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Missing Mack: Was the Cowgirl great fully appreciated

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Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship, March 13, 2021

Oklahoma State and West Virginia compete during the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri on March 13, 2021. (Scott D. Weaver/Big 12 Conference)

Natasha Mack is one of the best to ever don a Cowgirl basketball uniform.

Coach Jim Littell didn’t need any stats to back up that assessment, he just needed to examine Mack’s ability to change a game.

“We’ve had awful talented players; we’ve had six in the WNBA, but I don’t know if I’ve had anybody that impacts both ends of the floor more than Mack does,” Littell said.

Mack is set to play in what is in all likelihood her last games as an OSU Cowgirl. As the NCAA Tournament begins on Sunday, Mack winds down her career 10 points shy of becoming OSU’s 25th 1,000-point scorer, 11th on OSU’s all-time rebounding list with 658, and 203 career blocks all in less than two complete seasons. She has received some national attention, but some think Mack hasn’t received enough attention for her remarkable season.

Mack received many conference awards, including All-Big 12 Tournament team, unanimous All-Big 12 First Team and Big 12 Defensive Player of The Year.

“She’s been on a lot of lists, people are very aware of who she is, and now you’d like to see her win all of those awards cause she’s deserving, but people around the country know who Natasha Mack is,” Littell said.

It has been an outstanding season for an outstanding player, but according to Cowgirl basketball fan Stephanie Wheatley, Mack has not gotten all the appreciation she deserves.

“I don’t think you can pin it on Cowgirl fans,” Wheatley said. “I think a lot of this has to be blamed on COVID.”

COVID-19 regulations have limited attendance in Gallagher-Iba Arena to 25% capacity this season, reducing the amount of people able to watch “The Mack Show” in person.

“I just wish it was a year where our fanbase could have come out in full force,” Littell said. “I believe that the fans that have been here really enjoy watching this group play. We would have had a lot more people in the gym if they weren’t worried about COVID, but the people who have been here have been amazing and they’ve gravitated to Mack and it’s easy to do.”

Wheatley, who has watched two games in Gallagher-Iba Arena this season, knows that fans would have been able to better appreciate everything Mack brings to the table if they saw her in person.

“If you could get 10,000 people in Gallagher-Iba to watch Tasha Mack do Tasha Mack things you’d have 10,000 people walking out saying ‘holy crap, I’ve never seen something like that before,’” Wheatley said.

Mack cried on senior night when her name was announced, and the support and appreciation she has received from local fans has meant so much to her.

As the NCAA Tournament comes into focus and Mack’s legacy as a Cowgirl becomes more tangible, she isn’t focused on if she garnered enough national attention or love from the local fanbase.

“I’m looking forward to winning,” Mack said. “You can not know who I am, but as long as we keep winning that’s fine with me.”