Women’s basketball is where it’s at

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    By CLAIRISSA PETT

    I have a confession to make. I’ve fallen in love with the BYU women’s basketball team.

    Sure, at first I was just like any other avid BYU sports fan — cheering on the Cougar big wigs of football and men’s basketball. I considered myself well versed on the basic happenings in the sports world.

    But somewhere amid the NBA lockout, Olympic scandal and, even more close to home, student-athlete Honor Code violations, a void developed within. Local sports hadn’t exactly built up a great report with me. So just when I had almost given up on Utah sports completely, there they were.

    The women’s basketball team may be considered low-profile, but it is the crux of what sports should exemplify. It resuscitated in me the hope that perhaps there is some good left in the sports world.

    That there may be others out there like this team to show kids that sports are not solely about money and controversy, but are something to be celebrated and enjoyed.

    That is what I see when the Cougars play.

    No, I don’t enjoy the women because of some spectacular something-and-oh record. Basketball is an extension of them. Every game is like the Final Four — there’s not a second when they’re not playing their hearts out.

    The women aren’t there to show off or make an ESPN SportsCenter highlight. On the contrary, they’re rarely televised and are easily overshadowed by more “presigious” programs. So few people attend their games that you can hear the echo of head coach Trent Shippen scribbling on his white board, charting out the next play.

    But those that do attend are stalwart. Because they know.

    The team’s energy — its charisma — is addicting. It draws you in like a chance to play hooky on a warm summer day.

    I hold my breath and pray for a Cady Williams’ three-pointer with five seconds left. And more often than not, she drains it.

    I don’t even blink when the Cougars are at the line. There’s no doubt that all 14 players on that roster can flip the ball in a perfect backspin to hit both their free throws. That’s why BYU is shooting more than 75 percent from the line to lead the WAC.

    And who can ignore what Coach Shippen has done for this team. In his debut season last year, he led the Cougars to their first winning record in three years. And this year the team is off to its best start since the 1992-93 season in which it took first place in the conference.

    Unlike many NCAA coaches, Shippen engages in hands-on instruction during practice while voicing a perfect balance of positive and constructive criticism.

    Five-foot-four senior and captain Amanda Covington pushes the team to run one more set of conditioning drills before calling it a day. And it’s a good thing because just a few days later she found the inside lane for two layins in overtime to propel the Cougars to a one-point victory over San Diego State.

    Take note NBA. You could learn something from this team.

    This is the breath of fresh air I’ve been waiting for. Yes, it must be love.

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