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UTM's epic season relived

By Mark Hall
On February 27, 2012

Before this semester started, when the subject of women's basketball was brought up, I really didn't have much of an opinion. Men's sports have always dominated the spotlight in this country, period. That's not a fact that can be argued. The NFL, the NBA and the MLB have their own networks on cable television.

Some of the teams in those leagues have their own regional channels.

Does the WNBA? No. A WNBA network wouldn't get any ratings. At times, the teams struggle to fill 20 percent of the seats in the arena. For a variety of reasons, women's sports get a raw deal when it comes to exposure here in America.

I'm not sure that's fair. Is women's basketball really that hard to watch?

That is most definitely not the case here in Martin, Tennessee.

The Skyhawk women's basketball team is the real deal. I've had the chance to follow them this season, and I've been nothing short of impressed in each game I've seen. Having the opportunity to cover the team while Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler are on the roster is a dream for a sports writer. It's always good to watch winners.

Butler and Newsome are as fast as lightning. I can't say that I've seen many guys this fast, outside of professional sports.

Heather Butler is the most prolific scorer to ever grace Pat Head Summit Court. She got to 1,000 career points in just 50 games. Not to be outshined, Jasmine Newsome reached 1,000 career points in 55 games. How often do you think THAT happens? That's remarkable all on it's own.

You know what else is remarkable? They're both true sophomores. In their freshman season, they were starters. In that first season, they led the Skyhawks to the first NCAA tournament game in school history.

Holy moly.

But let's not forget about the rest of the team. Sure, Butler and Newsome constantly put up ridiculous numbers. But, they're not the only players on this squad. They're not even the only great players on this squad. When those two struggle, somebody else steps up.

If Butler and Newsome weren't a part of this team, Jaclissa Haislip has the ability to carry a team by herself. She's a dual threat. Haislip's got the size to impose her will in the paint and she's also got one heck of a shot from behind the arc. She's not one to ignore.

Another player you don't want to ignore is Taylor Hall. This senior guard comes off the bench with a starters mentality. The girl has a killer instinct and will hit shot after shot all night long. She can also dish the rock like a quarterback.

The Skyhawks are lined up to compete in yet another OVC Tournament with the number one seed locked up tight. If they win the tournament, they'll be back in the "Big Dance" for the second season in a row and for the second time ever. These women are nothing to shrug your shoulders at.

They've got heart, talent, and a loyal fan base here in West Tennessee.

This squad is good. Look for them to make waves in the next few weeks. Who knows? If they take care of business in Nashville over the weekend, they'll have the chance to get their first NCAA tournament win in the program's history. Pay attention. Wouldn't you hate it if you missed that?


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