Every season has a conclusion, whether it's good or bad. When we get there, it's time to look back on what happened. This is...
Today, women's basketball.
Following last year's WNIT championship, this season would have to be considered a disappointment. You kind of figured this might not go well when they came out on opening night - without coach Jose Fernandez, who was sick - and lost to Florida A&M.
In spite of a big injury (Jasmine Wynne, who hurt her knee against PIttsburgh), a defection (Jessica Monroe left after playing in four games), and another major incident, the Bulls still had a decent, although utterly predictable season. They didn't have any head-slapping losses (except for that one to the Rattlers) but there weren't any signature wins, either. In conference play, they beat all of the teams behind them in the standings and lost to all of the teams in front of them except for Syracuse. Then again, this seems to be an era in the women's game where you don't see very many upsets - the chalk is extremely consistent. The women ended up with a 15-16 record and bowed out of the first round of the 64-team(!!) WNIT with a loss to the Gators. Big shock - as we've said before, USF seems incapable of beating the Gators at anything.
But it's amazing how the biggest story of the 09-10 women's team has gone so underreported. If it were men's basketball, we would know every last detail of what happened somewhere between Marquette and Seton Hall that caused Janae Stokes, Sequoyah Griffin, and Dominique English to be basically thrown off the team. They were suspended in mid-February for a still-unspecified violation of team rules, when a snowstorm kept them out on the road between those two games instead of returning to Tampa. None of them played for the rest of the season. Stokes was a senior, and it's already been announced that Griffin and English are not coming back next year. Without those three, including their second- and third-leading scorers in Stokes and Griffin, the Bulls played shorthanded for the rest of the season. They often had trouble scoring, and only won two of their last eight games. This is probably not the way Jessica Lawson or Melissa Dalembert or Allyson Speed thought they would go out.
With those three graduating, and the three suspended players not returning, Jose Fernandez will have at least six new players on next year's team. There's more talent coming in next year with two transfers, a top-flight juco addition, and the return of Porche Grant. But the question is whether Fernandez will be around to coach them. At last check, he doesn't have a contract for next year, and in addition to the incident on the road, five other players were suspended at some point during the season. With all those off-the-court problems, and no contract in hand, you never know if Doug Woolard will make another one of his infamous "Friday at 4:45pm" coaching decisions this week and dismiss the only truly successful coach the women's program has ever had.