It’s been quite some time since Texas last enjoyed any sort of postseason success. After Gail Goestenkors took over for the legendary Jody Conradt back in 2007, the program has yet to make it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Longhorns have failed to finish any better than fourth in the Big 12 under Goestenkors, and the team’s high win mark under Coach G sits at 22. In a little over four seasons at the helm, Goestenkors’ overall Big 12 record is 43-37 (.538), compared to Conradt’s 284-86 (.761).
Maybe the Texas faithful were spoiled during Conradt’s time in Austin. After all, she did devote 30-plus years to the program, and is the reason it is one of the best in the nation. It’s not to say that Goestenkors is chopped liver, by any means. With expectations at an all-time high after Conradt’s departure, someone was going to feel the heat at some point or another.
Whatever the case may be, the point is that the Longhorns are missing something at the top. These Longhorns are among the nation’s top defensive teams, and have loads of experience at multiple positions. Between elite post players like Cokie Reed and Ashley Gayle and superb guard play as of late from Yvonne Anderson, this is a solid squad. There’s no reason this team can’t make it to the NCAA Tournament, and even win a game or two.
You may not know it yet, but Chassidy Fussell is a special player. Much like Baylor’s Brittney Griner, she just gets it. Fussell isn’t nearly as advanced physically like Griner, but the two share a similar mindset while on the court. Either one can drop 30 points at will, although Fussell is a far better 3-point shooter than Griner. If she stays healthy, I can say without a doubt that within the next two years of her remaining eligibility Fussell will emerge as a National Player of the Year candidate.
It seems like Goestenkors has grasped how to use Fussell effectively, whether that’s screening to get her open, or having her create her own shots. It’s really up to Fussell most of the time to shoulder to scoring load, especially when Reed and Gayle aren’t producing underneath the basket. In the end, Fussell may be the answer to Goestenkors’ postseason woes at Texas. Think of it this way — Fussell is still learning how to drive and Goestenkors is in the passenger’s seat making sure she stays on the road.
After a tough home loss to Baylor this past weekend, Texas is now 1-3 in conference play. With 14 more games slated, there’s still plenty of time for the Longhorns to make a run at postseason play, but they’ll need more consistent effort from players not named Fussell, Reed and Anderson.