NEW YORK (AP) — Georgetown players Kelsey Ransom and Graceann Bennett will always remember coach Tasha Butts’ energy and passion.
The pair was just starting to get to know her after she was hired as the Hoyas’ head coach in April. She died on Monday after a two-year battle with breast cancer. She left a lasting impression in a short time.
“It’s really overwhelming and shocking,” Bennett said at Big East media day Tuesday. “Heartbreaking for coach’s family. But we are grateful to be here to represent what coach has done.”
The conference honored Butts with a moment of silence, and the league’s head coaches wore Tasha Tough pins.
“Her time in the Big East was tragically cut short, but she had already started to make her mark with her trademark determination and toughness,” Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said. “She touched many lives.”
After spending many years as an assistant coach at UCLA, LSU and Georgia Tech, the 41-year-old was excited to have her first head coaching job. She had already started to instill things she picked up while playing for Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
“She translated what she learned from Pat Summitt to us,” Ransom said. “Things outside of basketball. There are standards we have as a team now where it feels wrong not doing them.”
Bennett smiled when recalling that Butts from day one told her team to “always make eye contact with people we talked to and to sit up straight.”
Even as she was going through treatment, Butts would still come to practice and thank the players for giving her energy.
The Hoyas hope to honor Butts’ memory by playing hard all season and not take anything for granted. The team was picked 10th in the preseason poll by the league’s coaches.
UConn was once again the unanimous choice to win the conference. The Huskies have won 22 regular season titles and 21 Big East Tournament championships. Paige Bueckers was chosen as the conference’s preseason player of the year, and the Huskies’ KK Arnold was picked for freshman of the year.
Creighton was picked second with Marquette, Villanova and Seton Hall rounding out the top five. St. John’s was picked sixth, with DePaul, Butler and Providence next. Xavier was 11th.
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