From Right to Left

The men’s basketball team only won five games in the Big East last season.

But enough about them already.

Last year, the women’s volleyball team only lost one Big East game, finished first in the conference and when they came home to Carnesecca Arena after avenging their regular season loss to Louisville with a three-games-to-none-sweep in the Big East Tournament, they did so with the conference trophy.

Last year, the women’s volleyball team played the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament on the floor of Carnesecca. This year, they’ll play their homecoming game in the basketball team’s practice facility.

The most successful Red Storm team of 2007, and in recent history, is being treated like second-rate citizens on their
own campus.

Because, although the cranes, trains and automobiles are finally gone from the front of Carnesecca Arena, (and I can walk to my car after class without having to take one of the University’s brand-new, graciously-placed, construction-averting long cuts), there is still much work to be done on the inside of the building.

Now the planning on some of this place’s most recent construction endeavors has been less than Hellenic (see floors two to four of the library, oh wait, you can’t), so my accusing the University of prioritizing a better revenue-generating athletic team over a worse one may possibly be misplaced. But this one, to me at least, seems obvious. And sad.

It’s not just about Homecoming. There are reasons why Taffner Field House is a worse place to play a volleyball game than Carnesecca Arena. Mainly, the ceilings are lower and the space between the end of the court and the wall of the building – where a player serves from – is limited.

And adapting to their new home was something that senior hitter Valeria Kovaleva told me took some practice. Then there is the fact that the aluminum bleachers dragged into Taffner for volleyball games don’t allow for many roaring, red-painted Johnnie diehards at all.

“Personally, we’d like to play in Carneseca because there is more space and more people,” Kovaleva said.

But to be perfectly honest, Kovaleva seemed less upset about the whole thing than I am, which I think speaks to her team’s perseverance and focus. After a shaky 5-6 start to their 2008 season, the Red Storm have now rattled off wins in seven of their last eight games – including a 2-0 Big East opening weekend on their makeshift home floor.

And about homecoming Kovaleva said: “Of course we’d like to play in Carnesecca for the homecoming weekend, but as long as we win, we don’t care where we play.”

So maybe I’m really just looking for controversy where there is none. Although I can almost guarantee that if the 800 seatback chairs that are being installed in Carnesecca Arena either as we speak, or next week or anytime before hoops season tips-off, were in place for last year’s NCAA Tournament game against Long Island University, they would’ve been rocking.

But since I was so impressed with Kovaleva’s focus, I’ll leave you with the senior’s foresight.

“We fully understand,” she said. “It won’t just be for the basketball team. The volleyball team will get a chance to play there again next year.”

Wow. And all I’m worried about is getting to my car faster.