The turnaround has been quite remarkable. Before Quentin Hillsman arrived at Syracuse, the women's basketball program seemed to be in a downward spiral from which it would never recover. The program was irrelevant locally and nationally. They had suffered through four straight losing seasons and had won only 14 conference games total during that time period.
In fact, the two previous coaches had winning percentages of 33.7% and 37.4%.
Even year one of the Hillsman era did not go all that well. The Orange were just 9-20 that year. Since then, SU has had at least 20 wins in eight of the last nine seasons, including seven straight. That is just one of several accomplishments in what has been unquestionably the greatest tenure in program history.
It is an era that, while still ongoing, has been filled with firsts. Under Hillsman's watch, Syracuse won their first NCAA Tournament game. They hosted tournament games this past season for the first time ever, helping them advance to their first Sweet-16. But they were not done there. The Orange made it all the way to the NCAA Championship game, while racking up a program record 30 wins.
Now, just about halfway through year 11 of the Quentin Hillsman era, Coach Q has become the winningest coach in program history after their 88-62 win at Clemson on Thursday. It was his 230th win, pushing him past Barbara Jacobs. She accumulated 229 wins from 1979-1993. Just another trophy on the mantel for the always fashionable leader of the women's basketball program.
What coach Hillsman has done for women's basketball in Central New York is truly remarkable. It would receive much more attention if he had done this type of job with a men's program, unfortunately. But it should not go unnoticed. Despite a lack of attendance and program tradition, Hillsman has turned Syracuse into a destination for elite recruits.
He has the Orange playing one of the most exciting brands of basketball in the sport. Syracuse has had highly ranked recruiting classes for several years in a row. Landing five-star talents is now the norm. All because of the job Hillsman has done building up the program.
Thursday's win puts him in a place he rightfully belongs. As the top coach in Syracuse women's basketball history. This in accomplishments, program accolades, program firsts and now in wins.
Given the age and success that Hillsman has had, he is becoming what Jim Boeheim has been for the men's program.