When you think of collegiate women’s hoops, San Francisco State might not be the first name to come to mind but first-year head coach Natasha Smith is on a mission to change that.
“We are here. And this is not the San Francisco State that they heard about a year ago, or five years ago. We’re on the rise, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be,” Smith said.
The numbers suggest the Gators’ rise is real.
Their 10 wins were the most the 2015 season. They made their conference tournament for the first time since 2013. They won six straight games for the first time since 1985 — And the list goes on.
“The attitude that everyone has, it’s like, oh, we can really do this. And then the seniors that are graduating feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves…and it hasn’t even been a complete year. So for them to feel that way is for sure a success,” Smith said.
Smith’s own success has come at a young age.
She played at Chico State and began her coaching career there.
Several assistant coaching positions followed but at under 30 years of age, Smith feared she wouldn’t be a serious candidate for SFSU’s head coaching gig. So getting the job was a big moment.
“Like Kevin Garnett when he won his first national, I mean, championship? When he was yelling ‘anything is possible.’ I was like yelling, everybody knew, I picked up my mom, I started crying, it was crazy. I really feel like I was blessed,” Smith said.
Once the job was hers, Smith hit the ground running with a coaching style she describes as “intense” and a team motto, “just us.”
“Any outside noise, or what history was here has nothing to do with any of us that are here actually cause there’s a lot of freshmen, there’s transfers, there’s only a couple people that are actually returning. So that has absolutely nothing to do with us, and that’s how we’ve been operating, and I think that’s worked out in our favor,” Smith said.
Just the Gators, a Bay Area basketball team to watch.
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