Virginia Fan Q&A: Women’s Sports Spotlight

Virginia
Coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton will try to lift Virginia women’s basketball back to relevance. ~ Photo By Kris Wright/TheSabre.com

It’s time for another round of mailbag questions in the Virginia Q&A feature, which runs as part of our Fan Friday content on TheSabre.com. For this edition, we’re putting women’s sports in the spotlight.

As always, click on the question to go to the message board thread and discuss.

How realistic is a return to the upper echelon in the ACC and nationally for the women’s basketball team? And how many years do you think it will take if it is possible? ~ 105A

When Virginia hired Amaka Agugua-Hamilton in March, it gave the women’s basketball program a much-needed reset and boosted interest this offseason. Most UVA fans agree that with the John Paul Jones Arena, academics, and a spot in the ACC, that the Hoos should be more competitive here than they have been recently. Coach Mox is now the one in the coaches’ seat trying to make that happen.

I, for one, think it is realistic for UVA to get itself back to relevance quickly, but it could take a full recruiting cycle (four years) or more to try to get into the upper echelon of the conference and therefore the nation.

By relevance, I simply mean not being a complete afterthought in the ACC. The Hoos have 15 league wins from the last four seasons … or less than Louisville and NC State had just this year. Obviously, canceling the season during the pandemic limited chances to get wins in one season, but still the Cavaliers simply haven’t been a factor in conference play in quite some time. For simplicity sake, let’s call relevance getting back near .500 in ACC play. I think that goal, particularly in the age of the transfer portal, can be reached within the first one to three years. Doing it this year would be truly impressive, but sometime in the first three years is a reasonable ask.

Turning that into consistency and climbing the ACC ladder is more than likely going to take more time. It’s not a complete daydream, though. Louisville and NC State have been jockeying at the top of the standings for the last four years, but other teams have taken turns in the top five as well. UNC, Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech were there this past season, for example, but it was Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Syracuse the year before. In other words, it’s a competitive and balanced league. In some ways, that can make a rise harder but in others it means no one is an overwhelmingly dominant force like say Notre Dame of old.

The Virginia men’s team and the NCSU women’s team both may provide some insight on the timeline it takes to make that sort of steady climb. Tony Bennett took over at UVA headed into the 2009-2010 season. It took three years to get above .500 in the conference and make the NCAA Tournament and five years to truly get to the top level of the ACC with that first regular season and tournament title in 2014. Wes Moore went to State in 2013-2014 and made just one NCAA Tournament in his first three years, though he did have two above .500 records in ACC play. It wasn’t until year five, however, that the Wolfpack took that next step to become a consistent Sweet 16 fixture.

Regardless, because Virginia has the JPJ and because Virginia plays in a good women’s basketball conference, Coach Mox should be able to make the program relevant again sooner rather than later. Anything beyond that is a challenge for any coach, but I think it is still doable at UVA.

Perhaps a second question too: What are you looking forward to seeing most from

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