Wednesday, January 23, 2008

To play or not to play on Mondays

The Big Ten this season has scheduled a series of Monday night women basketball contests.

With having the Big Ten Network, which unless you are a satellite dish owner or a non-Comcast customer, you can see these games. If you have Comcast, which most of us who lives in the Twin Cities and most of Minnesota, it's never on Monday, or any day for that matter, in seeing women, men or any other conference scheduled event.

Nonetheless, "Monday Night Women's Hoops," can be destination television for many, and present scheduling headaches for others, especially coaches.

But you can't have it both ways. say some coaches.

Coaches long begged for more exposure for women's basketball, recalls Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder. So it's too late to cry about it now.

"If we want TV exposure, is it something we need to do?," she asks. "Is it something we need to do? If we want the Big Ten Network, then we have to do it.

"It is a trade off that we have to make," continues Bluder, "and we have to buy into it."

"TV can be an asset," says Ohio State's Jim Foster, adding that it is also necessary to educate and convince your home fans to come out to Monday games. What good is it if the folks see loads of empty seats on the telecast, he notes. "We have to tell our fans it is an advantage to come out."

"Anytime we can get on TV is very important," believes Suzy Merchant of MSU. "We have to play on any night we have to, to get our league more recognition."

With a Monday game added to its usual Thursday-Sunday schedule, Big Ten teams now must play three games in a week.

"You have to sacrifice sometimes to get your product out there," says Felisha Legette-Jack of Indiana. "There are not a lot of (women's) games played (on TV) on Mondays. It is getting our product out there."

"I tell my kids not to make excuses," notes Jolette Law of Illinois, whose team has such a schedule this week. They lost to Iowa on Monday. "We have to deal with it."

Penn State's Coquese Washington says the BTN is getting watched, especially by future recruits.

"The BTN is helping us stay relevant right now," she says. "The kids are watching our games."

Except in Minnesota, we might add.

Even though the coaches are split on playing on Mondays, the players are loving it, claims Legette-Jack. "The kids would rather play games than practice," she joked.

Finally, like it or not, Monday nights for Big Ten women's basketball is here to stay. And it's on BTN.

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