By Shawn Muller–
The University of Connecticut Lady Huskies basketball team is one of the most dominant teams—men or women—in college athletics today. The program has just qualified for their 18th straight Sweet 16 appearance. They have won 112 of their last 113 games, two straight national championships, and will probably win a third straight this season.
So why then, was head coach Gino Auriemma so hot after his team dismantled Purdue 64-40 in their 2nd round matchup of the NCAA tournament last night in Storrs?
Because his team played in front of a half-full Gampel Pavilion.
Instead of celebrating his programs’ continued dominance over the sport, Auriemma had to focus on the negative. He said, “It’s probably natural. I guess we need to win more. Everybody loves a winner, you know.” Auriemma went on to add, “Maybe we should offer free parking, more giveaways. We should let some of the fans coach the team, maybe a guest coach every quarter.”
Maybe you should shut your fat-yap for a second, coach, and be happy anyone showed up at all.
Like it or not, Gino, the average American sports fan, could care less about women’s basketball. Everything your program has accomplished for nearly twenty years, really doesn’t matter to anyone not associated with your program or the people who are directly involved with female athletics. I’m not saying this is fair, but it is the truth.
I think it is safe to assume that many other women’s basketball programs would be thrilled to know that a little over 5,700 people showed up for a game in a stadium that seats 10,000. Is being at 57 percent of capacity really that bad? In Storrs, Connecticut, apparently it is. But, if you were to ask many other women’s coaches across the country if they would be up in arms over 5,700 people coming to one of their games, they would probably look at you like you had just escaped from a mental hospital.
The other thing you need to remember, Gino, is that, no matter how dominate your Lady Huskies have been, they will always play second fiddle to the men’s basketball team. The men’s program is no slouch and is led by a Hall-of-Famer. Your counterpart, Jim Calhoun, is a hall of fame coach with 10 regular season Big East titles, 7 Big East tournament titles, and 2 national championships.
Your game was on a random Tuesday night….just two days before the men’s Sweet 16 game against the San Diego State Aztecs. I am sure some of the people who normally attend women’s games were probably making their way to sunny Anaheim, California. I am quite positive that the main focus of the UConn fan base is on Jim Calhoun and Kemba Walker….not Gino Auriemma and Maya Moore.
Like it or not….that is a fact
As for the lack of student support, did it ever occur to you that maybe they are prepping for exams, writing term papers, or attending other academic obligations– placing your game last night against Purdue– at the bottom of the priority list? Maybe the students felt that in order to watch the men’s game on Thursday, whatever work they needed to get done before tip-off….needed to get done now?
What you have done with the Lady Huskies is very impressive, coach.
I don’t think anyone is denying that.
But to call out your fans…the select group of people who actually DO care enough to buy season tickets to the Lady Husky games and the students who help pay your salary…that is pretty foolish.
You have made it quite clear—especially this season—that you want your moment in the sun. The constant crying and complaining about the lack of respect for your accomplishments—not your teams’– proves that.
The fact is Gino, you are just upset that you are always going to play second fiddle to Jim Calhoun, and your program—fairly or unfairly—will always play second fiddle to the men.
It is not that nobody thinks your team is not good.
It’s just that…it’s women’s basketball, you are not Jim Calhoun, and this upsets you….not the attendance figures from last night’s game.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.</em