Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gino's whining doesn't change the reality

Heading into the game against Florida State in which the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team sought to surpass the men’s record of 88 straight wins set by UCLA, UConn coach Gino Auriemma complained that no one outside media boosters for women’s basketball (mainly former players) showed much interest for, naturally, sexist reasons. Men are having a “heart attack” because the women might break a men’s record. "All the women are happy as hell and they can't wait to come in here and ask questions. All the guys that loved women's basketball are all excited, and all the miserable bastards that follow men's basketball and don't want us to break the record are all here because they're pissed.”

With all due respect to Gino, we are still talking apples and oranges. It is highly unlikely that this UConn team could put-up much competition for more than a few minutes against that UCLA team. Everyone knows that, except maybe him. One suspects that Gino is really whining about perceived lack of “respect” for himself, not women’s basketball in general. At any rate, it is clear that there is a relative dearth of parity in women’s basketball. Everyone wants to play for a winner, and in women’s NCAA basketball, for the past two decades that means two places: UConn and Tennessee. How do you explain the level of “competition” when during its streak UConn played 29 ranked teams, and only two were single-digit victories? Heading into the Florida State game, outside the Baylor game which featured one of few top players not playing for UConn (Brittney Griner of roundhouse-right fame), UConn won its games by an average score of 89-43. They can’t help but run-up the score: even UConn’s subs are high school All-Americans. In the men’s game, you see second-division teams beating top-ten ranked teams, and in the last year’s title game, a little school like Butler would have beaten invincible Duke save for all the fouls that were not called.

UConn’s success thus in a way mocks the women’s game. How can you believe in its credibility when one or two teams glean most of the best talent from an already thin pool? This past season in the WNBA was its least competitive, with most of the teams having losing records; the Seattle Storm won the championship this past summer, but most people here have already forgotten about it, if they had cared at all.

Did UConn win number 89 last night? I must confess that I have no idea, nor do I care.

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