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Note to UConn women's basketball fans. Enjoy the ride. Stewart and Jefferson era over in 75 days.

POSTED January 22, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney


HARTFORD: In the midst of all the winning streaks and blowout wins, it may be easy to take what the University of Connecticut women have been doing of the past three years-plus for granted.

The Breanna Stewart era, you could call it.

I have news for Huskies fans. The era is quickly coming to a close. With just 13 regular season games left (including last night's UCF game), time is becoming short to see one of the greatest players ever to wear a UConn uniform. Also, the team is on the verge of winning its fourth consecutive NCAA title come this April in Indianapolis.

We at LCS know nothing but the Stewart, Moriah Jefferson era. We came on the scene three years ago and have been as spoiled with all this winning. We have actually never covered a loss in person. Can’t say that about many other sports we cover, ever.

With not much standing in their way the remainder of the regular season, sans their battle with South Carolina on February 8, count on this Huskies running through the American Athletic Conference without much fuss and making another glorious run in the NCAA tournament.

A guaranteed title? Not so, but you have to like their chances considering Stewart has made it widely known that she want to be the first to be able to say that she accomplished what so many great teams and players before her have not been able to do.

Whether this is the best team in their history is always up for debate, but what’s not up for discussion is that they are on the doorstep of history if they make it four straight.

It's sometimes hard to imagine that it has been four years that we have been watching Stewart and Jefferson, you wonder how long or short it has seemed for them and to a coaching staff that has been through this countless times.

"There's a pattern to the way this works," head coach Geno Auriemma said, "As freshman, they really do think that four years is a long time. Because there are so many more games that they are used to playting in high school, it does seem like a long time. Then they wake up one day in the middle of January of their senior year and they are like, 'oh my god'. So it's incredibly fast, the process. More so then they think and for us as coaches, we're the same way. We try and give them as many opportunities to be cognizant, to be in the moment because there's not many moments left. Then we hope that we can help them really maximize it and enjoy it as opposed to the fear of it ending. Which is going to set in at some point. But between now and then, I want them really to enjoy it. Seem's like they are."      

Next year, Auriemma will be without two All-Americans, but will return a team that should hold their own with most in the country. Don’t think the cupboard is ever empty for the Huskies, but it will be different for sure.

Will Morgan Tuck come back for one more year or will her most recent knee injury motivate her to go to the WNBA next year?

A huge question mark.

How will the incoming freshman class of Crystal Dangerfield, Kyla Irwin and Molly Bent contribute?

Kia Nurse will no longer have to defer to the upperclassmen and may just come into her own.

Gabbie Williams will be counted on for more as well, especially on the boards, an area she has excelled in to date and took another step with a monster game Wednesday night in which she scored a career high 19 points.

Katie Lou Samuelson will have a year under her belt, as will Naphessa Collier who has already made her mark on the team, but it will still be different.

Weird in fact.

Not only are Jefferson and Stewart two tremendous basketball players, they are, as most UConn women’s players are, tremendous young ladies.

Dealing with 'The Horde' is never an easy thing, but both of them handle it with dignity and grace and with a splash of humor.

So to all the UConn faithful who have seven more regular season opportunities to see the team before the post season, I say come out and take it in.

It’s something we may never see again considering we had never seen it before, so pack the joint, whether it be at the XL Center or on campus at Gampel Pavilion.

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