The NBA season has been up and running for a week or so now. Last night (as of this writing), the women’s college basketball tipped off as well, with a big surprise right out of the gate.
At a season opening showcase – Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Series – at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, number 20 nationally-ranked Colorado upset defending national champion and number one ranked LU, 92-78.
Returning for the Tigers this year, star forward Angel Reese and several other star players from last year’s championship run. In the stands was another former LSU superstar, our man Shaquille O’Neal, along with current WNBA star Candace Parker. Parker, like Shaq, works as an analyst for the TNT network.
After the loss, both O’Neal and Parker made a point to visit the Colorado locker room to show the Buffaloes some good respect following their impressive victory. Talking to Colorado coach JR Payne, Shaq said, “I hope to see you at the Final Four.”
Of course Shaq is the biggest hoops star to come out of LSU. Heck, there’s even a statue of the big man outside the school’s basketball arena! Still, the big man has quite the history of showing respect to opposing teams who play his alma mater.
It must have been quite a powerful moment for the ladies team from Colorado to get a visit from the big man and Parker, one of the biggest names in women’s college basketball history from her time at Tennessee.
As for the Colorado team, they’ve got a good shot at being part of the story at the end of the season. The team had a strong showing last season, putting up a record of 25-9. In this season’s kickoff game, the Buffaloes did a great job of limiting LSU stars Reese and Hailey Van Lith. The two had a combined 10–of–26 shooting from the field.
In his visit to the Buffaloes locker room, Shaq had big compliments for junior center Aaronette Vonleh, one of the big scorers of the night with 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field. O’Neal shook her hand, gave her a hug and talked to her briefly.
Talking to coach Payne, Shaq said, “I like her,” to which Payne replied, “Yeah, we do too,” Payne responded.