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Coquese Washington has the resume and the credentials to get the job done with the Rutgers women’s basketball team. So says Meghan McKeown, a former Big Ten basketball player who is now a college basketball insider.
A former Northwestern basketball standout, McKeown now works for the Big Ten Network in a variety of roles including as a women’s college basketball analyst.
In terms of the hire of Washington, there is certainly grounds for optimism from Rutgers fans. During a 12-year stretch as head coach at Penn State, McKeown led the Nittany Lions to four NCAA Tournament appearances, twice leading the program to the Sweet Sixteen.
Three other times, Penn State made the NIT.
For a Rutgers program that has, over the past two decades, consistently been a top 25 program and made the NCAA Tournament more often than not, Washington’s track record with Penn State has some interesting carry over to her rebuilding project at Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights went 11-20 last year, losing in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament to Indiana.
“I think the reason to be optimistic is coach Washington did have consistent success at Penn State for a stretch. It is incredibly difficult to win the conference, let alone do it three straight years,” McKeown told RutgersWire on Wednesday.
“Sometimes leaving a conference, then coming back, can offer a fresh perspective on how to approach building a program and recruiting. That has a chance to be the case in this instance. Coach also spent time at Notre Dame as associate head coach, and I felt that program was one of the most underrated nationally this past season after struggling when Muffet McGraw retired. This is going to be an uphill battle and will take a few years, but coach Washington is more than qualified to do it.”
After being let go at Penn State in 2019, she spent time at Oklahoma as associate head coach and then the past two seasons at a very good Notre Dame program.
McKeown, who knows the Big Ten as both a player and a member of the media, thinks that Washington is a good fit. Having played against Washington-coached teams at Penn State adds another layer to McKeown’s buoyant outlook on the latest hire by Rutgers.
“Coach Washington is a great hire for Rutgers. She understands how to win in the Big Ten with a lot of success at Penn State. Coach Washington also understands how to develop pros,” McKeown said.
“I played against Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas and that Penn State team was one of the hardest to guard. Coach also has experience at the highest level when it comes to recruiting the northeast and nationally. The Big Ten conference is one of the best in the country because of the level of coaching.
“Coach Washington knows how to compete in the chess matches that occur in-game regarding the coaching in this conference.”