Jacie Hoyt grabs the mic from the scorers table and paces out to the middle of the court.
Hoyt exudes passion and energy addressing the buzzing crowd that just saw the Cowgirls topple TCU, thanking them for simply coming.
Hoyt is not Jim Littell, nor any other Cowgirls basketball coach for that matter. She’s young and vibrant, the new face of the program, a face that’s infusing life into a once-lagging fan base. Oh, and her girls, too.
This type of energy and commitment to the fanbase is key these days to build a strong fanbase, establish a culture and be successful.
Saturday, the Cowgirls travel to Norman to face No. 15 Oklahoma, which is buzzing to the beat of a new face, too. Well, a new-ish face.
This game holds a lot of importance, but it’s much bigger than just the basketball being played, it’s with the coaches too. Both teams have recently changed from long-tenured coaches to young women coaches.
In 2021, 56-year-old Sherri Coale, who led OU to three final fours in 25 years as coach, retired from coaching. In the three seasons prior, OU didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, it seemed it was time.
OU then hired a young, vibrant coach – 39-year-old Jennie Baranczyk from Drake.
Since that hire, the Sooners are 40-11 and made the second round of the tournament last season.
A year later, OSU did a similar move.
At the end of last season, 66-year-old Littell got fired from OSU after a 9-20 season.
As Littell’s replacement, OSU hired 34-year-old Hoyt.
To quote Cody Nagel of 247sports, the Bedlam schools have gone, “Younger. Hipper. Cooler.”
What’s been a trend in recent years of basketball? Points, something both teams do well.
OU is averaging 86.8 points per game, which is sixth in the country, and OSU is No. 11 in three-point percentage at 37.72%. Last season, OSU ranked as one of the worst shooting teams in the country.
The change for both schools needed to happen in order to keep up with the widespread change not only in women’s basketball, but in college athletics.
The use of social media is a huge recruitment tool, something Coale and Littell didn’t utilize. Now with NIL growing more and more, relationships with players are more important. Hoyt after big wins versus Texas and at Baylor celebrated with her team. She cried, prayed and cheered with the players.
Who better to lead a group full of young women than a young woman who can find it easier to relate to the player more, speak to the players and provide the updated requirements for a team to be successful.
“I think women’s basketball is in a really good place right now where the game is growing,” Hoyt said. “I think it’s super important that females have strong females leading them and mentoring them. I wouldn’t be where I’m at if I didn’t have that in my life.”