Because coach Wooden loved their game. And he often said so.
"The top women athletes play a more pure game than the men," Wooden was quoted as saying. "They play below the rim and fundamentally better."
He said women's basketball was "a beautiful game."
Those comments brought the women's game credibility because they came from Coach Wooden.
They likely changed the mind of at least a few people who had previously been dismissive or perhaps just uninterested. Coach Wooden's endorsement was like currency and the game was richer because of it.
"Anytime you have arguably the best college coach in history saying positive things, people are going to listen," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. "I always thought it was great that he had such respect for the women's game and an appreciation for the way it's played."
Ironically, it is the coaches in the women's game now with the best chance to break some of Wooden's most cherished records.
The Connecticut women's basketball team is within 10 victories of tying UCLA's streak of 88 consecutive victories under Wooden in the early 1970's.
Tennessee's Pat Summitt (eight) and Huskies coach Geno Auriemma (seven) are within striking distance of his record of 10 championships.
The mark of seven consecutive NCAA titles? That one seems pretty safe.
Auriemma told the Hartford Courant on Saturday that meeting Wooden was "like meeting Babe Ruth." Auriemma met the coach just once.
He remembered reading in Sports Illustrated after his team won titles in 2000 and 2002 that Wooden said the Huskies reminded him of his UCLA teams. He kept the copy and found someone to get Wooden to sign it.
"As I'm reading it, I'm so excited, so fired up," Auriemma told the Courant.
VanDerveer, like so many coaches, had opportunities throughout the years to chat with Wooden. And like many coaches, she hung on every word.
After leading the 1996 U.S. women's team to a gold medal in the Atlanta Olympics, she remembers opening her mail one day. There was a small, white envelope, addressed by hand and a picture of two small dogs on the return address label next to the name "Wooden".
"Inside there was very nice hand-written note," VanDerveer said. "I kept it."
Auriemma said at the Final Four -- where Connecticut won a second straight NCAA title -- that he'd been carrying one of Wooden's books around in his briefcase all season.
Summitt had occasional contact with Wooden throughout the years. She would visit him with former UCLA women's coach Billie Moore. She was able to visit him at his condominium and sit and talk.
About 10 years ago, Summitt's Tennessee team was playing in Los Angeles. She made arrangements for Coach Wooden to ride on the team bus. When the bus pulled up, he was waiting on the corner. And he took the team to his favorite restaurant.
"I remember Kara Lawson being so excited to talk to him. Kara and Ashley Robinson did the bulk of the talk," Summitt said. "The man was incredibly wise. As a coach, you watched him and he didn't have to 'hello' at people. He was a soft-spoken man, it was the way he was all the time.
"He was very high on the women's game, and people respected what he had to say so much," Summitt said. "We were all fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with him."