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UConn streak doesn’t suffer by comparison
Different eras. Different streaks. Different ball.
Perhaps most important of all, different sex.
About the only thing the same is the numbers. They are so staggering that any conversation about the UCLA basketball team of the early ‘70s and the Connecticut women’s team of today must begin and end with them.
Save the middle part to debate the merits of women’s basketball all you want. Just don’t lose sight of the numbers, because we may never see anything like this again.
For the better part of four decades now, the magical number in college basketball has been 88. No one has come close to matching the winning streak of John Wooden’s Bruins, and no one who saw UCLA dominate during that stretch could imagine seeing another team equal its record for consecutive wins.
But on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, UConn will have a chance to do just that. The Huskies play No. 11 Ohio State with a lot more than just their No. 1 ranking on the line.
The odds are good that two days later at home against Florida State, the remarkable team with the coach who never understood why women should be treated differently from men on the court will hold the record on its own.
A big win for UConn, sure. But maybe an even bigger win for those who have never understood why women’s basketball has been held to another standard.
“Based on what everybody’s saying, it’s not just another game,” said Geno Auriemma, UConn’s always blunt coach. “So now that we’re here, let’s win.”
Shouldn’t be a problem. The Huskies, it seems, always win.
They won every game two years ago, won every game last year, and have won every game this season. The last time they lost was in the national semifinals to Stanford in 2008, and they boast the best player in the country in Maya Moore.
Their record holds up just fine against the great UCLA teams led by Bill Walton. Better, actually, if you factor in that UConn has beaten 16 top-10 teams during its streak, four more than UCLA did during its run.
But these are women on the court, not men. And the reality is that UConn could win 188 straight games and still not get the credit UCLA did for its run.
Is it fair? No, but that’s the lot in life for women’s sports, which are still viewed as second class by the vast majority of fans despite the advances since Title IX came into being at the same time UCLA was beginning its record streak.
Still, if there was ever a women’s team to embrace, UConn might be it.
By Donald Lambro
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