Louisiana Tech coach Teresa Weatherspoon talks about leading the Lady Techsters to the 1988 national championship, Brittney Griner and enduring a losing season as her alma mater’s coach:
It’s been 25 years since you led the Lady Techsters to the national title. What are your fondest memories of that time?
It was the process of what we had to go through to win. The year before, we’d been picked to win it all — they called us “The Belle of the Ball,” and that didn’t happen. So it was coming back and our approach to getting back to where we were and finishing off what we didn’t bring home. We worked every day to perfect what coach (Leon) Barmore wanted of us. The family that we were in that time — we were just a tremendously close group of young ladies who were willing to do what it took to be champions. We may not have been the most talented team, but we were a team of heart and desire with no superstars.
This past year was the first losing season in Louisiana Tech history. How hard was that on you, and what are you doing to turn it around?
I can’t even describe to you how tough it is. There will never be someone who takes it harder than me. I am about the process of winning, doing it on a daily basis and pride. As a former player and knowing how great this history is and how important it is to so many people, I feel like I disappointed everybody. It’s about putting in work and, since our season’s been over, we’ve been about changing the approach of our athletes. It takes athletes to get it done, and we are bringing in the athletes to get it done. I’m also learning that you’ve got to have people who will put your game plan into action.
There’s a lot of talk about how Baylor’s Brittney Griner will affect the WNBA. What do you see in her future?
It’s certainly bright. As a pro, she’s only going to get better and better every time she steps between the lines. She wants to be great. She wants to be the best. That alone is victory right there. She is going to turn things around with her talent level and her marketability. That’s all going to be to the betterment of the league.
Who’s the best player you competed against?
There’s been so many. But when you think about bringing others to the top with you, it’s Cynthia Cooper. When you take your greatness and make everybody else around you so much better, that’s when it becomes difficult to try to defend you and understand you. Cynthia Cooper was the best.
How do you break down the Final Four?
I’m so in tune with trying to improve our Louisiana Tech program, I miss out on a lot. What I have seen has been tremendously exciting and great for women’s basketball. It’s very difficult for me to pinpoint who will win. I do think that (Notre Dame’s) Skylar Diggins — with the experience that she has, the fire that she brings, her love for the game and her approach to winning — (is) a joy to watch. I like Shoni Schimmel from Louisville, too. I enjoy watching it because our goal at Louisiana Tech is to be a part of it.
So will you be coming to New Orleans this weekend?
I won’t go to the Final Four again until the Lady Techsters are part of it.