From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog: Mad hops, hot hoops, and feminist foibles

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mad hops, hot hoops, and feminist foibles

Hey, I was feeling alliterative.

So the NCAA basketball tournaments are over. Roy Williams and North Carolina reigned supreme on the men's side Monday night, showing talent does win over team. The numerology nuts had a field day with the fact that Sean May scored 26 points on his 21st birthday, 29 years after his father played in the final for the undefeated Indiana Hoosiers. In the winning effort Scott May scored...26 points.

May won Outstanding Player honors for the game. He has said he plans to be back for his senior season, though we'll see if that really plays out. Since his team looks to send at least three first rounders if he does go, and perhaps as many as five total to the NBA next season, he could come back and be a very big fish in a very lonely little pond. Either way, he had one hell of a game.

It was also nice to see Roy Williams get his first title after three or four previous tries while head of Kansas. As someone who had frequently been labeled as "unable to win the big one" despite a very good career at KU, it was nice to see Roy get the monkey off his back. He's one of the good guys out there. He had this coming.

As far as my bracket went, I did ok but not great. Finished in the middle of the back in the office pool (look for Hankdog). As for the Bloggers Bracket at, I finished 151 out of 347. Decent.

Of more interesting note as far as I see things were the results from the women's tourney. I never thought I would ever live to write these words, but the Baylor Bears are national champions. They didn't just beat Michigan State to win the title. They destroyed the Spartans. Not something I would have seen coming. Baylor apparently made the smart choice in bring in Kim Mulkey-Robinson to be the head coach 5 years ago. This is her 12th Final Four as either a player, assistant coach, or head coach. She won two titles as a player, the first ever to win both as a player and coach.

Amusingly enough, King Kaufman who writes sports for Salon called the shot on this one.

Women's basketball seems to be coming loose from the clutches of Tennessee, Connecticut and, to a lesser extent, Stanford, which is an odd thing to say considering UConn is the three-time defending champion, Tennessee is a No. 1 seed and Stanford is a 2 that's whining that it should have been a 1.

But I think it's true. For all I know Tennessee or UConn will win and make it nine of the last 11 championships divided between those two schools. But the competition is tougher all the time. More teams have a chance to win. UConn is only a 3 seed. Duke dropped down to a 2. Michigan State, Baylor, Minnesota and Ohio State are all seeded in the top three without having been dominant Tournament teams in the last decade.

My pick to win it all, coming to you directly from thin air: Baylor.
Maybe I need to start making my picks this way :-).

The only reason I include feminism in the title on this post pertains to two things that came out the Baylor win. King hits on the first one in his column today:

One last thought on the women's Tournament: I wish women's athletic programs that haven't done so already would get rid of that obnoxious word "Lady" in their nicknames.

It comes from a time when female athletes were considered so odd that they just couldn't be labeled the same way as the men. The men's teams at Baylor were called the Bears, for example, so the women's teams had to be the Lady Bears, because who ever heard of a female bear, right?

The Lady Bears name persists. It's all over the official Web site.

In the mid-'80s, when I was covering women's basketball at Cal, the sports information director would frequently have to politely inform opponents of the team's correct nickname when she saw "Lady Bears" on their posters and schedules. "We're not the Lady Bears," she'd say, "we're the Golden Bears."

I figured then that within a few years this antiquated, condescending practice would be a quaint memory, like those sleeved jerseys that were all the rage in Old Dominion's heyday. But two decades down the road, three of the Final Four teams still use "Lady" -- and who uses that word "lady"?

Here's hoping the Lady Bears, the LSU Lady Tigers and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, or Lady Vols, join the Michigan State Spartans in the 21st century.
I still remember when I started school here way back in 1990 (god I'm old), the University of Texas women's teams in everything were referred to as the Lady Longhorns. I don't recall if we would have gotten in trouble not using the name correctly when I worked at the Erwin Center for UTTM (now Texas Box Office), but I do remember that being everywhere on every piece of promotional material they put out. And then all of a sudden, poof. It was gone. They were just the Longhorns, or if a distinction did need to be made if say both teams played on the same day, the Longhorn Women. Longhorn Women is kinda clunky to repeat, but I'm glad UT came to their senses and got rid of the Lady part a long ways back. It does seem antiquated for the most part to me.

Making these terms a thing of the past would be a hell of a lot easier if not for the other thing that caught my attention related to the Baylor win. I was headed home from my girlfriend's, listening to the game on the radio. It was late in the second half, the game was already pretty much settled with Baylor in control. It was at this point the broadcast team for ESPN's radio coverage (I have no idea who it was now but both broadcasters were women, and I'm pretty sure one was a former player) thought now would be a good time to talk about Baylor coach Mulkey-Robinson's outfit for the evening.

(photo from

You can see her partially here. Powder blue, it was a women's suit I believe with a modest skirt (I saw a full length photo somewhere but can't run it down). One of the broadcasters mentioned the fact that the suit matches roughly the colors Mulkey-Robinson wore when she was a player at Louisiana Tech (the Lady Techsters back then as long as we're talking about absurd team nicknames). So far, no problems as I hear it.

So do they then segue into her playing career at La. Tech? Perhaps talk about her career as an assistant coach, maybe some of the other Final Fours she's been involved with?

No, they go on for about 30 second about how fabulous she looks in her outfit. I am NOT kidding. Then when they get back to the game, after it's done, these same people have a chance to talk with her on the court. After hitting a couple of points about the game itself, they come back to the damn outfit again for chrissakes. Do you hear anyone commenting about Roy Williams' suit after he's lead North Carolina to his first championship? Perhaps you got regaled with tales of the sartorial splendor of Coach Pat Riley during his Showtime days with the Lakers? No? You know why that didn't happen?

Because it's friggin bullshit that doesn't have a damn thing to do with the game. And why the hell the talking heads at ESPN thinks anyone listening could give a good Goddamn about what the coach is wearing is beyond me. Unless they're playing back to the silly stereotypes that women are only concerned with how they look and think that's how their listening audience thinks. But look there I go being cynical again.


Seriously, it is silly things like that keep the women's game behind the men's, playing into the bullshit macho ideal that the men's game is superior and all about the action on the court. And as women broadcasters, ESPN's crew should have known better than to go there. I enjoy listening to/watching women's collegiate sports to get away from all the facetious crap that fills out a TV/radio broadcast. It takes a lot of work to get dumber than that. ESPN lived down to expectations.

End rant.

One last note: how great is it that Baylor has a national championship in a major sport more recently than A&M?

Hook 'em!