As the women’s basketball team moves into the top 10, athletic officials have a lot to be happy about. There’s just one big letdown.
“If I can be blunt, the only disappointment is that students don’t come,” Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said about game attendance.
The Colonials moved into the top 10 this week in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls for the first time since the 1996-1997 season.
GW is ranked eighth in the AP poll and tied for ninth in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll – the highest in program history. During the 1991-1992 season, GW was ranked sixth in the AP poll.
The 19-2 Colonials have been in the top 25 in the coaches poll since the second week of the season, followed by a top-25 ranking in both polls the following week. The squad has not dropped out of either poll since.
“I think it’s exciting for our team and for the University,” head coach Joe McKeown said. “If it helps bring more attention or attract fans, then it’s great. If it becomes a distraction, then it’s not good. Our main goal is to stay focused and concentrate on the next game.”
Kvancz said that the ranking is a testament to the performance of the women’s team and to McKeown, but that it does not guarantee the women a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Kvancz said he believes the women will be seeded no higher than a three in the NCAA Tournament. Kvancz, a member of the men’s selection committee from 1998-2003, said that in NCAA women’s basketball, a team’s seeding often comes down to the program’s history and reputation on top of the squad’s record.
It’s too early to tell what seed the women will receive, McKeown said, but his squad’s strong out-of-conference schedule should influence the selection committee.
The last time GW was in the top 10, it was awarded a five seed and reached the Elite Eight. When GW was sixth in the country, it was an eight seed and ousted in the second round of the tournament.
Kvancz said he would like to improve the students’ enthusiasm for the women’s team. While its male counterparts often pack Smith Center, the women have been averaging a little more than 600 people per game in a venue that seats 5,000.
Kvancz and McKeown both said that they feel a bit of frustration that the women’s team does not receive the attention they believe the Colonials deserve on campus.
“It hurts to see the student body supporting the men’s team but not the women’s team,” McKeown said. “Most of our fans have been supporting us for a long time and come from the surrounding community. We need to go out and make a push to get students at the games.