Winners again

This past weekend brought the end of the 2017 – 2018 NCAA women’s basketball season, and congratulations are in order for the following teams:

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (35-3) overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs (37-2) by a final score of 61-58 for their second Division I championship, the first coming in 2001.
In Division II, the Central Missouri Jennies (30-3) rolled over the previously unbeaten Ashland University Eagles (36-1) for the program's second championship, the first coming in 1984. The final score was 66-52 in favor of CMU.
The Amherst College Mammoths (33-0) grabbed their second straight (and third overall) Division III national championship, beating the Bowdoin College Polar Bears (29-3) with a final score of 65-45.

This opens the brief period between the NCAA season and the WNBA season, which will tip off next month. Meanwhile, the WNBA Draft will bridge the two seasons on April 12.

In the meantime, we’ll explore how this NCAA season and Final Four fit into the history of Division I women’s basketball. To dip our toes in, we take a brief look at coaches in the NCAA Final Four, inspired in part by a recent thread of tweets from The Jump Around‘s Blake DuDonis.

He added UNC’s Sylvia Hatchell in a separate tweet to round out the list.

There have been 37 NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournaments. In that time, 15 schools have won a championship and 42 have reached the Final Four. Here are each school’s records in those two rounds.

SchoolNational Semifinals RecordChampionship Game Record
Louisiana Tech6-42-4
Notre Dame6-22-4
Old Dominion2-11-1
North Carolina1-21-0
South Carolina1-11-0
Texas A&M1-01-0
Texas Tech1-01-0
Mississippi State2-00-2
Western Kentucky1-20-1
Cheyney State1-10-1
Michigan State1-00-1
Ohio State1-00-1
Long Beach State0-20-0
Missouri State0-20-0
NC State0-10-0
Oregon State0-10-0
Penn State0-10-0

Some interesting tidbits to take away here:

  • Connecticut has a perfect record (11-0) in championship games but also has the most losses in the national semifinals (8). This is mostly by virtue of having been there more times than any other school (19), though Tennessee has been to the Final Four just one less time and has two more championship game appearances (13). Of course, the Lady Vols also have three fewer championships (8).
  • Seven other schools are blemish-free in championship games, though the most wins without a loss from this set of schools is just two (Baylor). The other six schools have won their only championship game appearance (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech). All told, Texas schools are perfect in championship games.
  • Auburn has the most championship game appearances without a win (3). They are also tied with USC for the most wins in the national semifinals without a loss (3). Mississippi State is right behind Auburn with a perfect 2-0 semifinals record and a winless 0-2 championship game record.
  • Similarly, LSU has the most Final Four appearances without a championship game appearance (5). Missouri State and Long Beach State are the next closest schools to that run, both at 0-2 in the Final Four.
  • Georgia is tied with LSU for the most Final Four appearances without a championship (5).

Connecting this back to coaches, 49 head coaches (or sets thereof — see Stanford 1995-1996) have reached the Final Four, and 31 of them have reached at least one championship game. Here are their records:

