Uconn Women: Best Ever?

April 7, 2009

The lady Huskies take on division rivals Louisville tonight in the national championship game.  Uconn is 38-0 and has beaten Louisville twice this year by a combined 67 points.  Is this Uconn team the best team women’s basketball has ever seen?  Better yet, are they the best collegiate basketball team ever assembled?  I ask this knowing that if they lose it would be a Miracle on Ice level upset.  It would be a bigger upset than the Giants beating the Pats or Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, but you won’t hear much about it because its women’s basketball.

The Uconn women’s team is beating teams by 30 points every time out.  In the second round of the tournament, the Huskies went down eight points in the first half to California.  This was the largest deficit they faced all year, at any point of any game.  They proceeded to go on a 40-12 run and win the game by 24 points.  Their closest two games were 10 point wins over Rutgers and Notre Dame.

The real strength of this team is their depth.  Maya Moore would score 40 points a game if she played for most programs.  She averages less than 20 for Uconn, but never loses.  Renee Montgomery averages about 17 and has an assist/turnover ratio over two.  Geno’s favorite target, Tina Charles is an absolute beast, and is as good a big as you can find in the nation.  There are no egos, no stars.  They are a team united in their fear and hatred (which grows into respect) for Geno Auriemma.

Can Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore complete what would be the greatest season in NCAA women's history?

Can Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore complete what would be the greatest season in NCAA women's history?

Then the depth starts.  Uconn freshman Caroline Doty went down after 17 games, and fans were worried.  Geno went to his bench and found Tiffany Hayes and Lorin Dixon.  Their next game came just a day after they told Doty she was out for the season against the second ranked North Carolina Tarheels.  Uconn beat UNC in a tough game… by thirty.

Uconn is shooting over 50% from the field for the season while opponents have shot right around 33% against them.  This team has the best offense in the nation (84.2ppg) and the second best scoring defense in the nation (53.4ppg).  This is not your average great team, though.  They outhustle, they outrun, they outwork other teams.  The leaders give an example that the young players follow and they defend at 100 miles an hour all game long.  Geno won’t let them go any slower.

This is a videogame team.   They provide a stress-free watching experience for fans.  A win tonight would cap a truly remarkable season, and a loss would be one of the biggest upsets in sport’s history.  It is a shame that not many people will watch this game.  Women’s basketball, though some consider it an inferior product, is really the last true semi-popular amateur sport.  These girls are playing for their schools and to win.  There is no giant contract waiting, no shoe deal around the next corner.  Could a women’s team really be the best ever?  Probably not, but its hard for me to think of a team that has been as fun to watch as this year’s Lady Huskies.