Duke Loses But Also Wins

By Richard Kent
Updated: April 5, 2006

Tia Jackson

Tia Jackson

CONNECTICUT—The Duke Blue Devils women’s basketball team came very close to winning a National Championship last night for a lot of reasons.

Coach Gail Goestenkors probably had her best year on the sidelines. She was more relaxed than in past years and that was quite evident to her players.

Duke got some outstanding performances, especially in the post season. Alison Bales really came up big in the Connecticut game. Monique Currie, Mistie Williams and Lindsey Harding were all stalwarts throughout the regular and post season. Chante Black was a star in many of the NCAA games.

Duke had another presence on the sidelines this year that may have separated it from past years. Coach Goestenkors brought in a new assistant in Tia Jackson from UCLA.

Jackson is a native of Salisbury, Maryland and joined the UCLA staff in July of 2000 serving as recruiting coordinator for each of those years. She signed a top six national recruiting class in 2003.

Prior to her arriving at UCLA Jackson served as an assistant at Stanford in 1999 and was an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1996 – 99.

She is a 1995 graduate of the University of Iowa where she played under C. Vivien Stringer. She helped lead the Hawkeyes to 4 top 25 final rankings in 5 seasons and a berth in the 1993 Final Four. She played in the WNBA in its inaugural season and was a 9th overall pick in the draft.

Jackson, with model-like looks could have succeeded in many professions. She was a media studies and film major at Iowa and had opportunities in television production. Her true strength though involves communicating with people and that is a huge boost as it relates to recruiting.

One of her major responsibilities at Duke is recruiting and she has already helped to line up one of the top classes in the nation next year. Duke loses a few key starters at graduation and with the help of Jackson they will simply reload once again next year.

There are few coaching commodities who are higher right now than Jackson and look for her to land a major head coaching position in the next few seasons. In the interim Coach Goestenkors and her staff will certainly see a few more Final Fours. Jackson will be one of the reasons.