I talked Tuesday with WKU president Gary Ransdell, who was at the WKU women’s basketball team’s NCAA selection show watch party Monday night.
Ransdell talked about the state of the program, the job done by Michelle Clark-Heard in her first two years, and how the program can use its momentum to regain some of the prestige it carried in the last 30 years.
Getting back to tournament: “We have a long, rich history with women’s basketball and NCAA tournament play, but it’s been a bit of a dry spell. I’m glad we’re back. It’s been even longer since we won a game. … It’s good to be back in that tournament, playing for a national championship. We’re still playing, and that’s very satisfying and encouraging for the future given the fact that we have so much talent returning on this team as we go into Conference USA.”
You said when Heard was hired that women’s hoops would be fixed in a year or two. How satisfying is it that she’s lived up to most of those expectations? “We knew at the time we were throwing a huge challenge at Michelle, but she has delivered in ways we probably didn’t have any right to expect at that time. To be 24-8 in her second year, and with so much talent coming back, it’s very encouraging for the future. We have a tough draw, but we’re going to have to earn our way into a higher seed and a better tournament pairing. That’s not going to be given to us. We have to earn our way, and we will do that. This was an important initial step.”
Importance of NCAA tourney bid to the casual fan: “In my opinion, I think our fans lost faith in Lady Topper basketball. Our attendance has not been what it was 10 or 15 years ago. We’ve got to recapture that. I think getting back to the NCAA tournament is an important statement to our fans that we’re serious about Lady Topper basketball and intend to be a nationally competitive, as it was when we were drawing three, four, five thousand people per game.”