Wednesday, March 11, 2009

UCONN Women; SOOOOO Good- And That's Bad

I'll get this out of the way right up front. I'm a season ticket holder for Rutgers Women's Basketball. I've gone to every home game this year, and only a pretty nasty touch of "the bug" kept me from their game against Army at Madison Square Garden last December. When they lose, I hurt; when they win, its cause for at least two bottles of Yuengling Lager. I bleed scarlet. I'm there for them, win or lose. I suffered through a year with them that had some ups, but also alot of downs, even though the ladies finished on a high note, playing their best ball of the season in its final weeks.

All that being said, this year's edition of the UCONN Huskies women's basketball team just might be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, women's basketball team ever assembled. Tennessee fans may disagree; so might longtime UCONN fans who have seen almost as many National Championships as Elizabeth Taylor has seen husbands.

I have no love at all for that team, its coach, or their fans....but I will give them their due. They just might be the best ever.

And, my friends, that ain't good. Not for anyone who has to play them, or for both the long and short term status of women's college basketball.

OK, let's look at yesterday's blowout of Louisville, a team ranked #5 nationally, and the second seed in the Big East Tournament.UCONN (33-0, #1 nationally and in the Big East) pounded the second best team in the conference by 39 points, 75-36. Louisville's best player, All-American Angel McCoughtry was held to nine points. UCONN's brightest star, Maya Moore, was pulled from the game in the second half when she had outscored the entire Louisville team, at that point, 28-27. And it didn't end there; Tina Charles, a double-double, 21 points and 15 rebounds. Renee Montgomery chipped in with seven points and five assists...but she didn't need to score big in this one because, for all intents and purposes, this was a first round knockout. It 18-4 UCONN out of the gate, and was 50-24 at the half. UCONN's defense held a frustrated Louisville to 21.1% shooting for the night.

This was about as suspenseful as a WWE know its scripted, and the "babyface" will usually beat the "heel". Or better, like Muhammed Ali versus "The Bum of the Month".... come in and take yer whooppin'.

The Huskies are going to win National Championship VI........simply because there is no team in their class in women's basketball. Its that simple. They beat #3 Oklahoma by 23 at home, smashed North Carolina in Chapel Hill by 30, and smacked Louisville around in their first meeting by 28. They have beaten all the ranked teams they have played by an average of more than 30 points.

UCONN scores 84.4 points per game, and shoot at 50.7%. They hold opponents to 53.1 points per game, out rebound them by 10.4 boards per game, and average an incredible 20.3 assists per game to lead the nation.They are in the Top 20 in three pointers and three point percentage.

UCONN leads the nation in scoring margin, winning by an average of 31.1 points a game. Stanford is second at 20.3.

And I haven't even mentioned their Hall of Fame Coach, Geno Auriemma, the man the Nutmeg State loves, and the rest of women's college basketball thinks as the second coming of Darth Vader. He's already won five championships, and has piloted UCONN to undefeated seasons in 1995 and 2002.

And bet the mortgage on this one....he'll complete undefeated season #3 in the first week of April. And I'm as sure of that as Jim Cramer was about Bear-Stearns.

Its all very good for UCONN and its fans....but its not so good for the rest of women's college basketball.

One of the biggest raps on the women's game was always its apparent domination of a select few (ie UCONN and Geno, and Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Lady Vols), and their seeming year in, year out lock on the best players, best media exposure, and the their perception as women's basketball royalty, to whom everyone else appeared bourgeois and noveau riche. Yes, for awhile we did have some "usurpers" come in and take the crown from its "rightful" owners....Purdue, Notre Dame, Baylor, and Maryland were the notable "one and dones".

Not long ago it seemed that just MAYBE the women's game was going to gain some semblance of competitive balance, that just maybe the regular season and March Madness would have the elements of surprise that the men's game has...excepting Harvard beating Stanford back in the day, when was the last time a "George Mason" emerged in the women's game in March?

Tennessee is in a reloading mode this year, and by next year they'll be back. But right now, UCONN is about to stamp itself as the dominant and undisputed Biggest Kid On The Block....

There are certain "conspiracy theorists" out there who believe in a grand scheme between UCONN, Tennessee, ESPN (who broadcast the Women's NCAA Tournament), and the NCAA to find ways to make sure at least one those teams makes it at the very least to a Regional Final. Its good for the TV ratings, and it puts fannies in the seats.

There are some fans who swear this is the case...I'm not of them. Frankly, I think its a load of crap.

What solution do I have to bring that competitive balance to the game?

Its very simple....out recruit UCONN (and Tennessee).

Other than that....Geno and Pat can't coach forever, can they? And Mr. Paterno and Mr. Bowden, I wasn't talking to you.

So until that time happens...

Its "meet the new boss....same as the old boss."

Or to borrow another rock song metaphor......."the song remains the same".


Rayvin53 said...

An interesting read, but it takes more than good recruiting to make a team the caliber of this year's UConn-a quality coaching staff is a huge part of it, too. (and UConn beat OU by 28, not 23...).
Go Huskies!!

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Hey're right, the rest of the women's basketball universe will probably have to wait until Geno (and for that matter, Pat) decide to hang it up and make millions more $$$'s as motivational speakers before the game gets past the stranglehold of "dynasty-ism". The only frame of reference is the men's game and the aftermath of John Wooden's retirement from UCLA- the playing field (more or less) evened out, and there hasn't been a TRUE year in, year out dynasty in the men's game since.

As for my mistake about UCONN-OU...sorry, my bad.

Now...its time to go over the epic at MSG last night ('Cuse- UCONN); the greatest game ever played? Its going to be talked about for years to come.......

Rayvin53 said...

Hey Hugh-I was just giving a little credit to Geno, Chris, Jamelle and Shea for the impressive showing by this year's Huskies, so far. The great thing about the NCAA's is that it's one and done. Anything can happen and often does, that's why it's so much fun to watch.
As far as the Dynasty thing, RU has a ton of young talent that is just starting to pull together around Epiphany and Kia--no team wants to face them in the tourney, UConn included.
About the UConn-OU score mistake, I was just bustin' your chops...
Blog on!

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