Stacy Hansmeyer grew up in Norman, Okla., cheering for her hometown college football team, the University of Oklahoma Sooners. She became one of the country’s best high school basketball players and headed east to UConn, where she played in 17 NCAA Tournament games and was a member of the Huskies’ 2000 NCAA Championship team. She served as a student assistant the following year, helping UConn to a second consecutive Final Four appearance.
Upon returning to Norman, she became an assistant coach for the Sooner’s women’s basketball team, led by her former high school coach, Sherri Coale. Now in her 10th season at Oklahoma, Hansmeyer has helped the Sooner’s women’s basketball team become a nationally ranked team, reaching the NCAA Tournament nine consecutive times, including the last two Final Fours. She recently talked to UConn Today about the 2011 Fiesta Bowl game between the Huskies and Sooners and the consecutive winning streak record set by Geno Auriemma’s team.
What were your first thoughts when you learned that UConn would be playing the Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl?
Truthfully, I couldn’t believe that the school I grew up cheering for, where now I am a coach, and the school I went to were going to be playing against each other in a bowl game. I was very excited for both teams.
As a UConn alum, what do you think the Huskies getting into its first BCS game means for the University and the fans in Connecticut?
It’s huge for the University and its fans. I remember when I was there the football team was trying to get a foundation established. The growth in their program is phenomenal in such a short time, now to be preparing to play in a BCS game. You’ve got to give credit to Coach Edsall. I have a lot of respect for coaches that come in and commit to programs and their growth, much like what Coach Auriemma has done for the women’s basketball program and what Sherri Coale has done at the University of Oklahoma.
Are there any conflicting emotions for you about the Fiesta Bowl matchup?
I think it’s great that both teams have gotten to this point. Oklahoma hit a few bumps in the road but came back to win the Big 12. UConn is starting something special, putting
Connecticut football on the map. It should be a fun game and I will definitely be watching.
Have you heard from any of your UConn teammates, asking about where you stand on the game?
Oh, I’ve gotten updates throughout the year on how the team is doing. There are definitely a lot of people excited about what’s going on. I know there is a group of former players planning on heading down there.
What are your thoughts about the Huskies’ women’s basketball team breaking the UCLA record for consecutive wins?
What an amazing accomplishment. As an alum and as a women’s basketball coach, I find myself very proud. It’s not only great for UConn and their program, but for women’s basketball in general. As the sport continues to grow, these are the things that will propel it. I sent Coach a text message congratulating him. He has got something special going on over there, but that’s no secret.
Are your players looking forward to their game against UConn in Hartford in February?
Our players are focused on getting better every day. Coming off back-to-back Final Fours has been big for our program, but right now we are working with a big freshmen class that is trying to gain experience at the D-1 level. I think there is no better way to get that experience than by playing the best, which is why you put teams like UConn on your schedule.