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February 25, 2002 Columns No Comments

Women’s Hoops Roundup

by Tracy Granzyk

Money Talks
One of the biggest challenges in women’s NCAA hoops is how to turn a profit. Of immediate significance is having enough ticket-buying fans to move the first round of post season play to neutral, big-city sites, similar to the men’s March Madness format where bigger cities equal bigger profits. Currently the women play first and second round games on the campuses of the respective teams in smaller towns, while the men play in major markets that are most often sold out long before tip-off. The uncertainty remains as to whether or not the women’s game can financially support the displacement of home court advantage.

With record-breaking attendance occurring across the nation, it seems only appropriate to pose this question and face the growing pains head on. But is it time to test the still forming foundation of interest in the women’s game? At first glance, this is sounding a little like trying to have a WNBA and an ABL launch at the same time. Many a fan waited with the fear that one or both would suffer the same ruin as the long defunct WBL. Get one league going and profitable, have people buying standing room only tickets, then expand. Slightly fiscally-conservative perhaps, but the same logic applies to moving the women’s NCAA first round games. Until we’re filling the hometown stands, how can we expect to fill the stands of strangers?

So let’s keep the foundation gelling for awhile. Let’s see other schools follow in the footsteps of the marketing sages at Tennessee and Connecticut, where profitable women’s basketball programs have emerged. They believe in add-ons like the dizzy bat contest to draw fans and amuse them too. While I’m sure no one believes that halftime highjinxs alone will entice a fan to spend $150 on a post-season ticket, it’s a step in a more imaginative direction. Build the intrigue locally and fill the hometown stadiums. Let people see how athletically gifted these women are, and the tickets will sell themselves, no matter where the games are held.

Top 25 Instant Replays
Johnny Mosley may have the dinner roll in Salt Lake, but in Texas, the Lady Longhorns are perfecting the upset roll. The No. 15 Longhorns beat forth-ranked Tennessee earlier this month, and moved on to defeat No. 3 Oklahoma 68-62, Tuesday night. With seven of the AP Top 25 teams calling the Big 12 home, Texas is easily competing in the toughest conference in women’s college hoops. This makes the Longhorns accustomed to the heat in the kitchen, playing against their talented Big 12 colleagues on a regular basis. As almost every conference game is a “big one,” the Longhorns don’t have a chance to let up.

In another Big 12 conference match-up, 11th-ranked Colorado lost 80-69 to No. 9 Baylor in Texas. Baylor’s victory kept them tied for second place with 12th-ranked Kansas State. My capable but struggling alma mater, Colorado, fell into fourth place and will have to face a dangerous K-State team on Saturday night in Boulder. Since anything can happen in this conference of champions, you’ll have to stay tuned until the final regular season buzzer sounds in order to find out how the tournament seedings will play out.

Connecticut used Providence as its post-season warm-up whipping-boy, trouncing them 106-41. UConn had five players in double figures, with Diana Taurasi leading all-scorers with 20 and Swin Cash chipping in 19. With two games left in the regular season, the Huskies remain undefeated. It looks like they will cruise into postseason play as the number one seed in the Eastern Regional. Can they pull out another National Championship? Having already convincingly outlasted Oklahoma and Tennessee, it looks like the Huskies are the team to beat. While Stanford may have only one loss, it came against the Lady Vols in December, their only true test of the season.

Who’s Got Game This Week
As the final regular season games come to a close, tune in to see one of the final Big 12 head-to-head battles, as Colorado is in a must-win situation against Kansas State at home in Boulder. Over in the ACC, 5th-ranked Duke clashes with conference rival No. 19 North Carolina.


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