Kristy Curry, for one.
The fourth-year coach of Texas Tech always knew what her young squad was capable of, and these last few weeks speak volumes about the talent on the team.
"It shows a lot about their character," Curry said. "You don't go through what we went through unless you have great character and be able to overcome that. It says a lot about them. I have to credit my coaching staff. You've got a group of people who have competed at a really high level. They've continued to stay positive. From my trainer to my strength coach to my three assistants to my director of operations. It's been a total collective effort from a lot of people to stay the course and stay positive and believe in who these kids can be."
Curry reiterated the team's continued sense of urgency, because despite its turnaround, the team hasn't yet accomplished its goals of a 20-win season and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
But regardless of how the season ends up for Tech, it's clear the Lady Raiders have accomplished a lot in terms of personal growth and maturation.
Curry said none of the freshmen players have ever approached her with complaints about starting or playing time. That is part of what she is referring to when she talks about their character.
When the two of us were discussing the team's freshmen on Monday for the story I wrote today previewing the game at Kansas State tomorrow, the subject of Monique Smalls didn't really come up. Smalls has been the star of the team's freshman class, and it's easy to take for granted what she has brought to the table for Tech this season. But, I've written a lot about Smalls this year, and her contributions certainly haven't gone unnoticed.
Smalls has been a rock all season, while the other freshmen (Marissa Ashton, Chynna Brown and Christine Hyde) have only recently started making significant contributions. We've yet to see the full potential of Mary Bokenkamp, Lindie Kimbro and Shauntal Nobles.
After going 1-7 through the first half of the conference season, Tech's turnaround is so close to becoming one of the big stories in the Big 12 this year. I'm in no mood to crunch the numbers now, but has a team ever gone 1-7 and finished 8-8, or even 7-9 and made the tournament?
I'll cross that bridge when the team gets to that point!