March 28, 2022
Her team just finished the greatest year in the program's history. And then she was gone. Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Coach Abe, left UCF to take the same position at Georgia and just like that the best coach in the women's basketball program's history was leaving for another school.
UCF went 26-4 and won the regular season title and conference tournament championship. But maybe one of the reasons Coach Abe chose to leave UCF for Georgia, a place where she played two seasons before transferring to Iowa, can be traced to the decision of a group of people she got tired of proving how good her team was. No. Not anyone at UCF.
I don't know if this was "a" reason or "the" reason, but I am guessing Coach Abe was not happy when she saw the bracket announcing the pairings and locations for the opening two rounds of the NCAA Women's Tournament.
Coach Abe felt her team was disrespected throughout the season by the voters in major polls and among those who cover the sport on a national level. UCF is 15th in NET rankings and 5th in RPI. Their strength of schedule was 29th and yet UCF could not get ranked in the national polls until late in the season. The AAC was the 6th rated league in the country and despite all those numbers UCF got a 7th seed and was sent to Storrs for a regional. Not only was UCF sent to UCONN, where Coach Abe and Geno Auriemma are not the best of friends, but her team drew Florida.
Coach Abe openly asked why the committee paired UCF with the Gators and also why the same committee paired Miami with South Florida. She wondered why the committee felt UCF should go to Storrs and not someplace else. Why did UCF have to go to a place they have played a number of times when the two were conference foes in the American.
In case you don't follow, UCONN has played in 13 straight Final Fours. No one questions how good the program is but they also have the advantage of playing the first two rounds on the home court and this season got to play the Sweet 16 round and tonight's regional final in Bridgeport, Connecticut- against a number one seed in NC State. Ask the Wolfpack how much they like the idea of being the one seed and playing in UCONN's home state.
After UCF disposed of Florida, where UCF was the favorite, they gave UCONN more than they wanted in pushing the Huskies for the full 40 minutes. Their tenacious defense led the country in fewest points allowed and Geno apparently didn't like the style of play to the point walking a fine line in his post game press conference of taking shots at UCF's style. You see, it's ok when the bully plays that style when his team is up 60 late on an opponent but when someone does it to you, it's bad for the game.
Look, Coach Abe may have had no plans to leave UCF. The vacancy at Georgia opened last Wednesday when Joni Taylor took the job at Texas A&M. But timing matters and maybe the dots connected just two days after UCF's loss to UCONN. Maybe her frustration of her team's seeding and playing at Storrs had her wondering. Maybe if another SEC job, near the bottom of the league was open, she would have passed. But Georgia was a job she chose to not pass on.
UCF is headed to the Big XII in a couple of years but maybe Coach Abe didn't want to wait to get things balanced. Maybe she didn't want another season of her team not getting properly seeded or maybe she wanted to get to the SEC and to a place she once played. Only she knows and that's ok. She is a fantastic coach and will win anywhere she coaches.
Is this another example of UCF losing a coach to a P5 school? Yes it is. But it's why UCF has pushed for many years to get into one of the major conferences so it has the resources to compete when it comes to keeping coaches and recruiting top players. Change is inevitable and change is coming to UCF in their move to the Big XII, where you may not see coaches leave because there's a "bigger" job...
The Cinderella run of Saint Peter's has come to an end with their 69-49 loss to North Carolina in the regional final. The Peacocks took us all on a journey that makes the NCAA tournament so much fun. Head Coach Shaheen Holloway is likely to accept the same position at Seton Hall, where he played years ago. I loved the Saint Peter's story and that's why we watch sports but some of the hype was so over the top. I am not knocking anything Saint Peter's did but the basketball analysts acted like this one of the best teams in the country. Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith literally said they had the four best guards in the tournament on the floor. On February 20th Saint Peter's lost to Siena 84-70 and fell to 12-11. They lost earlier in the season to St, Francis-Brooklyn 71-60 in front of an announced crowd of 464 at home. That's what makes their historic run even more impressive. They got hot when it mattered and it shows how a group of players can get on a roll and beat some of the best teams in the country. Saint Peter's is not about to become the next Gonzaga and that's ok. Enjoy their historic run and remember stories like this are why the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament are so much fun...
Other weekend notes: Bravo to the fans who packed Exploria Stadium as the US Men's National team beat Panama 5-1 to inch closer to clinching a spot in the World Cup. Orlando continues to show why it has earned this games and one can only hope it helps in selecting the city as a host site for games in the 2026 Cup...The Lakers blew a 23-point lead and lost to the Pelicans. Los Angeles now sits just one game ahead of the Spurs for the 10th spot in the west. The Lakers are 11-25 on the road this season...Who is the number one ranked golfer in the world? Scottie Scheffler is after winning the WGC Match Play title this weekend...Horse trainer Bob Baffert may be banned from most major tracks in this country but his horse, Country Grammer, won the Dubai World Cup. The $12M purse is the richest in the sport...and finally, it has happened three times while waiting in line at Starbucks for a drink. Once again I overheard someone say the following "where does almond milk come from?" ALMONDS! ALMOND MILK COMES FROM ALMONDS!...
Final thought: The National Coffee Association(NCA) says the average person drinks 3.1 cups of coffee per day.