"Grow up," Lobo snapped, addressing an invisible audience of head coaches Saturday at Amalie Arena. "Watch what they do. Watch what those players do on and off the court.That prompts Brian Koonz, a sports pundit for the Connecticut Post (out of Bridgeport) to make an observation that generalizes to other competitions. "As long as critics, including head coaches, complain about UConn's dominance, women's basketball will remain the game with a burden." Don't complain, work to match it. Tennessee's Kara Lawson is Ms Lobo's desk-mate at ESPN, and she notes that recruiting and developing players is a four- or five-year campaign at all women's programs. Here's Mr Koonz.
"Make yourself better. Coaches, make yourself better so that you can compete with Connecticut. Don't try to make Connecticut worse. They're nothing but good for the women's game."
Lawson has a legitimate point, but women's college basketball doesn't need more apologists. It doesn't need more excuses posing as easy avenues to sustained mediocrity.Or, applying the concept to higher education, do not fall into the trap of we'll-never-be-Madison (or Urbana or Ann Arbor or Harvard) and-we-won't-pretend-to. That way lies over-rewarding co-authored publications in journals nobody reads and pretending you're research active. That way lies access-assessment-remediation-retention and sugarcoating underachievement as inclusion. That way lies larger classes, a reliance on cheap and contingent academic labor, and preening statements about what a bargain you're offering.
What it needs -- and what it must have -- is a transformative and all-in commitment to getting better. That doesn't mean everyone gets to the Final Four, but it does mean Division I programs become more than the Washington Generals for the top teams.
Want fries with that? Mr Koonz makes today's Trenchant Observation. "How about rolling up your sleeves and working your bench-cushion off?" In higher education, that might require a ten- or fifteen-year time horizon. But the low estate in which higher education finds itself today might be one in which going the hard but high road will make friends particularly among the crankiest critics.