17 December 2010

UConn Women Not Rivaling UCLA's Streak

(From RealClearSports)

The UConn women’s basketball team isn’t going to top UCLA’s 88-game winning streak.

The Huskies can beat Ohio State on Sunday, Florida State on Tuesday and then win their next 100 games for all I care, but John Wooden’s Bruins will still own the longest winning streak in history.

The longest winning streak in men’s basketball history, that is.

UConn will have the longest winning streak in women’s basketball. And before you get your PC undergarment all twisted up in a knot, let’s just make one thing clear: There isn’t such a thing as a record for all of college basketball. It’s either a men’s record or a women’s, and never the twain shall meet.

Comparing men’s and women’s basketball isn’t like apples and oranges. It’s more like apples and meat loaf.

Would you say Brett Favre’s 297-game consecutive starts streak is an all-time record for all oblong balls sports, obliterating every record from rugby to Australian Rules Football? Of course not, that would be silly.

So why would you insist on merging records of two sports that use different sizes of balls, different timing rules and different measurements within the courts?

Besides that, men’s and women’s basketball have no common lineage or connection; it’s not as if the sports at some point intermingle with each other. Every NBA player at some point of his life played boys' high school basketball, and most of them played men’s college basketball. Exactly zero has ever played girls' basketball or women’s basketball. (And the reverse is true as well: no WNBA player has ever played men’s basketball.)

This is not to diminish what Geno Auriemma and his Huskies have done, far from it. In fact, they should be celebrated for their prolonged excellence. Achieving a winning streak of this length is hard to do in any sport. They deserve every bit of adulation and admiration that are bestowed upon them.

And let’s not marginalize their accomplishment by disparaging their competition. Yes, it’s true that there are very few elite teams in women’s basketball, since most schools field women’s teams out of compliance for Title IX more than anything else. But the Huskies can only beat what’s on their schedule. It’s not their fault if their opponents are not typically up to snuff and tend to get rolled.

UConn’s women already own the women’s college basketball streak when they won their 71st consecutive game last March, against Notre Dame. Now they’re adding onto that streak, which should easily reach triple digits.

The fact that the UCLA streak is even in conversation is a disservice to the UConn women. It only draws unfair comparisons between two squads that are not even on the same planet. Fine, if these two teams played each other 88 times, Bill Walton’s Bruins would beat Maya Moore’s Huskies 88 times by at least 30 points each. But that is totally senseless so why even go there?

Why can’t we see what UConn is doing for its own sake? The Huskies are going for their third straight NCAA championship, eighth in the program’s history. Geno will get a chance to finally tie his archrival Pat Summitt for most titles of all-time – in women’s basketball. Those are the records they're chasing after, nothing more and nothing less.

Please leave the four-letter word out of it.