Michelle Smith Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Feature: Thank You
Mar 12, 2021
For at least half the teams in the Pac-12, the 2020-21 season isn’t quite over. The days after the Pac-12 Tournament are a time for rest, rejuvenation and getting minds and bodies right for the grind that is to come, and NCAA selection day is finally here.
We know this Pac-12 season was unlike no other, from the uncertainty of the start, to the lack of non-conference games, to the pauses and postponements, to a fairly miraculous finish in Las Vegas in which every single team got to compete.
None of it would have been possible without the sacrifice and passion of the players and coaches and support staffs, or without the commitment of the universities and the conference to ensure that these extraordinary student-athletes would not lose even more precious time in the collegiate careers.
And so now it seems appropriate to say Thank You to the 12 teams of the Pac-12 for bringing something special to a year none of us will ever forget.
Thank you Stanford for your poise in the face of a nine-week road trip, thanks to the players who went without the comforts of home or a home court, and who gave us the nickname of “T-Dawg” for head coach Tara VanDerveer. That one is going to stick for a while. And thank you to Coach VanDerveer for being an inspiration and an aspiration for so many coaches and for your love of the game that always shows up in your teams on the floor.
Thank you Arizona for becoming the kind of elite program that made a player like Aari McDonald want to come back and spend another season and grace us all with her talent. Thanks to head coach Adia Barnes for taking her alma mater back to the NCAA Tournament and we can’t wait to see how far you go.
Thank you UCLA for your hustle and heart and your commitment to one another during a season in which injuries and adversity thinned your ranks but not your ability to succeed.
Thank you, Oregon. This could have been a year in which the sting of being denied a chance at a national title last spring lingered. But instead, you remade your program, added some of the country’s most exciting young talent and set your program on a new path.
Thank you Oregon State for personifying resilience. A 29-day pause and a difficult start couldn’t stop you from finding your true identity as a team and finishing the season in impressive fashion.
Thank you Colorado for one of the most exuberant celebrations of the Pac-12 season and for the year’s biggest upset in taking out the No. 1-ranked Cardinal. Here is hoping the NCAA committee sees your accomplishments this season.
Thank you Washington State for making history and putting yourselves in position to enter the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three decades. Thank you for bringing the Leger-Walker sisters to the Pac-12 and building a program that will be a factor for years to come.
Thank you USC for showing the rest of the conference the depth of your potential with a roster full of young talent, who got a lot of experience in an up and down season, the kind of experience that should pay off next season.
Thank you Arizona State for your perennial ability to be a tough out in the Pac-12 no matter the matchup or the location. Finishing the regular-season with an upset over Arizona was proof that you knew you could play with anyone or any day.
Thank you Utah for showcasing some of the conference’s most promising young guards and giving fans reason to be excited about what’s next for the Utes.
Thank you Washington for another memorable upset at the Pac-12 Tournament and for understanding that seasons can be defined by how you finish.
Thank you Cal for your perseverance and the way in which the players and coaches navigated a very difficult season with such grace. You played to win down to the final game of the season. With a young standout like Dalayah Daniels and players returning to the fold, the future is obviously bright.
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