Women's basketball takes on Columbia

After landing his dream job, new coach Kevin McGuff has the team off to a surprising start | January 4, 2003

The Xavier women’s basketball team is looking to break a two-game losing streak on Sunday, Jan. 5, when it takes on Columbia University at 2:00 p.m. at the Cintas Center. The Musketeers, ranked No. 36 by womenscollegehoops.com, suffered losses to No. 17 Mississippi State and crosstown rival No. 35 Cincinnati last week to give them a 7-3 record thus far on the season. The game against Columbia will be the team’s last non-conference game of the season, as it enters Atlantic 10 Conference play on Tuesday, Jan. 7, against the University of Dayton. The team’s success to date has been a bit of a surprise, as no one knew what to expect from the program entering the season. The team had All-American guards in Amy Waugh and Reetta Piipari but was going to be dependant upon a lot of young players. It also had another unknown factor: a new coach, Kevin McGuff. McGuff didn’t join the team until mid-June when former coach Melanie Balcomb left for a job with Vanderbilt University. He had never been a head coach before and had no playbook. He didn’t know the players. But, as noted in a profile in the current issue of Xavier magazine, he was highly regarded for his knowledge of the game and his ability to coach players. That’s becoming evident, as he’s starting two freshmen, Tara Boothe and Kristy Wallner, along with a sophomore, Alexis Henderson. He’s making other changes within the program as well. For instance, when the team travels, he says in the article, the players will dress up. They will make themselves available a lot more to the public. And they will also take time during road trips to stop and visit interesting or historic locations. "The team hasn’t done that in the past," he says. "I think that helps them grow culturally and helps provide a balance."