Last month, Saint Joseph’s had the distinct honor of being the only team to get clobbered by UConn in both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournament brackets.
The men actually scratched and clawed to an overtime victory. The women could have mollywhopped the Hawks in high heels instead of sneakers. The 49-point win was representative of the lack of parity present in women’s hoops. While men’s basketball has transformed into a socialist society where the wealth has been spread like Nino Brown’s turkeys, women’s basketball is a bigger monopoly than Microsoft in the ‘90s.
In a post-Pat Summit playing field, Geno Auriemma’s girls are running 100 meters on rubberized tracks with a strong headwind propelling them forward. The remainder of their competition is crossing the English Channel’s choppy waters in a wetsuit.
The development curve of women’s basketball is decades behind their male counterparts, which is why it may take another generation for the type of balance that has taken hold of men’s basketball to trickle down into the women’s ranks.
However, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, whom they throttled, was supposed to be an evenly-matched peer that also stormed through their competition and stomped out their threat without breaking a drop of sweat. The statistical numbers from this season bear that out. UConn ranked first in assists per game, Notre Dame was second. The Irish were first in field goal shooting percentage, the Huskies were second. Notre Dame came out wielding the nation's top offense and UConn barely cracked the top 10.
The difference was the Huskies defense, considered the best in college basketball. We knew their front court, featuring Player of the Year Breanna Stewart, Stefanie Dotson and Bria Hartley, was elite, but they also set a national record for blocked shots.
UConn’s 21-point win was a statement analogous to Dave Chappelle’s Rick James facsimile stomping mud on to Eddie Murphy’s couch. Their ninth national championship left a mark all over the annals of women’s college basketball.
Besides the motivation of getting Auriemma the upper hand in his personal rivalry with Muffet McGraw, UConn's win was a delayed retribution of sorts for Notre Dame snuffing out arguably the best lineup in college basketball history en route to the 2001 national championship. The same team resurfaced healthier the next season with a 39-0 championship campaign.
That year kicked off a 70-game winning streak. From 2008 through Dec. 30, 2010 UConn won an NCAA basketball record 90 consecutive games. Their current streak stands at 46 with their most recent loss occurring in their final Big East championship game against Skylar Diggins’ 31-1 Notre Dame squad.
Not only did UConn become the second team to win 40 games during an undefeated season in women’s college basketball after Baylor accomplished the feat in 2012, Auriemma eclipsed Pat Summit with his ninth national championship and is just one title from matching John Wooden’s 10 title total. Auriemma's been the constant for UConn and went 4-0 in championship games against Queen Pat in national title games.
Ultimately, these Huskies didn’t just trounce their contemporaries on April 8, they seared their names into history and have an opportunity to pursue another record winning streak if they duplicate their unblemished season. The only team that can beat UConn is themselves.