Opinion: Basketball deserves more

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    By BETH PALMER

    Thanks to our constantly revolving door here at The Daily Universe, my semester’s watch over the sports desk has come to a close.

    But before I’m relegated to a lesser part of the Universe, I have a few issues I’ve been stewing on I need to unload.

    For starters — A memo to all BYU sports fans:

    You know that building on the north end of campus? The big, squarish one with all those parking lots around it? Head north, pass the bell tower, hit the Bean Museum, take a left….

    There it is, the Marriott Center.

    You know what’s going on there this time of year? No worries if you’ve forgotten; I mean, it’s just one of the greatest college sports out there.

    It’s basketball.

    So maybe you won’t find either of BYU’s teams in any top-25 polls this year, but I’m here to tell you something that — judging by attendance figures so far this season — most people on this campus probably aren’t aware of.

    These teams are entertaining.

    If the only thing you envision when you hear the words “BYU basketball” is a cloudy scene with a big “1-25” floating over it, I suggest you catch up. This is not that team.

    Have you noticed that Mekeli Wesley is 12th in the nation in scoring? Have you seen Terrell Lyday take the ball coast to coast and slam it down? And how about Matt Montague running the point flanked by Michael Vranes at shooting guard?

    They may not be part of the biggest lineup in the nation, but they do play a nice 40 mintues. Hey, I’m not ashamed to admit it: they’re my favorite team to watch at BYU.

    As for the women, they made an NIT appearance last season and are even better this year. The prime reason for that can be described in two words: Erin Thorn.

    Odds are, unless you’re one of the few faithfuls on campus, that name won’t even ring a bell, so let me fill you in.

    Thorn is a 5-foot-10 guard from Orem who was recruited by Duke and Old Dominion, just to name a couple. She is perhaps the best freshman basketball player in the nation, and she’s gracing the hardwood on your campus.

    If Cady Williams and Jill Adams weren’t enough reason for you to drag yourself to the Marriott Center for a game, Thorn ought to be.

    This woman hits threes like Y2K is really going to be the end of the world. We should be jumping at the chance to see her game develop over her four years here in Provo.

    But unfortunately, most basketball fans out there are missing it.

    Neither team is getting the fan support it deserves. Last Tuesday when the men defeated Arizona State was probably one of the best matchups that will be played at the Marriott Center this season. And yet just 5,867 fans showed up to witness it, and that’s a shame.

    Because until you’ve seen Silester Rivers fight his way to another rebound, or Todd Christensen swish a long three, you just haven’t had the full BYU sports experience.

    Second issue: An extension on my appeal to fans:

    Give your athletes credit when credit is due. Maybe I’m beating the straw out of a dead pinata here, but Kevin Feterik deserved better from you. He deserved your applause and support.

    Instead he got your boos. Again.

    Being a sports fan in college is about being a crazy, rabid fan who stays behind his or her team when it’s the worst in the country. Take advantage of the chance.

    When you’re back out in the real world, boo the guys who make $5 million a year and won’t play with a bruised thumb.

    Lastly: Since the position of Sports Editor isn’t one too many women get a chance to fill, I’d be remiss if I left without offering my view on the Title IX mess, especially since I know just how to fix the whole thing.

    Administration will love this one.

    Keep wrestling and gymnastics, add softball, make men’s soccer Division I — hey, add women’s field hockey if you want; I have the answer.

    If it’s gender equity you’re looking for, give women a locker room in the Smith Fieldhouse. What woman hasn’t walked all the way from the tennis courts to the locker room at the far end of the RB without casting a dirty look at all the men who take their short walk to the Fieldhouse, change and head off to their next class with time to spare.

    By the time the guys are sitting down for their Humanities class in the JKHB, the women are just catching their first glimpse of the locker room. Can you call that equity?

    So there it is, Val. If only your job were as simple as mine.

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