Monday, February 13, 2017

UConn's 100 in a row

Like them or not, what UConn's lady basketball team has accomplished is incredible. Winning a HUNDRED in a row? That's three entire seasons worth. And counting.

The late John Wooden's UCLA Bruins once held the mark of 88. Geno Auriemma's teams have surpassed it -- twice. And not just broken it -- shattered it.

Detractors could argue UConn plays in a weakish conference, the American Athletic Conference. Point noted. But it's not as if the Lady Huskies play nothing but patsies. While the conference schedule itself may not exactly present a murderer's row, Auriemma has long been open to taking on all comers during the non-conference portion of it, whether at home, on the road, or occasionally at a neutral site.

Consider the current/ongoing season alone. Along the way, Geno's Bambinos have taken on, and obviously defeated, two nationally ranked #2's, a #4, two #12's, a #14, #15, and a #20. They just got done playing #6 South Carolina. That's nine games against Top 20 competition, four in the Top 6. Has any other team, male or female, had to face more top-notch opponents this year?

All due credit to the South Carolina Gamecocks for hanging in there. (Though Gamecocks would appear to be a strange name for a female team. Gamehens?) They're certainly talented, have size, quickness, and can ball-handle, shoot and rebound. For quite a while in the first half, they stared the Lady Huskies down, often leading. Quite a feat in itself on UConn's home court.

Yet slowly the tide turned, as most thought it would. UConn would go on to win by 11, 66-55, which is about as close as it gets anymore. During their 100 game streak, they've routinely pounded many opponents by 40 or more points, often resting their starters for large portions of the latter parts of games.

Now at the century mark, UConn has 4 more games to play in the regular season. The first three will likely be of the blowout variety, versus Tulane, Temple, and Memphis, none ranked in the Top 25.

Only #22 South Florida remains before they gear up for the NCAA tournament, where they'll no doubt have the overall #1 seed.

Could South Florida give them a decent run for their money? Perhaps, but likely not. When the two teams met earlier this season on Jan. 10, UConn absolutely trashed them to the tune of 102-37, an eye-popping 65 point differential. So it's probably safe to say Auriemma and his Huskie express will roll into the tournament with 104 in a row. And counting.

The big news now isn't so much how high that number might get -- if they win the NCAA tourney, they'd be at 110 going into next year -- and then who knows how much longer it could go? No, the truly big news will come when somebody somewhere actually succeeds in finally knocking them off. It has to happen eventually -- right?

100 in a row is something we'll likely never see again, by any team in any sport. Nor by any individual. It just doesn't happen -- never has. It takes too long, injuries can happen, players come and go, and the competition keeps getting better. And EVERYBODY wants to beat #1 in the worst way, so they get the best of whatever the other teams have to offer, game in and game out. All it takes is a combination of any of that -- or a single bad outing -- it happens to the best of them -- and POW, the dreaded L. End of streak.

But for now, they should be appreciated for what they have done and continue doing, with no end apparently in sight.

Incredible indeed.


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