Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nearly Two Years of Winning and Still Overlooked?

By Hobson Lopes

In recent months, all Connecticut Huskies fans have had a lot to talk about. They had the football team being competitive in every game and even included defeating the great Notre Dame. All of this fighting through the adversity of losing one of their own after this seasons homecoming game. The men’s basketball team gave Coach Jim Calhoun a five year extension, which has yet to be signed. Calhoun has had health issues in the past and this season is no exception. He missed a couple weeks due to his latest health scare and the team has struggled for most of the season. Recently, the team has worked together to pull off multiple upsets setting them up for a trip to the NCAA tournament later this month. Through all of this, one thing that seems to be forgotten is the women’s basketball team coached by Geno Auriemma. What makes that more amazing is the fact that the team has won 69 straight games. With all those wins, do they lead off Sportscenter? WIth all those wins, do they recieve front page coverage? Maybe if they were playing LeBron James or the New York Yankees.
You have to go back to the 2008 Final Four in Tampa Bay, Florida, to find the last loss by this team. Since that 82-73 loss to Stanford, the Huskies have dominated all opponents. They have won each game by at least ten points. They have easily gone through the competition in the Big East Conference winning 32 straight games. They avenged their loss to Stanford by defeating them in the 2009 Final Four in St. Louis, Missouri, 83-64.
These numbers all look great, but it pales in comparison to how well the Huskies play against the top ranked teams in the country. Seventeen of the victories have come against team ranked in the top 25 polls with a margin of victory of over 28 points. In their seven playoff games since their last loss, the Huskies margin of victory has been almost 27 points.
Many people feel that Auriemma’s team will not get beaten this season and would finish with their second consecutive undefeated season and third overall in their great history. If the Huskies win all the remaining regular season games, they can tie their own Division I women’s basketball winning streak with a win in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament on March 7. Thus, a second consecutive perfect season will give them 78 straight wins, only ten shy of tying the all time collegiate streak record held by UCLA.
Coach Auriemma just knows how to coach, and more importantly, knows how to recruit. He will lead the women’s Olympic basketball team in 2010, and has already booked his ticket to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA.
This year, led by Maya Moore and Tina Charles and their over 35 points per game, this duo is near the top of the list in UConn’s great legacy, which include the duos of Jen Rizzoti & Rebecca Lobo and Diana Taurasi & Sue Bird. With Charles ready to graduate this spring, she’s completing her WNBA resume as she recently broke the All-time UConn records for points and rebounds. Moore & Charles feed off each other and make sure to incorporate Kalana Greene and Tiffany Hayes into the action.
While the diehard fans know all of this information already, what I am concerned about is this team is expected to win, so a streak of this caliber is overlooked. Although attendance is high at each game, whether home or away, it still seems that in this area, they are looked past. This reminds me of the situation that the Atlanta Braves faced in the 90’s. Starting in 1991, the Braves were the best team in the National League, and got to the World Series multiple times, but only won once. With each winning season, the attendance figures dropped at Turner Field as the fans just expected the team to win. I know once March Madness sweeps the area, fans will be all over the men’s and women’s teams, but I would still hope to see more enthusiasm from the locals all season long, especially as records come and go.

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