Women’s basketball action, within the Pac-10 Conference, began last night. On Dec. 20, 2005, conference games began and hardly anyone noticed. The reason? It’s just too early for conference basketball. The conference must make two major changes to get more people into the arenas and keep western basketball on the map.
First, the women must play their conference tournament on the same weekend as the men. Because of the early start of the women’s tournament in San Jose, Calif., conference play is pushed into the Christmas season, which inevitably kills attendance. Of the four games played last night, only Washington drew over 2,000 and Washington State put only 490 patrons into the seats to see highly ranked Stanford. It’s simply too early to play conference basketball.
On Thursday, Dec. 22, the Cats will host arch-rival ASU. Did you know about that game? I don’t think many people do. Why play an important game like this one before Christmas? Last time I checked, people seemed to be more concerned about finishing Christmas shopping than helping Arizona jump-start its season!
An answer could be to play the women’s tournament in Los Angeles at the same time as the men. As the men battle at the Staple’s Center, the women could be competing at the Forum, or at USC’s new arena, and then the men and women could play championship games together at Staple’s. This would help conference games start at a reasonable date and the media would be available to cover both events.
Secondly, the women should combine their Pac-10 Media Day with the men. Currently, the men gather in Los Angeles amongst heavy media attention and the women speak in front of family and friends in San Jose. This year, not one television station was on hand to cover the women’s media day! A few years ago, both the men and women previewed their seasons together in the City of Angels. The women got terrific coverage because the media that covered the men filed stories on the women, too. Sure, the men are going to get more attention, but less attention is better than no attention!
It’s time to come out of the dark-ages and look at reality. Why not ride the coattails of the men and ride the wave of Lute Olson’s great success? Why not let the national media file two stories instead of one? There are some great stories on the women’s side of the sport, too.
Just make these two changes, and women’s basketball in the Pac-10 will be greatly enhanced. The question is: does anyone care enough to do anything?
See you on the radio!
*Every Wildcat women’s basketball game is broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM!