Head coach firings are usually looked upon in a negative light. In the case of the women’s basketball program, the change was a step in the right direction.
Julie Goodenough took over as head coach of the basketball team on March 27, 2012. She replaced Shawna Lavender who began her head coaching career with the Wildcats during the 2002-03 season.
Lavender posted a 149-111 record and led the ‘Cats to seven LSC tournament appearances and two NCAA regional tournament berths. However, her team had lost much of that steam the past two seasons.
In 2010-11 ACU went 11-16 overall and 8-6 in conference. They made the Lone Star Conference Post-Season Tournament but were knocked out in the first round by Northeastern State University. In 2011-12 the Wildcats posted a 12-14 record and were only 7-13 in the LSC. They missed both the conference tournament and the NCAA Division II tournament.
Lavender put together many good basketball teams in her time at ACU, but in her nine full seasons she appeared only twice in the D-II tourney. Athletics director Jared Mosley was not satisfied with that. He shouldn’t be.
ACU athletics should strive to be competitive in their conference and on a national level. In her last two seasons, Lavender’s teams went a combined 15-19 in league play. A coaching change was a necessary step to get back to that competitive level.
Goodenough has already turned the program around in her first season as coach. The ‘Cats were a staggering 21-7 team this year. They lost only four LSC games and were co-conference champs in the regular season, the first time they’ve done that since the 1998-99 season.
Many of those divisional games weren’t even close. The squad defeated Texas A&M-Commerce by 21 points early in the season. They also beat Cameron by 47, Texas Woman’s by 25 and Tarleton State by 16.
The team earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Division II South Central Region tournament. They lost to the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on a last second shot in the first round.
The Wildcats still have a long and tough road ahead of them as they are moving up to the Division I level next fall. However, this season a young, confident group of women left a lasting mark in the LSC.
Change is not always easy but sometimes it is a necessary part of life, even in the sports world. Coach Goodenough was a great hire by Mosley and she has already made an immediate impact.