UConn Women: May The Fourth Be With You
*Photo via Uconn.edu
The talk of the town are the Golden State Warriors. With a record of 69 wins and only 9 loses, it is well deserved. But imagine winning 121 of your last 122 games with an average margin of 10 plus points per game. Going on a 75 game win streak and taking down 4 straight championships. That's what we call domination and the University of Connecticut women's basketball team has achieved that with excellence. The Lady Huskies won another title on Tuesday, coincidentally the same day the Warriors were upset and lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves. This marks legendary coach, Geno Auriemma's 11th championship, tying him with Bill Russell and Phil Jackson for the most chips in any team sport. Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck ( who will probably go 1st, 2nd and 3rd, definitely top 5 in the WNBA Draft) are the first players to win 4 straight college titles. This was the coronation of the most dominant team in sports history. Their average margin of victory was 39.7 points against their opponents this season.They beat Syracuse 82-51 in the championship game, just a little below their average.
*photo via Wamc
A question was asked though. Is this good or bad for women's basketball for a team to dominate a sport, especially the women's game that's trying to generate a bigger interest and audience. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy drew criticism after tweeting "UConn Women beat Miss St 98-38 in NCAA tourney. Hate to punish them for being great, but they are killing the women's game. Watch? No thanks". He brought up a great point. Who wants to see one team destroy others?? Most of us watch team sports for the competition. I was watching the championship game on Tuesday and I knew from the jump that Syracuse was going to lose. The Orange didn't have a glimmer of hope to even keep the game close. Matter of fact, I stopped watching at halftime when the score was 50-23 and I love women's basketball because it's so fundamentally sound, but at the same time I am trying to see some drama. Like Mr. Shaughnessy said, you hate to punish them for being way above the competition, but it becomes boring knowing who the winner is going to be before the game starts, and by a wide margin.
*Photo via Daily Gazette
I used to think Geno Auriemma was more of a recruiter than a coach. I mean, I knew he was great, but I felt what separated him from the rest of the coaches was his great recruiting. Coach Auriemma always got the best player in the class and in women's basketball, all you need is one great player and you will win games. My stance has changed on that. Geno is a better coach than recruiter because when his recruits come in they leave better players. Other universities like Baylor, Notre Dame and most recently South Carolina have had number one recruiting classes but Baylor was the only team to take advantage and win a championship, 5 years ago. Even though Geno Auriemma has Breanna Stewart, who some consider to be the greatest women college player ever, It is not as easy as it looks. Geno coaches up these highly recruited players and turns them into great players and champions. There has been some buzz that NBA teams have interest in coach Auriemma in the near future whether it's an executive position or assistant coaching job leading towards a head coaching gig. Maybe that will give other schools a chance to win a championship.
Until then women's college basketball has to deal with the legend that is Geno and his powerhouse program. Women's basketball is still in its infancy, so you can compare UConn to the old UCLA teams coached by hall of fame great, coach John Wooden. Back then UCLA was an unstoppable force, but as time went on,, other universities started catching up by getting better recruits. Great high school players wanted to set their own path and not just follow where other players were going. That's what's going to happen in women's basketball. Girls coming up won't want to go to the University of Connecticut to win championships. They will want to go to a different school to compete against and eventually beat UConn. It is already starting to happen. Maryland has the number one recruiting class of 2016 with Baylor at number two. Connecticut is ranked 14th in the 2016 class and are losing 3 big time players in Brianna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck,’ so it might be a rebuilding year for the Lady Huskies. This will give other schools like South Carolina, Maryland, Baylor and Notre Dame a great shot to win it next year and dethrone the reigning champions. But as long as Geno Auriemma is at Connecticut, I won't be surprised if they win a 5th straight championship.