SPOKANE, Wash. (KXAN) — A pre-game quote from Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer touched a nerve with the Texas Longhorns assistant coaches after Texas’ NCAA Tournament loss to the Cardinal on Sunday night .
On Saturday, VanDerveer said “people don’t want to see football or rugby” about Texas’ style of play.
KXAN athletic director Roger Wallace was in Spokane for the regional final this weekend and shared the context of VanDerveer’s quote on Twitter on Saturday. A reporter asked the legendary Stanford coach how his team would handle Texas’ aggressive defense.
VanDerveer made the mention to the officials first, saying they were tasked with keeping the game under control before jumping into the contact sports 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 the WBB, I expect better from our sport. Insinuating that our team plays “football or rugby” is an ugly story. As if WBB players weren’t capable of being physical and tough,” Jackson-Durrett wrote on Twitter.
This isn’t the first time VanDerveer has referred to women’s college basketball as a game of rugby. It was actually the second time in a week that VanDerveer had used the analogy.
“People don’t want to watch rugby in a 94 x 50 court. I think both of our teams play really exciting and really open basketball,” VanDerveer said ahead of Stanford’s Sweet 16 game against Maryland according to The Mercury News.
Some might argue that the three-time national champion coach was simply trying to gain an advantage for her team in any way possible. Coaches in all sports use press conferences as a means of influencing officials or a league.
Stanford’s style of play is more focused on the attacking side. The Cardinal would have everything to gain when the officials announce a tight game with a quick whistle.
The Texas coaching staff saw it differently.
“Wow. I wish I had seen that 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 and fight to keep teams at their lowest scoring average. Just wow,” Blair Schaefer, director of women’s basketball operations at UT, wrote on Twitter.
Schaefer is the daughter of UT head coach Vic Schaefer.
The Longhorns’ season ended with a 59-50 loss on Sunday night. The Texas defense was imposing, forcing 20 turnovers at Stanford and holding the Cardinal 37% from the field.
The faults were almost equal. Texas finished with 24. Stanford had 22.
Stanford advances to the Final Four for the second consecutive season. The Longhorns’ season ended with the regional final for the second year in a row.