COLUMBIA — A lot has gone wrong for Missouri women’s basketball coach Cindy Stein this season. There were injuries to key players, the brief suspension of her two leading scorers, and finally she stepped down as the Tigers coach. It all added up to a season of turmoil.
However, one thing can be said for the way Stein has coached this season. She never gave up.
Time and again, the Tigers came close to knocking off powerhouses such as Nebraska and Oklahoma. But in the end, the season's theme remained the same: Wins remained rare, while losses continued to mount.
The far-from-perfect season came to a close in a 64-59 loss to No. 15 Texas on Thursday in the first-round of the Big 12 tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. But like many of the other Tigers losses this season, they gave a ranked team a tough contest. Longhorns coach Gail Goestenkors knew the Tigers were going to give a little extra effort for Stein.
“I feel for Cindy, I really do,” Goestenkors said. “Like I said, she’s a good friend and a great coach, and I know there are good things out there for her. I hated that this was her last game.”
For a while, it appeared the Tigers were poised to pull off the upset. The Tigers led 29-28 at halftime. However, the Longhorns size and physical play took its toll on Missouri in the second half.
“Their second-chance points hurt us in the long run, and their size and physicality,” Stein said. “They’re a terrific team, but their size is a lot to handle, and I think that was something we couldn’t overcome today.”
The play of Amanda Hanneman kept the Tigers competitive most of the game. The senior hit seven 3-pointers and led the Tigers (12-18, 2-14) with 21 points. Brittainey Raven led the Longhorns (22-9, 10-6) with 11 points. In the end, the balance and size of the Longhorns was too much.
For Stein and four Tigers seniors, it was the end of their Missouri careers. After the game, Stein did not show much emotion. Neither did Hanneman. The two knew the end was near, so that may have eased the pain a bit.
However, since Stein announced her resignation last week, the coach said she has dealt with a wide range of emotions from her players.
“You’ve got 14 girls. I mean it’s a whole range of emotions. On a different day it could be different with all of them,” Stein said.
Now that it’s all over, Stein will have time to sit back and reflect on her time at Missouri. The coach said she was not too emotional because she will stay in touch with her players.
“I feel like sometimes you’ve got to go on a different journey, but I think our paths will always cross,” Stein said. “I don’t look at it that all of a sudden it’s ending where it’s like I don’t have any contact.”
Junior RaeShara Brown said she was appreciative of the help Stein has given her, but that she was also looking forward to her senior season.
“We thank Coach Stein for everything she’s done for us. She has taught us a lot. She has gotten us as individuals through battles,” Brown said, later adding about the coaching transition. “It’s going to be new, but we’re going to have to embrace it.”
At the moment, Stein said she has no idea what lies ahead for her. She wants to step back and think about her next move.
“Honestly, I don’t know. Everyone has asked me that. I love coaching,” Stein said. “I’ve talked about maybe it’s time if I want to go to administration … I have a great passion for sports, I love athletics.”
Even though Stein doesn’t know what her future will bring, she knows her plans for Thursday night in Kansas City.
Stein said, smiling. “I’m going to grab a beer and we’ll go from there.”