Littell the Right Guy to Lead OSU Through Tragedy.
KSCB News - November 19, 2011 9:39 am
By BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
In March 2008, as members of the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team convened for an NCAA Tournament selection show watch party, coach Kurt Budke asked for the attention of his players.
Budke announced that Jim Littell had decided to remain OSU’s associate head coach instead of accepting a head-coaching position at another school.
The Cowgirls responded with loud cheers.
It is believed Littell had been offered the top job at Wichita State.
Now, with Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna having been killed in a plane crash Thursday, Littell has been designated the interim head coach at Oklahoma State.
"Jim Littell is the best associate head coach in America," Budke said during that 2008 party.
When Littell chose to remain with the Cowgirls instead of accepting employment elsewhere, "this says a lot for the future of Oklahoma State basketball," Budke said.
In 2008 – only two years after Budke’s first OSU team was 0-16 in Big 12 play – the Cowgirls advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. In 2010, they defeated six nationally ranked opponents and achieved the first national top-10 ranking in school history.
"Our kids are totally devastated," Littell said during a news conference on Friday. "They love coach Budke and love coach Serna. A lot of the reason they are here is because of those two people. Coach Serna was a tireless worker and got those kids believing in her. Obviously they are hurting because we have lost two tremendous people from the OSU family.
"(Budke) was a great basketball coach but he was a better husband and a better dad and a better friend. I think all the people in this room (who) knew coach Budke are better off for knowing him. He will not be forgotten, he will not be replaced and I love the man."
The father of record-setting Stillwater High School quarterback Jerame Littell and Pioneer wide receiver Jon Littell, Jim Littell had an extremely successful 14-season run as the women’s head coach at Seward County (Kan.) Community College. His 2001-02 team was a 38-0 national junior-college champion and had three All-Americans.
Littell’s overall Seward County record was 418-61 with nine Jayhawk West Conference titles. In nine seasons, he was the league’s coach of the year.
"He’s of the same quality of character as coach Serna and coach Budke," said Megan Byford, a former Cowgirl post player who completed her career in 2010. " … Everybody loves coach Littell. He’s like my second dad. I feel like I could call him and he would be there for me in a heartbeat. He treats every one of his players like they’re his daughter.
"How do you replace coach Budke? He was an amazing person. You can’t replace coach Budke. You never will. But I think coach Littell is a very strong person and he has strong faith. He’s a strong enough person to bear this kind of a burden and can rally these girls after something like this happened."
Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/sportsextra/article.aspx?articleid=20111119_93_B9_CUTLIN950623