March 15, 2011
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By John Denton UCFAthletics.com
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFathletics.com) - Music was still blaring, confetti was scattered about and tears of joy were still streaming in the glow of UCF's Conference USA title when it came time for Athletics Director Keith Tribble to scale the ladder and cut down a piece of the net.
Only one matter slowed Tribble's net-cutting progress: He had to find a place to sit the Conference USA trophy that he was lovingly clutching with both hands.
``It never, ever gets old holding this trophy, not at all,'' Tribble said through a smile that was splashed across his face after UCF whipped Tulane on Saturday to win the C-USA Women's Basketball Championship.
No one seemed to enjoy and appreciate UCF's title - its second in three seasons in women's basketball - more so that the AD. Though he wanted no credit for it whatsoever, Tribble had a hand in this championship for the Knights. with the team slogging along at midseason and seemingly bothered by the massive expectations surround the team, Tribble authored a 90-minute pep talk for the Knights that discussed playing for pride and sense of urgency.
All UCF did after that Tribble talk was win 11 consecutive games, including three straight in the C-USA tourney in El Paso. The Knights rallied back from 15 points down to win in the quarterfinals, routed Memphis in the semifinals and stayed strong throughout in the championship whipping of Tulane.
for Tribble, UCF's rise was the equivalent of a parent seeing a child starting to walk and soon after sprint at full speed.
``It was all there for this team all along and they had it within them, but it was just a matter of doing it,'' he said. ``These seniors and leaders among the team made up their mind that they were going to raise their level of play right away and go after this championship. I'm just so proud of them for doing it.''
Tribble's greatest satisfaction is that head coach Joi Williams and associate head coach Greg Brown has built more than just a good team at UCF; with two titles in three years, UCF has morphed into C-USA's premier basketball program. Good seasons and bad seasons will come and go, Tribble said, but it's building solid programs with expectations of long-term success that matters most.
And now that the women's basketball team has scaled that mountain, Tribble was plenty happy to hang onto the spoils of that success as the Knights celebrated another championship around him.
``We're trying to get to a level where we have consistent championships, and having success like this women's team has had, it's reaching a lot of our goals for our school,'' Tribble said.
``I tell our teams that we want to compete for championships and the reward when you win them is getting to raise these big trophies over your head. I'm just so proud of these ladies, and especially these seniors, to win twice in three years. It's a special group led by a special coach and I couldn't be prouder of them for what they've achieved.''
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at edu.