Published March 17, 2016
COLUMBUS — After more than a quarter-century of coaching, Felisha Legette-Jack finally gets to return to the stage she was on last during her stellar playing career at Syracuse University in the late 1980s: the NCAA tournament.
Before coming to UB in 2012, Legette-Jack had already established herself in the basketball coaching world. After serving as an assistant at Syracuse, Boston College and Michigan State, Legette-Jack received her first head coaching gig in 2002 at Hofstra, guiding that program to unprecedented success.
Then she took over at Indiana University, where she spent six seasons, coaching the Hoosiers to three postseason appearances and a program record-tying 21 wins in one year. While her teams reached the WNIT several times, one thing Legette-Jack hadn’t done was lead a team to the Big Dance.
That is, until this year, when she achieved that goal under improbable circumstances, with a group no one expected to make it past the first round of the MAC tournament, let alone win it and go dancing for the first time in program history.
“It takes me back to when I was 23 years old because that’s the last time I was in the NCAA tournament,” Legette-Jack says. “I’m just as giddy as the players are. I’ve been to the WNIT many times as a coach, but never got the chance to dance on this stage.”
Now that the national spotlight is on the program for making the tournament, much of the nation knows by now that MAC coaches at the beginning of the season predicted UB to finish last in its division. UB exceeded those expectations wildly, becoming the first No. 8 seed to win the conference tournament.
“This is the story that I’m going to share in a book one day because this is the team I want to reflect on,” Legette-Jack says. “A lot of great things have happened in my life, from playing at Syracuse to marriage and having a son, but this is like the culmination of all of that, and to do it at this point in my life…”
The way they did it is remarkable. The Bulls lost 87 percent of their scoring from last season to injury or graduation. And they added a host of international players who hadn’t played together before.
“The odds were against this team. But when you build a ball of fists and you stick together and have e