CoachNational Semifinals RecordChampionship Game Record
Geno Auriemma (UConn)11-811-0
Pat Summitt (Tenn)13-58-5
Muffet McGraw (ND)6-22-4
Tara VanDerveer (Stanford)9-32-2
Linda Sharp (USC)3-02-1
Kim Mulkey (Baylor)2-12-0
Leon Barmore (LA Tech)4-31-3
Brenda Frese (MD)1-31-0
Sylvia Hatchell (UNC)1-21-0
Jody Conradt (Texas)1-21-0
Dawn Staley (South Carolina)1-11-0
Gary Blair (Arkansas, Texas A&M)1-11-0
Sonja Hogg (LA Tech)1-01-0
Carolyn Peck (Purdue)1-01-0
Marsha Sharp (TTU)1-01-0
Sherri Coale (OK)1-20-1
Sonja Hogg/Leon Barmore (LA Tech)1-10-1
Joe Ciampi (Auburn)3-00-3
Andy Landers (UGA)2-30-2
Gail Goestenkors (Duke)2-20-2
C. Vivian Stringer (Cheyney, Rutgers, Iowa)2-20-2
Jeff Walz (Louisville)2-10-2
Vic Schaefer (Mississippi St)2-00-2
Debbie Ryan (UVA)1-20-1
Paul Sanderford (WKU)1-20-1
Wendy Larry (ODU)1-00-1
Kristy Curry (Purdue)1-00-1
Joanne P. McCallie (Michigan St)1-00-1
Nancy Darsch (Ohio St)1-00-1
Quentin Hillsman (Syracuse)1-00-1
Pokey Chatman (LSU)0-30-0
Marianne Stanley (ODU)0-20-0
Joan Bonvicini (LBSU)0-20-0
Cheryl Burnett (Missouri St)0-20-0
Amy Tucker/Marianne Stanley (Stanford)0-10-0
Sue Gunter (LSU)0-10-0
Van Chancellor (LSU)0-10-0
Chris Weller (MD)0-10-0
Lin Dunn (Purdue)0-10-0
Windy McGriff (Cheyney)0-10-0
Rick Moody (Alabama)0-10-0
Lindsay Gottlieb (Cal)0-10-0
Linda Harper (LM)0-10-0
Pam Borton (Minnesota)0-10-0
Kay Yow (NC State)0-10-0
Scott Rueck (Oregon St)0-10-0
Rene Portland (PSU)0-10-0
Jim Foster (Vanderbilt)0-10-0
Mike Neighbors (UW)0-10-0

Several of the most prolific schools have had just one head coach lead them to Final Four appearances (UConn, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Georgia, USC, Duke), so the notes above apply to their respective coaches. Some other interesting notes:

  • Seven schools have reached the Final Four with more than one head coach (Stanford, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Maryland, Old Dominion, Purdue, Cheyney State/University).
  • Three head coaches have reached the Final Four with more than one school (Gary Blair, C. Vivian Stringer, Marianne Stanley). Only Stringer has reached the championship game with more than one school (Cheyney State, Rutgers).
  • Two coaches have reached the Final Four and national championship game as co-head coaches and on their own. Sonja Hogg and Leon Barmore took Louisiana Tech to the national championship game in 1983. Prior to that, Hogg led the Lady Techsters to the inaugural NCAA championship in 1982. Barmore followed that sucess up with seven Final Four appearances, four championship games, and another national championship.
  • Nine coaches have perfect records in championship games (Geno Auriemma, Brenda Frese, Kim Mulkey, Sylvia Hatchell, Carolyn Peck, Jody Conradt, Dawn Staley, Gary Blair, Marsha Sharp).
  • Ten coaches have perfect records in national semifinal games (Joe Ciampi, Wendy Larry, Carolyn Peck, Kristy Curry, Linda Sharp, Vic Schaefer, Joanne P. McCallie, Nancy Darsch, Quentin Hillsman, Marsha Sharp).

The last thing we’ll consider — to connect back to DuDonis’ tweets — are Final Four streaks, or spans of seasons where the same school has reached the Final Four in consecutive years. There are 26 such streaks by 18 schools.

School# Consecutive Final FoursYears
Connecticut112008 - 2018
Connecticut52000 - 2004
Stanford52008 - 2012
Notre Dame52011 - 2015
LSU52004 - 2008
Tennessee41986 - 1989,
1995 - 1998,
2002 - 2005
Louisiana Tech41987 - 1990
Virginia31990 - 1992
Stanford31990 - 1992,
1995 - 1997
Louisiana Tech31982 - 1984
Auburn31988 - 1990
Connecticut21995 - 1996
Tennessee22007 - 2008
Georgia21995 - 1996
Duke22002 - 2003
North Carolina22006 - 2007
Oklahoma22009 - 2010
Texas21986 - 1987
USC21983 - 1984
Western Kentucky21985 - 1986
Long Beach State21987 - 1988
Mississippi State22017 - 2018
Maryland22014 - 2015
LA Tech21998 - 1999

Connecticut extended its current streak of Final Four appearances to 11 years, while Mississippi State started its first streak with its second appearance in as many years.

