Every year has been filled with continual improvement for Quentin Hillsman and his Lady Orange basketball program since he took over in 2006 ? and this 2015-2016 season is no exception. Coming off of a decisive 89-67 win over Tennessee in the Elite 8 and earning a trip to the Final Four, the first in Syracuse women's basketball history, Hillsman and his team look to continue their impressive season in Indianapolis this weekend.
Coach Hillsman credits a lot of his success over the years to Jim Boeheim and the style of defense that has become synonymous with Syracuse basketball ? the match-up zone. "I wasn't a zone coach at all. I was a total full-court, man-to-man pressure coach,'' Hillsman said. "But when you look out of your office window and see all those banners, and none of them are yours, it makes you start to peek downstairs when they're (Boeheim) in practice.
After leading the women's basketball team to a 200-94 record over these past nine seasons, and seven consecutive 20-win campaigns and at least one victory over a Top 25 foe every year, it appears that the overlap of Boeheim's defensive scheme into the women's program has helped Hillsman revitalize the Lady Orange into a national championship contender.
Along with implementing a new style of defense, Hillsman also credits a different type of mentality and atmosphere in the Syracuse program as an explanation as to why they have continued to demonstrate success on the court. "Our mentality has changed over the years," said Hillsman. "I think there was a day when we went into games hoping we would play well; now, we go into games expecting to play well." Hillsman continued, "we've developed consistency. I don't think people look at Syracuse now as being an easy win. I don't think people look at Syracuse now as an undesirable place to play. I think people look at Syracuse now and see a program on the rise."
If you look at Hillsman's track record over the years, his results further validate that the Lady Orange are on the rise. After taking over a program that went 9-18 prior to his first year, Hillsman has transformed the expectation of Syracuse being an early round loss in the Women's NIT to an annual program securing a bid to the Big Dance.
With the right coaching relationships, right mentality and helpful hints from Syracuse counterparts along the way, it won't be a surprise for Hillsman and his Syracuse program to continue to make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament for many years to come.
Photo Credit to Syracuse Athletics for the use of Coach Hillsman's photo.Portions of this article can be found at: