Prairie View head coach Dave Farrell has directed the girls' program for the past five seasons and knows all too well what a player of Oliphant’s caliber has done for their program. Coming off a 2008/09 season that produced a 33-6 mark and an appearance at the state tournament not only validates the quality of player that Oliphant is but also the quality of leadership and structure Farrell has provided as a coach. Farrell has compiled a 137-31 record in his short time at Prairie View and the Lady Spartans just wrapped up yet another district title.
So with post season at the doorstep how fitting it would be for Prairie View to close out the 2009/10 season in a manner the Lady Spartan fans will always remember.
This week: Prairie View girls' head coach Dave Farrell
*What will it take for PVA to make a run at south state and the state tourney at Indianola?
“For us to make a run at South State and/or State this year would probably require some form of divine intervention. We are not at the level of the elite programs. We aren't bad, but we don't have "all the pieces" to deal with the best teams in AA.”
*Describe the relationship between yourself and Caroline Oliphant and what she has meant for the girls' basketball program at PVA.
“Caroline has rebuilt girl’s basketball at PVA. She has been a varsity starter since her 8th grade year and has improved every year. She makes everybody else better and they love playing with her. She and I have been close for several years and I imagine, will be, for many more. She is obviously a special player, but she is also a very special person. She is extremely intelligent, witty, popular and well grounded. In simple terms, a great pleasure to coach and to know.”
*Has the foot injury that Caroline Oliphant suffered early in the season hampered her any and will Logan Tubbs be ready by south state?
“Caroline broke a bone in her ankle before Thanksgiving during a game. She played 3 quarters on it thinking it was a sprain. It has taken a while to get back to form, but I believe she is just about 100% again. Her last 2 games have pretty well convinced me by the way she has moved on it and elevated. Logan Tubbs had an appendectomy last week and should be ready by next week.”
*District 6AA doesn't hold a district tournament, do you see that as an opportunity to better prepare your team for the south state tournament?
“On the girls' side of district 6AA, the competition for first place is not strong this year. It does not help to prepare us for post-season play. The lack of a tournament does allow us to see other districts' tournaments and get an idea of what is in store for us as well as a little more practice time and healing time.”
*Is there added pressure this season knowing Oliphant, Thompson and Tubbs are seniors?
“No added pressure at all. We lost Thompson before the season started when she decided to start college early. Certainly Logan and Caroline will be sorely missed, but there is no pressure toward any finish. We will go as far as those two can take us, but I don't believe that translates to pressure. For me, personally, I want to win every game, but this is what retirement looks like, not pressure.”
*Is there any particular area you would like to see changed in girls' high school basketball?
“There are 2 things I would like to see changed in MAIS basketball; one small, one a little bigger issue. I think when schools need to play JV kids on the varsity due to small numbers they should be allowed to create a 10 player roster rather than the current 8 player squad. In order to adequately practice, most teams will use enough to make 10, but then on game day, the coach must tell at least two kids, "thanks for the practice time, but no uniform for you." Seems a little cruel and short-sided to me."
"The other, larger issue is post season structure. I would bring all classes together at a neutral site for class championships rather than playing them on a high school campus. I'm not a big fan of the notion that a "state champion" will lose the last game of the season.. It takes a little off the success and puts more value on the Overall than the class championship in my opinion. We have no other sport that I am aware of in the MAIS where this can happen. Just my thoughts - since you asked.”
*What are your feelings about the new playoff format?
“I like the new format because more games are "survive and advance" games. It puts more value on the wins. When I coached in the LHSAA, I got used to a playoff system where every game is an elimination game and really enjoyed it.”
*What or who inspired you to get into coaching?
“I discovered the game as a freshman in high school and fell in love with it. Once I got good enough at it to play in college, I realized the value it had in my life. It paid my way through 4 years that I had no other way to pay. My college coach, Lenny Fant, was a father- figure type guy and his assistant, Benny Hollis was a great teacher of defense. Both influenced me and have served me well.”
*If you weren't coaching what would you be doing?
“Not sure what I'd be doing besides playing golf. I retired from corporate America several years ago, and like I said, this is what retirement looks like to me. I do enjoy it, and it is also a ministry of sorts. I get to counsel with, and pray with young ladies every day. If it were not for basketball, there's no way a guy my age would have any relevance in a teenager's life. It is a privilege and a blessing for me.”
*Coached 4 years immediately following college at what is now the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
*Next 20+ years in business, most recently as a corporate officer in a Fortune 500 company.
*In 1997 returned to coaching (boys) at St. Frederick High School in Monroe, LA.
*Spent 3 great years there and then helped at a few other places including PVA before taking the girls job 5 years ago.