The University of Connecticut and head coach Geno Auriemma have done it. In a hard fought battle yesterday against the 6th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, UConn brought home the program’s 100th consecutive win with a 66-55 victory in front of a sellout crowd at Gampel Pavilion. Breakdowns of the game and UConn’s historic accomplishment are all over the place and the attention and praise are well deserved for a team that has not suffered defeat since a 2014 overtime thriller vs Stanford.
While great for UConn fans and alumni, I do not think that this era of dominance is great for the rest of women’s basketball as a whole.
UConn is in the middle of four straight championships, and if it wasn’t for the previously mentioned lone loss to “rival” Stanford, they would have won an astounding 148 straight games as of Monday night. As sports fans, we love and gravitate towards dominant teams and players. Dominance and excellence breed both love and hate, yet either emotion warrants attention and interest. The nation tuned into the Super Bowl to either celebrate the success of Tom Brady and the Patriots or root in eager anticipation for the Atlanta Falcons to knock them off. Similarly, we all have watched the Williams sisters’ dominance of tennis and have appreciated (or hated) the supreme legacy of Serena Williams as she continues to add to her resume as the greatest tennis player to ever live. I watch the Golden State Warriors as much as possible hoping to see a team that can knock them off. Dominance is not bad for sports as long as there is a little parity. All of these champions have faltered at surprising times, which in turn creates instant drama and great television.
Photo Credit – David Butler II – USA Today Sports
Naturally, those in favor of Uconn’s women and their dominance are not interested in television ratings and what people want to watch. They should not be. However, the big picture here is that women’s basketball is beloved but struggling sports ratings wise. There has been some progress but we are still waiting for mainstream sports America to wrap their arms around the WNBA the way that they should. More parity at the college level would breed more interest in the sport’s already popular conclusion in March. Heroes are born in the NCAA tournament and we like to follow them into their professional careers. The best sporting events have tension and drama and with UConn, it just never feels like there is a realistic shot at them losing.
Dominance in sports is based on various factors, but with college, a large basis is recruiting. In 2012, Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck arrived on campus as the numbers 1, 2, and 4 ESPN recruits in the entire country for Coach Auriemma and UConn. Four years later as of 2016 the trio had gone 126-5 and won three national championships. What jumped out to me was that the three amassed 4,466 combined points, which ranks them an even more surprising third amongst UConn recruiting classes since Geno Auriemma’s arrival in 1985. Other schools must do a better job of recruiting players to be the face and catalyst of their programs. All it takes is to get a few top-tier talents who want to be the ones to change the landscape of women’s college basketball and take down the big beast in the east.
I am all for greatness and dominance as it reflects operating at the pinnacle of one’s craft. Our greatest winners continue to show dominance in the face of adversity and that is what we like about them. However, UConn’s women rarely face adversity and need challenges in order for the game to continue to grow and get to the next level. Sports fans love drama, tension, and parity. Sadly right now, Uconn might be too good for their own good.