March 5, 2007
Tracey (Hall) Yarbrough, who was honored as a member of the Big Ten's All-Decade first team for its 10-year celebration during the 1991-92 season, took part in the conference's 25th anniversary celebration at the second annual "Talk of the Town" during Saturday's off-day event of the 2007 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament Presented by Xbox 360.
The Big Ten Player of the Year in both 1986 and 1987, Yarbrough also became the conference's first two-time All-American during her stint at Ohio State after being named the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year in 1985.
The former Buckeye, who now lives in Cleveland with her husband of 11 years and two sons, Tyrese and Dante, sat down joined fans and media at the second annual Talk of the Town.
The modern-day Big Ten Women's Basketball tournament had not yet been discussed when you were at Ohio State, but what do you think of the event and its development?
"Sometimes I wonder what it would be like in the tournament. It probably helps the developing teams who have younger players or who have injuries to overcome to get better toward the season. But sometimes I think there is a little more pressure and a little more prestige that you can win [the conference title] out-right in the regular season. That puts a little more pressure during that time. Since they've been doing it, it seems like a good thing. One I like about the tournament is that it gives all of the teams good exposure getting ready for the big tournament."
What has changed about the conference since your playing days as a Buckeye?
"One of the things that I recognize here is that the players are a lot taller. It looks like everyone's probably about 6 foot. That is something that I've noticed. Back then on my team there may have been only three players who were taller than 6-0. Now it's like everybody is 6-0 or taller except for a couple on the team.
"Also, the exposure is different; it's a lot better. The game is treated as a premiere sport in a way that we didn't always have before. The fan-base has grown a lot, too. At Ohio State we were fortunate enough to always have great fans. That's one thing that I have always loved about it, and it looks like it's just carrying on, even to events like this as well."
Why did you decide on Ohio State?
"I liked the program and the history with Ohio State. I wanted to be around a school where my mom and dad could come watch me play, so that was definitely a factor. I didn't want to go somewhere they would have to fly to all the time and go everywhere. And looking at Ohio State and the tradition that they had, it was just a great fit for me at the time."
Do you have a favorite memory from your collegiate career?
"One of my favorite memories is being in the tunnel before a game, doing our cheer and running out to the fans. Really just the fans' support - even away from the arena. I think that's one of the things I remember the most, coming out of the tunnel and hearing the crowd cheer.
"The competition, especially my freshman year, was fantastic."
What are your expectations for the next 25 years in Big Ten women's basketball?
"It's just going to keep evolving. I think there are so many things available to them. It's funny when I go and watch and think boy things are a little bit different than the way we might have had practice or the way we might have reviewed tapes. There's going to be more parity within the teams because it used to be the teams at the top and everyone else. But it's just going to keep evolving into something phenomenal and we're going to get more fans and more exposure."