CSU basketball players are trying to have fun amid the turmoil surrounding coach Larry Eustachy Kelly Lyell


DENVER — Could Becky Hammon coach the CSU men’s basketball team?

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and the players on his team certainly think so.

"She could coach any team," Spurs forward Davis Bertans said. "When she’s here, and she’s talking while we’re playing, we don’t look at her as if she’s a man or a woman; it doesn’t matter to us."

Former NBA player and coach Byron Scott believes Hammon will eventually be an NBA head coach.

Hammon, in her fourth season as an assistant with the Spurs, wasn’t available for interviews Friday before or after a game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. 

Opinion: Becky Hammon should be CSU’s top choice to replace Larry Eustachy

Hammon, 40, declined comment through a team spokesman as to whether she would be interested in coaching the men’s team at her alma mater, where her No. 25 jersey hangs from the rafters at Moby Arena.

"I think she wants to be an NBA coach one day," said Spurs guard Tony Parker, a six-time NBA all-star. "She has the charisma to do it."

The CSU job hasn’t formally opened up, with sixth-year coach Larry Eustachy and his top assistant, Steve Barnes, on paid administrative leave while the university and coach work out the details of his exit.

But it will be open soon, and a lot of people believe Hammon, the most-decorated basketball player, male or female, in Colorado State University history, would be a good fit.

Why couldn’t the first full-time female assistant coach in the NBA become the first woman to coach an NCAA Division I men’s basketball team?

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She’s got the knowledge, the competitive drive and the endorsement of one of the NBA’s greatest coaches of all time. Popovich, who has won more than 1,000 NBA games and five league championships, said he wouldn’t have hired Hammon as an assistant in 2014 if he didn’t believe she could be a head coach someday.

"Becky can do anything she wants," Popovich said. "… I just know how gifted she is, and she’s earned the respect of everybody in our program, from top to bottom. She’s a valued assistant, somebody that I depend on. I really respect her knowledge and her way of doing things. She’s a natural.

"So, whatever she wants to do in her future, I think is her choice. She’s got it all."

Hammon, a point guard who averaged 21.9 points and 4.3 assists in her four seasons at CSU from 1995-96 through 1998-99, was a three-time All-American and six-time WNBA all-star. She also played in two Olympics for Russia, where the South Dakota native became a naturalized citizen while playing professionally there.

Her basketball IQ, Spurs guard Kyle Anderson said, is off the charts.

"She's confident, she knows what she's doing, and she's got a big knowledge of basketball," said Parker, who became friends with Hammon while she was playing for the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars.

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Hammon’s first stint as a head coach couldn’t have gone any better. Put in charge of the Spurs team in the Las Vegas Summer League in 2015, she guided the team to the league title. She also coached the summer-league team in 2016.

Her fierce competitiveness, intensity and attention to detail are what players noticed most, not her gender.

"She’s good. She’s a good coach," said guard Bryn Forbes, a second-year pro who played for Tom Izzo at Michigan State. "Everybody respects her, and that’s the biggest thing. If they respect you and believe in you, that’s all that matters at the end of the day, man or woman."

Forbes said Hammon would have no trouble convincing high school recruits to come play for a team she was coaching. Not with her background.

"She’s got a big name," he said. "Anybody with the right priorities, they wouldn’t care whether she’s a man or a woman. When I was in high school, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. She’s a solid coach; that’s what I’m looking for."

People on social media who oppose the possibility of Hammon coaching the Rams have addressed a potential pitfall: Will young men be comfortable taking orders from a woman?

"Everybody has a mother," Anderson said. "You listen to your mother; you listen to the matriarchs in your family, so what’s the difference? You treat a woman with the same respect you would treat a man."

Follow reporter Kelly Lyell at and and listen to him talk CSU sports at 11:35 a.m. Thursdays on KFKA radio (AM 1310) and 11:30 a.m. Saturdays on Denver’s ESPN radio (AM 1600).

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