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Women Coaches Endorse Tournament for Pac-10

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The value of a postseason Pacific 10 basketball tournament was a hard sell among the conference’s men’s coaches.

Not so with the women’s coaches, who were pushing the idea in meetings four years ago, and who wanted to have a tournament whether the men did or not.

With the tournament scheduled in March, after the conference season, women’s coaches at the Pac-10 media day Thursday were eager to see if the event will get more conference teams into the NCAA and WNIT tournaments. They also hope it can provide a showcase enjoyed by such conferences as the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference.

“It’s a shot in the arm that is much needed for women’s basketball on the West Coast and particularly the Pac-10,” Washington Coach June Daugherty said. “From a competitive standpoint, that do-or-die atmosphere is going to help us mentally get ready for the NCAA postseason. And the exposure from television will allow the NCAA selection committee to see how good we are at the end of the year, and why we should have several teams in the field of 64.”

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Said UCLA Coach Kathy Olivier, “I’ve never been involved in a conference tournament. It’s almost like having four seasons--nonconference, conference, Pac-10 tournament and NCAA.

“But we feel it’s going to promote the Pac-10. [The conference] is in a place right now where we want everyone to know West Coast basketball is good, and the Pac-10 is where it’s at.”

Initially, the tournament was not embraced by all. But doubters like USC Coach Chris Gobrecht said they have changed their minds.

“For a long time, I was opposed to it because every game we played in conference was critical,” Gobrecht said. “But now I see how much trouble the Pac-10 has getting the kind of recognition it needs.”

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