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Is UConn Women’s Basketball Too Good For The Game?

6 mins read

Perfection in sports, as in life, is always striven for and seldom attained. Those teams that do achieve the seemingly impossible, however, are hailed as legends for having left their mark on the game. But what happens when perfection becomes the norm? When perfection is not a weighty goal, but an expectation? That is the culture surrounding the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team.
Arguably the greatest dynasty in sports history, the Huskies have achieved unprecedented success over the past two decades. It began with a magical season in 1995, in which UConn won its first ever National Championship, finishing the season with a record of 35-0. Since then, the Huskies have reached 14 Final Fours and won 10 National Championships, including the last four in row. The Huskies also own the greatest winning records in American history, including both professional and collegiate sports. From 2001-2003, UConn accumulated a 70-game winning streak, which they surpassed with a 90 game winning streak from 2008-2010. This 90-game streak broke the previous winning record set by the UCLA Men’s basketball team of 88 games under storied coach John Wooden. Currently, the women’s team is on a 111 game winning streak which began with a win over Creighton on November 23, 2014. That’s right, it has been 866 days since the UConn Women’s basketball team suffered its last lost.
The current streak this team on is even more amazing when you consider just how dominant they have been during it. The largest margin of victory was 65 points, which came over South Florida, the 20th ranked team in the country at the time. The women have beat 29 ranked teams during the streak, including 81 wins while ranked number 1 in the country. Their mastery is undeniable, with 108 of the 111 wins having been by double digits.
Over the past two decades, the team has been led by head coach Geno Auriemma, who began coaching the team in 1985. Since then, Auriemma has compiled a record of 991-134, been named the Naismith College Coach of the Year seven times, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Auriemma has also been the coach of the Women’s National Team, winning gold medals in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
UConn’s dominance is undoubtedly one of the greatest feats in sports history. The question is, have they made the game of women’s college basketball better or worse? This question was brought to the national stage by a tweet posted by Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy this past Sunday.
The tweet read, “UConn Women beat Miss St. 98-38 in NCAA tourney. Hate to punish them for being great, but they are killing women’s game. Watch? No thanks.”
The tweet was met with a wave of criticism from UConn supporters who said Shaughnessy’s comments demean the team for being great. ESPN Women’s basketball analyst Rebecca Lobo, a UConn basketball alum, brushed off Shaughnessy’s comments stating that he was entitled to his own opinions, and that not watching the Huskies is his choice. Many surrounding the team have taken a similar stance, agreeing with Lobo that anyone who thinks the Huskies are bad for the game need not watch.
Shaughnessy followed his tweet with an article titled “UConn women are too dominant for their own good.” In it, he cited the lack of competition for the Huskies as the reason for his boredom.
“It’s because they have no competition. It’s the margins of these victories…Competition is why we watch sports. Who is going to win? Without that drama, sports would be no different from the theater, ballet, or symphony. The UConn women are so good they have stripped their sport of all drama and competition and made it similar to performance art,” he said.
Regardless of your opinion, the UConn women’s historic run and decades of unrivaled success is something to be admired. The Huskies are a heavy favorite to win their fifth title in a row this year, as they enter the Final Four as the number one overall ranked team. The Huskies will look for their 112th consecutive win when they take on Mississippi’s State this Friday. A likely win will put them in the championship game against the winner of the South Carolina, Stanford matchup.

3 Comments

  1. Since when is hard work and a commitment to excellence considered any thing but good for any endeavor? This team came into the season ranked 3rd in the nation. Their schedule had them play top ten schools game after game. Everyone said they were too young, not big enough etc., as they lined up to knock them off their perch. What “everyone” forgot was element of hard work, the countless hours of training that no other program in the country was willing to commit to. This group of young kids signed on to the team’s ethos – Play Hard, Play Smart and Have Fun. On any given night, this team was beatable. One injury away from defeat. Yet any given night, someone on the teamed emerged with an overpowering performance. Champions find ways to win. And win they did. Through hard, smart and fun play. Anyone who demeans the commitment to excellence will relegate themselves to perpetual second place – both on and off the court.

  2. So, they should be less than they can be?
    The lack of competition us not UConn’s fault. They are raising the bar and the girls game is getting better.
    One thing many people claim is the recruit the best players. Well, they recruit good players, but over the past decade, they have not had the top recruiting class and in many of the years did not have a top 10 player
    Nor do they fill the roster. They only have 9 players this year, and Geno has never used all his scholarships. He subscribes to the Red Auerbach theory if you can’t win with 8 you can’t win with 88
    There are many reasons why they are successful, but one of them is heart. This years team when the season started, had no returning All Americans, and no first or second team All Conference, in a weak conference. Geno expected them to lose, and set a hard schedule with the intention of having a loss and the teaching moment that goes with it.
    But the girls decided they are part of the tradition at the school, and if they were going to lose then the other team would have to beat them. They just want to win more than the next team.
    Geno is surprised at where this team is. Watch them, as good fundamental ball as any team. No stand out stars.

  3. Well that’s just stupid. One coach found a way to win and you think its bad for the game? What about competition? When that coach is willing to have other coaches observe, ask questions and learn what he does, who’s fault is it when other teams can’t compete… or don’t. Most of the women’s teams play like men – walk the ball up the court and wait for the defense to set up, figure out who’s turn it is to make the basket and make sure that person has the ball and everybody on the other team kinda doesn’t move. No transition game, no defense being an offensive start, get a rebound and trot to the other end of the court rather than run. You’re promoting mediocrity. UConn is promoting competition.

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