After his team completed a 21-win season and a 15-game turnaround, University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bear coach Matt Daniel told Bearbackers Monday, "I’m smiling big enough to eat a banana sideways."
The turnaround represented the biggest turnaround this year in Division I basketball, the biggest in Southland Conference history and the eighth longest in NCAA women’s basketball history.
In addition, UCA freshman post Megan Herbert was named Freshman of the Year in the Southland Conference and finished second in the balloting for Player of the Year honors. Nakeia Guiden was an honorable mention selection. Daniel said five Sugar Bears were nominated for postseason honors.
"In looking at that, we were so balanced that may have hurt us in the selections," Daniel said. "Guiden may have hurt four teams. Desiree Rogers may have hurt four teams, Westin Taylor may have hurt four teams and Micah Rice may have hurt four teams."
Daniel said he plans to sign one to three new recruits, including a junior college transfer or two to "add some maturity to our roster." He will add one assistant coach and possibly two.
He has one unfilled vacancy after Adrienne Davie left in late summer. He said Tiffany Phillips has indicated a desire to become a head coach at the high school level.
"I’m all for helping her advance her career, and we’ll try our best to help her get in a situation where she can call her own tiemouts," Daniel said.
He said he has given his players time off until April 1.
"I told them to catch up on their academics and enjoy life," he said. "I’m good at preaching balance but not practicing balance. They deserve it."