For the first time this season, Hoops Odyssey has ventured into the realm of post season DI women's basketball. Unchartered waters indeed. And while the Rutgers-ASU game isn't quite as competitive as the UNC-Georgetown match up we saw yesterday, there is a unique vibe at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Here's a sign you don't see at the men's games.
First off, due to the early departure of the hometown favorite Duke Blue Devils, the arena is - and I'm going to put a positive spin on this - personal. The box score says that 6,082 fans are in attendance, but that probably means that 6,082 tickets were sold, most of them to Duke fans who have little motivation to show up to a tournament their team is no longer part of.
But that's alright, it's kind of nice that I can hear every single word screamed in the Coliseum. The guy behind me and to my right, the one wearing jean shorts and tube socks up to his knees, insists that the refs "call it on both ends." I guess the "it" is a foul, but he never specifies and I'm not about to ask.
Former UF dance team member Erin Andrews reflects on her Dazzler days.
I'm too busy admiring the way the Scarlet Knights play ball. These girls are good, and not just for girls. They are flat out talented. Kia Vaughn is a beast on the inside. I mean, she has me ducking elbows on press row, that's how big and vicious she is. At 6-4, she's easily the tallest player on the court.
Although, I've got to admit, it took me a while to admire Vaughn's presence. I was too busy staring at the Rutgers' scorecard for the first five minutes of play. Can you believe it? The Scarlet Knights have a player named Essence and a player named Epiphanny...Think about that assist, Essence to Epiphanny. Not only that, but Epiphanny once scored 113 points in a high school game. Now that is an epiphany.
Rutgers' guards Matee Ajavon and Essence Carter are ready four Cleveland.
The actual game is less exciting than the players' names. Rutgers takes advantage Vaughn's size and starts to run up the score in the second half, eventually winning 64-45. Fortunately, I'm sitting next to basketball guru Jessica Garrison, who makes the blow out interesting by explaining to this ignorant voyager the beauty of women's college basketball.
-Women lead cheers from the bench. Female players chant defense and stomp their feet while on the sidelines. Imagine Oden doing that. That just don't happen with the men.
-The Rutgers-ASU game was supposed to take place earlier this year in the Virgin Islands, but that game was canceled after the younger brother of an ASU player died of an enlarged heart.
-Because of the size difference, there's more room on the court for women. That creates more passing angles and allows the offense to run smoother. This is probably why people like John Wooden (yeah, maybe you've heard of him) insist that women's basketball is better when it comes to execution.
-Women ballers can still dunk. In fact, Garrison pointed out this clip to me of a 15 year old girl throwing down.
All in all, Hoops Odyssey was impressed, maybe not with the Greensboro Coliseum crowd, but with Scarlet Knights' play and Garrison's knowledge of the game. (Plus, if anyone can introduce Hoops Odyssey to ASU guard Jill Noe, we'd really appreciate it. Maybe it's her handle, maybe we've been on the road too long, but she's the cutest player we've seen since...well I can't thing of anything cuter right now...)