Graham Hays practically knew what I was thinking then responded with a well-written essay. I’ve been trying to figure out why this college basketball season is not very appealing to me this year. Maybe it’s because of the lack of overall talent that will be entering the 2010 WNBA draft or the fact that it’s not really a competitive season. UConn is again dominating the college basketball landscape – just like last year. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for Geno and the gang, but its getting a little repetitive. In 2007 and 2008 Pat Summit won her 7th and 8th NCAA title. Then the pendulum swung back to UConn in 2009 with the Huskies seeming to be the favorite to repeat in 2010.
I remember the good old days when Maryland, Baylor, and Notre Dame snuck in a couple of titles here and there in the beginning of the decade. One of the best games I saw didn’t involve UConn or Tennessee. It was the Maryland/Duke Finals when freshman point guard Kristi Toliver hit a buzzer-beating three pointer taking Maryland into overtime. For a while I thought women’s college basketball hit a real growth spurt in terms of the spread of talented teams around the country. Soon unknown programs would be putting themselves on the map. But sure enough college basketball returned to the Tennessee/UConn show once again.
I think Hays may have hit a nerve as to why that is. To keep unblemished records and for coaches to accumulate unprecedented 800 career wins, many of the top teams in the country don’t play nonconference road games. Why take a loss at a competitive mid-major when you can have a sure win at home against some inferior team. For instance Syracuse is currently 14-1, but take a look at the teams it has played thus far.
One reason why mid-majors have a hard time making the tournament is because they lack a strong schedule. But then it comes down to the chicken or the egg question. Mid-majors can’t grow their programs if they don’t play top schools. Top schools don’t want to play mid-majors because, well, they are mid-majors. Forcing teams to play 14 home games and 14 away games, as DePaul coach Doug Bruno suggested, will help the evolution of the women’s game. Not only will it give smaller schools a better opportunity to make the NCAA tournament, but a change in scheduling will also give mid-majors national attention, the opportunity to fill their arenas, and a chance to display their programs talent. Display of talent leads to recruiting better players which can ultimately lead to better programs and more competitions. And who wouldn’t want a little bit more competition?