Bethann Ord knew there would be challenges ahead when she took the job.
She had no idea just how challenging those challenges would be.
Ord, who had seen plenty of success as an assistant at Louisville, was hired to coach Weber State's women's basketball team in the summer of 2011. In two previous seasons, the Wildcats were a combined 16-41. She knew it would take some time to reestablish a program that hadn't finished with a winning record since 2007 and hadn't won 20-plus games since 2005.
More than a year later, Ord has her sights set on the future, still firmly believes in what she's doing. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that belief hasn't translated into victories.
Going into tonight's game at Idaho State, Ord's Wildcats have lost 43 in a row dating back to Dec. 10, 2011.
A loss tonight will tie the Big Sky Conference record for consecutive setbacks.
But who's counting?
"You can't look at the big picture all the time," Ord said. "Wins and losses? It's really hard not to (look at them). But you've got to look at the task at hand. You've got to look at, are you building? Are you teaching? That's what we do every day, we're teaching every day."
Ord spoke Monday on her cell phone. She was down in Salt Lake City watching the state 5-A girl's tournament from SLCC.
She was looking for more pupils to teach, more players to help build a foundation.
Going 2-27 in her first season and 0-24 to start her second season was not what Ord imagined for herself or WSU's program.
She readily admits that.
"I would never have imagined," Ord said.
She didn't imagine her team would be beset by injuries, forcing her to play freshmen who probably weren't fully prepared to play on a bigger stage. She had no way of knowing some of those injuries would leave her without older players to provide leadership.
Ord had a plan in mind and she knew it could work, she just didn't imagine a few early setbacks would knock it so far off course.
"No, I would have never imagined," she said. "And you don't know with injuries. I know that's (true) with any team."
She said the Wildcats don't often talk a lot about wins and losses and they certainly don't talk about setting records for futility.
Yes, of course it would be nice to get a win or two, just for positive feedback. But obviously they haven't come yet this season, so Ord and her assistants keep selling their kids on doing things the right way.
"It's hard, but you've got to just keep the faith, stick to the plan," she said. "And the plan is rebuilding, the plan is doing it right and the plan is getting these kids to believe in themselves."
Look, there's no doubt, Ord is trying to establish a solid program without taking shortcuts, with players who do things the right way.
Of course she is. Who takes a job accepting failure? Who comes in and says, "We're in a bad way. We're not going to win for a while, maybe more than a year. It'll be a lot of fun."
No, let's get one thing straight: there's nothing positive about 2-51, nothing that should make a WSU fan happy.
To write simply that Ord and her staff are working hard to build a program the right way would be, at best, condescending and, at worst, insulting.
It should go without saying, they're trying to do all those things and more. And good for them for the effort they're putting in.
But the Wildcats are on the verge of a record nobody wants and that's unfortunate. They don't need your pity, however.
A little understanding? Yes.
Respect for their perseverance amid all those losses? Or course.
Good karma? Sure, if you can spare some.
But pity? Nope.
"Thing will be alright," Ord said. "You've got to keep keepin' on. That's where our girls are. They're staying positive. They're not happy -- none of us accept losing or want to lose -- but you can't think about that, you can't (let it) wear you out."
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247