Ruth Opatz Sinn, whose basketball playing success led to her induction into the Tommie Athletics Hall of Fame, just completed her 14th season of St. Thomas head coach in 2018-19. She's led her team to the best current eight-year run of any team in any MIAC sport.
Her 329-81 record at UST includes a remarkable 224-24 mark (.903) over those last eight seasons. In that span, Sinn has guided three teams to the NCAA Final Four, and three others to the Sweet Sixteen. Those eight seasons have included Tmmie Women's Hoops taking home 13 of a possible 16 MIAC championships (regular-season and playoffs).
St. Thomas will take win streaks of 74 (MIAC opponents) and 27 (home games) into 2019-20.
Sinn, whose overall St. Thomas record is 329-81, also served as an assistant coach in summer 2019 for the USA Basketball Women's 16U team that won a FIBA Americas gold medal with a 6-0 run in Chile.
She has been named Region Coach of the Year twice and MIAC Coach of the Year four times.
Sinn's leadership has been crucial in St. Thomas basketball's return to MIAC and national prominence.
The Tommies won more games in the 1990s that any Division III women’s program. They made the NCAA playoffs 15 consecutive seasons (1987-2001), highlighted by a 1991 national championship and third-place NCAA finishes in 1995, 1996 and 2000.
Sinn's rebuilding efforts that started in 2005 have generated much success. Her last 10 Tommie teams have built a 260-43 record. Each of her last nine St. Thomas teams has won either the conference regular-season or playoff championship, or both. That gives UST 17 MIAC regular- season or playoff titles in the last 13 years.
Sinn's vision came together in 2011-12 with a third-place NCAA finish. UST's 31-2 record included a 24-0 run through the conference regular season and playoffs; a 30-game win streak; a 16-0 home record; and a 27-point win over No. 1-ranked Amherst in the NCAA playoffs. She was named MIAC and West Region Coach of the Year and was a finalist for National Coach of the Year.
Sinn was inducted into the Minnesota State Girls Basketball Coaches' Association Hall of Fame in 2002, and has served on the Minnesota Ms. Basketball Committee since 1988. She has 15 former players now involved in teaching and/or coaching at various levels.
Sinn's 24-year coaching career included the previous 16 seasons as head coach at Apple Valley High School. Her Apple Valley teams played in three state tournaments, most recently in 2004, won eight section championships, and compiled a 290-170 record. She was a five-time section Coach of the Year. She coached 12 all-staters, including 1990 Ms. Basketball winner Carol Ann Shudlick, who later won college basketball's Wade Trophy in 1994 as a senior with the Minnesota Gophers.
Sinn also was head coach at Hill-Murray from 1987-89 and was an assistant coach at Woodbury (1984-85) and Hill-Murray (1985-87).
Sinn, a North St. Paul native, played on the Tommies' first two conference championship teams and helped build an 80-36 won-loss record from 1980-84. As a senior, she played on St. Thomas' first NCAA playoff team and led the squad in steals and assists. She ranks in UST's top-12 in career steals, assists and blocked shots. She was among the first seven females inducted into UST's Athletic Hall of Fame, back in 1992.
The Sinn Years
A young, injury-plagued Tommie team finished 10-15 in Sinn's debut year of 2005-06, but nine consecutive winning seasons have followed.
In 2006-07, St. Thomas won eight of its last 10 games -- including an upset road win over MIAC champion St. Benedict -- and finished 15-11 overall (14-8 MIAC). It was the 20th postseason trip in 21 seasons for the Tommie women.
Sinn was chosen MIAC Coach of the Year in 2007-08 as her Tommies, picked for fifth in the preseason MIAC poll, broke through to share the conference title and reach the NCAA playoffs in a 20-8 finish. UST won a league-best nine conference road games.
The 2008-09 Tommies returned to the MIAC playoffs and finished 19-8, led by senior All-Region forward Jessica Katch. The Tommies won eight consecutive games in January and February to surge into third in the final MIAC standings.
The 2009-10 Tommies reached the NCAA playoffs after their thrilling victory in the MIAC playoff championship game. The Tommies’ 21-8 record included wins in 11 of their last 13 games heading into the NCAA tournament.
Led by senior All-MIAC center Rachel Booth, the 2010-11 Tommies made it to the MIAC playoffs and finished 20-7. The Tommies had won eight of their last nine regular season games and won the regular season MIAC title.
In 2011-12, St. Thomas won its second consecutive solo-MIAC title and won the MIAC playoff title. The team’s trip to the NCAA Tournament ended with a third-place national finish after reaching the program’s first trip to the Final Four since 2000. The team won 30 in a row before falling in the national semifinal. It posted a 27-point win in the third-place game and finished 31-2.
The 2012-13 team played two No. 1-ranked teams early, going 1-1. UST later placed second in the conference but won the MIAC playoff title en route to a 24-6 record. The unranked Tommies won their first two NCAA playoff games before bowing out in the Sweet 16 to No. 2-ranked Hope (Mich.).
In 2013-14, the Tommies took second in conference play and won their fourth MIAC playoff title in five seasons. After winning its NCAA opener on its home floor, St. Thomas exited the NCAA tournament in the round of 32 and finished 25-5 on the season.
The 2014-15 team won both the regular-season and the MIAC playoff title after going undefeated in conference play. They won their first three games in the NCAA tournament but lost in the Elite Eight to the eventual champion Thomas More. The loss to Thomas More was their only defeat as the Tommies finished the season with a 30-1 record. Sinn received her third MIAC Coach of the Year honor and was named West Region Coach of the Year.
In 2015-16, despite having just one senior its their top eight, the Tommies won both the MIAC regular-season and playoff titles once again. They advanced to the NCAA playoffs, but lost to an Final Four qualifier Wartburg, 70-66, finishing the season with a 26-4 record.
In 2016-17, Kaitlin Langer was named National Player of the Year as she led the Tommies to a 31-0 start. UST lost in the national semifinals to Tufts.
In 2017-18, first-year starter Hannah Spaulding was named first-team All-America and MIAC Player of the Year as she led the Tommies to a 27-3 finish. UST lost in the national playoff Sweet Sixteen in overtime, but recorded another 20-0 run against MIAC opponents.
Spaulding repeated as All-America and Player of the Year in 2018-19 as she led a 30-2 finish.
Ruth Sinn Year-By-Year
2007-08-----20-8---------18-4 (tie 1st)
2012-13-----24-6---------18-4 (tie 2nd)
Totals/329-79 (.806)---235-51 (.822)