BEST COACH - 2002
Call her a traitor if it makes you feel better. But there is no denying the feats of Brenda Oldfield in her first (and only) year guiding the Gopher women's basketball team. Having inherited an all but dead program, the Iowa native arrived with a fresh attitude by way of Ball State. "I love rebuilding programs," she said when she was hired. But, she cautioned, "Winning doesn't happen overnight." Turns out she needn't have qualified her statement. Last year the team was 8-20 and won just one Big Ten game; this season they were 22-8 and finished second in the conference with the player of the year (sophomore Lindsay Whalen) and freshman of the year (Janel McCarville). With the Gophers ranked in the Top 20, the Associated Press then recognized Oldfield as the best coach in the country. The season ended with a whimper, unfortunately, when the team lost in the first round of the Big Ten tournament and the second round of the NCAA tourney. And, adding insult to injury, Oldfield took a job at the University of Maryland. Still, the unthinkable had been done with seeming ease: The program was no longer a laughingstock, and Twin Citians actually started attending games.