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How I Came to Love Women's Basketball

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I expect that this thread has been seen before, but not since I have begun reading the Boneyard.

I have been a sports fan for all my life. I first followed baseball by listening to WMGM out of New York for games of my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers and with Red Barber describing the action. Football and basketball came later. My brother took me to a number of Trinity College football games in the 1950s and several baseball ones (saw Moe Drabowski as a freshman) and I remember listening to Chris Schenkel’s broadcasts of the football New York Giants. He was such a homer that I reacted by becoming a Cleveland Browns fan at the time Otto Graham was the quarterback. Attended a number of football, basketball, and baseball games at college, together with an occasional hockey one. I saw Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins playing on the Army hockey team. While in grad school in the 1960s, I went to a number of UConn basketball games at the old Field House. The Dream Season and first national championship in 1999 stand out, particularly since the Huskies defeated hated Duke to win it all.

As mentioned in my initial post, I first became acquainted with the women’s team in the fall of 1994 when a student worker told me that the team should be real good that season. I attended around a dozen games in 1994-95 sitting in the general admission student section behind the home basket. At the time, one could walk up to the ticket office a few days before the game and pick up a ticket for a nominal price. Included was the monumental win over Tennessee on Martin Luther King Day in January 2016. One of the last games my wife and I attended was Geno’s 1000th victory in 2017. We attended the 1995 Regionals at Gampel Pavilion, a tromping of Alabama and a hard fought victory over Virginia. In the latter game, UConn got off to a ten point lead in the first half and then fell apart and UVa was up by around five points at half time. Everyone in the stands was in a state of shock. Have t-shirts from the 1994 Super Show and 1995 national championship.

My family and I attended the huge rally in Gampel on Monday after they returned home from Minneapolis. What a team! Four present and future All-Americans. The team had it all - outstanding inside play, good guards, excellent shooting, and good defense. The featured players - Rebecca Lobo, Kara Wolters, Jen Rizzotti, Nykesha Sales, Pam Webber, Jamelle Elliott (pound for pound the toughest player on the floor), and Carla Berube. The team was put together before UConn had much of a national reputation and all the players came from the northeast. Elliott from DC was probably the player who came the farthest to join the team. After the core seven, the bench was composed of Missy Rose, Kelley Hunt, Kim Better, Jill Gelfenbien, and Brenda Marquis. The last five came into the game after Geno decided to call off the dogs and they seem to have performed better than the benches in recent seasons. I remember a woman I knew who was not a basketball fan telling me that she burst into tears after the victory over Tennessee. The 1995 victory supplied much of the initiative for the passing UConn 2000 by the General Assembly.

UConn has had a number of great teams but this was the first and the most memorable.
 
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Great story.

I was surfing channels, and all of a sudden, I saw this basketball game with UConn, my alma mater, playing Tennessee for the championship and started watching the game. That is the first time I got to see them play. After that, I tried to find out when they played and watch them, otherwise, I was looking for the men's games.
 
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Great story.

I was surfing channels, and all of a sudden, I saw this basketball game with UConn, my alma mater, playing Tennessee for the championship and started watching the game. That is the first time I got to see them play. After that, I tried to find out when they played and watch them, otherwise, I was looking for the men's games.
...and the rest as they say it's history. :rolleyes:
 

SVCBeercats

"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"
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A NH girl was signed by UCONN. Her name was Kerry Bascomb. Been a UCONN womens fan ever since. Ocassionally jump on the men’s bandwagon as well.
Similar story but it was a local girls' basketball two time Miss Colorado Basketball, Ann Strother. I wondered how she would do at the college level. So I followed her UCONN career. Until then I was barely aware of women's basketball. In all honesty I can't say I love women's basketball but I learned to really like Geno, CD, and therefore UCONN women's basketball.
 

Argonaut

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I played a little basketball in high school, but I was definitely a softball kid growing up...

Before I started my master’s at UConn in January 2010, I’m not sure I had ever watched a women’s college basketball game. There were a few people in my department that were pretty diehard fans, so that spring, watching the games gave me something to talk to them about and we’d get together to watch big games. I just wanted to make friends. :p That casual, social fandom followed until I graduated in 2011.

