SPOKANE, Wash. (KXAN) — A pregame quote from Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer struck a nerve with the Texas Longhorns’ assistant coaches following Texas’ NCAA Tournament loss to the Cardinal Sunday night.
On Saturday, VanDerveer said “people don’t want to see football or rugby,” about Texas’ style of play.
KXAN Sports Director Roger Wallace was in Spokane for the region final this weekend and shared the context of VanDerveer’s quote on Twitter Saturday. A reporter asked Stanford’s legendary coach about how her team would handle Texas’ aggressive defense.
VanDerveer first made mention to the officials, saying they were in charge of keeping the game under control before jumping in with the contact sport comparison.
Texas associate head coach Dionnah Jackson-Durrett responded Monday morning, calling VanDerveer’s assessment of the Longhorns “lazy.”
“I hate this narrative in WBB [women’s basketball], it’s lazy. We get enough criticism from outside of WBB, I expect better from our sport. To imply that our team plays “football or rugby” is an ugly narrative. As if WBB players are not capable of being physical and tough,” Jackson-Durrett wrote on Twitter.
This isn’t the first time VanDerveer’s referred to women’s college basketball as a rugby match. It was actually the second time in a week that VanDerveer used the analogy.
“People don’t want to watch rugby in a 94-by-50 wooden floor. I think both of our teams play really exciting and really open basketball,” VanDerveer said prior to Stanford’s Sweet 16 game against Maryland according to The Mercury News.
Some may say the three-time national championship-winning coach was simply trying to get an edge for her team in any way possible. Coaches across all sports use press conferences as a way to influence officials or a league.
Stanford’s playing style is more focused on the offensive end. The Cardinal would stand to benefit when officials call a tight game with a quick whistle.
Texas’ coaching staff saw it differently.
“Wow. Wish I would’ve seen this yesterday [Saturday]. Our women will never be rugby/football players. They will always be physical competitive athletes who press for 40 minutes, guard the hell out of other teams, & fight their a** off to keep teams at their lowest scoring average. Just wow,” UT women’s basketball director of operations Blair Schaefer wrote on Twitter.
Schaefer is UT head coach Vic Schaefer’s daughter.
The Longhorns’ season ended with a 59-50 loss Sunday night. Texas’ defense was imposing, forcing 20 Stanford turnovers and holding the Cardinal to 37% from the field.
The fouls were almost even. Texas finished with 24. Stanford had 22.
Stanford advances to the Final Four for the second straight season. The Longhorns’ season ended in the region finals for the second straight year.