The Atlantic 10 Conference recently announced its Inaugural Women’s Basketball Legends list, which includes head coach Dayna Smith, who has been chosen to represent the University of Rhode Island.
“[The nomination] was definitely a surprise and quite an honor. It’s very nice to represent Rhode Island. The Atlantic 10 holds a special place to me,” Smith said. “It’s a fantastic league and a lot of great players go through it. It’s a very nice honor and I was very surprised.”
The group of 15 other former women’s basketball student-athletes, along with Smith, is being recognized for individual contributions to their alma mater’s programs.
In a press conference, Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade of the Atlantic 10 said, “I congratulate our inaugural class of Atlantic 10 Legends. These women have been instrumental in establishing the outstanding history of the A-10 women’s basketball programs.”
In the history of the Atlantic 10, Smith was one of the top point guards while starting for URI from 1992-96. She was one of the critical players in the Rams’ run to the 1996 NCAA Tournament during her senior season as well.
Smith was also one of just 11 players at the NCAA Division I level to record more than 1,000 points and 750 assists.
“When I went to Rhode Island, it wasn’t a very successful program. It really had never accomplished a whole lot of winning. It [had] never won a championship. I think that we were able to turn that around in my four years and by my senior year, we won over 20 games and made it to the NCAA tournament,” Smith said. “Those lessons at Rhode Island definitely help me here at Cornell. We were able to do the same type of thing.”
She finished her career at URI with 1,174 points and was ninth on the University’s all-time scoring list.
“Individually, each legend has become a role model for others as they competed and benefited from Title IX to elevate women’s basketball within the A-10 and nationally,” McGald said. “They are a credit to their institutions, the league and are deserving of this honor on behalf of the Atlantic 10 Conference.”
At Cornell, Smith is the winningest head coach in the history of women’s basketball. She led the Red to its first-ever Ivy title and appearance in the NCAA tournament in 2008.
“I learned a lot as a student athlete at Rhode Island and I tried to apply that here at Cornell and relate a little bit to the players,” Smith said.
This season, the Red is 10-6, 2-0 Ivy. The team suffered a close loss to the University of Texas, who was nationally ranked at the time.
“We would like to have a lot more wins so we are just going to keep plugging away. We have a good team this year and we have great senior and junior leadership,” Smith said. “We are hoping to put our heads down and fight through this Ivy season and compete again for an Ivy League championship … Hopefully we can make a nice run here and get back to the top of the league.”
The Women’s Basketball Legends will be honored on March 16 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.