I really like Coach Harper. I liked her as a player and I've wanted nothing but the best for her as she has coached. I'll always be a fan of hers, but I'm a disappointed fan.
Teams in all sports take on the personalities and traits of their coaches. As a player, Harper never had the freedom to play passively, thoughtlessly, sloppily, inconsistently or selfishly. Her coach would not have watched her make repeated mistakes passively and then later described her playing failures with understanding and hope for the future at a press conference. Her coach would have sat her down and firmly corrected her in the moment. If no change resulted, PHS would have quickly moved to the next woman up until her teaching was being performed correctly, with passion, and with focus. Corrections would have been in the form of an instant message, not something that would be tolerated while a game slipped away only to be worked on next week at practice. Pat was a person who was appreciated for demanding excellence. She did not suffer foolishness. Nor did she try so hard to be a player's coach that she lost sight of her job -- to teach and to consistently demand excellence. PHS became one of the most loved coaches in college history not because she was cuddly, "fair" and "understanding" (though she was), but, because, while she was consistently caring, she always and immediately demanded excellence from her kids. No one ever expected she would let someone "play through" sloppy or thoughtless efforts because they were gassed or for any other lame reason. If the other team beat the Lady Vols, congratulations to them. No Lady Vol team playing for PHS was ever allowed to mail in an effort and then hear the coach make excuses for its failure.
I hope Coach Harper can remember her roots and what made her so amazing during her playing days--thoughtful, consistent, effort all of the time. And she needs to demand that degree of effort from all of her players each and every time they take the floor, just like what was expected of her back in her playing days. She allowed some very talented players to mail in their efforts last night without attempted correction and now excuses are being offered for the failure. Ohio State was, in fact, very good. Nevertheless, UT should have won that game with relative ease if the players had given consistent and thoughtful efforts.
PHS certainly understood how to effect in-game "adjustments" in real time. No waiting for a TV break or waiting to work on something in practice. Fix it now or lose trying. Go Lady Vols!