Hello, my name is Chris Silva and I am the new sports editor. If you don’t know who I am then you’ve missed a lot of sports. I am infatuated with sports, having played them a good part of my life and enjoy writing for the memories.
I am a transfer student and started my college career at West Virginia University before returning home to attend Ocean County College for a year. I started writing sports for the school newspaper there and continued once I arrived on Temple’s campus this past fall semester.
I started with Temple volleyball, not knowing much at all. I did some football features as well. But if you recognize my name at all it’s probably from reading my stories on the Temple women’s basketball team.
Women’s basketball doesn’t get the credit or the respect it should. The men’s basketball team has always been the headline sport at Temple ever since John Chaney became coach.
Last season Temple made a huge stride in rebuilding the women’s hoops program by hiring WNBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley as its coach. The program has taken off to new heights in the two seasons she has been here.
Staley turned the Owls into winners and contenders. First by taking them to the WNIT in her first season and the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships to compliment the Atlantic—10 Championship this season.
Throw in the performance her team handed in as underdogs last Saturday night in a loss to Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA tourney and the future seems to only get brighter for the women’s basketball team. Although the Owls will lose six seniors they will return a nucleus of players that are accustomed to the program.
Factor in 6-foot-3-inch freshman center Rachel Marcus, who was sidelined the entire season with an injury, and a promising recruiting class and this team could be back to the Big Dance next season. Possibly for many seasons to come.
Staley’s accomplishments mirror some of those belonging to Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly. Both have turned around their programs in less than a season after taking over their schools’ program. Both coaches are also involved in their communities.
But the big difference between what the coaches have brought to their programs is a fan base. The Temple fan base for women’s hoops has steadily grown since Staley took over, and some could say is a vast improvement from last season.
This season the Owls averaged a little over 1,260 fans each home game, a slight dip from last season’s attendance average.
While at Iowa State the Cyclones average 11,370 fans per home game. Before Fennelly arrived in Ames the Cyclones attracted less than half of that.
The huge turnouts and soldout games at the Cyclones’ James Hilton Coliseum gives them the fourth largest attendance total in Division I women’s basketball. Part of that has to do with the fact that there really is nothing much else to do in Iowa but see basketball games.
But it also has to do with how the Iowa State media relations focuses a lot of attention and puts in a ton of effort to get fans to support the women’s team. What more could be done? After all the women’s team did have a better record and a more balanced season than that of its fellow men’s team.
Though the reality of it is that the Temple women’s basketball team might never see the Liacouras Center sold out. It is almost hard to imagine, considering that Temple is such a “basketball school,” rich in hoops history and tradition.
That’s not Staley’s fault or that of her coaches, the finger can’t be pointed in the direction of the players either, who work hard enough to deserve more than a quarter-filled Liacouras Center. All they can do is play the game.
And it is still the game of basketball, whether it be played by men or women.
So I’ll be the sports editor for the rest of the season. And if you weren’t at the games or didn’t see my stories on the women’s basketball team, then you missed one hell of a season.
Chris Silva can be reached at CBSRICAN@aol.com