- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2002

Happy 30th, Title IX.

You were awfully good to this household, contrivance or not.

The windfall came out to about $150,000, not counting the rows of basketball shoes stuffed in closets and several large boxes.

Thank you, Richard Nixon. Thank you, political correctness. Thank you, American taxpayer.

You paid and I tried to watch what passed as athletic entertainment, with one eye closed and one eye on a watch. Is it over yet? Is it safe?

The crowd, if you can call it that, usually was light, mostly family, friends of the family and victims of a wrong turn. No real harm was done. People do what they do, much of it frivolous.

The opportunity to be a bad basketball player apparently is important in America, one of those inalienable rights.

Women are not necessarily predisposed to be bad basketball players. They just are in most cases, often because the bean counters at all too many universities count only the number of women on scholarships and not the quality of those above the players.

They pay for what they get, in other words, unpersuaded to pay more than the minimum. You can see their point. It is hard to justify an investment in a program that draws crowds of 300.

Most athletic departments wind up living with the embarrassing results. They live with teams that routinely commit 20-plus turnovers a game because the teams don't understand the first thing about floor spacing. They live with coaches whose idea of an idea is to copy off someone else's basketball paper. They live with players who can't see, can't pass and can't make a layup. These are supposedly the best of the best from the high school ranks, by the way.

The coaches inevitably put the onus on the players. Their system works, don't you know? It always works on paper. You scribble here, you scribble there, and, bingo, you get a layup. Just run the system. It will work.

A few years ago, the triangle offense became all the rage in women's basketball, thanks to Tex Winter and the Bulls.

As you know, the triangle offense always works on paper, especially if you have Michael Jordan shooting pull-up jumpers from 18 feet, Scottie Pippen slashing to the basket and Dennis Rodman and Luc Longley setting picks. It works every time. Are you kidding? Run it.

Unfortunately for most women's basketball teams, they did not have their answer to Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Longley on their rosters, and so the triangle offense did not work all that well. In fact, it barely worked, with the notable exception of the Notre Dame team that advanced to the Final Four in 1997 behind Beth Morgan and Katryna Gaither.

UConn's Geno Auriemma is one of the few women's basketball coaches who labors with an unfair corollary attached to his name. He attracts many of the nation's best prep players to his hideaway, which is true enough. A dead person probably could win 20 games with his personnel. Yet his teams also know how to play. They know where to be on each end of the floor. They have more than a clue, which is why they beat most of their Big East opposition by ridiculously lopsided margins.

Auriemma undoubtedly teaches concepts to his players as much as the stuff drawn up on a clipboard. If you don't have concepts in basketball, you have an eyesore.

You have a team that commits 25 turnovers on offense and exhibits an utter lack of intellect on defense. You have a team trying to be competitive on 50 field goal attempts, 10 of which were awful shots made in the post around a collapsing defense, because re-posting the ball is mostly a foreign concept in women's basketball. You have a team that is desperate to defend each player on the floor, including the one averaging 2.2 points. After all, you never know when it will be her night. If you don't defend her, she just might score four points.

None of this is intended as a complaint, just an observation of where Title IX's favorite sport is.

This household certainly has no room to complain, and room is an apt word, what with all the shoes and all.


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