The saying “winning cures everything” leads people to believe that whatever happens off the court can be covered up with a few high fives and congratulatory messages after a game. Time and time again, that’s proven not to be true, and the latest accusations against the Texas Tech women’s basketball program are further proof.
A story by USA Today Sports detailed the toxic culture at Texas Tech that included fear tactics, ignoring signs of depression, harsh practice methods, sexual assault allegations and more under the watch of head coach Marlene Stollings. Twelve players have left the program since Stollings took over in 2018.
The Lady Raiders went from a 7-23 record three seasons ago to 18-11 last year, but what has reportedly occurred behind the scenes is a bigger loss than any of those on the court. USA Today Sports interviewed 10 players, two former assistant coaches and two parents.
The list of claims is extensive. Stollings stressed having an elevated heart rate to the point where two players started taking over-the-counter painkillers to keep their heart rates where Stollings wanted them. Coaches also treated international players poorly by isolating and ridiculing them.
Jori Epstein and Daniel Libit also wrote that strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella was accused of sexually assaulting at least five players by making “suggestive comments” and using therapy techniques that involved applying pressure to players’ chest, groins and pubic bones. Petrella left Texas Tech in March and denied the allegations.
Stollings issued a statement to USA Today in the story.
“Our administration and my staff believe in the way we are building and turning this program around here,” Stollings said in part of the statement. “Our student athletes are developing a disciplined approach both on and off the court. I want our students, fans and alumni to know we are committed to winning championships at Texas Tech and doing it the right way through hard work, accountability and fierce determination.”
Kirby Hocutt has been Texas Tech’s athletic director since 2011. In 2009, Mike Leach was fired for his treatment of a player with a concussion. Hocutt has been regarded as one of the best athletic directors in college sports, but he has a decision to make.
Reviewing the allegations and speaking with these players is critical, but moral values have to trump on-court success. If these findings are true, Stollings and her coaching staff shouldn’t return next season.
Melanie Newman’s story epitomizes patience and working hard until your comes. From calling High-A and Double-A minor league games, Newman’s moment arrived on Tuesday.
She became the first female broadcaster to call a play-by-play regular-season game for the Orioles. Newman’s first game on Orioles Radio Network was Baltimore’s game against the Marlins.
Newman, 29, is the fourth active female broadcaster in MLB. Jessica Mendoza of ESPN, Suzyn Waldman for the Yankees, and Jenny Cavnar for the Rockies are the others.
Working in the minor leagues is a grind. Newman’s journey included time with the High-A Salem Red Sox, Rangers Double-A affiliate Frisco RoughRiders, and Diamondbacks Double-A affiliate Mobile BayBears.
Newman earned her call to the big leagues, and now she’s in elite company.
“I never even thought that this would be in the realm of possibility for me,” Newman said to MLB.com. “It was a situation that presented itself, and of course I said yes. … Being challenged to win teams’ and individuals’ trust, and to have them give me their stories and to know that I’m going to tell them justly, that’s something that I really don’t take for granted. And that means a lot to me.”
When the Suns were included in the playoff bubble, many people didn’t bat an eye. Three wins and a Devin Booker buzzer-beater later, that is starting to change.
Booker ended the night with 35 points and shot 6 of 9 from three. None were bigger than his final shot at the buzzer after he escaped a double team, faded away and shot a jumper over Paul George’s outstretched arms.
Phoenix entered the bubble 13th in the Western Conference and six games behind the Memphis Grizzlies with eight to play. Each team from the eighth to 13th seeds in the Western Conference standings are currently separated by 3 1/2 games with five to play.
At this point, it’s a foregone conclusion that the eighth seed will be in a play-in game. The NBA instituted a play-in tournament that gives the ninth seed a chance to play the eighth seed if the team finishes within four games after the seeding games. It’s described as a best-of-two matchup, where the eighth seed has to win one game and the ninth team has to win two to advance to the playoffs.
Five teams in the West meet that criteria to face the current eighth-seeded Grizzlies. A lot more shuffling will happen, so fasten your seatbelt for a ride in the wild wild West.