Then I started seeing a guy who was a huge sports fan. I had always been a pretty big MLB and NFL fan, but that became the focus of 75% of our conversations and I HATED it. lol. I wanted something to love that I could just enjoy on my own, so I went back to UConn women’s basketball. Then Stewie & Company came on the scene and it was a good time to be a UConn fan, so I stayed. Then I slowly became more invested in the entire process, and this past graduating class was the first I really followed from recruitment through graduation.

Last year I didn’t miss a single televised game and saw them in person at ECU and SC.

Now the boyfriend is just as tired of hearing about women’s basketball (both collegiate and the WNBA) as I am listening to Cubs news in November and Dolphins news in March. :rolleyes:
 
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UcMiami

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I started watching sports with my Dad and my first heroes were YA Tittle covered in mud, Willie Mays and the Celtics of the sixties. Still follow a lot of sports, but Uconn WCBB is #1 and men's BB at any level has fallen off the map. I feel the men have out-grown the game - too big, too strong, too athletic for the size of the court and the height of the basket. And while the best teams still play as a team, the play is too individualized.

The reality though is that while I love Uconn and respect a rolling field of other teams, most of WCBB is painful to watch - mostly due to bad coaching.
 

Bigboote

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Ive also been a lifelong sports fan. I gradually lost interest in the NBA when it became so power-oriented and less about finesse. Then that began happening in men's college basketball. I was at UVA when the WBB team started gaining in popularity. The local TV channel began broadcasting some, then Dawn Staley and Tammi Reiss came along, and I began genuinely following it. Around the same time my father began following UConn WBB, and I started watching games with him when I was home visiting. I was hooked.

As more games became available on TV, I became a fan of the game in general. Been watching one or two WNBA games most days the last few weeks.
 
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I was a big men's college BB fan but became less so after it became normal for the best players to go pro after a year or two. It became rooting for a logo rather than a team. Following UConn I can usually watch a player develop over four years, with the team changing from year to year, but not radically.
 

CocoHusky

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I have told this story several times on the BY before but thanks for the opportunity to repeat it. On the occasion of my 5 year HS reunion I had a very casual conversation with one of my HS teammates where he mentioned that our former BB coach had gotten the head job at UCONN. He said nothing about Women's basketball or the name of specific coach. FF a few years and I run into the same guy at a family function-Geno is doing goods things up there at UCONN he said. Really I said I'll have to check them out. I started looking for UCONN games and was actually surprised to find that the Coach was Jim Calhoun. I though, Geno must have been fired already. FF to another family function a few years later and I see the same friend again. What happened to Geno up at UCONN I asked him. He still there doing big things he said. Well who is this guy Calhoun? No.no .. he said Geno has the women's team up there. I finally found the UCONN women that fall through some cable package or company that probably doesn't exist anymore. I've been hooked ever since. Was blessed with two girls that played the game at a very high level and got a chance to play with and against several UCONN prospects and former players. This has just furthered my addiction to UCONN WBB.
 
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Watching Kim Mulkey at Louisiana Tech was enough to get me hooked. What a fabulous competitor!!!
 

eebmg

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The 95 MLK game between UConn and TN


Just turned it on as a curiosity. Just became enamored with Jen Rizotti with the heart of the lion and two such uniquely skilled bigs in Walters (post footwork, never brought the ball down) and Lobo. (Passing / outside shooting). They looked so different than anything I had seen and the crowd energy was incredible. Did not care for the ugly TN uniforms or Pat's outfit while a young Geno looked like a no frills intense coach who would go to war. Hooked.
 
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My daughter was playing NJB,however I missed many games because of work. One game the coach wasn’t gonna be able to make it so he ask me to coach. In NJB all player play and you can’t play zone defense. I figured I would show the girl a few misdirection plays it would help. I did, it worked and they won. After that the coach started missing more games and I was roped into being the coach. A few years later one of my former players father became the Head Coach for girls varsity at Etiwanda HS in California. He came a calling and made me his assistant and head JV coach. We were very successful. I decided to move on from there to a team that had been 4-40 in four seasons. I wanted to see if I could build as a head coach. Took me 7 years but we did eventually become league champs. I’ve been a diehard WCBB fan and a soccer dad for awhile. I’m hoping my granddaughter wants to play. I just purchased a tots hoop for her.
 

