Texas women’s basketball players are making history. Will it be enough for March Madness?

The Lady Horns have won 12 of their last 13 games, but will that streak continue into the tournament?

By Jesus VidalesMarch 21, 2024 2:12 pm,

Let the madness begin.

Basketball fans across the country are gearing up for some heated matchups. On the women’s side, the Texas Longhorns clinched a highly coveted No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and finished the regular season 30-4, winning 12 of their last 13 games.

Part of the team’s success has come from freshman standout star Madison Booker, who became the first player in Big 12 women’s basketball history to earn the “Player of The Year” award and also took the “Most Outstanding Player” nod. Booker was also recently named a “Second Team All-American” by the Associated Press.

Austin American-Statesman sports journalist Danny Davis joined the Standard to talk about Booker and a look at what lies ahead for the Lady Horns in the tournament. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: For those who might not follow college basketball as closely as you can, tell us how big of a deal these AP All-American team nominations are. What sort of accomplishment does this represent?

Danny Davis: It means a huge accomplishment.

There’s three teams with five players on it. So that’s 15 players honored by the AP every year. You can do the math, how many college basketball players there are. So the top 15 players get honored. Madison is part of the top ten. So that’s a huge honor for her.

Huge honor. Take us back to talk about her trajectory this season. I don’t think she started as the Longhorns point guard, right?

No, she was a starting forward, until December when Rori Harmon, who was an All-American candidate herself, injured her knee.

Madison’s a pretty good ball-handler, so Texas tried her out at point guard, and she really adapted around the position. And you can kind of see what happened in the last three months, but she’s not playing her natural position at all.

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Yeah, “adapted” is an understatement. She’s really taken it by storm. Okay, so what about some predictions for Booker and the Longhorns in the tournament? Their first game is tomorrow against Drexel, I believe.

 That’s true. I mean, Texas is the number one seed. So I think a lot of people are expecting them to get to the Final Four for the first time since 2003.

But March is a crazy time. No one thought they’d lose in the second round last year – they did. So we’re going to have to see. But I think a lot of people expect them to be in Cleveland in a couple of weeks.

Yeah, I was going to say, let’s not remember the bad old days. I mean, what was it that has caused Texas’ women’s team to sort of fall back in years past, and have they overcome some of those obstacles?

Well, they have a really good coach in charge. Vic Schaefer is doing a really good job over there.

And they also have a lot of vets. I mean, Madison’s a freshman, but the rest of that team, these are all experienced players. Lots of seniors. Shaylee Gonzales, one of their starting guards is a sixth-year player.

So they have a lot of experience. They’ve gone through a lot of wars, this team.

Do you have a sense that women’s basketball is having a moment right now in American sports?

Oh, yeah. I mean, I think you can flip on any talk show and I think the consensus is most people kind of know more women’s basketball players than men’s basketball players. Everyone knows Caitlin Clark; everyone knows Angel Reese.

This fresh crop of freshmen coming up: Juju Watkins, Madison Booker, Hannah Hidalgo… There’s a lot of star power on the women’s game. And we’ll see what that translates to, but I think there’s a lot of excitement around the women’s game right now.

Yeah. I’m reluctant to do this, but I feel like since you follow this so closely, I have to. I’m sure you’ve made out your brackets. Would you be willing to share with us who you think’s going to take it all?

I mean, I’m not betting against South Carolina and Dawn Staley. They are a machine over there. And Dawn’s a fantastic coach, and they have a lot of talent.

So Texas is going to have to beat them if they want to win the title. But until they do, I’m going to go with the Gamecocks.

Going to go with the Gamecocks. Do you get any pushback on that from your fellow Longhorns reading your columns and such?

I mean, people can be upset. But if they’re upset that I’m picking a 32-0 team, that seems like a pretty chalk pick. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb.

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