The N.C. State Women’s Basketball team ended yet another incredible season on Monday night in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament.
The Wolfpack faced a disadvantage from the start as it battled the UConn Huskies in Bridgeport, Conn., which is a short drive from the Huskies’ campus in Storrs. As expected, the crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Huskies. Despite that and how biased several members of the media have been against the Wolfpack leading up to and during the game, the ladies were never bothered by it. Just focused on the task at hand.
N.C. State was in the top five in the country all season, winning the ACC Regular Season Championship and ACC Tournament Championship (the latter being its third consecutive). The Wolfpack earned a No. 1 seed but was unsurprisingly, yet unjustly, paired with the Huskies as the No. 2 seed in Bridgeport. The selection of this portion of the bracket invited quite the criticism of the committee and chairperson, Nina King. King provided a so-called defense of the selection shortly after, but contradicted the very criteria she claimed the committee uses in its selection process.
The disrespect for N.C. State is not new, however, as some in the national media – mostly at a worldwide sports organization that shall remain nameless – and even in the local media have disrespected the Wolfpack, in my view. Whether it was by picking a certain team to beat N.C. State in any given game or not covering the Wolfpack in this NCAA Tournament run.
Case in point, in the aforementioned Elite 8 game, it took the broadcast crew three (out of four) quarters to finally interview NC State head coach Wes Moore when the same crew interviewed UConn head coach Geno Auriemma and a Huskies player beforehand. Additionally, only one of the three major local media stations in the Raleigh and Durham area had a crew travel to Bridgeport to cover N.C. State. The others relegated the Wolfpack to an afterthought stuffed at the end of a newscast. Meanwhile, the UNC and Duke men’s teams have received throngs of local reporters to film on location at their respective sites throughout the NCAA Tournament.
As time passes, dust settles, and wounds heal, we’ll look back on what has been an incredibly historic season for N.C. State Women’s Basketball. For me, being at Reynolds Coliseum for the epic comeback game against Louisville will not soon be forgotten. A game that is now an all time favorite sporting event I’ve attended – and there have been a lot of sporting events attended in my time spent on this earth. The ACC Championship Game in Greensboro, where I was able to witness the Wolfpack cut down the nets and make memories with a longtime friend along the way. And of course supporting the team in the first rounds of the NCAA Tournament on the way to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8.
What Wes Moore, his players, and staff have done in Raleigh is a marvel. Bringing the program back to ACC and national prominence in a short amount of time. Beyond that, this team is filled with folks who are excellent humans as they are athletes and coaches. From seniors Elissa Cunane, Kai Crutchfield, Raina Perez, and Kayla Jones; to Jakia Brown-Turner, Diamond Johnson, Jada Boyd, and Camille Hobby. That is the difference.
This team deserved better. This program deserved better. Although a national championship would have been nice, give me the people of this program any day as opposed to a recycled metal and plastic trophy.