A life of hoops for former star Rams player | PostIndependent.com

A life of hoops for former star Rams player

Mike Vidakovich
Post Independent Contributor
Montana State women's basketball coach Tricia Binford talks to her players during a timeout during a game last season. Binford
Montana State University |

When Tricia Bader graduated from Boise State University in 1995 with a degree in criminal justice, she had no plans on becoming a basketball coach, especially at the NCAA division I level.

Now married with two children, Tricia Binford’s voice takes on a ring of amusement when she recalls her post-graduation plans.

“Going into coaching was certainly not my ambition. I was thinking about using my degree to start a career in the FBI,” said Binford. “I was playing in the [Women’s National Basketball Association] when the Boise State coach asked me if I would like to train with the women’s team during my offseason. I said yes, and that was the start of my coaching career.”

That the folks in Boise, Idaho, would want to keep Binford around as long as possible is not exactly a head scratcher. Binford was a 3-time All Big Sky Conference selection for the Broncos, and she left the school with the career assist record as the team’s point guard.

Binford’s basketball career did not end with her graduation from college. As the 31st pick in the 1998 WNBA draft, Binford was with the Utah Starzz in 1998-1999, and the Cleveland Rockers from ’99-2002.

The star-studded basketball career of Binford, who also spent two seasons playing professionally in Australia, has its roots here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Carbondale to be more specific.

Binford, known then as Tricia Bader, graduated from Roaring Fork High School in 1991 as one of the most decorated female athletes the state of Colorado has ever seen. Binford, an ultra-quick scoring machine for the Rams, led Roaring Fork to state basketball championships in 1989, 1990 and 1991. She was selected the Colorado Player of the Year and a Street and Smith’s All-American in 1991.

Binford’s memory of those championships and individual accolades is a bit vague these days, but she did recall, with some humor, the end of the state finals game her sophomore year in 1989.

“My sophomore year was the first year that we won state. Coach [Tom] Benyo drew up a play during a timeout for me to take the last shot,” recalled Binford. “Well, I shot an airball, but my teammate got it under the basket and scored the winning points.”

Binford didn’t shoot many airballs during her time in Carbondale. She could usually score at will against any opponent, or any defensive scheme other teams threw at her.

Roaring Fork boys basketball coach Larry Williams was an assistant on the girls staff during the Ram 3-peat over two decades ago. Though Binford is reluctant to talk much about her playing career, Williams is not.

“She was a special one. Tricia was just so competitive,” said Williams. “Her quickness and determination were the points that made her stand out.”

On April 13, 2005, following two assistant coaching stints at Boise State and Utah State, Tricia Binford was named the head women’s basketball coach at Montana State University. Ten years and eight straight postseason appearances later, Binford is the longest tenured women’s coach in the school’s history, and her 120 career victories place her on top of all previous Lady Bobcats basketball coaches.

At the division I basketball level, winning becomes a priority that can put a strain on even the calmest and most down-to-earth coaches. Binford knows the game is all about the good people you surround yourself with. It always has been for her.

“Coaching is about relationships. It’s fun to see these ladies grow into young women and make a positive impact on society,” said Binford. “Being around these girls keeps me young. It forces me to stay active and stay in shape.”

Binford’s Montana State team made its only Colorado appearance of the season on Saturday, when it lost to the Northern Colorado Bears 80-61 in Greeley.

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