Legacy programs have dominated the NCAA Women’s Tournament for years but there are several coaches who could break through for their first title this year.
Geno Auriemma. Dawn Staley. Tara VanDerveer. Many of the top coaches in women’s college basketball have won championships before. But each of them had to get their first title somewhere — could someone new join the list of coaches to win the women’s title in 2022?
Of course! In fact, of the four teams with No. 1 seeds, two are coached by someone who is looking to win a first Division I title.
Let’s look at five coaches who are best equipped to win their first championship
5. Jeff Walz, Louisville
Technically, Walz has won a ring, as he was an assistant to Brenda Frese for the 2006 Maryland team that beat Duke to win the title.
But Walz left after that for the head coaching job at Louisville, where he’s been ever since. The Cardinals have made the tournament in all but one season, including losing in the national title game in 2009 and 2013.
Louisville has made the Elite Eight or better in its last three appearances.
The Cardinals finished in the top 10 in net points for the fifth season in a row. Walz continues to get this team right to the precipice of a title, but hasn’t been able to get this team over the hump. Last year, the team lost in the Elite Eight to eventual champion Stanford. In 2019, the team lost in the Elite Eight to UConn in one of those rare instances where the Huskies weren’t a No. 1 seed.
Is this the year that the bracket lines up for Louisville? Or does having Baylor, a team that was in contention for a No. 1 seed until it lost in the conference title games, was the No. 2 seed in the region mean that Louisville is heading for another tough exit?