Reecer’s Piece: Give Lady Tops credit where credit is due

John Reecer is the sports editor of the College Heights Herald during the spring 2016 semester.

John Reecer

Here is a question for you: Out of all the athletic programs here at WKU, which one is currently the most underrated?

You might be able to make a solid case for a few sports, but one program stands out from the rest as its recent ascension has been greatly underappreciated.

Under Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard, the revival of the women’s basketball program over the past four seasons is simply unprecedented.

Since Clark-Heard’s arrival before the 2012-2013 season, the Lady Tops have amassed a 95-29 overall record and a 46-10 home record at Diddle Arena.

In the past two seasons, the Lady Tops have also enjoyed two different conference championships in the Sun Belt and in Conference USA.

In early January 2015, the women’s program placed in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

As if these feats were not impressive enough, in the two seasons before Clark-Heard’s arrival, the Lady Tops’ record was an abysmal 27-38 overall.

With such a drastic and impressive turnaround, why has the program not seen more fame?

One reason is that the overall amount of student support towards the program doesn’t match that of the other high-performing sports on campus.

In the 2014-2015 season, the Lady Toppers only averaged 1,932 fans for its 15 home games. If you think that’s disappointing, consider that the capacity of Diddle Arena currently stands at 7,326.

The fact that a team ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time in over 15 years fills less than 30 percent of its stadium is simply mindboggling.

Those are just the attendance numbers from last season. At the start of the current season, there were even fewer fans in the stands due to low expectations after stars Alexis Govan and Chastity Gooch graduated.

The Lady Tops paid no mind, however, as they have been on an absolute tear this season with a 18-4 overall record. They also held a 14-game winning streak, which was tied for the third-longest active streak in the nation.

Despite lacking the fan support it deserves, the Lady Toppers’ program continues to play an exciting, defensive brand of basketball.

Star guards Tashia Brown and Kendall Noble have been abusing opponents on both ends of the floor as the duo is averaging a combined 34.6 points per game and has gathered 84 total steals.

The scary part is that this program is only going to get better. Most team members are underclassmen who are quickly adapting to the college game.

Furthermore, if senior guard Micah Jones chooses to redshirt medically for next season, the Lady Tops will lose only one player to graduation.

Not only will they return almost all their production next year, but they will be adding talented guards Jaycee Coe and Kyvin Goodwin-Rogers from the University of Kentucky.

Whether or not fans get on board with these players, the Lady Toppers will continue to succeed. Under the direction of Clark-Heard, this program will continue to play a key role at the forefront of WKU athletics — whether anyone cares or not.