Women’s NIT Quarterfinals
- Who: Alabama at Georgia Tech
- When: 1 p.m., Sunday
- Where: McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta
- Records: Alabama 22-13, Georgia Tech 20-14
- Radio: 100.1 FM
By Drew Hill
Special to Tidesports.com
Alabama women’s basketball’s deep run into the Women’s NIT is nothing new to Crimson Tide coach Kristy Curry.
She’s coached far into the postseason before. Curry once took Purdue to seven-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, and twice she made it to the Elite Eight or further. This season’s trip to the quarterfinals of the WNIT isn’t quite the same scale, but it is the first splash she’s made in her four years at UA. She’s been ready for it.
“I’ve been anxious since the day I was born,” Curry said. “We’ve always been about postseason play, being at Alabama is no different than any other part of my career. That’s what we expect, nobody can expect more out of us than ourselves.”
Although all of her best performing postseason teams are different, she has the same message for all players playing with the season on the line.
“You have to play really well,” Curry said. “There’s not a game that anyone can take a day off. You have to play really well, and you have to play really hard, and you have to play really smart.”
No team embodied that message more than Curry’s 2000-2001 Purdue team that finished as the national runner-up in the NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers came up just two points shy of being crowned national champions that spring.
“They had a will to compete every day,” Curry said. “(Alabama assistant) Shereka Wright was a part of that team, and the players now get a chance to learn from someone who competed on the highest level. But what I think made that team so great was just how competitive it was, while being very deep and very talented.”
Sixteen years later, she sees some similarities between her old Purdue team and Alabama.
“That team started a freshman point guard as well for the majority of the season until she tore her ACL,” Curry said. “They also had a couple key contributors that were also freshmen. It’s similar in that fact that they both had a lot of young talent, but obviously, that team was a little bit older and more mature. Next year this team will be a lot older and more mature.”
Alabama’s youth will have a chance to take Curry to another first, the semifinals of the WNIT. Standing in the way is a Georgia Tech team with great size and physicality.
The Crimson Tide defeated the Yellow Jackets 67-65 at home earlier this season, in a game where UA’s leading scorer, Hannah Cook, scored 19 points. Cook will be an important factor once again as she tries to lure Georgia Tech’s post players away from the paint.