UConn basketball puts history - and UCLA - in its sights
The UConn Huskies women's basketball team will seek its record-setting second straight undefeated season and 78th consecutive win in the championship game against Stanford tonight. Only the UCLA men's basketball team ever won more consecutive games – 88, from 1971 to 1974.
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Is it good for the sport?
Within the coaching profession at least, the general consensus is that UConn’s current dominance has been good for the game by creating a higher standard and forcing other teams to rise to it.Skip to next paragraph
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Geno Auriemma, UConn’s head coach and the president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, recognizes that he’s put a huge bull’s-eye on the Huskies’ back by honing their killer instinct and pushing them toward perfection.
“We’re the team that everybody loves to hate. We’re the team everybody loves to beat,” he has said. “We’re the Yankees, the Celtics, the Montreal Canadiens, the Russian hockey team in 1980.”
The mystery, if you care to call it that, is how any team at this point in the development of women’s basketball has essentially managed to lap the field. Granted, Tennessee and Connecticut have emerged as perennial powers, accounting for 11 of the last 15 national championships, but other schools have occasionally broken through. To wit: Purdue, Notre Dame, Baylor, and Maryland.
College sports are cyclical, though, and Auriemma is the first to acknowledge that as high as UConn’s program is flying now, a dip in the road is bound to occur – and possibly as early next season, when finding a worthy replacement for Charles, who averages 18.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, promises to be a very tall order.
As if to throw down the gauntlet to UConn’s rivals, Auriemma has said that if no one beats the Huskies by the end of next December, he will quit.
The coach may already be attempting to light a fire under next season’s squad. If it can win tonight, and then get off to a fast start next season, the Huskies could surpass the gold standard in basketball winning streaks: the 88 consecutive victories of UCLA’s men’s team from 1971 to 1974.
Longest winning streaks in NCAA Division I athletics
- 137 – Miami (Florida) men’s tennis (1957-1964)
- 102 – Penn State women’s volleyball (2007-current)
- 92 – North Carolina women’s soccer (1990-1994)
- 89 – Stanford women’s tennis (2003-2007)
- 88 – UCLA men’s basketball (1971-1974)