St. John’s has a great basketball team, but I bet, if you’re anything like most of the University’s students or Red Storm sports fans, you probably wouldn’t know it. That’s right-the nationally ranked women’s basketball team, under the leadership of head coach Kim Barnes Arico, is having a great season, one that unfortunately flew under the radar of the St. John’s community, with only a handful of fans in the crowd at each game.
The women’s team had 24 wins this season-the most it has had in 26 years. In addition to this, 12 of the team’s wins took place during the Big East season, making it the most Big East wins for Barnes Arico, who has coached the team for eight years. The team made it to the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament last week, narrowly losing to Notre Dame. And it was announced on Monday that the team made it into the NCAA Tournament, as a No. 6 seed.
Around the same time the women’s team made it to the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament, rumors started circulating that the men’s head coach, Norm Roberts, would be fired. These rumors completely overshadowed the amazing job that the women’s team had done in the tournament. And sadly, this became one more example of the spotlight being taken away from the women’s team when it was most deserved when you look at all of their accomplishments. Despite such a great season for the women, why has all the attention been focused on the struggling men’s team?
Well, many Red Storm fans will say that the men’s team needs to regain it’s dominance in order to establish a winning tradition for the school. And older fans still look back to the glory days of when the team, then known as the Red Men, were champions and dominated the sport.
The men’s team has a rich history at St. John’s, so it’s understandable that fans are still invested in the team, but that doesn’t mean that the women’s team should be overlooked, especially when they are so good.
UConn’s women’s basketball team is an even better example of a team that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves. This team is No. 1 in the country, and has had 72 consecutive wins over the past three seasons, breaking its own previous record of 70 consecutive wins. And, the women’s team has generally won each of its games by about 30 points.But throughout this season, UConn fans were focused on whether or not the men’s coach, Jim Calhoun, would return for another season, and on the fact that the men’s team had a disappointing first-round loss to St. John’s in the Big East Tournament, ending the hopes of an NCAA appearance. It’s a shame that even though no other team in college basketball has had such dominance in the sport, all attention at UConn is directed at the men’s program.
Even critics haven’t given Connecticut’s women’s team the credit they deserve. In an article by Karen Price, published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in January, the title says it all: “UConn rolling up records-but is it boring?”
Price argues that because the women’s team is so dominant, this might actually hurt the game and make it less exciting for fans to want to watch. But if the UConn men’s team had a 72-game winning streak, I don’t think critics would even raise this question, and fans would probably be extremely excited to watch their team win game after game.
It’s unfortunate that in this day and age, schools still can’t be defined by their dominance in women’s sports. At schools like St. John’s and UConn, fans and critics alike continue to question the future of the men’s teams, forgetting about the successful women’s teams they have on campus.
Since March is Women’s History Month, celebrating these teams’ accomplishments take on a stronger significance. The women’s teams at St. John’s and UConn continue to break their own records and make history in the world of college sports.
So instead of focusing so much attention on the disappointing men’s teams, college basketball fans, especially those at these two schools, should celebrate these successful female athletes-they certainly deserve the attention.