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This weekend had the potential to be the perfect weekend; UConn men absolutely beasted on Holy Cross, the Patriots played the role of the archangels and booted the Savior off his throne, and the UConn women were on their way to completing the trifecta against No.1 Baylor until…
After a slow start, the UConn women found their groove and took a five point lead into the half. Completely cut off from going inside the paint because of a wildebeest, the women used stellar outside shooting by KML and Bria Hartley to take back the game.
Any UConn fan – pending they weren’t sleeping – would have looked at the halftime score and felt good about UConn’s chances to escape Waco with the ‘W’. I was one of those, until I heard Geno Auriemma’s interview with Rebecca Lobo at halftime. It was something he said that had me say, “Oh no”! Geno said he thought offense was going to decide the outcome of the game in the second half and not defense.
I knew immediately that if UConn tried to offensively beat Baylor, it was cause for disaster. The only way UConn was scoring was on jump shoots, and they managed to build their lead to 11 points in the second half because their jump shots were falling. Yet, as what happens with all teams who live and die by the three, eventually the shots aren’t going to go in and then you’re in trouble.
I have all the respect in the world for Coach Auriemma and, in my opinion, he is one of the top coaches all time in the game of basketball, but if it was my team that built the big lead, I would have clamped down on defense. Instead, UConn went away from what got them back into the game in the first half – their DEFENSE; more specifically, they limited Griner from scoring! However, UConn got sloppy with the ball, tried to attack Griner and let Baylor back into the game. Once they tried to beat them offensively, the jump starts began to rattle out, the giant began to heat up again, and the lead quickly vanished.
Props to Baylor, but I think what UConn should take away from this game is that they can absolutely #BeatBaylor. After all, Heather Buck is Brittany Griner’s kryptonite, but I’m not so sure Caroline Doty is quick enough to play in a matchup like this anymore (unfortunately).
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Perhaps one of the biggest groups of people affected by the social media take-off these past few years has been high school recruits. Recruits use social media websites – such as Youtube – as platforms to promote themselves as the next biggest thing. These videos get fans absolutely drooling with expectations and downright giddy when these stud recruits commit to their school.
In the long run, these highlight videos do more harm than good, as fans expect these recruits to do Lebron-like things the minute he or she steps on the court. When the highlight reel dunks or ankle-breaking spin moves don’t happen immediately, fans want to know what happened to that guy they saw on the videos!
While it definitely happens in the social media world, I think it’s about time fans start remembering that in the real world, “success doesn’t happen over night”. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The hype Drummond came in with was ridiculously unfair. His commitment alone pushed UConn into the top-five teams in the nation, but then again, what else would you expect from the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and next Amare Stoudemire or Emeka Okafor? Credit Youtube for assisting in this matter.
I think, judging by the tweets he sent out, that fans think he has been anything but Amare Stoudemire after just eight games into his college career. Yet, anyone who is a basketball realist and has seen him play this season would be nothing but pleased with the way he has looked so far.
He has overcome a broken nose and the awkwardness of wearing a mask to crack the UConn starting lineup. He is an absolute beast in the paint and around the rim. He even has shown glimpses of his offensive promise so far (did you see the spin-move/dunk against Florida State?).
To borrow a phrase from Andre, “why is everyone so worried”? Exactly what is it that they are worried about? If you are one who is worried, you are failing to see the improvements he has been making each game (too slow for you) and the rapport he is building with his teammates. He shouldn’t have to average 20 points and ten rebounds a game to show you he is worth all that hype.
Fans who expected Drummond to come in and lead the nation in points obviously haven’t paid attention to the history of top recruits under Jim Calhoun. In 2005, Rivals had Rudy Gay ranked the number two recruit in the nation – like Drummond – and after eight games, Gay averaged 11 points, while Drummond is averaging 7.3 points. Charlie Villanueva averaged 8.9 points, Emeka Okafor 7.9 points, and Ben Gordon 12.6 points their entire freshman seasons!
