Terps take two

Our view: The women from College Park make a statement on the courts

March 10, 2009

Are expectant mothers adding Marissa and Kristi to their lists of baby girl names today? Are thousands of Marylanders budgeting for $175 Final Four seats? If the General Assembly chooses to rewrite the lyrics to "Maryland, My Maryland," will it include laudatory references to Head Coach Brenda Frese?

If not - why not?

With their 92-89 overtime victory over Duke on Sunday, the Maryland Terrapins women's basketball team accomplished something their Y-chromosome-toting counterparts in College Park never have: They won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament after capturing the regular season title, too. Their position as one of four top seeds in the March Madness tournament is virtually assured.

And yet, how many of us are even talking about the championship game (or the equally exciting win over North Carolina last week)? How many are excited about the women's post-season? While we don't advocate littering the state with broken dorm furniture, as sometimes happens on campus when the men beat the Blue Devils, it's disappointing that Marylanders aren't, say, waving tiny Maryland flags from their car windows the way the Ravens fans display their purple ones - or some other spirited equivalent.

Forward Marissa Coleman and point guard Kristi Tolliver ought to be household names. They've simply been the most dominant tandem on the court the school has ever produced, male or female, and it showed against Duke as they combined for 52 points, including four 3-pointers.

Granted, men's basketball has a much bigger fan following. But that's changing. The last time Coach Frese's Terps and the Blue Devils met in College Park, in February, the game drew 16,334 spectators, the fourth-highest for a women's basketball game in ACC history.

Women have come a long way in sports, but actual parity has not yet been achieved. According to the Women's Sports Foundation, girls have about 1 million fewer chances to play competitive sports of any kind in high school, and women's college sports receive only about one-third the financial support men's sports receive, a $1.55 billion shortfall.

The good news is that teams like this year's ACC champions are bound to bring more public attention to the possibilities of women in sports. Whether or not Ms. Coleman and Ms. Tolliver bring another national championship to Maryland, as they did their freshman year, their exploits on the basketball court will be remembered for a long time.

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