ALBANY – Early in Friday's shootaround, while posing for the photographers at the Times Union Center, Felisha Legette-Jack was joking about her playing days at Syracuse. She said her shooting range was limited and she'd get pulled out of the game if she attempted a shot outside the lane.
Later, with cameras rolling, Legette-Jack took a one-handed shot from midcourt. She swished it.
It was a great moment for a coach and a UB women's team that is having the time of its life after winning the first two NCAA Tournament games in program history to reach the Sweet 16. Making it sweeter was that Legette-Jack's college coach at Syracuse, Barbara Jacobs, was there for Friday's interviews and practice.
"I'm really proud of Felisha," said Jacobs, who coached Legette-Jack at Syracuse and is now the associate basketball commisoner of the AAC, UConn's league. She said she's equally happy for Sue Guevera, an old friend who took Central Michigan, the MAC women's tourney champ, to the Sweet 16 as well
"What they're doing is truly amazing," Jacobs said. "But these kids are so hungry. That's the difference. When you're coaching at the quote 'Power Five' schools, you have to convince them to work hard. These kids WANT to work hard."
Jacobs said Legette-Jack was that sort of worker as a player, a tireless rebounder and leader who pushed her teammates to a higher level.
"She was a super banger," Jacobs said. "She ran the floor really, really hard. She really worked hard and never, ever let up. She pushed and pushed and pushed. I knew when the shot went up, if she was anywhere near it, she was going to get it."
I asked Jacobs if Felisha had the same bold, dynamic personality as a player as she demonstrates as a coach.
"Oh, yeah," Jacobs said. "She was inspiring. Oh, she would yell at her teammates. Ruunnn!!! And they would all get going behind her and she was very, very vocal. And worked extremely hard. She set an example for all the others."
Legette-Jack might not have ventured outside the paint, but she put the ball in the hoop. She graduated in 1989 as Syracuse's career scorer (1,526 points) and rebounder (927 rebounds). Heading into this season, she ranked fifth and third.