Nancy Wilson doesn't regret the decision she made last June that this would be her final season coaching the College of Charleston women's basketball program. But she does admit to moments of nostalgia.
"I can just be walking to the gym and it will hit me," said Wilson, who has piled up 535 wins in 30 years of coaching, including two stints totaling 16 years at the College of Charleston. "Maybe we'll be over in (the Silcox gym) and I'll have memories or visions of past teams. I'll remember what great opportunities I've had. Or I'll get an email from a past player and it takes me back.
"Or there have been thoughts like 'This is the last time I'm having my first day of practice.' I've really had a lot more of that than I expected."
Wilson, who turned 60 last month, said her decision had nothing to do with coaching and working with players but was more a case of being tired of the recruiting grind.
"I think for this program to go to another level, to be consistently vying for championships, you really have to get out there in the recruiting world and go after it. That's more what I see I want a break from.
"Thinking about that and looking at the fact we're in a rebuilding process, I felt the timing was good for somebody to come in and have a good group of players. They could take their energy and enthusiasm and build from there."
She said she decided to make her announcement earlier rather than during the season because she didn't feel like she was being honest with recruits in selling a program she wouldn't be aroundand the decision would allow her assistants to make plans for their futures.
The Cougars are young, not a single senior on the roster and only three juniors. The top scorers from last year's team are gone. Point guard Tonia Gerty (10.2 ppg) graduated and forward Janae Smith (12.1 ppg) transferred to Illinois State.
Junior Megan Fischer, sophomore Alyssa Frye and freshman Jazz Green all can score, junior center Latisha Harris has come back in better shape and with more confidence, junior Cathryn Hardy is a leader and sophomore Jill Brown is comfortable at the point.
"I think the three juniors show good leadership, and we've got to fill in from there," Wilson said.
The Cougars' early schedule includes road trips to Georgia and South Carolina, but perhaps the biggest game in the program's history will take place Dec. 21 at TD Arena when legendary women's basketball powerhouse Connecticut pays a visit.
"It's a tremendous honor and a compliment to the city and the school," Wilson said. "Connecticut and Tennessee are two schools that are always there. They're just a cut above anybody else. We look at that game as a chance to get the fans of Charleston excited about women's basketball."
When the season ends, Wilson plans to retire to a family place in Surfside Beach. She expects she won't miss things too much during the early months because there will be plenty of company. After that, she's open to wherever life leads.
"I'm totally open to a different direction. I might be open to being a beach bum the rest of my life," Wilson said.
"I find myself much more nostalgic than I thought I would be. But when I'm sad it's a happy sad. It's sadness because you had it so good, your memories are great. I'm just thankful to get to work with this team this year because I've enjoyed them so much."
College of Charleston
Last season: 10-20, 7-13 (9th in Southern Conference)
Coach: Nancy Wilson, 3014-193 in 16 seasons at Charleston, 535-442 overall.
Players to watch: G Megan Fischer, 6-0, jr. (7.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg); F Latisha Harris, 6-3, jr. (4.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg); G Alyssa Frye, 5-8, so. (5.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg).
Note: Picked 10th in SoCon coaches' preseason poll, but last time that happened the team finished in the top half of the standings.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON WOMEN'S SCHEDULE
DATE OPPONENT TIME
Nov. 11 East Carolina 5 p.m.
Nov. 14 at Coastal Carolina 7 p.m.
Nov. 17 at Georgia 7 p.m.
Nov. 23 at South Carolina 7 p.m.
Nov. 30 Charleston Southern 7 p.m.
Dec. 3 Furman 1 p.m.
Dec. 5 Wofford 7 p.m.
Dec. 17 at Davidson 2 p.m.
Dec. 19 at Appalachian State 7 p.m.
Dec. 21 Connecticut 7 p.m.
Dec. 28 Tulane 6 p.m.
Dec. 29 Central Michigan/Hampton TBA
Jan. 2 Wingate 7 p.m.
Jan. 7 Chattanooga 2 p.m.
Jan. 9 Samford 7 p.m.
Jan. 13 at UNC Greensboro 7 p.m.
Jan. 15 at Elon 2 p.m.
Jan. 18 Georgia Southern 7 p.m.
Jan. 21 at Wofford 2 p.m.
Jan. 23 Western Carolina 7 p.m.
Jan. 28 at Georgia Southern 3 p.m.
Feb. 1 at Western Carolina 7 p.m.
Feb. 4 Davidson 2 p.m.
Feb. 6 Appalachian State 7 p.m.
Feb. 11 at Chattanooga 5 p.m.
Feb. 13 at Samford 8 p.m.
Feb. 18 UNC Greensboro 2 p.m.
Feb. 20 Elon 7 p.m.
Feb. 25 at Furman 2 p.m.
March 2-5 SoCon Tournament TBA