As I watched the Men’s National Championship between North Carolina and Villanova, the eyes of the nation were so laser focused on these two teams. But this isn’t the last game of March Madness.
Tonight at 8:30, how many of you are going to watch the Women’s National Championship? Do you know who is in it?
Don’t lie. Most of you won’t. (FYI, UConn will take on Syracuse).
Now why is this? Is it the lack of interest in the sport? Or are you occupied with something that is higher on the priority list than watching it?
The answer for many is that they “know” UConn will win the championship. Recently, this belief has sparked debate on whether or not the absolute dominance from the Huskies is “ruining the game of women’s basketball”.
First, let’s quickly recap the dynasty that Geno Auriemma has built. Since he took the job in 1985, UConn has won 10 National Titles, 21 Conference Titles, set the record for longest winning streak (men and women) at 90, and have made the most Final Fours consecutively (9).
The closest men’s comparison is the dynasty at UCLA lead by John Wooden. The Bruins won 10 National Titles, won 7 consecutive National Titles, and had 88 consecutive games won, a record broken by the UConn women’s team.
I bold the 7 consecutive titles because it shows UCLA completely dominated for 7 straight seasons. The most consecutive titles UConn Women’s have won is 3. When UCLA was at the peak of their dominance, did anyone say “Wooden and UCLA are ruining college basketball?” No. Instead, we look at him as one of the greatest coaches of all time. After all, the most prestigious men’s collegiate basketball award is named after him.
After UConn crushed Mississippi State by 60, Dan Shaughnessy took to Twitter to voice his opinion.
“UConn Women beat Miss St. 98-38 in NCAA tourney. Hate to punish them for being great, but they are killing women’s game. Watch? No thanks” – @Dan_Shaughnessy
My first reaction to this subject is simply “Other teams should just get better”, but that’s much easier said than done. Geno Auriemma, UConn’s head coach, responded to Shaughnessy’s critical comments in a post game press conference in a frustrating way.
“My question is, don’t watch. Don’t watch. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head to watch. So don’t watch. And don’t write about it. Spend your time on things you think are important. If you don’t think this is important, don’t pay any attention to it. The fact that you have to comment on it says something about you, doesn’t it? We are where we are. We are what we are. You know? We do what we do. We do what we do.”
Auriemma is right. Nobody is making anyone watch the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Tournament. Instead of criticizing something that many people have put endless effort into, sit back and enjoy it. It won’t last forever (sorry, UConn women’s basketball fans) and eventually UConn will fall. We saw when Brittney Griner and the Baylor Bears got hot, they won the National Title. Beating UConn can be done.
Although Syracuse has a big task on their hands in playing such a dominant team, the head coach of Syracuse, Quentin Hillsman, is very calm and understands the skill of the Huskies.
“I don’t know if you can figure UConn out. I really don’t. You just have to go and play your game, play to the best of your abilities, and have confidence in what you do.”
Hillsman went on to add that he wouldn’t mind “ruining” women’s basketball in a joking way.
“They really have just forgotten how to lose. That’s the amazing thing-to forget how to lose. I want to do that one day. I want to be bad for basketball one day, I really do. If winning every game is bad for basketball then let me be that.”
(You can watch the full video of Hillsman here.)
In the end, other coaches recognize how difficult it is to build such a dominant team. What Geno Auriemma and the UConn Women’s basketball team has done is nothing short than amazing. Don’t sit and cry that it’s “unfair” to other teams. Enjoy watching one of the greatest sports dynasties, because before you know it, it will be in the past.
Watch the Women’s National Title game. Root for whoever you want. Enjoy the game. If it’s a blowout in either team’s favor, great. If UConn wins off of a buzzer beater, even better. Watch sports for the love of the game, not to criticize a team for making it “unfair”.
I write about the beautiful game. From the smallest islands to the biggest teams, it all will be covered.