As Geno Auriemma’s Connecticut Huskies rebounded from a dismal—and quite shocking—first half against the Stanford Cardinal to win the National Championship for the second straight year, one thought crossed my mind.
This is horrible for women’s collegiate basketball.
Now, I’m not taking away any of the accomplishments by this Huskies team. A 78-game winning streak is putting them into UCLA-Wooden territory, and consecutive National Championships is something not many programs—both professional and collegiate—can say they have done.
But look at the big picture.
As the Huskies have dominated women’s hoops for over two years, they have left everybody in the dust. Even Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt’s Tennessee Volunteers are being swept away into the background.
It’s not the Huskies fault they have such great coaching, recruit the top players in America (Maya Moore, anyone?), and know how to win when it matters most.
It’s the fault of every other coach and program.
When Connecticut is beating teams by 40 or 50 points in the NCAA tournament, one has to wonder whether parity has become a complete afterthought and having one dominant team is the way the NCAA wants outsiders to envision the women’s game.
Even after scoring 12 points in the first half of the national title game, with all the records and streaks and championships on the line, the Huskies thwarted the Cardinal and still won by a rather loose margin.
Goodbye Cinderella, hello domination.
Imagine if this was the case in the men’s game. It would be shocking, first of all, but it would also make many fans and analysts question the talent level of NCAA basketball players.
The Florida Gators were the last men’s team to win back-to-back championships in men’s hoops, becoming victorious in 2006 and 2007 behind three starters who would eventually become NBA first-round picks. It happens so rarely because the teams are so even across the board.
There’s no real explanation as to how Northern Iowa defeated Kansas or why Saint Mary’s handily defeated Villanova in this year’s tournament. The better team won on that given day. Northern Iowa and Saint Mary’s are small programs but still know how to win games and play solid team basketball.
Could you imagine Butler—or any other small mid-major—defeating Connecticut in a big game that mattered, let alone a game that really meant nothing to begin with?
When Wooden and his UCLA Bruins were winning game after game, it was a different era. It didn’t hurt that they had two of the best players who ever lived in Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton.
There also was a lack of strong competition, at least to what you see in today’s game.
In a sport in which many root for the underdog, the Huskies don’t even give them a crying chance. Whether that hurts the credibility of their sport is a question worth thinking about.