So what is all the worrying about? He’s right on pace with some of the all-time greatest players to come out of UConn, including a player he has drawn comparisons to. So let Dick Vitale and company continue to drool over Anthony Davis. I’ll gladly take Drummond who, with history as my witness, is right on pace to becoming the next great at UConn. I don’t need a Youtube mix-tape video to show me that.
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Let’s be honest – if we’re going to put an asterisk next to Barry Bonds’ record of 756 career home runs, and an asterisk next to Reggie Bush’s 2005 Heisman winning season, then we have to put one next to the Texas A&M women’s basketball championship in 2011.
After last night’s drubbing, spanking, or as Vince Berry (ohsnapvice) tweeted so cleverly, “shellacking”, of TAMU, how can anyone conceivably say that they would have been champions had they played the best basketball program of all time in UConn?
To be the best, you have to beat the best, especially in women’s basketball, in which there is UConn, Tennessee, and everyone else. The only thing that TAMU did better than UConn was win the opening tip of last night’s game, and won the recruiting battle - if that was even a battle - of Kelsey Bone (only after she transferred from South Carolina).
TAMU fans would argue if I said Connecticut was the best team in women’s basketball last season, but I would think that is a fair statement, considering they had arguably the best player in women’s basketball history in Maya Moore.
My point is that if TAMU wants to seriously consider themselves “champions” without an asterisk, than they needed to beat the best women’s basketball has to offer along the way in their title run.
Whether you want to argue or not, the best women’s basketball has to offer is Connecticut. Unfortunately for TAMU, Notre Dame beat the Huskies when it mattered most, after losing to the Huskies in their three previous matchups. This same TAMU team also needed four games before they would defeat their kryptonite.
With all do respect to Stanford and Baylor, defeating those teams is like defeating the Rays or Rangers in or along the way to the World Series. Yes, TAMU might have hoisted the trophy at the end of the season, but they didn’t beat the Yankees along the way. As much as it sickens me to compare the two, when it comes to women’s basketball, UConn is the Yankees.
All of this was proven after last night’s destruction of the Aggies by UConn. It’s not fair to judge last night’s performance by TAMU as any indication of how they would have played UConn last season, but it’s impossible not to ask the question of what if.
TAMU returned three starters from last year’s title team and replaced one of the starters they lost with Bone, the former SEC freshman of the year. UConn lost the Michael Jordan of women’s basketball and still beat them by 30 points! If you take away KML’s 14 points, Caroline Doty’s 11 points, and Brianna Banks four points (all the players that weren’t on last year’s team), UConn still wins by a point! It’s a pretty safe bet to say Ms. Moore would have replaced those 29 points by herself!
TAMU Coach Gary Blair chatted with the Hartford Courant’s John Altavilla before the game on Monday, and kind of put the title win in reality for all those bestowing credit on him. “I am just a little dot on the horizon right now – a doggone old dot.” In other words, he mine as well be saying, “We won, but let’s be honest…”
I know some TAMU fans will point to the UConn men’s title and say, “well they beat Butler, and at least we beat a BIG EAST program in Notre Dame”! I’ll give you the fact they beat a mid-major in the in the championship game, but to get to that championship game, they had to beat the “Yankees” of men’s basketball, that program being Kentucky.
While it may not have been the best team in UK history, it wasn’t the best team in UConn women’s history either. As Jim Calhoun said after the victory over UK in the Maui, “I understand that we’re not the blue blood of Kentucky and I have great respect for that and Indiana and traditional programs, but for the last 20-something years we’ve been a part of that,” Calhoun said.
UConn may not be “at Kentucky’s level”, but they still had to go through the blue bloods to be a part of that, best team blue blood has to offer or not. Unfortunately for TAMU, with a UConn team that very conceivably could have been defeated, the Aggies get that asterisk because UConn lost before they had the opportunity. Credit Notre Dame for that…
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“We wanted to show the world we’re still UConn…”
“We shocked the world. We were destined.”
“Coach Calhoun, he’s been through a lot this whole year…everybody just picking on us, of course.”
“I respect the tradition — the Kentuckys, the Indianas … we are a part of that, though…”
99. 00. 02. 03. 04. 09. 10. 11…
The UConn Century.
History of Champions, Future of Champions. UConn