Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Fantanarosa has alma mater on rise

Local women's notebook: RedHawks coach is enjoying her season of milestones

By Colleen Kane
The Cincinnati Enquirer

As a basketball player at Miami in the late 1980s, Maria Fantanarosa never dreamed she'd be back on the sidelines there someday.

"I thought I'd be in corporate America," Fantanarosa said.

But things turned out a little different than expected - she was bitten by the "coaching bug" and never looked back.

Miami University women's head basketball coach Maria Fantanarosa.
(Jeff Swinger/file photo)
On Saturday, just a little less than 16 years after Fantanarosa scored her 1,000th collegiate point at Miami, she got to celebrate in the same place another milestone in her basketball career - her 100th career win as a head coach.

And even that was unexpected.

"I didn't realize I was at 99," Fantanarosa said. "I've always been a coach that doesn't want the spotlight. The spotlight should be on the players."

So the RedHawks' sixth-year coach celebrated the victory modestly, with an announcement and a cake. Anyway, she's more concerned about her team, which last week got off to its best start in MAC play since 1994-95.

The RedHawks (12-6, 6-1 entering Tuesday night's game against Bowling Green), are in first place in the MAC East, but they face a dangerous stretch of four games, three of which are against the top teams in the MAC West. Fantanarosa said Miami's tough nonconference schedule - the type that made it a little harder to reach those 100 wins when the squad went 6-5 - has prepared them for the upcoming weeks.

"We wanted to raise the bar and see where we are nationally," Fantanarosa said Monday. "We said that competitive schedule was going to prepare us to play every game in the MAC. And with nine games remaining, we have continued to improve."

That improvement has shown as Miami players have claimed MAC East Player of the Week in five of the last six weeks. This week, senior forward Kim Lancaster took the honor for the second week in a row after averaging 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds last week.

If Fantanarosa's RedHawks continue their run, the coach also has the chance to reach another milestone - her first 20-win season. Following Saturday's game, Fantanarosa was 93-57 in her years as Miami head coach, including 18- and 19-win seasons. She was 7-20 in her one year as head coach at Western Carolina.

TUESDAY NIGHT'S GAME: The Miami RedHawks defeated Bowling Green 92-81, led by 24 points and 11 rebounds from Princeton graduate Kim Lancaster. It was Lancaster's fourth 20-point game in her last five and improved MU to 13-6 (7-1 Mid-American Conference). Sycamore High grad Lindsay Austin led Bowling Green (12-7, 5-3) with 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and a program-record 10 steals.

XAVIER: ESPN2 will regionally televise XU's game against Atlantic 10 East leader Temple on Sunday. Swin Cash, a member of the 2000 and 2002 Connecticut national championship teams and an All-Star for the 2003 WNBA championship Detroit Shock, will be part of the broadcasting team, providing color commentary.

Sunday's matchup is one of just a few televised games for the Musketeers, , but coach Kevin McGuff said any hype shouldn't affect his young players.

"We're going to prepare for it like we do any other game," sophomore forward Tara Boothe said.

CINCINNATI: The Bearcats return home after dropping three games on the road, including Saturday's 65-54 loss at Louisville. The weekend against South Florida and Alabama-Birmingham is important to keep UC's conference tournament hopes alive. Only 12 of the 14 Conference USA teams qualify for the tourney, and all three teams sit in the bottom five with seven games left.

This week's games

UC: vs. South Florida, 7 p.m. Friday; vs. UAB, 3 p.m. Sunday.

XU: vs. La Salle, 7 p.m. Friday; vs. Temple, 4 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2.

Miami: at Toledo, 2 p.m. Sunday.

OSU: at Iowa, 8 p.m. Thursday; at Purdue, 2 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2.



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Tuesday's boys' games
Tuesday's girls' games
Prep sports results, schedule

Fantanarosa has alma mater on rise
Thomas More fires women's coach
UK rallies late to beat Gators
No down time for weary RedHawks
Top 25: Illinois edges Indiana 51-49
Tech shakes finger at Knight

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O'Neal, Kidd among All-Star reserves

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