She’s Got Game
by Tracy Granzyk
They’ve Definitely Got Game
Having been an active participant in women’s basketball for longer than I’m willing to admit, I have been one of the game’s biggest critics. I used to cringe when my cohorts would put up nationally televised air balls that looked lost as they landed somewhere in the band’s brass section. Another pet peeve: meager attempts at the basket that weakly hit the front of the rim and fell lifelessly into a standing rebounder’s surprised arms. I knew we possessed more talent than was being revealed.
But now even I, am watching the women play with a new found respect. I realize that many people have known for a long time that the women’s game has come of age. But with my unreasonably high standards and a tendency toward criticism, I didn’t want “our game” being shown to be anything less than Michael Jordan caliber. A little unrealistic? Definitely. Unfair standards? Most likely. Ball handling skills, scoring capabilities playmaking ability and talent pools have developed exponentially in the women’s game. While the game is evolving and athlete’s skills are continuously reaching new levels, it still may take some time to reach Jordanesque caliber play, though maybe that comparison should not even drawn. This is our game. We have Sheryl Swoopes to idolize. Or NCAA players like LaToya Thomas at Mississippi State, Angie Welle at Iowa State, Nicole Powell at Stanford, Chantelle Anderson at Vanderbilt and Stacey Dales at Oklahoma.
Many ex-NCAA powerhouse players have extended their hoop careers into the pros and have become role models in the WNBA. These women have grace and class and fire on the court and are setting outstanding examples for the younger players. Showing gratitude versus entitlement, they are making the most of being given the chance to continue to play the game they love. Though few players will be awarded astronomically lucrative contracts at the end of their four year college careers, they continue to play, and have always played, simply for the love of the game. Those that have gone on to play in the WNBA are living up to the public role that has been afforded them, stepping up to the plate (or free throw line) and becoming leaders not only in their sport, but also their communities. Women’s basketball is a place where new sports heroes can be found.
Who’s Got Game This Week?
3rd-ranked Tennessee battles No. 6 Vanderbilt on Saturday, February 16th in Knoxville. My money is on Vanderbilt, as the Lady Vols have labored through February playing just better than .500 ball for the month. Both teams are coming off wins late this week. Tennessee fought off Mississippi State Thursday night, with a last minute shot to win 80-78 at the buzzer. The Commodores convincingly handed LSU another loss, outscoring them 77-60.
A second Saturday Top 25 encounter pits Texas against Big 12 rival Baylor in an 18-versus-11 showdown. Baylor, one of three teams in the Big 12 with four losses, needs this win to stay in contention for second place in the conference. Having beat the Longhorns once already in Austin, the Lady Bears will have home court advantage this time. They may need it, since Texas is coming off a high, having triumphed over Tennessee earlier this week.
3 Is the Loneliest Number
Just ask the No. 13 CU Lady Buffs what their unlucky number was last Saturday and they will undoubtedly tell you three. That’s because the tenth-ranked Iowa State Cyclone’s were holding a three-ball clinic, and neglected to warn CU. A record crowd of over 13,000 fans were schooled as well, as the first 12 out of 16 points scored by both teams came from behind the arc. Unfortunately for the Buffs, Jenny Roulier connected for their only successful three-point attempt of the first half. Her partner in crime from the backcourt, Mandy Nightingale scored two points all day, which didn’t come until well into the second half.
The Cyclones’ hot hands resulted in 56.6% shooting overall, hitting 9 of 16 attempts from three-point land. Lindsay Wilson led all scorers with 26 points. All-American Angie Welle had a double-double, dominating with 23 boards and tossing in 24 points. Eisha Bohman, who couldn’t miss from 15 feet, led the Buffs with 19. The Cyclones’ win snapped the Buffs eight game streak and boosted their overall record to 19-5.
Something Is Rotten In Knoxville
What is going on in Knoxville? As tournament time draws near, the Lady Vols are struggling to maintain their No. 3 ranking. Their 52-50 victory over No. 24 Georgia was far from impressive. And, their 69-66 loss to 18th-ranked Texas on Tuesday night resolved any questions that Coach Summit’s team may be experiencing some February blues. Whatever the cause, poor shooting (UT shot only 34.7 percent against Georgia and 37 percent versus Texas), poor rebounding or fatigue, the Lady Vols need to pull it together quickly. Their 80-78 win over Mississippi State on Thursday night is a start in the right direction, though a last-minute-shot-at-the-buzzer is not a convincing way to win a game they trailed for the majority of both halves. The Lady Vols face 6th-ranked Vanderbilt on Saturday.