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Originally published March 28, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 10, 2007 at 9:01 PM

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UW Women's Basketball | Head coach search set to get serious

Washington athletic director Todd Turner said Tuesday his travel plans for the coming week aren't yet set. But few will be surprised if...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington athletic director Todd Turner said Tuesday his travel plans for the coming week aren't yet set.

But few will be surprised if he finds himself in Cleveland this weekend, where the women's Final Four will be held Sunday and Tuesday, an event that also serves as a convention for college coaches.

Anyone Turner might want to interview for the women's basketball head-coaching vacancy, created last week when he fired June Daugherty, figures to be in Cleveland.

And talking to candidates seems a logical next step after Turner has spent the past week discussing the matter with a nine-person advisory committee formed to help in the search, as well as a group of about a dozen ex-players.

Turner also met with the team's current players to fill them in on his decision and listen to their suggestions.

Turner said UW's former players "are really looking for someone who can connect people back together, who can bring a scrappiness to our program — that was a word I heard several times — that can be visible in our community and make women's basketball a big deal in our community. That's in addition to the basic things of being able to coach and teach and recruit."

As for the current players, Turner said they were now "focused on the future. They are eager to know who is going to be their coach."

Turner won't discuss specific candidates and said he was "nowhere near the point yet" of narrowing his list. He said he eventually would like to interview four to six candidates, "though that could change based on how those discussions go."

Among those newly rumored as possible candidates are Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph, Florida State coach Sue Semrau and South Carolina assistant Michelle Marciniak.

Joseph is in her fourth year at Tech and led the Yellow Jackets to the best season in school history this year at 21-12, including the school's first NCAA tournament win. She has recruited well in the Northwest in recent years: Tech's roster includes Jacqua Williams of Rainier Beach High and among the school's Class of 2007 recruits is forward Alex Montgomery of Lincoln High in Tacoma.

Semrau, who succeeded former UW coach Chris Gobrecht at FSU, is a native of Seattle who graduated from Shorecrest and played two years at Seattle Pacific. She is 160-138 in 10 years and led FSU to a 24-10 record this season that included a win over Stanford in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Marciniak is regarded as one of the nation's up-and-coming assistants. She was an All-American at Tennessee and played two years for the Seattle Storm, where she was one of the team's most popular players, before entering coaching. She is in her fourth year at South Carolina, where her duties include coordinating recruiting.

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Turner said he feels "no sense of urgency at the moment," in part because the roster is pretty well set — Daugherty signed six players last fall to go with the eight players who are expected to return next season. However, there are a number of big-name jobs open, including Texas, Florida, Michigan and LSU, which could complicate matters a bit.

Turner said in his meetings with alums and current players that gender was not regarded as a make-or-break factor. UW has never had a male coach for its women's basketball team.

"It's not an issue with the team," he said. "Everyone is of the same mind, that we want the best coach available."

One male mentioned as a possible candidate, Curt Miller of Bowling Green, has been granted permission to talk with Michigan, according to the Detroit News.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Read his blogs on Washington football and basketball at www.seattletimes.com/huskies.

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