It is time to pack the house at Smith Center. Sunday night is the biggest game of the season to date, possibly for the rest of the year, and you need to be there. It is time to get out there and scream your lungs out for the best team in the Atlantic 10, and one of the best teams in the country. No, this is not the men’s team (they had their shot two years ago) – it is time to start showing some adequate support for the best team on campus: the GW women’s basketball team.
If you have not already pledged your allegiance to the squad, Sunday night at 8 p.m. is the time to do it. The Colonials, ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press and 12th in the ESPN/USA Today Poll, will host national powerhouse Rutgers, ranked No. 6/7, in what is probably one of the best match-ups Smith Center has ever seen.
For whatever reasons, the women’s team has always lacked support. Although they are the six-time defending Atlantic 10 regular season champions and finished last season ranked No. 11 in the nation after a trip to the Sweet 16, they averaged just 804 fans per home game. Compare that to the men’s team, which had a good but not great season yet averaged 3,403 fans a game. That is four times as many as their female counterparts. The numbers don’t lie – this team has not been getting enough respect.
For the thousands of you who have not been getting out to the women’s games, there are several reasons why Sunday should be your first. First among them is the Colonials’ star power. Their outstanding senior point guard Kim Beck is one of the best player to ever lace up sneakers in the home locker room of Smith Center. An honorable mention All-America selection last year, Beck was chosen as a preseason player to watch for this year’s John R. Wooden Award, given each year to the nation’s best player. In ESPN.com’s preseason preview, she was voted the second-best point guard in the nation and is certainly deserving, as she has led the conference in assists her first three years and is trying to become only the second player ever, in any conference, to do it for four.
Beck has been around for a while, but Antelia Parrish, a D.C. native who transferred from junior college before last season, is new to the team this year and playing great. Everyone has been talking about men’s Virginia Tech transfer Wynton Witherspoon, but Parrish has made just as big of an impact for the women. Last year, Parrish averaged 25.7 points and 15.4 rebounds en route to being named a junior college All-American. Through the first two games of this season, she is leading the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.5 and 9.0 a game and, along with preseason All-Atlantic 10 picks Jessica Adair and Sarah-Jo Lawrence, Beck and Parrish create one of the most formidable line-ups in the country.
Not to be outdone, Rutgers brings its own share of star power. Led by their charismatic head coach, C. Vivian Stringer, the team has received a ton of media attention in the past year after the controversial remarks from Don Imus, but don’t let that distract you: They can play ball. Matee Ajavon, Essence Carson and Kia Vaughn are all ranked among the top five players in the country at their respective positions. Sophomore Epiphanny Price, who once scored 113 points in a high school game, is an emerging star.
But this game is about more than just how many great players there are, it is about the teams. Rutgers was the national runner-up to Tennessee last year and is considered one of the favorites to do win it all this year. GW, after reaching last year’s Sweet 16, returns four starters and is considered a legitimate Final Four contender. A win against Rutgers would certainly go a long way in enhancing their reputation and would almost certainly catapult the squad into the top ten in the polls.
For the last decade, the women’s team has been doing its part, so now it is time to do yours. Never have two teams with collective rankings this high and talent this great ever played on Smith Center’s hardwood. Sunday night has the potential be the greatest game ever played at GW – it would be too bad if you missed it.