Many fans, myself included, feel the Women of Troy were snubbed last Monday when the NCAA selection committee did not pick the USC women’s basketball team to compete in the NCAA tournament.
It ended the regular season hot, riding a five-game win streak to a 19-12 record, USC’s best finish since its 19-12 record in 2006, the last time the Women of Troy made an NCAA tournament appearance.
Ten teams USC played against made it into the tournament field, so the team clearly had a tough schedule. USC won four of those games. Also, USC’s 12-6 Pac-10 finish this season was its best since 2004-05.
Additionally, the Women of Troy advanced to the semifinals in the Pac-10 tournament, only to lose a 59-53 nail-biter to No. 23 UCLA, a No. 8 seed in the tournament.
The women’s basketball team, and many USC fans for that matter, had every reason to be surprised when on selection Monday, March 15, the committee decided not to include USC in NCAA tournament competition.
I understand the feeling of shock.
“I was in awe when the last name came up and it wasn’t us,” sophomore guard Ashley Corral said.
I sensed bitterness.
“I can’t tell you why the Pac-10 doesn’t get a lot of respect,” Corral added.
To give up? That’s something that doesn’t sit well with me.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Women of Troy decided to do when they declined an invitation to play in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament following the news that they wouldn’t be in the NCAA tournament.
The athletes and coach Michael Cooper had every right to be angry and upset about the committee’s decision, but what would have been the greatest revenge? How could USC have proved it belonged in the tournament that all college basketball players dream of being a part of without actually competing in it?
The Women of Troy could have accepted their invitation to the WNIT and won.
No, a WNIT championship would not have been the same as an NCAA championship, but a dominating USC run in its tournament could have opened the eyes of the selection committee and brought some recognition to USC women’s basketball. And maybe next year, if USC is teetering on the edge of making the NCAA tournament again, the committee would side in favor of USC after recalling the team’s success in this year’s WNIT.
Now there’s no chance that can happen.
Also, playing in some pressure-packed games, albeit not on the biggest of stages, would still help the young players on the team deal with adversity in the future if the team actually does make it into the NCAA tournament in the next few seasons.
But, USC never had the chance to prove it was better than any of the teams that made it or didn’t make it to the big tourney after the team declined to play in the WNIT.
Rather than demonstrate why they deserved to play for a national title, the Women of Troy simply gave up, which isn’t the way any USC team should end its season.
Could you imagine if the football team, after a disappointing 2009 season where it lost four games and did not play in a major BCS bowl for the first time since 2001, decided not to play in the Emerald Bowl because it felt it deserved to play in something better?
I didn’t think so.
And I’m sure the USC men’s basketball team would have died to play in any game after the regular season, even if it was in the NIT, but it didn’t have any say in the matter.
Playing in the post-season in any sport at the college level should be thrilling, even if it is in what many people consider the “loser’s” bracket.
At USC, we expect our athletic teams to always be the best and compete with the best, but if a team doesn’t get the results it wants, it should never just stop playing, no matter how upset or disappointed it feels.
Even more alarming is this isn’t the first time the women’s basketball team has decided to decline an invitation to the WNIT after not making the NCAA tournament.
But I sure hope it’s the last.
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