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March 17, 1988 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-17

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A New Outburst of Hoopla


Purists are flocking to
women's basketball,
but students are not
For decades Iowans young and old
have flocked to high-school gyms
and big-city arenas to scream their
excitement about girls' basketball.
But the enthusiasm of the fans and
the opportunities for the players seldom
extended beyond high-school level. Sel-
dom, at least, until C. Vivian Stringer ar-
rived five years ago to coach Iowa's Hawk-
eyes. Promising someday to fill Iowa's
15,600-seat Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a
women's game, to win a Big Ten champion-
ship and, ultimately, a national champion-
ship, she drew mostly skeptical snickers.
Nobody's laughing now. Three years ago
Iowa drew 22,157 into Carver-Hawkeye
Arena to watch the Hawkeyes play Ohio
State. Last year the Hawks tied the Buck-
eyes for the conference championship.
Only one more promise remains to be kept,
and Stringer's Hawkeyes have a strong
shot at the NCAA title; they rolled un-
beaten through much of the season, ranked
No. 1 in the polls. The Hawks may soon
confirm the vision Stringer once described
to her squad: "Someday it will happen that
when people talk about women's basket-
ball, they will talk about Iowa."
That statement says as much about the
recent popularity of women's basketball as
it does about the Hawkeyes. A few years
ago only a few strongholds existed at the
college level-Mississippi's Delta State,
Louisiana Tech and Virginia's Old Domin-
ion, for example. Most sports fans consid-
ered the sport little more than an inferior
imitation of the men's version, played by
athletes who ran too slowly, passed too
much and couldn't jump high enough to
slam-dunk. Once lured into the women's
arena, however, basketball fans have dis-
covered something quite unexpected: the
women are fast and athletic and, some say,
actually more fun to watch than the men.
The evidence is nationwide. At Texas,
the Lady Longhorns not only outdraw
the men's team by 5,000 fans a game,
they often outdraw every men's team in the
entire Southwestern Conference. The Lady
Knights of Rutgers have doubled attend-
ance in two seasons, and their average of
nearly 3,000 fans a game almost matches
that of the men's team. And last December
at Tennessee, a game was delayed while


No one's snickering: Behind-the-back pass during Texas-Texas Christian game


APRIL 1988

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