Coquese Washington is one of those head coaches that journalists really appreciate for a variety of reasons. For one thing, she’s very respectful and doesn’t act like she knows a lot more about basketball than you even though she does. For another thing, she actually answers the questions she’s asked instead of deflecting them.
She’s also known to drop a gem of a quote every now and again. I’ve complied some of them here in no particular order.
1. October 20, 2011: Riding Alex Bentley
Question: As a former point guard, how have you been able to help [point guard Alex Bentley] grow?
Washington: “I yell at her all the time, all the time. From the minute she walks in the gym and picks up a ball in pre-practice, I am riding her like we're at the Kentucky Derby.”
This one was so good, that I’ve used it in the paper twice this season. Heck, I could use it a third time by the time I’m through. Washington and Bentley have a fun dynamic, and this quote shows it.
2. January 22, 2012: Remembering Joe Paterno
“I used to call him my big brother on campus. When I first got here he would take care of me. Sue Paterno came over and got me involved in the Special Olympics as soon as I got here. Our program has continued that relationship with the Special Olympics. She would bring her grandchildren to our games. Coach Paterno and I were friends. It wasn’t like we had Sunday dinner every week, but the times that we spent together, he always gave me advice and inspiration. He always had a great memory. That was one of the things I remember. He would ask me where I’d been traveling and I would tell him that I was in Tulsa. He would say "I know a guy from Tulsa." I would always say, `You know everybody from everywhere.' When I first got here he asked where I was from. I said Flint, Michigan. He said, `Booker Moore!' And he started telling me about how he recruited [former PSU running back] Booker Moore out of Flint Southern. He was a fantastic man and a great inspiration. He meant so much to this community. We will miss him.”
It was cool to get Washington’s take on Paterno on the day the legend died. To the public, it may come as a surprise that Washington, who has only been here for 5 years, and Paterno had a relationship like this.
3. November 5, 2011: Thank God it’s November
After the Lady Lions’ exhibition against Bloomsburg in which they surrendered 81 points to the D-II team, Washington said:
“We look like it’s November 5, and thank God it’s November 5. I’m not jumping off Mount Nittany or anything like that. We know that we have work to do, but we have time to get better. We will get better.”
A suicide reference can quickly liven up a story.
4. November 9, 2011: Playing through the Sandusky scandal
“I don’t think any human being on earth has been able to be insulated from all this stuff. But, I think our kids…you know, they’re students, so they’re doing the best they can with balancing academics, athletics, and…current events. They balance that stuff all the time and they’re doing the same thing now.”
About seven hours after Washington said this, Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier were fired.
5. February 20, 2012: Solving Greene’s foul trouble
Q: After Nikki Greene’s first foul [in the Ohio State game] she said you talked to her on the sideline. What did you say to her?
Washington: “I said, ‘You know, just stop reaching,’ and she said, ‘Okay.’ I don't know why I didn't say that game two of the season but it was pretty much that brief of a conversation. I said, ‘You know, you don't really have to reach for those,’ and she said ‘Okay, I won't. I won't do that.’ Sometimes it's nothing miraculous. It's unbelievable.”
After that foul was called on Greene just over a minute into the game, she only fouled two more times for its remainder. She also had 25 points and 15 rebounds. Talk about coaching her up.
6. February 9, 2012: Shoot it, Mia
Question (from Dan Norton): Mia, it looks like they were playing you pretty loose defensively when you were out there on the perimeter in the motion offense. Have you ever thought about shooting the jump shot?
Washington: “GREAT QUESTION!”
Washington was sitting in a desk to the side while the players were getting interviewed after a home win over Wisconsin, and she butted in with this, resulting in hilarity.