There are 13 such streaks in championship games, achieved by just 7 schools:

School# Consecutive Championship GamesYears
Connecticut42013 - 2016
Tennessee41995 - 1998
Auburn31988 - 1990
Connecticut32002 - 2004
Louisiana Tech21982 - 1983
USC21983 - 1984
Louisiana Tech21987 - 1988
Tennessee22003 - 2004
Tennessee22007 - 2008
Connecticut22009 - 2010
Notre Dame22011 - 2012
Notre Dame22014 - 2015
Mississippi State22017 - 2018

Two interesting notes:

  • Connecticut and Tennessee each own three of the streaks, while Louisiana Tech and Notre Dame each have two of their own.
  • Only three schools have won multiple championships in a row. Connecticut has done it three times (2002 – 2004, 2009 – 2010, 2013 – 2016), Tennessee has done it twice (1996 – 1998, 2007 – 2008), and USC has done it once (1983 – 1984).
  • Mississippi State entered this list this year with its second consecutive championship game appearance.

Now for the breakdown by coaches. A total of 19 head coaches have reached at least two consecutive Final Fours a total of 26 times.

Coach# Consecutive Final FoursYears
Geno Auriemma (UConn)112008 - 2018
Geno Auriemma (UConn)52000 - 2004
Tara VanDerveer (Stanford)52008 - 2012
Muffet McGraw (ND)52011 - 2015
Leon Barmore (LA Tech)41987 - 1990
Pat Summitt (Tennessee)41986 - 1989,
1995 - 1998,
2002 - 2005
Joe Ciampi (Auburn)31988 - 1990
Debbie Ryan (UVA)31990 - 1992
Pokey Chatman (LSU)32005 - 2007
Tara VanDerveer (Stanford)31990 - 1992
Linda Sharp (USC)21983 - 1984
Paul Sanderford (WKU)21985 - 1986
Joan Bonvicini (LBSU)21987 - 1988
Jody Conradt (UT)21986 - 1987
Andy Landers (UGA)21995 - 1996
Gail Goestenkors (Duke)22002 - 2003
Sherri Coale (OK)22009 - 2010
Brenda Frese (MD)22014 - 2015
Sonja Hogg/Leon Barmore (LA Tech)21983 - 1984
Leon Barmore (LA Tech)21998 - 1999
Pat Summitt (Tennessee)22007 - 2008
Vic Schaefer (Miss St)22017 - 2018
Sylvia Hatchell (UNC)22006 - 2007
Geno Auriemma (UConn)21995 - 1996

Sonja Hogg and Leon Barmore are the only duo in this list. More on the uniqueness of what Louisiana Tech has done later.

Geno Auriemma continues to set records, extending his current streak of Final Four appearances to 11 straight, and Vic Schaefer entered the list after leading Mississippi State to its second straight Final Four appearance.

Vic Schaefer made his way onto one more list by competing in the national championship this year as well. As far as championship games are concerned, there are 12 such streaks by 7 coaches:

Coach# Consecutive Championship GamesYears
Geno Auriemma (UConn)42013 - 2016
Pat Summitt (Tennessee)41995 - 1998
Joe Ciampi (Auburn)31988 - 1990
Geno Auriemma (UConn)32002 - 2004
Linda Sharp (USC)21983 - 1984
Leon Barmore (LA Tech)21987 - 1988
Pat Summitt (Tennessee)22003 - 2004
Pat Summitt (Tennessee)22007 - 2008
Geno Auriemma (UConn)22009 - 2010
Muffet McGraw (ND)22011 - 2012
Muffet McGraw (ND)22014 - 2015
Vic Schaefer (Miss St)22017 - 2018

One thing to note is that because we have broken this down by unique head coaches, Louisiana Tech’s streaks do not directly translate to coaching streaks. Louisiana Tech reached the Final Four from 1982 – 1984 and championship games in both 1982 and 1983, but in 1982 Sonja Hogg was the head coach while in 1983 Sonja Hogg and Leon Barmore were co-head coaches.

While compiling this list, I came across multiple areas that need more attention:

  • The timeline of women’s basketball was missing several championships in the past few years. The page should now be complete with NCAA Division I, II, and III champions along with WNBA champions.
  • Many programs do not have detailed women’s basketball pages on Wikipedia. Among those are Cheyney State/University and University of Arkansas. I am compiling a list of areas for improvement to work on in the future, and these two historically significant women’s programs will be on that list.

More to come on the 2018 NCAA Tournament soon.

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