As the wins have piled up over the past month, the noise has only become harder to escape.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock women's basketball team has stayed toward the top of the Sun Belt Conference standings, and with that, its head coach has crept toward another career milestone.
UALR women vs. Texas State
WHEN 11:30 a.m.
WHERE Jack Stephens Center, Little Rock
RECORDS UALR 10-12, 8-3 Sun Belt Conference; Texas State 8-14, 1-10
RADIO KARN-AM, 920, in Little Rock
Joe Foley’s career
1987-88 - 29-5
1988-89 - 35-2
1989-90 - 30-3
1990-91 - 28-6
1991-92 - 35-1
1992-93 - 31-5
1993-94 - 30-3
1994-95 - 28-6
1995-96 - 23-9
1996-97 - 29-4
1997-98 - 26-5
1998-99 - 31-7
1999-00 - 24-7
2000-01 - 23-8
2001-02 - 25-6
2002-03 - 29-4
2003-04 - 10-17
2004-05 - 10-19
2005-06 - 13-15
2006-07 - 21-10
2007-08 - 23-9
2008-09 - 26-7
2009-10 - 27-7
2010-11 - 23-8
2011-12 - 20-13
2012-13 - 24-9
2013-14 - 18-12
2014-15 - 29-5
2015-16 - 20-13
2016-17 - 25-9
2017-18 - 23-10
2018-19 - 21-11
2019-20 - 10-12
Career total: 799-267
What seemed like an inevitability before the season started is at his fingertips -- UALR Coach Joe Foley needs one more victory to reach 800 in his career, and it could come today when the Trojans (10-12, 8-3) host Texas State (8-14, 1-10) at 11:30 a.m. at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
"Only reason it's in my mind is because Trey [Schaap, UALR's radio play-by-play man] keeps bringing it up all the time," Foley said Tuesday with a laugh. "Everybody talks about 800, but, you know, same thing with 700 and 600 -- it doesn't change anything. You worry about the next one. This late in the year, the next one's going to be even more important, and it's not because it's 801, it's because it's going to affect ... the standings."
Only 12 coaches in Division I women's basketball history have won at least 800 career games, the all-time leader being legendary Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt -- who died in June 2016 -- with 1,098. Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer and Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma are quickly closing in on Summitt's record.
Six of those coaches are currently active, including former University of Arkansas and current Texas A&M Coach Gary Blair.
Blair, who is good friends with Foley, began this season sitting at 791 victories, while Foley needed two more than that. Their squads met in the season opener Nov. 5 in College Station, Texas, with the Aggies, who are currently ranked No. 16 nationally, claiming a 78-35 victory over the Trojans.
A little more than a month later, on Dec. 15, Blair picked up his 800th career win.
"Gary has been bringing this up for about three years now -- who's gonna get to 800 first," Foley said. "He has a blast with coaching. He likes those things. I'm not gonna say I don't like them, but I don't get too caught up in it."
Foley said he has heard from Blair since the Texas A&M head coach reached the milestone.
" 'Hey, you got to hurry up and get yours, I'm getting ahead of you,' " Foley said of some of the needling Blair often sends his way. "It was going back and forth there for a little while last year. It was funny because he'd call me and say, 'Look, I've got ... 789, 790, and you've got 788 or whatever' -- I mean it was funny. And it's good to have a friend like that, there's no doubt."
Now Foley -- who's in his 17th season at UALR, and 33rd overall after coaching his first 16 seasons at Arkansas Tech -- can join his friend today in that exclusive club. UALR's opponent, Texas State, has never won in Little Rock in seven previous tries.
It'll be Foley's second crack at winning No. 800. The Trojans lost 58-43 to Georgia State on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, which snapped UALR's five-game winning streak.
But that's provided Foley with multiple chances this week to accomplish the feat in front of the home crowd, as the Trojans also host Texas-Arlington (13-10, 7-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
"We've got a lot of loyal fans. We've got a lot of people that really support us and have been with me through a lot of things and helped me with a lot of different things with this program," Foley said. "Naturally, to see them and it happen in front of them and they get to enjoy it, that would mean more than anything."
It won't just be longtime supporters on hand today, either.
Today's early tipoff is UALR's annual school-day game, when local elementary school students descend upon the Jack Stephens Center. More than 2,300 students from 37 schools are expected, per the UALR Athletic Department.
Career milestone and school day aside, the Trojans are locked in a tight race for the Sun Belt regular season title. With seven games remaining, every one is pivotal.
UALR sits in third place at 8-3 in the league, just two games behind first-place Troy (19-3, 10-1). Those two teams will meet Feb. 20 in Troy, Ala., and again on March 5 in Little Rock.
But first, there is Texas State today, and a chance to secure some history.
"I think it's kind of like pitching no-hitters and things like that," Foley said, when asked if No. 800 was being talked about recently by his players. "The less you say about it, the better it is."
Sports on 02/13/2020
Print Headline: 800th within grasp