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Cowher's daughters happy to play in Pittsburgh

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Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006

The Cowher family will be home for Christmas - in Pittsburgh, not North Carolina.

And basketball is what's bringing it together.

Bill, Kaye and daughters Meagan, Lauren and Lindsay will host the Princeton women's basketball team Friday night at their Fox Chapel home after it plays at Duquesne in a nonconference game. Meagan is a junior and Lauren a freshman at Princeton. The youngest sister, Lindsay, plays high school basketball in Raleigh, where the family owns another home.

"I can't wait to come home," Lauren said. "I have been counting down the days. Pittsburgh is home to all of us. I consider Raleigh a transition home."

Meagan agreed.

Meagan and Lauren grew up in Pittsburgh, attending kindergarten through 12th grade in the Fox Chapel School District. Many of their friends will be at the game, which tips off at 7 p.m. at Palumbo Center.

"That game should be fun, because we know some of the (WPIAL) players from Duquesne," Meagan said. "Pittsburgh is home to us, because we have so many childhood memories there. Plus, our parents and friends will be in the stands. Anytime we can come to Pittsburgh, it is special."

Princeton coach Richard Barron said he wanted to have a game in Pittsburgh so the Cowher sisters could go home this season. Barron said he is happy to have a hand in the Cowher family reunion because Kaye and Bill have shown they are fans of not only Princeton, but of women's basketball.

The two also have raised girls who don't make a point of mentioning they are daughters of the Steelers' coach, Barron said.

"The biggest compliment I can give them is they are just like the rest of our kids," he said. "With last season's Super Bowl run and Meg's accomplishments on the court, she got a lot of media attention and handled it well. Both are very bright and highly motivated."

Meagan was Ivy League rookie of the year in 2005 and was named first-time All-Ivy after the 2005-06 season.

The Cowher family will spend the weekend at its Fox Chapel home. Kaye was informed just last week that members of the Princeton team will sleep at the house after the game and fly out of Greater Pittsburgh International Airport the next day.

"My mom was a good sport about that," Meagan said. "She will be happy to see us, so a few more basketball players won't make a big difference."

If past experience is any indication, Kaye and Bill most likely will be all smiles at the game.

Bill might be his daughters' biggest fan.

"He loves watching us play as much as we love watching him coach," Meagan said. "He is such a great dad, and because of us and our mom we have him involved in women's basketball. It will be nice to all be together."

At Princeton, Meagan and Lauren meet weekly for dinner.

"We aren't on the court (together) a lot in games, because she is a freshman and will have to wait her turn, but I know that she is always there to support me," said Meagan, the team's leading scorer and rebounder. "I can hear her voice above everyone else's, and when I look over I see her clapping for me."

Lauren said she likes having Meagan on the team with her.

"It has really helped having Meagan with me because this has been a big adjustment," Lauren said. "It is nice knowing that she is only a few minutes away. I was sick recently, and she brought chicken soup over for me. We are very close."

Meagan said she knew it would be an adjustment for Lauren because of Princeton's rigorous academic requirements and athletic responsibilities.

Barron said Meagan balances strong affection for family with independence from it. He sees some of those same characteristics in Lauren.

Barron said it is not easy to come to a college in which every player was near the top of her class in high school.

"It is hard enough to get used to college and playing Division I, and at Princeton it is twice as hard," Barron said. "But Meg and Lauren work hard and know how to balance basketball and grueling academics. They don't want any special attention."

Meagan said the daily challenges will help her and Lauren handle adversity later in life.

She and her family have learned to handle hard times in football and basketball. The rule in the Cowher house is that players and coaches have 24 hours to get over a loss or celebrate a win.

"Our entire family adheres to that rule," Meagan said. "We all enforce it. This family is very grounded, and we try not to spend too much time dwelling on a loss or talking up a win."

Win or lose, Bill Cowher sends his daughters cookies every week. He also schedules weekly phone calls with them.

"It has been killing my dad not to see us playing," Lauren said. "Coming to our games means a lot to him and our mom and to us. Once the football season is over, he will be at Princeton a lot."

Meagan said she could shed no light on her father's plans after the football season.

"Right now, he is focused on the next game," she said. "He wants to do all he can to help the Steelers win the next game. He is in such a high-stress job and has a lot of demands on him. What happens will happen after the season. The decision should be made after the season."

Cowher power

Steelers coach Bill Cowher's daughters, Meagan and Lauren, will be in Pittsburgh on Friday when the Princeton women's basketball team (4-7) plays Duquesne (5-5) at 7 p.m. at Palumbo Center. Here is a look at their statistics:

Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG Minutes Rebounds
Meagan 6-1 Jr. F 16.2 28.4 7.5
Lauren 5-7 Fr. G 1.0 3.5 0.0

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