UConn, now 29-0, will attempt to finish a perfect regular season tonight at Rutgers on ESPN2. And here’s the deal with the No. 1 Huskies: They’re kind of playing their own season, separate from the rest of women’s college basketball.
I was telling somebody this the other day: In Connecticut and the Northeast, I’m sure that almost the only thing women’s hoops fans talk about is the Huskies. But everywhere else, nobody’s really talking about them.
It’s not because people elsewhere don’t know the Huskies are super-good, mind you. More because everybody is SURE they’re super-good. Most folks don’t expect them to have a challenge until the Final Four, if even then.
So unless you’re a UConn fan and really want to savor each moment of the march to perfection (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that), you probably stopped paying a whole lot of attention after the utter dismantling of North Carolina.
That was back on Jan. 19 in Chapel Hill, N.C., when there was a fair amount of buildup for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup between undefeated teams. But after UConn’s 30-point win, I could almost sense that non-UConn fans were like, “OK, we’ll check back in with you guys in St. Louis in April.”
Maybe a few people still thought there was some tidbit of suspense in the Big East when UConn faced Louisville on Jan. 26. But there wasn’t. UConn won that game by 28.
So the nation’s best women’s hoops team has won and won and won this season_ by an average of almost 32 points a game. I can write anything I want anytime in this blog … but I found that I kept saying, “OK, I’ll do something on UConn tomorrow. I need to write about the Huskies soon, I know, but …”
And then there would be Big 12 stuff to distract me. The Jumbo Dozen is entertaining as always, especially projecting the NCAA chances of Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas A&M, in particular. (Although the knee injury to Baylor’s Danielle Wilson on Saturday is a major blow and horribly disappointing).
Or something else would grab my notice, like another worm turning in the Tennessee soap opera.
Yeah, that might irritate the Huskies fans just a little bit, huh? In this season when the Orange Menace has lost nine games, it’s STILL getting all kinds of attention. I admit, I’ve been pretty focused on the Vols’ storyline myself.
When will Pat get to 1,000? … Will she strangle any of her freshmen first? … Or maybe poor Angie Bjorklund? … Oh, jeez, might the Vols lose to Mississippi State for the FIRST TIME EVER? … No, but, they did lose to Vandy … Auburn… Oklahoma … Florida … Duke … Kentucky. … LSU … Is “The Summitt” message board going to spontaneously combust? … Will the team get kicked out of its locker room? … OK, now when will they get locker-room privileges back? … Is Tennessee going to drop out of the top 25? … Could this be the year Tennessee doesn’t make the Sweet 16?
See! There I go again! More Tennessee stuff. This is supposed to be about UConn.
The thing is, there hasn’t been much UConn drama _ and what there was all happened the same day, Jan. 17. Freshman Caroline Doty tore her ACL vs. Syracuse, and Geno Auriemma had his little run-in with the Orange’s Nicole Michael in the handshake line.
Two days later, the Huskies clobbered North Carolina, and that was that.
Now, I’m sure there have been mini-dramas in Husky Nation that nobody else is really aware of _ like whether someone is not playing as absolutely, fantastically great as she might be able to. But for the most part, it’s been like the Huskies are Kate Winslet, and everybody else is … everybody else.
Occasionally, I’ll hear or read something that seems pretty goofy, such as there might be a tiny debate over national player of the year. Really?
As if the person averaging 19.1 points and 9.2 rebounds, who has 103 assists to 48 turnovers, who has 59 steals and 45 blocks for the unbeaten No. 1 team in the country could possibly NOT be the player of the year?
Maya Moore is the POY (maybe her only “competition” is teammate Renee Montgomery), but it’s the entire squad that is bringing J-O-Y to the championship-starved Huskies fans … after all, it has been five whole years since UConn won it all.
And if you haven’t tuned into the Huskies for a while, take the opportunity to see them tonight. Appreciate what they’re doing, because trying to be perfect is its own kind of drama. No matter how easy UConn has made it look.