It’s midway through the college basketball season, and if you’re following your favorite team, its storyline has already become crystal clear: UNC is having its worst season in years; NC State continues trying prove it belongs up there with the big boys; and Duke is still Duke (no explanation necessary).
But there’s one tale that has hardly been told, particularly in the local media – the story of the N.C. State women’s team, currently 15-1 and ranked #9 in the nation. Led by 6’5” sophomore Elissa Cunane, a force of nature who’s averaging over 17 points and 10 rebounds per game, the Lady Pack is so powerful it has trailed after the first quarter in just two games.
Not that this is anything new for these hoopsters. Last year they were 21-0 before losing a game, the last team, men’s or women’s, in Division 1 without a loss. And the last two teams have reached the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
In other words, we have a real powerhouse right under our noses, one that plays in beautifully restored Reynolds Coliseum, which seats 5,500 and rarely sells out for the Lady Wolfpack’s games.
Sure, the women’s version of college hoops is different from the men’s: no dunking, four quarters instead of two halves, more team play than one-on-one.
But so what? The games are still competitive and fun to watch, and with NCSU you get the added bonus of coach Wes Moore’s bizarre hair style.
Interested? If so, there are some big home games on the horizon. Thursday vs. #13 Florida State and Feb. 7 against the big, bad #5 Louisville Cardinals. And there’s this: the most expensive tickets are only $25, and for $7 you can still get a good seat in an arena where there isn’t a bad vantage point in the house.
Women’s basketball isn’t a fringe sport. Perennial powers like UConn, Stanford and Baylor have helped the sport fill arenas and earn solid TV viewership. The Lady Pack, which has won over 70% of its games under Coach Moore, is now a legitimate national power. Time to check ‘em out.
Lewis Beale is a journalist and Philly native who roots for the Temple Owls, but has fallen for the Lady Wolfpack.
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