From the sports desk: The unfriendly road

January 29, 2009

by Kevin Sims

The Jekyll and Hyde performances of both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have become almost comical depending on if it’s a home or away game.

No one expects any team, especially in the closed confines of an arena, to play as well on the road as it does at home. That being said, good teams find a way to win no matter where they play.

For Tech to reach the next level in its basketball programs, its teams need to learn how to at least break even playing on the road.

The men’s team, which went into the season projected as one of the best teams in the WAC, started the season losing its first six away games. Since winning its conference opener at San Jose State, the team has redoubled its effort of losing on the road by losing three straight away games, including giving Hawaii its lone conference win.

The Bulldogs, are a different squad in front of the home crowd. The team won its first five home games, defeating in-state rivals Grambling State and Louisiana-Monroe inside the TAC and Centenary in Shreveport.

The Bulldogs only two blemishes on a superb home record came from the top two teams in the WAC, one of which is 19-1 Utah State.

The Lady Techsters are faring no better, losing eight of 11 games on the road. Over-time wins against Utah State and Idaho hardly make up for a 35-point beat down at Tennessee and double-digit losses at LSU, Mississippi State and Boise State.

The one thing Lady Techster fans have to look forward to is that the next five games are at the TAC, so there is a chance to build momentum going into the last five games, four of which are on the road, before the WAC tournament.

In summary, I can’t fathom how storied programs like Tech, both men’s and women’s, which boast National Championship banners inside its arena, have allowed mediocrity to not only become acceptable, but routine.

Programs, which put out the likes of NBA Hall of Famers, women athletic pioneers and national coaching legends, have fallen on hard times.

Tech’s athletic department, coaches and players are not solely to blame for this demise.

Alumni, boosters and fans share the blame because they have accepted mediocrity in recent years instead of holding the teams to a higher standard.

After seeing Tech’s fan base, faculty and student body rally around an Independence Bowl victory, I cannot imagine what kind of excitement was radiating around campus when the Lady Techsters were reeling off National Championships during their hay-day and the Bulldogs were a force to be reckoned with.

I grew up hearing of the exploits Sonja Hogg, Kim Mulkey, Leon Barnmore and Pam Kelly from my mom, who was born and raised in Ruston.

In the late 80s early 90s, when I was just a wee-lad, I knew more about Teresa Weatherspoon than Michael Jordan.

My dad, from whom I inherited my obsession with sports, to this day only watches the women’s side of March Madness. He graduated from Tech in 1969.

This Christmas I gave my oldest brother a Weatherspoon autograph and he almost welled up with tears. He attended his one year at Tech in 1988.

Today, if I called any member of my family, I doubt any of them could name me head basketball coaches, men or women’s. The sad fact is my family is not alone in this regard.

If both teams turn around this season, mainly by picking up a few road wins, we as the Tech fan base need to show our support and never again accept mediocrity as a state of the programs.

History has shown that this small school in Northern Louisiana can be a prominent player on the national stage. It’s time to demand it out of all our programs, especially in men’s and women’s basketball.