Sunday, April 21, 2024

Womens hoops need support for game

For a moment, imagine you’re in the position of the MSU women’s basketball team.

For months, you’ve been weight lifting, training and preparing for another unpredictable Big Ten season. You’ve been thinking about all the tips your coach has been pounding into your head.

You’ve grunted and fought your way through practice after practice with new teammates, a new coaching staff, and without last year’s two best players.

You’ve tried to learn a new way of running things, without losing what you’ve already built upon.

You’ve stood at the free-throw line shooting for hours and hours every week.

And still, you have the worst free-throw shooting percentage in the league.

And still, you don’t have a winning record.

You know some of the toughest conference games are still ahead.

You realize that one starter went down last month with a torn ACL and another, the best shooter on the team, is out indefinitely with a foot injury.

And now, your biggest rivals, the Prada-touting women from Ann Arbor, are coming to town.

Last year, when Michigan came to Breslin Student Events Center, more than 7,000 fans came and watched as the women in yellow stole former head coach Karen Langeland’s thunder, winning in double overtime at her last home game.

This year, the big rivalry game could be even more important.

With the Spartans suddenly on a three-game losing streak, they need a win to stay alive in the conference. And U-M is far from unbeatable.

Ranked only two spots higher than the Spartans in the conference, the Wolverines lost last week in Ann Arbor to Ohio State - a team the Spartans beat two weeks ago at home, after trailing by 10 at halftime.

Team statistics are ridiculously close in almost all areas. A few examples: MSU’s field-goal percentage is .429 and U-M’s is .431; three-point field-goal percentage at MSU is .338 and U-M’s is .338 and MSU averages 62.8 points per game while U-M averages 69.6.

On paper, things sure look similar.

And fan support could be close as well.

There will no doubt be a lot of local support for the Wolverines. Three U-M players are from the Lansing area - guard Alayne Ingram was a classmate of Marcus Taylor at Lansing’s Waverly High, guard-forward Heather Oesterle is from Mason, and center Jennifer Smith is from DeWitt.

Wouldn’t it be pure poop if these three girls had more support at our own arena than the girls in green?

U-M generally has about 1,400 fans at home games. So do we.

With the normal traveling fans in Breslin Center along with the crowds of people likely to show up supporting their old high school heroes, it seems likely that Breslin Center could be split down team lines Thursday night.

The Pack Attack may have grown to around 12 people, but that’s not going to cut it.

A little additional interest from MSU students and from the East Lansing community would be nice.

Sure, the women haven’t been exactly glamorous lately, but they have been doing everything that was expected of them in a rebuilding year.

As head coach Joanne P. McCallie put it, “They’ve been playing the role of the underdogs and they will be all year.” What does anyone love more than watching the underdogs cream the overrated, and in this case evil, superiors?

Come to the women’s basketball game at 8 p.m. Thursday in Breslin Center. Admission is free with your student ID.

If you generally attend men’s games, think about how you have a better chance of being picked to shoot the three-pointer to win books from the Student Book Store for a year. Your odds are certainly better than at a men’s game.

But more importantly, despite a recent slide, the women’s team has been sweating and pushing all season to be something you can be proud to support.

So support it.

And we all like to watch U-M lose, right?

Krista Latham, State News women’s basketball reporter, regrets that she cannot use harsh expletives to describe U-M, but you can share your thoughts with her through e-mail at lathamkr@msu.edu.

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