Column: Supporting Dominance
Published: Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Updated: Monday, April 5, 2010 23:04
With the women's basketball team quickly approaching both its seventh National Championship and its second straight undefeated season comes the ubiquitous question of whether or not such a dominant team is good for women's basketball. I think the answer is obvious.
Yes, of course it is.
Everyone knows the stats. The Huskies have won 77 games in a row, all by at least 10 points. Only two of those wins have been by 10 and, to be honest, not many have been by less than 20. I would say they have arguably the two best players in the country in Maya Moore and Tina Charles. They're head and shoulders above the rest.
So is it bad for a team to be so good? Anybody who watched the first four rounds of the tournament where UConn beat its opponents by 56, 54, 38 and 40 points saw that none of those games were ever close. Sunday night proved to be a challenge as the Huskies only won by 20.
The argument is that UConn destroys any parity there might have been in the women's game by being so good, making it boring to watch. Why watch if you already know what's going to happen?
Anybody who subscribes to that line of thought is missing the point completely. You should watch because you know what's going to happen. Watching the women's team play is about as exciting as women's basketball gets. There are at least three times where Moore just makes you say, "Wow, I can't believe that just happened," and it's not very often a team like this comes around. So watching them play should not be taken for granted and not lamented over.
Furthermore, it's a good thing that women's basketball is getting this much attention. Fans, commentators and columnists always mention how little play women's basketball gets compared to the men's game and now it's getting it – and people are complaining about it.
The men's championship was last night and I really could not have cared less. Nobody likes to see Duke win (outside of Duke fans) and Butler might be the most boring team to watch. You better believe that if UConn wins Tuesday night, more people will be talking about how they've won 78 in a row than were talking about Duke winning tonight. The amount of attention the Huskies have brought the sport can't be a bad thing.
Coach Geno Auriemma pointed out the same point in a teleconference on March 31. Auriemma was asked by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal his opinion on what their streak has done for the game.
"The fact that the questions are being asked means that there's a certain level of interest in that the game on Sunday coming up between us and Baylor, I gotta believe there's a lot of people interested to see who wins that game," Auriemma said. "And I gotta believe there's an awful lot of interest inwho wins the Stanford/Oklahoma game, because if we were to win, then they're going to get a shot at knocking Connecticut off."
Auriemma's comment underlines the point: people are talking about women's basketball. A lot more than usual. The Wall Street Journal, a publication that normally doesn't cover sports, is talking about women's basketball.
As far as I'm concerned, I hope they never stop winning, and that's not just me being a UConn homer. When the streak is finally broken, it will undoubtedly be one of the bigger stories and will give more attention to a sport that can always use – and deserves – more.