classroom but, later in life, also helped them in law school, medical school, or in business. By developing a healthy competitive spirit, they learn to deal with lots of different situations. They learn to handle pressure, whether it’s a big test or a job interview. It definitely carries over into the rest of their lives.

Why is college basketball in general, and the NCAA tournament in particular, so popular?

The tournament provides such a great atmosphere—it’s unique. It’s one and out, meaning if you lose you go home; there are no second chances. College basketball is exciting anyway because of the fans, the wonderful enthusiasm, the cheerleaders, just the whole scene that goes with it.

In the tournament you’ve got underdogs, teams from little schools, playing the champions of big time conferences. There’s always a chance for an upset in the early rounds and that really adds to the excitement. The tournament is great because it’s compact—it’s played in three weeks—and ultimately there’s going to be a champion. ‘Who’s going to make it to the Final Four?’ ‘Can an underdog make it to the Sweet Sixteen?’ Those kinds of things just grab everyone’s imagination.

What is your greatest memory as a coach or player?

Wow—that’s a tough one. There have just been so many. I had some great high school teams before I even got to Trinity. But I would have to say the year that we made it to the Final Four—the ’95-’96 season.  We’ve had a couple of Elite Eight teams, but going to the Final Four was really special. 

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What they’re reading

 

 

What they’re reading…

Sheila Fisher,
Associate Professor of English

I have just finished reading a wonderful memoir, Unveiling the Prophet: The Misadventures of a Reluctant Debutante, by our very own writer-in-residence and acting director of the Creative Writing Program, Lucy Ferriss. In addition to providing an account of her own consciousness as a first-year college student coming back home from California to make her “debut” at the Veiled Prophet Ball in St. Louis, Missouri, Lucy’s memoir is also an important piece of political commentary.

Throughout her book, Lucy traces the social history of this cotillion, which was the largest debutante ball in the world up to the point, in 1972, when Lucy made her debut and when its visions of elite, pointedly white privilege collided dramatically with the civil rights activism of the group ACTION. Written with a combination of wry humor, keen political and social insight, and powerful personal emotion, Lucy’s book is also a detective story as she takes us along to the interviews and the library excursions, tracing for us the path of discovery and rediscovery that links her own story to the social currents in the world around her. 

 

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