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This team plainly has more depth and balance than the SFA Ladyjacks, and it’s a tribute to Sue Gunter’s players that they beat the Longhorns at their own fast-moving game in last month’s state AIAW finale. Overtaken Regardless of whether SFA or UT is the best team in the state, one thing is certain: Wayland Baptist, for 30 years the class women’s basketball team in Texas, no longer is. The Flying Queens, who used to travel nationwide in airplanes provided by Wayland alumnus Claude Hutcherson to find worthy competitors, now have a 20-8 record for the ’78-’79 season, and included in those eight losses were two to UT-and three to SFA. The problem for coach Dean Weese is not that the Queens are slipping; it is that his opponents have caught up with Wayland. To be sure, Weese’s current squad has two All-Americans-6’3″ junior Jill Rankin, who hits 61 percent of her shots, and Kathy Harston, a 5’10” junior who is a wizard at ball handling and playmakingbut Wayland, a tiny school with a student body of a thousand or so, is not the only place in Texas for such talented players to go nowadays, as more and more colleges offer women opportunities to play in good programs. Compounding the Flying Queens’ recruiting problems are certain characteristics of the Weese regime at Wayland. Weese thinks it his province as coach to regulate the behavior of players off the court as well as on; so, he says, “very sound Christian kids” are “the only kind of kids we try to recruit.” He concedes that his insistence on controlling the Flying Queens’ personal lives according to his own fundamentalist tenets “cuts out a lot of kids who would be very good basketball players”but, he says, “they would not probably fit into the mold of Wayland Baptist College.” \(Neither, by the way, do blacks seem to fit the Wayland mold during Weese’s tenure as coach of the Flying Queens, the team has not had even one black player. But the word has gone out over the grapevine that this, at least, may be about to change, because Weese is now trying hard to recruit two blacks from This season Wayland, UT and SFA UT’s Swaim tries shot against Wayland are all thirty points better than the rest of the teams in Texas, but other universities can be expected to come on fast now that the Title IX policy on equal opportunity in collegiate athletics \(promulgated by the right direction. And there’s no question that if Texas universities want to support first-class teams, the state has a staggering abundance of home-grown talent. In fact, Texas has by far the largest high school women’s basketball program in the U.S.-1,026 high school teams with over 23,500 players were competing this year, and the numbers are going up. Quite a few of the top players coming out of these high school programs are signing on with Texas college teams other than the big three, which means teams like Houston, Baylor and Texas Tech could offer strong competition in a few years. But for now, while these developing teams dream about next season or the one after, Texas’ three national powers have a more immediate concernSFA, the midst of the Southwest AIAW Regional Tournament in Tulsa, and there’s a good chance that one or even two of the Texas clubs could advance all the way to the national \(and nationally telein Greensboro, North Carolina. And there’s more than mere provincial partisanship to the hope that a Texas team does make it that far, for what better way could there be to let the uninitiated know what they’ve been missing? Gary Underwood teaches English at the University of Texas and is a devoted basketball buff. 22 MARCH 16, 1979
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