College women getting long-deserved media hype
Despite the gym inequities, the center court logo disparities, the overall lack of media coverage compared to the men’s game, it is impossible to refute that women’s basketball is thriving.
The level of competition displayed in this week’s Elite 8 matchups were above anything I had seen in recent years, and America seems to agree. UConn vs. Baylor was the most watched Elite 8 women’s game since 2011 with 1.7 million viewers.
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But in the age of technology, pure viewership is just a piece of the pie when it comes to media coverage. Women college athletes are excelling at building their brand through social media. Of all the players remaining in the men’s and women’s tournament last week, only one man made the top 5 in terms of individual player followers on Instagram and Twitter (Jalen Suggs at #4).
The rankings were headlined by Paige Bueckers, Hailey van Lith and Jaden Owens, with Zia Cooke rounding out the top 5. The women’s games on March 29th more than doubled the number of impressions as the men’s games that night, begging the question as to whether there is sufficient coverage of these teams given the obvious demand (spoiler alert: there isn’t).
And there is no better time of year than for women’s basketball media coverage to be at its best, with the Final Four, WNBA Draft, and Olympic training season all in the imminent future.
Everyone entering the transfer portal
If you are a Syracuse fan, I hope you were not very attached to the players, because most of them will be gone next season. Even worse for the Orange is seeing their ACC Co-Sixth Player of the Year transfer in conference to Louisville.
Emily Engstler improved mightily in her second season for Syracuse from both an efficiency and production perspective, and was set to be a focal point of the offense next season before entering the portal. Now, she’ll split touches with a cast of offensive weapons that Jeff Walz will have at his disposal.
The Cardinals also landed Vanderbilt graduate transfer Chelsie Hall, who will presumably get guard minutes off the bench for what could be the preseason favorite for another ACC regular-season title.
The portal still has plenty of talent to invest in. Rutgers freshman Diamond Johnson, who averaged over 17 points per game, is moving on from the Scarlet Knights. As if a first round exit in the tournament and the loss of Arella Guirantes to the WNBA wasn’t a big enough hit, Rutgers will be a very different team next year.
There are plenty more key contributors on Power 5 teams that have decided to transfer, a trend that seems to be increasing exponentially in the past few years.