Feb 2, 2017
Jose Fernandez, the head coach of South Florida's women's basketball teams is one of the nicest people you ever want to talk to.
With a smile as wide as a Florida sunset, Fernandez is one of those people that always makes you feel at ease in conversation. That may be why this is a little different Dishin & Swishin podcast than most.
South Florida is ranked number 20 in both the AP and Coaches' polls, and 23rd in RPI, with an 18-3 record overall, 7-1 in the American Conference.
This comes on the heels of losing three top seniors including Courtney Williams, now on the Connecticut Sun, and counted on contributor Laura Ferreira to injury.
It has been the improved play of sophomore Kit Laksa and junior Maria Jespersen that leads the offense with 19 and 15 points per game, respectively. Laia Flores is in the top ten in assist-to-turnover ratio in the country as well, and Ariadna Pujol has been a consistent rebounder and ball handler as well.
One thing you notice with all of those names, is they are distinctly not American. Fernandez has over half his roster from foreign countries; two from Denmark and Spain, and one each from Portugal, Hungary, Kenya, and Latvia.
One of the questions on the podcast: how does Fernandez recruit and land so many quality foreign-born players?
A related topic/question then becomes, in the current climate in this country, with the President trying to enforce limitations and delays on entries into this country, what does Fernandez say to his players? What are they thinking? Are they concerned about leaving the country and not getting back in? As I mentioned, not your usual Dishin & Swishin topic.
As mentioned above, South Florida is 7-1 in conference play, but that one loss was a 65-point loss (102-37) at the hands of UConn. In the latest version of his bracketology, Charlie Creme has four teams from the American in the tournament (UConn, South Florida, Temple, and Tulane), however UConn beat the other three by an average of 45.67 points.
So our question to Fernandez was not is UConn's success bad for women's basketball, that's yesterday's news. We were wondering, is UConn's success in conference bad for the conference? Does the American, which does not seem to get much respect as a conference in the first place, get totally dismissed when the next three best teams get blown out by UConn. How much impact did USF, UConn and Cincinnati's attempts to get into the Big XII impact perception of the American, even if it was football driving the bus?
Great conversation and interesting answers on some different topics from one of the more open coaches in the NCAA landscape. It is always a pleasure to talk to coach Fernandez, and we hope you enjoy it too!
Enjoy the podcast!