by Brianna Patton
With an 82-51 win over Syracuse Tuesday night, The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team just did something that no other D1 collegiate basketball team (men or women’s) has ever done—win four consecutive National Championships.
With this win, UConn surpassed the UCLA men with 11 national titles and extended its win streak to 75 games. Coach Geno Auriemma also improved his unblemished championship record to 11-0 along the way.
“These are not things that you easily put words to. Even us as coaches, we looked at each other after the game and we just kind of shake our heads,” Auriemma told ESPN reporters after the game.
The Huskies were led by three-time Associated Press Player of the Year, Breanna Stewart, who had 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists which earned herself a fourth consecutive Most Outstanding Player award. Stewart ended her UConn career with a record of 151-5 and is now the most decorated player in UConn history.
The Huskies have dominated women’s college basketball for several years now winning 10 of the last 17 titles. As a result of their dominance, many have been questioning whether their dominance is bad for the women’s game.
Many critics have argued that UConn has taken the suspense out of the game and makes it less intriguing to watch. This piece by Juliet Spies-Gans of the Huffington Post criticizes UConn for being great – an opinion that many who follow college athletics find ridiculous.
Fortunately, there are still people who are able to appreciate the dynasty that Auriemma has built and maintained. The building of a great team takes a lot of work – both on and off the court, great recruiting, great coaching and a more than a little luck. To have a great team year after year is quite a feat. The maintaining of greatness – when considering all the factors that weigh in on a team’s success – is pretty amazing.
“I think they’ve raised the bar for women’s basketball,” espnW writer Mechelle Voepel said.
The elite program that Auriemma has been able to build and maintain cannot and should not be discounted. He continues to get the best recruits year in and year out. The top recruits want to go to UConn and play for coach Auriemma because the program has proven it is not a fluke.
Every couple of years or so, there comes a player who just stands out over every other player in the country and UConn always gets that player. Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, and most recently Stewart have all grown and flourished as the best players in college basketball in their respective time under Auriemma.
“When you win as long as they have you create a momentum and an expectation that is innately conducive to winning,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck told ESPN. “The new class comes in. They learn from the people that have been there and done that.”
In his 31 years as the UConn head coach, Auriemma has a record of 955-134 (.877) and has led the Huskies to 11 national titles, 17 Final Fours, 42 conference titles, and six perfect seasons. These statistics are completely unprecedented and showcase the greatness of Auriemma as a coach.
With Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck graduating, many believe that the Huskies high level of dominance is coming to an end. However, UConn has the No. 1 point guard in the nation in Crystal Dangerfield coming in along with 2015 No. 1 recruit Katie Lou Samuelson returning.
UConn also has what no other program in the country has–Geno Auriemma.