As the NCAA Tournament gets underway, thoughts return to the magical year of 1998-99, when the first CSUN team made the NCAAs.
The women's team, that is.
Led by Edniesha Curry, the Lady Matadors won the Big Sky Conference and finished 21-8. Frozena Jerro, who became coach after Michael Abraham was arrested in a crack cocaine conspiracy before the season started, lost the interim label, and the team gave Colorado State a fight before succumbing.
Since attaining that peak, it has been almost all downhill since. Curry, who had demanded Jerro become head coach or she would leave, quit the team the next season for personal reasons and trasnferred to Oregon. Northridge ended 18-10. Curry later briefly played in the WNBA for the Los Angeles Sparks.
The next season, Jerro was gone, having resigned five games into the season amid accusations of inappropriate contact with players. Since then, according to her Linkedin.com profile, she has been an assistant coach at UNLV and West Los Angeles College before her current gig as New Jersey Institute of Technology assistant coach, where she has been since June.
As for CSUN, assistant coaches Paula Nirschl-Montgomery and Ken Turner took over and guided the team as best they could. But, having covered the team that year, it was clear to me that they were overmatched, and the Lady Matadors finished 2-24.
Since then, Tammy Holder won 27 games in three seasons, and Staci Schulz went 36-109 in her five seasons before being fired March 12, Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto saying the program needs to go in another direction.
Go back through the years and one will see the program always has been this bad. It's a combined 137-385 in its 20-year Division I incarnation (.262) with exactly three winning seasons and one .500 year.
Contrast that to Division II: Eight winning seasons and one .500 year between 1974-89 and an overall record of 207-166 (.555).
You think playing in a glorified high school gym affects men's basketball recruiting? Try building a downtrodden women's program with these facilities.
Athletic Director Mazzuto: Any direction you go will be better. Unless it's downward. Since this is Northridge, that remains a possibility.