It can be fairly said that Tara VanDerveer is the most underrated great coach in the US. So what are the reasons?
VanDerveer is a chunk of the weekend by winning her 1,000th college basketball game, either whether it is Friday against Southern California or Monday against UCLA. It would make her the third coach in the history of the US sports to achieve that well-rounded milestone, just after Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt.
What are the reasons why she is so underrated? She has been around for so very long time and between Idaho (two years), Stanford (30), Ohio State (five), and the U.S. Olympic Team (one), a long time in this culture is an excuse to overlook. Overlooking causes dismissing, and dismissing causes underrating.
The next reason is that she has done most of her work on the West Coast, which has always been undervalued by the opinion makers in the East and Midwest.
Moreover, most of her career has been as a second banana after Summit and Tennessee and then Geno Auriemma. Having coached eleven teams to the Final Four, however, she won only twice. Meanwhile, our culture values silver and bronze medals as the way we value dryer lint. It also doesn’t help that her teams lost twice to Summitt’s Tennessee and four times to Auriemma’s Connecticut.
Another reason is that VanDerveer is mostly an insider’s coach. She has won a steady stream of raves for many years since she has been supportive of both her contemporaries and potential successors at the same time kicking their hinders mercilessly. She has not done the self-aggrandizing and maybe degrading things needed to be done to become famous.
For all these reasons, when the list of extraordinary coaches is written down, her name will not come easily to paper. She has done everything a coach can do but not aggressively seek out fame, which makes her underrated.