During a week in which the Crimson women’s basketball team overcame early deficits to improve their record to 19-7 by beating Cornell and Columbia, head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith set her own records from the sidelines.
After 32 years at Harvard, Delaney-Smith won her 514th game on Saturday night, tying former Princeton men’s coach Pete Carril for the most wins by an Ivy League basketball coach.
“I’m very proud of that record, but it’s secondary to so many other things,” Delaney-Smith said. “I think Harvard is a school that does it right; the balance of athletics and academics is philosophically what I believe in.”
Perhaps the milestone Delaney-Smith has reached can be attributed to her own diligence, and the motivation her leadership provides the team. Delaney-Smith will have a chance to break the record this Friday night at Lavietes Pavilion against Yale.
“I’m looking for work ethic,” Delaney-Smith said. “Day in and day out, regardless of whether the practice is great or not great, regardless of whether the win record is great or not great, I’m going to always work hard. My hope is that they work hard too.”
Rather than simply coaching from the sidelines, Delaney-Smith clearly practices what she preaches in striving for excellence.
“She will never be satisfied with as many wins as she has, and as many Ivy League titles,” said Allison Miller, Assistant Athletic Director of Communications. “She’s always learning as a coach, learning from other coaches, and learning from her team as well. Her competitive nature is just contagious within her team.”
Delaney-Smith doesn’t stop at cultivating this level of success on the court; it extends beyond, as her athletes develop in preparation for the life beyond college.
“The win mark is terrific, but she has a such a good reputation for fostering a good family environment around her team and seeing a lot of her players go on to successful careers outside of basketball,” said Director of Athletic Communications Timothy Williamson. “She’s a very driven person and she teaches a lot of the right lessons for teamwork and what you can accomplish when you really focus. She motivates her players through setting the right example, and that carries over to other things people do.”
Entering this weekend’s games in third place in the conference behind Penn and Princeton, Delaney-Smith acknowledged that the final Ivy standings are now out of the Crimson’s control. However, this coach doesn’t neglect the competition in the Ancient Eight, and recognizes her team’s accomplishments thus far.
“The Ivy League title is so hard to come by in the sport of basketball, so every year we are in the race for that title is extremely meaningful,” Delaney-Smith said. “If I can feel year in and year out that we’re in that race and we have an opportunity to win it, then I believe I’ve done my job.”