It’s time to give the ladies some love; all they do is win

Looking at the crowd during the women’s basketball games is a sad sight. The winningest program at Florida Gulf Coast University can’t seem to get people in the stands, and it’s baffling. Here’s why we think you should start showing up to women’s basketball games.
The team is really, really good
It’s embarrassing to be at women’s basketball games and literally be able to count the number of students on both hands. Since the 2002-03 season, the women are a staggering 172-14 at home. That isn’t a typo. They have won almost 92 percent of their games, yet average fewer than 2,000 fans. They are undoubtedly the most successful team on our campus. They have won the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title four times, were the 2008 Division II national runner-up and they’ve defeated big-time schools such as Michigan State and Florida at home.
So, why aren’t these games sold out? Why aren’t people — more importantly students — packing these games? Why did a postseason WNIT game at home draw just 1,607 fans? Why aren’t people coming? It’s an embarrassment. We know that people might not think that women’s basketball is that exciting or fun to watch, but when you have a team that puts on a show like FGCU does and has the record that they have at home, why wouldn’t you come out to watch? Students, it’s not like you have to pay to get in.
Coach Karl Smesko
The guy just wins. One thing we’ve always respected Coach Smesko for is that he has always been loyal to FGCU. He started the women’s basketball program and has never left for a bigger program — although he’s been offered — even with all the success.
Three consecutive Atlantic Sun Regular Season Conference titles.
Four-time A-Sun Coach of the Year. An NCAA tournament appearance. An FGCU career record of 302-63, including 108-13 in the A-Sun. Six consecutive Division I postseason appearances and running. When he took FGCU to the NCAA tournament in 2012, Smesko also won the Kay Yow Award. The Kay Yow Award was established to honor the Division I women’s head coach who embodies not only a winning spirit, but who also displays great character both on and off the court. Smesko lives and dies by the three ball. That may be his greatest criticism because there is such a big margin for error if the team has an off night, but he has made it work for 12 seasons.
FGCU has made a three-pointer in all but one of 365 all-time games and has averaged more than 200 three-pointers for nine consecutive years, including the 2011- 12 season, when the Eagles made an NCAA record 342 shots from behind the arc.
The Streak
It has now been five years and 28 days since the women have lost a conference game at home.
Yes, Jan. 8, 2009, was the last time the women dropped a conference game at Alico Arena.
It’s mind-blowing. FGCU is 60-1 in A-Sun competition at home.
As you might have read last week in Kane’s Korner, the men’s team has lost 22 conference games in that same time frame. Almost as impressive was the streak that was broken this past Saturday at Northern Kentucky. Going into that game, FGCU hadn’t lost a conference game in 44 matchups — a streak that lasted 1,070 days. These are all reasons why you should be in Alico Arena for the women’s games. The numbers and the statistics speak for themselves, but we also figured the apathy isn’t all FGCU’s fault. During the summer, the A-Sun decided to get rid of basketball doubleheaders where the women’s team would play at 5:15 p.m. and the men’s at 7:05 p.m., or vice versa, and that has caused some trouble.
Getting rid of the double-headers
This was a big deal that the A-Sun decided to go through with. They chose to get rid of the men’s and women’s basketball double-headers and it was a stupid decision. The whole point of the double-headers was to get people to stay for two games for the price of one. It helped that when people would come early for the men’s game, they would see how good the women were, and that could convince them to come to more games. On the flip side, we can see why the schools would vote to end the twin bills. They could make more money making people buy two tickets instead of one, but it has hurt the attendance of the women. Last year, there were four double-header games with an average attendance of 2,622 fans: 1,660 for UNF, 3,441 for USC Upstate (the biggest attendance of the year), 3,011 for Mercer and 2,358 for Kennesaw State.
In comparison, there hasn’t been a women’s game that has drawn more than 2,000 people this year. The double-headers were a vital part of attendance for women’s basketball. The school encouraged fans to come to both games on one night instead of two different games on two different nights, which also helped fans from the community who didn’t have to make two trips.
We wish the double-headers didn’t have to go, but they’re gone, and it’s a shame. It’s hurting not only FGCU, but the A-Sun as well.
It’s hard to fathom how good our girls are. They are the best, most successful team on this campus, and they deserve the love and recognition they’ve earned. Feb. 13 is the next home game. It’s the next time you can watch this team.
They have a chance to host the A-Sun postseason tournament this March, and they need your support. Like Ken Kavanagh says, it’s time.

The student section is nearly empty during one of the women’s basketball games this season. EN Photo/Tessa Mortensen