MSGRET

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I was stationed in the Netherlands when I saw my first UConn game, it was the first woman's game to be shown live on AFN. It was the Tennessee vs UConn NC game. Seeing that there were few live feeds in the Netherlands I stayed up to watch it. I had never seen UConn before that game and had only watched a few women's game before that. I was fascinated with the way the women played, especially the high - lows of Lobo to Wolters or vice versa. Also loved the way the Rizotti, Elliott, and Sales played and seemed to mesh with the two bigs, it kind of reminded me of UCLA during the Wooden years. I've only seen one game live and that was UConn at Nevada-Reno, where a state attendance record was set. It was great watching Saniya, Gabby, Kia, and Phesa play. My only disappointment was that I didn't get to see Lou play, it was her final game that she had to sit out due to the injury she got in the Cal game.
 
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MSGRET

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Remember, John Wooden said if you want to watch good, sound fundamental basketball, watch the women play!
He was talking about the way the men's game had changed so much that he didn't consider it to be basketball. I agreed with him when he said it and still do to this day.
 
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Ive also been a lifelong sports fan. I gradually lost interest in the NBA when it became so power-oriented and less about finesse. Then that began happening in men's college basketball. I was at UVA when the WBB team started gaining in popularity. The local TV channel began broadcasting some, then Dawn Staley and Tammi Reiss came along, and I began genuinely following it. Around the same time my father began following UConn WBB, and I started watching games with him when I was home visiting. I was hooked.

As more games became available on TV, I became a fan of the game in general. Been watching one or two WNBA games most days the last few weeks.
Like Bigboote I gradually got tired of the sameness of men's basketball in both college and pros. Like your favorite dessert a dunk gets to be boring after the one hundredth helping. The woman's game, especially with a team like Uconn, is a wonderful blend of good passing, hustling, and overall knowledge of the game. I actually started watching the women's game when today's Baylor coach, Kim Mulkey, was a point guard for the National Champion Louisiana Tech in 1982. To this day I'm not sure I've ever seen a better one and, yes, that included Sue Bird.
 
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How I Came to Love Women's Basketball.....
A UConn basketball fan early in life, If you had tickets for a men's game in the 70's often you could see the women play the same school for free, first game.
As a basketball junkie that was cool beans. Still as a purist I would lament over how much the officials allowed the girls to travel, palm and double dribble the ball. Over some time the game evolved and along comes coaching that has the ladies ball handling, passing and moving the ball with finesse, that and playing team ball.

The ball movement and players realization of an assist being as important as a possible basket. The game being played below the rim, team spirit always present. A joy to watch. Still enjoy the college men's game with the acrobatics but the NBA not so much. They have regressed to isolation, traveling and palming the ball. ;)


 

KnightBridgeAZ

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Great story.

I was surfing channels, and all of a sudden, I saw this basketball game with UConn, my alma mater, playing Tennessee for the championship and started watching the game. That is the first time I got to see them play. After that, I tried to find out when they played and watch them, otherwise, I was looking for the men's games.
Substitute a bout of insomnia and putting the TV on in the middle of the night and seeing my alma mater, Rutgers, playing basketball and it was women and not men (I never liked men's basketball). I was fascinated, and I saw the Final Four on TV, the North Carolina championship "shot" and it was exciting. So the next year my wife got us tickets for a single game for Christmas - front row (not intentionally), Rutgers vs. George Washington, Grentz's last year and the last year in the A10. We were hooked, even went to the A10 tourney at St. Joseph's. Season tix every year until we moved to Arizona - and we switched to Arizona seamlessly.

My wife's health issues have limited the number of games we make, but we are still huge fans.
 

Monte

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I love all your stories. I just hope that the Women's game doesn't change. I just hope they keep playing for the sake of hard-nosed basketball, and not getting involved in politics and social issues.
 
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I love all your stories. I just hope that the Women's game doesn't change. I just hope they keep playing for the sake of hard-nosed basketball, and not getting involved in politics and social issues.
Really? Why would you even think that athletes using their platform to speak out on things they feel are important would change the game that they love? Are you trying to change this thread topic to make YOUR political point?
 
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Really? Why would you even think that athletes using their platform to speak out on things they feel are important would change the game that they love? Are you trying to change this thread topic to make YOUR political point?
Agree! Give this article: What A Decade | Minnesota Lynx All-Decade Awards - Minnesota Lynx a read highlighting how the Lynx teams dominated a decade of WNBA basketball. Over that same time they individually and corporately have taken stands and made statements on social issues. Many other teams and players have done the same. WNBA players can 'walk and chew gum at the same time', they play the game at the highest possible level and use their voices to express what they believe in.
 

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