UCONN: Basketball capital of the world

Marcia Eastland Protestant Education Coordinator at Argonne Hills Chapel Center

By Marcia Eastland, Protestant Education Coordinator at Argonne Hills Chapel Center

I am long-time fan of the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies Basketball Program.

It has been suggested to me by Chad Jones that this program’s dominance is bad for the sport. We claim to appreciate the hard work that leads to excellence, yet somehow this idea does not seem to translate to my friend Chad’s outlook when it comes to this program.

Let’s look at the impact that such a program has on the sport itself as well as the example it sets for young ladies nationwide.

Bluntly put, the UCONN Huskies are the most dominant and successful athletic program in the history of the entire NCAA, bar none. This program has won 11 NCAA Division I National Championships overall as well as a record of four in a row (2013-2016).

They are currently on a 101 consecutive-game winning streak, most of which have been by double digit margins. This current team is 26-0 and has beaten nine of the top 25 ranked teams.

What is more amazing about this streak is this team lost the top three players from last year’s team: Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson, who went 1-2-3 in the WNBA draft.

Hall of Fame head coach Geno Auriemma has won more games than any other college basketball coach with a 971-134 record. His .877 winning percentage is the highest of any coach, men’s or women’s, professional or amateur.

Yet, this eight-time Coach of the Year is rarely mentioned alongside the great coaches in sports history. I would hate to think that the lack of coverage is caused by the general attitudes of the sports world toward women’s programs as somehow being “lesser” than men’s programs.

Regardless, his achievements speak for themselves:

  • 11 National championships
  • Most consecutive women championships (Four: 2013-2016)
  • Most consecutive wins, men’s or women’s: 101 and counting
  • Most consecutive Final Fours, women’s (Nine: 2008-2016)
  • Most 30 win seasons in NCAA/AIAW play, women’s (21)
  • 17 Final Fours
  • Six undefeated seasons (1995, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2016)
  • 34 players drafted/selected for the WNBA: five first-overall picks
  • 20 players selected in the first round of the WNBA draft

The success of this program begins with recruiting exemplary young ladies as opposed to just looking for the so called “superstars.” They are asked the following: Do you want to be a superstar? Or do you want to win a championship? If the answer is superstar, they will not play for UConn.

The best recruits are McDonald All-Americans. Currently, UCONN has four; Notre Dame, eight; Baylor, eight; Texas, seven; Maryland, six; and South Carolina, four.

The Huskies have defeated all of these teams this year, proving that the best team wins regardless of who has the best players.

The UCONN Lady Huskies program has elevated women’s basketball on both the amateur and professional level. It serves to inspire generations of young ladies everywhere to excel in all areas of their lives.

While this program is about winning games, its greater purpose is to empower young ladies — no matter the career path they choose.

The UCONN women’s basketball program has a 100 percent graduation rate. The life lessons in teamwork, striving for excellence and never giving up in the face of adversity are priceless.

This example of excellence and the success that hard work brings is the gift of the University of Connecticut program to all women.

It would seem to suggest to Chad that all of these things are good for the game and all the young ladies who play it. They surely are good lessons for life.

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