Of the 32 banners dedicated to Lady Raiders basketball hanging inside the United Supermarkets Arena, there is one that stands apart from the rest. Written in bold, white script across a black and scarlet background reads “NCAA National Champions 1993.”
The 2022-2023 season marks the 30-year anniversary of the Texas Tech women’s basketball team climbing atop the NCAA tournament and being crowned the champions of basketball.
The 1993 season was capped off with an 84-82 victory over Ohio State, but for San Antonio resident and former Lady Raider Diana Kersey, the campaign as a whole was years in the making.
“I think we were all just gelled as a team and the confidence level that we built up as the season progressed, it became to where we felt like the national championship was inevitable,” Kersey, a forward from 1990-1994, said. “Winning is contagious … . We just knew we could win every game played.”
In her 24 seasons at the helm of the Tech women’s basketball team, head coach Marsha Sharp instilled a winning culture and walked away in 2006 with 572 victories, according to Tech Athletics. Sharp’s relentless attitude led to her players achieving a 97% graduation rate, a feat almost unheard of in collegiate athletics.
Aside from success on the basketball court, Sharp acknowledged the importance of ensuring that her players left Tech with an education to set themselves a foundation in life.
“My goal was to make sure they left Tech with a degree because if I had brought them there and we’ve had great experiences athletically for four years, but they had left without a degree, I would not have done my job very well,” Sharp said. “It honestly became something that our older players would make sure that the younger players did and this was a really important part of it.”
Sheryl Swoopes, the Most Outstanding Player of that 1993 group, was perhaps the most recognizable face on the team. A 2019 inductee to the Tech Ring of Honor, Swoopes is cemented in Tech culture as one of the most decorated athletes to roll through Lubbock.
Swoopes has a deep trophy case that holds three WNBA MVP awards to go along with her three Olympic gold medals. Her impact on the game of basketball stretched further than the depths of West Texas.
Swoopes, originally of Brownfield, was one of 10 players on the ‘93 team from within a 100 mile radius of Lubbock. Coach Sharp discussed the importance of keeping local recruits at Tech and how that affects teams even today.
“It was really important to establish a culture that we were going to keep all the good players from West Texas home. We worked really hard from a recruiting standpoint that every West Texas kid wanted to come to Tech and be a Lady Raider basketball player,” Sharp said. “ … . I think all of that went together to create a really great atmosphere for games and a lot of fan support and a lot of tradition with the program.”
In 2022, fans see Krista Gerlich as the current Lady Raider head coach, but before her transition to the sidelines, Gerlich was a starting guard on the 1993 championship team.
In a news conference Nov. 12, Gerlich noted that while coaching at Tech she has discussed the ‘93 team in her efforts to bring the program back up to that standard.
“I don’t think (the players) would have came to Texas Tech if they didn’t think that they could win a national championship. I’m living proof that they can do it and somebody can do it that’s standing right in front of them,” Gerlich said. “We talk about it a lot … we’ve actually been introducing them to several former Lady Raiders over the past 10 weeks to just teach them about the tradition and the legacy that’s been left here.”
A reunion between the former championship team is set for late January where the squad will be honored during the Lady Raiders’ match up against Baylor.