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Chicago Daily Herald


What interesting timing. Thursday was International Women's Day, a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. Also Thursday, the Colorado State athletic department officials announced they want to interview Becky Hammon for their men's basketball head-coaching job. The 40-year-old Hammon, a former WNBA star, played college basketball at Colorado State.

She's currently an assistant coach for the NBA's San Antonio Spurs. She became the first full-time female assistant coach in the NBA in 2014. Some NBA observers believe San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is grooming her to be his replacement when he retires. Colorado State officials worry that even though Hammon is an alum, luring her away from the NBA will be a challenge.

Of course, fans might be worried that a female head coach could bring challenges of a different kind, like recruiting challenges or internal challenges with personnel of the opposite sex. Then again, how does Geno Auriemma at Connecticut get the best high school girls players to come to his campus in droves every year? There are men coaching all over women's college basketball. But a woman coaching college men is uncharted territory, so there will be skeptics.

In terms of the recruiting, I'd be interested to see how Hammon would be viewed and received by high school boys and their parents. I believe a lot of moms would love to have a mother-figure looking after their boys. I also think the boys might appreciate that. So many teenage boys still are heavily reliant on their mothers, even as high school seniors. Perhaps a different style and a female presence will be welcomed by some young men.

In terms of Hammon's ability to control boys and young men once they get on campus and develop them into a successful unit, Hammon already has proved herself in that area. She has been put on the hot seat with the Spurs and has been asked to be the head coach for some summer-league games in past seasons. Apparently she has received positive reviews from Spurs players for her coaching techniques and leadership.

A lot of people once encouraged the late Pat Summitt, longtime women's coach at Tennessee, to try coaching a men's college team. She never seemed to take the idea all that seriously. Her heart was with coaching women's basketball. She wanted to stay on the path she was always forging. The same might be true of Hammon. She might want to stay right where she's at and see where the NBA takes her. Either way, Hammon will be breaking barriers and making history, which is exactly what should be happening for women in sports on International Women's Day … and every day of the year.

DePaul ball: Looks like DePaul will be the only women's team from Illinois to make the NCAA Tournament this year. That, unfortunately, is not a new thing. The Blue Demons are on a roll and just won the Big East tournament, routing rival Marquette in the championship game.

The women's NCAA Tournament field will be announced Monday night on ESPN. Recently, there have been a few times when the DePaul women were the only team - men or women - representing Illinois in the NCAA Tournament. But this year the Loyola Ramblers men's team will be in the Big Dance after winning the Missouri Valley Conference championship and tournament. It's the first NCAA Tournament berth for the Ramblers in 33 years. The entire men's bracket will be announced today on TBS. * Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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March 12, 2018


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