So here I am, sitting courtside at the scorer's table, my usual seat as the public address announcer for UC women's basketball. But as I'm writing this, the people I see on the court are all ages, all heights, and all skill levels. This night is the inaugural Basketball 101, an evening that nearly 75 women came to campus to learn the game, and to get to know some of the players.
There's men's assistant coach George Jackson working up a sweat as he teaches his group perimeter defense; there's former and present players working with the ladies on dribbling drills. There are tours of the basketball locker rooms. All in all, a good time.
But let's face it, this night is more than an opportunity for those of us who wished we played the game to get on the court; it's a night to celebrate UC basketball, both men's and women's. This is the first time I've seen the court since the 50th anniversary logos honoring the men's national championship teams have been added. It's amazing it's been that long, but it's also a reminder of what winning a title means to a program and to a school.
Which brings us back to the UC women's team. Men's coach Mick Cronin got it right earlier when he spoke to the group before the event; it takes time to build tradition and to build a program. Mick knows it first hand, being a native of Cincinnati. This is the second year of the Jamelle Elliott building program here. I'm seeing on the court Shelly Bellman, who petitioned, and received, a sixth year of eligibility because she wanted to be on a team led by Coach Elliott; I'm seeing Chanel Chisholm, who had to sit out last year because of transfer rules and a knee injury, just coming into her own as a Bearcat. I see a lot of young ladies enthusiastic about the season.
So yes, this is a fun night to introduce the x's and o's of basketball to those of us who wish we could play. But it's also a night of team building, and not just the UC Bearcat team. It's building a team of community supporters and fans, who want to be here to see this program grow. Practice already has started. The season starts in less than a month. It's going to be an exciting time for women's basketball in Cincinnati.