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5 things to know about UCF women’s basketball coach Sytia Messer

Marking the start of a new era in UCF women’s basketball, Sytia Messer was named the program’s head coach Sunday evening.

Messer comes from LSU, where she served as an associate head coach for the 2021-22 season under 2022 Associated Press National Coach of the Year Kim Mulkey.

Messer will be introduced at a news conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the lobby of Addition Financial Arena, UCF said in a release. The public is welcome to attend, with doors set to open at 1 p.m., according to the school.

Here are five things to know about UCF’s new coach:

She knows how to win on the biggest stages

As the Knights transition to the Big 12 Conference no later than 2024, UCF women’s basketball will be led by a coach who’s been there before and has won a national championship.

As an assistant coach on Mulkey’s staff at Baylor from 2013-21, Messer helped lead the Bears to eight Big 12 regular-season championships, six conference tournament titles, an NCAA title in 2019 and six Elite 8 appearances.

Even in her time before Baylor, Messer played a key role as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator on Georgia Tech teams that won at least 21 games in three straight years.

Reaching the Big Dance three times in her six years at Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament twice.

She can recruit top talent and develop them

Messer knows a thing or two about recruiting some of the best high school players in the country.

She recruited Kalani Brown — a first-round and No. 7 overall draft pick of the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2019 WNBA draft — and Lauren Cox, who was the nation’s No 1 recruit out of Flower Mound High School in Texas and the No. 3 overall draft pick by the Indiana Fever in 2020.

She also recruited and signed the 2021 Wade Award winner and Big 12 Player of the Year NaLyssa Smith.

Not only can she get the top prospects to campus, she also can help develop them into the pros.

During her time working with the backcourt at Baylor, the Lady Bears had nine players selected in the WNBA draft, including a pair of second-round picks in 2021.

Of course, working at a school such as Baylor that often makes deep runs into the NCAA tournament can help on the recruiting trail.

Messer will have her work cut out for her at UCF, but she shouldn’t have a problem recruiting while living in Orlando, where prospects such as Lake Highland Prep’s Nyla Harris — a three-time FHSAA Class 4A state champion and Sentinel Girls All-Area Basketball Player of the Year — play high school basketball.

She was a big-time player in her heyday

Messer shined on the court throughout her time at Arkansas, where she helped the Razorbacks reach the NCAA Final Four for the first time in school history in 1998.

An SEC All-Freshman pick in ‘96, Messer went on to become a two-time captain for Arkansas as a junior and senior before she finished her career with the Razorbacks ranked in the school’s top 10 for points (1,379) and rebounds (603).

It was the ‘98 tournament run that cemented her name in Arkansas history. Messer led her team twice in scoring during wins over Kansas (24 points) and Duke (20).

Named MVP of the West Regional, Messer helped Arkansas, a 9-seed that year, become the first unranked team in the modern era to advance to the Final Four.

Inducted into the Razorbacks Hall of Honor in 2018, Messer also helped Arkansas to the 1999 WNIT championship.

She has head coach experience

While most of her time as a coach has been spent as an assistant at Georgia Tech, Baylor and LSU, Messer served as the head coach at Tennessee Tech from 2009-12.

In her second season, Messer led the Golden Eagles to the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship and was named the OVC Coach of the Year.

That season Tennessee Tech (23-8) advanced to the OVC championship game after a five-year absence. The team reached the WNIT for the first time since 2006 and just the fourth time in school history.

Tennessee Tech reached the OVC title game for the second straight year and played in the WBI in her last year.

She’s faced UCF on the court before

Although she’ll be formally introduced Tuesday afternoon at UCF, Messer has been to the Orlando campus in the past.

During the 2010 season, Messer and Tennessee Tech traveled to Orlando for a nonconference matchup with the Knights.

UCF, led by coach Joi Williams, won 79-69 in the only meeting between the two programs.

Messer, of course, will be looking to win a lot of games at UCF.

Email Jason Beede at or follow him on Twitter at @therealBeede.


Source: Berkshire mont

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