Saturday 02/22
SEC Championships - Day Five
Swim & Dive
Friday 02/21
SEC Championships - Day Four
Swim & Dive
Thursday 02/20
SEC Championships - Day Three
Swim & Dive
Wednesday 02/19
SEC Championships - Day Two
Swim & Dive
Tuesday 02/18
SEC Championships - Day One
Swim & Dive
Saturday 02/01
Swim & Dive
Saturday 02/01
Swim & Dive
Article Image
Courtesy: Arkansas
View larger

Tennille Adams from Razorback to Wildcat

Athletic Communications
Send this article to a friend Print RSS
Black History Month began Feb. 1, 2012, and will be celebrated through the end of the month, ending Feb. 29, 2012.  The University of Arkansas Athletics Department begins its fourth year of recognizing the accomplishments of current and former Razorback student-athletes as well as other prominent students, faculty and staff with its web series on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.  This year, the web series will feature stories of former Razorback student-athletes who have gone on to coaching positions in universities or colleges around the state and country.  In addition, the series will recognize four Silas Hunt honorees. 

"The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself--the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us--that's where it's at." -Jesse Owens

Responsible for the most famous rebound in Razorback women’s basketball history, Tennille Adams is now making history as a Division I women’s basketball assistant coach and recruiter.

One of the top 50 recruits in the country, post player from East Chicago, Ill., Adams was a Parade All-American when signed with the Razorbacks in 1995.  Part of then assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Tom Collen’s highly ranked 1995 class, Adams was a member of two of the greatest Arkansas teams.

After a NWIT freshman season and beating Tennessee as a sophomore, Adams’ junior season saw her as a key player off the bench for the Razorbacks at the post backing senior Karen Jones and sophomore Karyn Karlin.

"No one expected us to win," Adams recalled of the 1998 NCAA run.  "After each game we would sit on the bus and say 'one more game, we gotta prove one more person wrong."

In the showdown with Duke, Adams came off the bench once again, battling against the 6- 6 anchor of the Blue Devils, Michele VanGorp.

At 6-1, Adams not only held her own, but commanded the lane.  Adams played only 17 minutes, but scored 14 points off 6-of-9 from the field and was Arkansas’ leading rebounder with six.  She matched VanGorp’s 14 points, but the Duke star had only two rebounds.

Arkansas’ one-point half time lead, 32-31, had withered in the second half as the eighth- ranked Blue Devils were trying to fulfill their expected arrival at the 1998 Final Four.

Adams had other thoughts, and it was her rebound and stick-back inside the final minute that gave Arkansas the lead for good.  Her shot set the stage for the more often remembered four free throws by her teammate and fellow Hoosier Christy Smith that iced the win.

"Naturally, the commentators picked Duke to advance to the Final Four," Adams said.  "But what they failed to realize is that had been our motivating factor the entire tournament.  They forgot that Christy Smith was one of the best point guards in the country that year, or that Sytia Messer as an offensive assassin with the heart of a lion.  They underestimated the fact that we played in the toughest conference in women's basketball."

Her senior year, Adams was one of two returning starters that guided the Razorbacks through a tough, up-and-down regular season.  The Women’s NIT gave the 1998 Final Four players a chance for redemption.

Roaring through the opening rounds at home, Arkansas hosted the title game at Walton Arena in front of a crowd of 14,163 – the first time the upper deck was opened for a women’s basketball game.

Adams and the seniors were playing for teammate Sytia Messer, who saw her 128 game streak of consecutive games snapped in the tournament final due to her mother’s sudden heart attack the night before the game.

Scoring 13 points in the final against Wisconsin, Adams was one of three Razorbacks in double-digits as Arkansas won the title, 67-64.

Adams finished her career ranked 37th in scoring at Arkansas with 637 points and 26th all-time in rebounding with 396, playing in 127 games in her four year career.

"I think there are few colleges that put such emphasis on women's athletics at the time, and it was not just basketball," Adams said.  "We had the best support, athletic trainers and facilities, and I also felt that Arkansas equipped me with the necessary tools to continue my success after athletics."

Working in private business briefly after graduation, Adams began her coaching career at Lon Morris Junior College in 2004.  She moved up to the Division I ranks in her next stop as an assistant for North Carolina A&T.  Two years at A&T led Adams to American University in Washington, D.C.

As the recruiting lead assistant for American, Adams caught the eye of cross town George Washington University head coach Joe McKeown.  When the veteran GWU head coach left for Northwestern University, he reached out to bring Adams along to the Big 10.

Now in her fourth season at Northwestern, Adams, has helped the program to 44 wins (prior to this season) and saw the Wildcats go from a 7-23 season in her first year to 18, then 19 wins and back-to-back WNIT appearances.

"These last three seasons at Northwestern have been a truly dynamic experience," Adams said. "Our student-athletes are a joy to work with and have truly set the bar for what it means to succeed as student-athletes. I've had the pleasure to learn and grow as a coach from a future hall of famer in Joe McKeown. To prepare top-notch athletes at an academic institution like Northwestern and to work with a highly-respected coaching staff has been a remarkable experience that has enabled me to excel as a coach."

Uploaded Ad
Lowes Social Ad