Don't expect UConn women to worry about not being good for the game. Texas up tonight.
BRIDGEPORT-The UConn women’s basketball team play Texas tonight at 7 p.m., looking to return to the Final Four once again after steamrolling their competition so far in the NCAA tournament.
Their latest victim, Mississippi State, fell by an astound sixty points (98-38) on Saturday afternoon.
Later Saturday, the air around the Huskies dominance changed when a national columnist, Dan Shaughnessy stirred the pot by letting it be known that he would not be watching UConn women’s games anytime soon because he said, in a tweet, that UConn is “killing the game”.
The Huskies are on the doorstep of setting a mark none of us may ever see again, that is winning four straight National Championships in a row with one of the most talented teams in a long line of talented teams that have called Storrs home.
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma has heard these criticisms before. That his team’s dominance is not good for the game, like they should lose to make the game better.
"We don't appreciate people for how good they are and what a good job they do -- we always have to compare it to something," Auriemma said. "It's only in women's basketball. It's the only sport where that happens. The only sport. Day in, day out, year in, year out, we're faced with those questions and those comparisons."
Auriemma had a message for Shaughnessy and anyone else who doesn’t think what they see on the court is worth their time because they are too good, a remarkable statement if you think about it.
"Nobody's putting a gun to your head to watch," Auriemma continued. "So don't watch. And don't write about it. Spend your time on things that you think are important. If you don't think this is important, don't pay any attention to it."
To just look at the scores and not understand what goes on from day one of a player being recruited to play at UConn is shortsighted to say the least.
There is no magic wand or potion these players are given that make them play at the level they do. It’s the day in and day out pursuit of perfection that the Huskies coaching staff demands of them that help make them so good once game time comes around.
You have often heard that a UConn practice is harder than a game. The players will tell you that at times, taking the court in a contest that counts is a relief compared to what happens in the Werth Champions Center.
Auriemma has often said that it’s his job to get the best players, as it is every other Division I head coaches duty at his or her school.
To say that the Huskies get all the best players is rotten sour grapes at best, lazy recruiting is more like it.
Want to beat the Huskies?
Work as hard as they do from the first day of practice to that moment in the fourth quarter when they are up by 35 points and are still diving for that loose ball or leaping over the scorer’s table to save a ball from going out of bounds.
Breanna Stewart is regarded as the best player in the country but go inside a practice over the past four years or listen to Auriemma talk about his star over the past four years so you can understand how she arrived at this point. It’s not all roses and praise.
It’s been the same for all the UConn stars over the years.
Think Diana Taurasi or Sue Bird or Rebecca Lobo got to the level of excellence they did by accident?
Sure, each had great natural talent and were the best player at their high school or in their state but their game only went to that next level because of how the UConn staff took that god given talent and launched it to a different level.
Some women’s basketball leaders, like USF head coach Jose Fernandez, understand that it’s up to them to get better, not for UConn to get worse.
The Bulls are one of the only teams in the American Athletic Conference who have pushed the Huskies over the past two seasons and they did it through hard work, not waiting for UConn to come back to the pack.
So now two things are already swirling around in UConn land.
A team that is hell bent on winning their fourth straight title is a bit ticked off now and for next year when the big three (Stewart, Jefferson and perhaps Tuck) will no longer be roaming the hardwood together, the Huskies coaching staff will be even more determined not to let the program slip much.
Granted, no team can be as good without the superstars that made up this remarkable run but do we really expect the Huskies to be a run of the mill team any time soon?
Oh yeah, UConn takes on the Longhorns, a team they beat by 50 last year in the Sweet 16 in Albany, tonight at 7 p.m.
Rich Elliot and I will be on hand.