March 4, 2005
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Washington State University Head Women's Basketball Coach Sherri Murrell has signed a contract extension that keeps her at the helm of the Cougar program through the 2010 season, WSU Director of Athletics Jim Sterk announced Friday.
Sterk made the announcement at the 2005 Pacific-10 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at San Jose's HP Pavilion. The Cougars, who for the first time since the 2001 season did not finish last in conference play, are the ninth seed in the tournament and face No. 8 California at 8:15 p.m.
"I am extremely pleased with the direction of the WSU women's basketball program under Coach Murrell," Sterk said. "Over the past three years, the program has made significant strides in the competitiveness of the team along with community interest and support. It will be exciting to see what the next five years bring."
"I am grateful the administration and athletic department have given me the opportunity to continue to build here at Washington State," Murrell said. "This extension represents their commitment and belief in the positive direction this program is heading. I am happy to stay here and love the Cougar support my staff and I have received."
Inheriting a program that won two games and was winless in the Pac-10 during the 2002 season, Murrell has directed the program to improvements in each of her first three years as head coach at WSU.
An indication of that progression is the increased number of competitive games the team played this season. In 2004-05, WSU has been involved in nine games decided by six points or fewer, more than the previous two seasons combined (eight).
The Cougars have also made significant progress closing the scoring gap in games each year culminating in an average scoring margin that is in single digits this season.
Defensively, the team has held the opposition to below 70 points 19 times. In 2003 that number was seven and improved to 13 in 2004.
The stat sheet is not the only area where the program has improved as attendance has risen in each of Murrell's first three years at WSU. From 2002 -- the year prior to Murrell's arrival at WSU -- to 2005, attendance at WSU home games has increased over 86 percent.
The attendance figure of 1,460 for the Jan. 22 Washington-WSU game was the largest to attend a Cougar home game since 1992. WSU had three games with an attendance figure of over 1,000 this season, marking the first time since the 1992-93 season that WSU has had at least three games it attracted over 1,000 fans to a home game.