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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 84, Number 4 (May 1983)

Medaris, David
Terri Huff: the best we've ever had,   pp. 14-15


Page 14


Tern Huff:
The Best We've Ever Had
She's broken
all our
women s records
and a few
of the men's.
By David Medaris '82
hat's Theresa Huff on the court.
       You can see what's made her the
       best women's basketball player
Wisconsin ever had. She has a knack for the
boards. Watch as she posts up at the edge of
the key and flashes her hands at one of the
Badger guards - her sister Janet or Faith
Johnson. Terri Huff wants that ball, and
when she gets it she signals right, turns left,
and drives her way through the heavy traffic
to score. Unless you foul her, Huff has the
moves to get past you and lay up two points.
   In 1965, New Yorker contributor John
McPhee wrote a book about New York
Knicks star Bill Bradley. He called it A
Sense Of Where You Are, and that's the
sense Terri Huff uses so well-she can take
a pass with her back to the basket and put
the ball up before she has seen the hoop,
before-it sometimes appears-she has
finished turning around and set up.
   That's why Huff was considered one of
the best college women on the nation's bas-
ketball courts this year. The 5'11" senior
forward was one of forty-five players in the
running for Eastman Kodak's ten-member
all-American squad, and a nationwide
panel of 100 college coaches and sports in-
formation directors selected Huff one of
thirty finalists for the 1983 Stayfree Wade
Trophy, the Heisman of women's basket-
ball.
David Medaris is a free-lance writer and a
department editor of the Madison weekly,
Isthmus.
   She came to the UW from Milwaukee,
where she was born and raised, the sixth of
eight children. Her parents separated when
she was young, and she grew up with her
mother. "I'm sure it affects you, growing
up in a single-parent family. I think it made
me more independent, more aggressive. I
had to fight for a lot of things," she says.
Terri, her two brothers and five sisters were
competitive, but for them sports were infor-
mal; she never saw a basketball camp in
summer. "Me and my sisters would do any-
thing for sports," she recalls. "We used to
play handball with garbage-can lids and
we'd play baseball a lot."
   She went out for volleyball, basketball
and track at Milwaukee Riverside High
School. She showed natural ability in each
sport, but Jan Gibson, the girls' basketball
coach at Riverside, took particular interest.
"She saw the potential in me from the be-
ginning," Huff says. When Huff led River-
side to the 1978 and '79 WIAA state girls'
basketball tourneys, college coaches saw
the potential in her, too. There were schol-
arship offers from several schools, but she
chose Wisconsin's tender. She didn't want
to enroll at a far-off college and feel home-
sick.
   Coming out of high school, Huff was by
no means a polished player, but Badger
Coach Edwina Qualls wanted her quick-
ness and good rebounding and jumping
ability. They worked on shooting and fun-
damentals with her back to the basket.
Terri learned fast at center her first two
years and surprised her coach with an abil-
ity to compete inside against taller women.
"She really didn't have any power moves to
the goal," Qualls says, "so that was the first
step. Then, after two years, we ended up
pulling her outside a little so she had to
learn to shoot the jumper from fifteen feet
out and be able to put the ball down on the
floor and take it to the basket."
   The records piled up. In her first year,
 she set six frosh marks, distinguishing her-
 self as a scorer and rebounder. As a sopho-
 more, she shot .509 from the field and
 scored 499 points. But she didn't enjoy
 those first two years because the team
 wasn't winning-it was 11-16 and 13-18.
 Her frustration was dispelled by the turn-
 around in the 1981-82 season. The Badgers
 went 21-13 and played in the national
 championship tournament sponsored by
 the now-defunct AIAW. Huff set Wiscon-
 sin women's season records for points (540)
and rebounds (394) and had seventy steals.
   This year, her final season, was rela-
tively anticlimactic. Qualls put a more bal-
anced starting five on the floor, and Wis-
consin finished at 19-8. Still, Huff managed
to set all-time Wisconsin men's and wom-
en's career records for scoring (1,879
points), rebounding (1,201), steals (242)
and games played (118), among others. All
told, Terri Huff has her name atop thirty
school-record columns.
   All those stats don't impress their
owner. Huff expects her records to be bro-
ken as soon as the next blue-chip recruit
comes along. But she is proud of her marks,
of her rebounding record, especially."I've
averaged almost twelve rebounds per
game, so I know I did my job there," she
says. She is still not without weaknesses,
Qualls says: "If she had another year to de-
velop, if there was a pro league, she would
need to work at feeling more comfortable
taking the ball upcourt and being able to
pass more or less like a guard." Terri agrees
readily that ball-handling and dribbling are
the most vulnerable parts of her game. She
almost never brings the ball upcourt, pre-
ferring to pass it inbounds to point-guard
Faith Johnson, who usually directs the
Badger offense. Some opponents have
taken advantage of her reluctance to han-
dle the ball in the backcourt by playing her
tight.
   After four years in the limelight, Huff
has adjusted well to full-court pressure of a
different kind. She says the heavy media
coverage of the past two years has been
gratifying, because "when I first came here
we got maybe one or two inches in the pa-
per. Now people see the media paying at-
tention to us and the fans want to see us."
   As a result, attendance for most wom-
 en's games at the Field House is now up to
 around 1,000, and Huff says she has noticed
 the corresponding rise in enthusiasm.
 "Someone told me he came to watch one of
 our games," she says, "and the first play he
 saw was Faith Johnson doing a behind-the-
 back pass. He couldn't believe it. He said,
 'Now, this is basketball.' "
   The only thing that bothers Huff about
 all the recent coverage is that so much of it
 is focused on her. She says it's not fair that
 the contributions of Johnson, center Mi-
 chelle Lowman and the rest of the team
 haven't been as widely recognized.
   Huff values what little anonymity she is
able to salvage. She sympathizes with 6'11"
14 / THE WISCONSIN ALUMNUS


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