Throughout her nine years at Happy Valley, Coquese Washington has guided Penn State to Big Ten heights — three consecutive conference championships and improving the school’s Big Ten win totals in each of her first six years as head coach — becoming the first league coach to win consecutive best coach honors as well.
Washington won her 150th career game in November against Fordham, and has started each of her nine seasons with a victory.
Besides a successful college and pro career, Washington also has a law degree, and over the years has been instrumental in helping to push advancement for women’s basketball. She helped create the WNBA Players Association and was its founding president (1999-2001), and executive vice president (2001-2003). During her tenure, Washington helped negotiate the WNBA’s first and second collective bargaining agreements, the latter created the first free agency system in women’s pro sports.
Currently, Washington is president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) board of director and vice-president/president elect of its executive committee. The group fully supported the new women’s college basketball rules now in place, including the change from two halves to four quarters, and eliminating the one-and-one foul shooting rule.
During a recent visit to the Twin Cities, Washington told the MSR that the changes thus far have improved the women’s game, especially its pace.
On playing four 10-minute quarters, which is similar to the WNBA and internationally, the Penn State coach said, “I think the early returns are positive. I’ve enjoyed it. It seems that the pace of play has increased. Our fans seem to enjoy it.”
As a result, fans of women’s hoops for now will see scores in the 80s and 90s as the norm not the exception, she said.
“You see a more open, less physical play. I think that is what we wanted to see, to see more offense,” concluded Washington. More on Penn State Coach Coquese Washington in MSR’s Another View.
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Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.