The road to the Women’s Final Four is a long one for hundreds of NCAA Division I women’s basketball players across the country. For Stephanie White, it is right in her backyard.
White, head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever and an ESPN college basketball analyst, is excited to welcome No. 1 UConn, No. 2 Oregon State, No. 4 Syracuse and No. 7 Washington to the 2016 championship in Indianapolis, her hometown.
White, an analyst for women’s Big Monday games on ESPN2 during the regular season, will be a part of ESPN’s weekend coverage of the Women’s Final Four, including segments on NCAA Women’s Final Four Special Presented by Capital One on Sunday, April 3 (5:30 p.m. ET) and NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capitol One on Tuesday, April 5 (7:30 p.m. ET). Both shows will be live from Bankers Life Fieldhouse on ESPN and WatchESPN.
The former National Player of the Year who led Purdue to the 1999 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship spoke with Front Row about having the premier event in women’s college basketball in her home state, and how ESPN’s coverage is paving the way for young girls everywhere. She even recommends a few of her favorite places for fans making the trip to the Circle City.
You are working your first Women’s Final Four for ESPN. What will you bring to the studio coverage?
I will bring a coach’s viewpoint and break down some X’s and O’s and strategy that I hope the viewers will enjoy.
You are on both sides of ESPN’s women’s basketball coverage – calling college telecasts and coaching in the WNBA, which ESPN airs exclusively. How has the sport grown on ESPN and overall?
There are certainly many more games on TV now than ever. I think one of the things that I get most excited about is that young girls can have female role models that they actually see, celebrated with the coverage ESPN gives. We always hear girls saying “I want to play like Michael [Jordan] or Magic [Johnson], Steph [Curry] or LeBron [James],” because that’s who they see. Now they can actually see more and more women’s games and I hope they begin to say “I want to play like Maya [Moore], Tamika [Catchings], Stewie (Breanna Stewart), etc.” We will grow our game and our fan base by consistently showcasing, promoting and celebrating our players and teams.
How does working and attending the Final Four help in your job as the Indiana Fever coach?
I always think stepping back and seeing the game from a more broad perspective as an analyst helps me as a coach because it forces me to get away from the minutia, the little things that sometimes as coaches we get obsessed with. It allows me to appreciate the game, the coaches and the players as a whole and look at all of the good things teams do. I also hope that being a coach helps me give the viewer a more in-depth view of the details, the intangibles, the strategy or the X’s and O’s.
What is your favorite memory from working Big Monday games this season?
I just really enjoy being at the gym with basketball folks and talking about the game. Seeing the ways coaches communicate, strategize and game plan is a great learning tool for me. It’s fun to see how players and teams respond, how each team executes the game plan, etc. Of course, it’s always a blast with our crew. We have not only some of the best in the business in terms of what they do, but going to work with quality people every Monday makes it that much more enjoyable.
What excites you about having the Final Four in Indiana?
The state of Indiana loves basketball. We embrace it and love to put on a show when major events are in town. Of course, the city is amazing. You don’t need a car, you can walk everywhere, Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a great environment for women’s basketball, and when the Final Four comes to town it’s the Super Bowl for the city.
What are your favorite places to go in Indianapolis?
Some of my favorite downtown spots are Milktooth, Café Patachou, Nine Irish Brothers, Bakersfield, Harry & Izzy’s and Tastings. Can you tell I love food?
If you’re bringing children, you must check out the Indianapolis Children’s museum and the Zoo!