By: Andrew Han
The UConn Huskies women’s basketball team entered the 2010-2011 season ranked number 1 in all national polls.
On Sunday, December 19, the Huskies matched the NCAA Division 1 record of 88 consecutive wins after defeating Ohio State 81-50. Tiffany Hayes scored 26 points, in addition to another 22 by Maya Moore. Moore, the celebrated star of the team, scored nine of the Huskies’ first 13 points in the second half and ended any hope of an Ohio State comeback.
In their following game on Tuesday, over the backdrop of a sellout crowd of 16,294 at the XL Center in Hartford, the Huskies defeated Florida State 93-62. With 41 points scored and no turnovers, the six-foot Moore, who has played in every game of the streak, once again proved herself as the Huskies’ most reliable player. The victory against Florida marked UConn’s 89th straight win as well as a new invincibility record. Already unparalleled in women’s basketball, they surpassed the record set by the UCLA men’s basketball team from 1971 to 1974, which was led by legendary coach John Wooden. UConn has not been defeated since April 6, 2008, when they lost to Stanford in the national semifinals.
During the postgame conference, Coach Geno Auriemma received a call from President Obama expressing his congratulations. “It’s a great thing for sports; it’s an accomplishment to be celebrated,” the president told him. “We have not lost since you were inaugurated,” the proud coach said to Obama.
Auriemma, known for his candidness, has never been afraid to speak his mind. He has had no qualms expressing his opinion of perceived gender bias in recent media coverage of the Huskies. “I just know there wouldn’t be this many people in the room if we were chasing a women’s record,” Auriemma said at the postgame conference at Ohio. “The reason everybody is having a heart attack… is [because] a bunch of women are threatening to break a men’s record.” He has been belligerent towards (male) commentators of UConn’s streak and called these critics “miserable”, saying that they were angry because they “don’t want us to break the record.”
“We’re not going to change their minds and I don’t care… Like it or not, we made you pay attention,” Auriemma said. “I just asked for everybody to admire what these kids do and how they do and how hard it is to do it.”
In any case, the one most important quality in any team, regardless of gender, is the drive to compete and succeed. In that respect, the Huskies have excelled, with an average victory margin of 33 points this year. That is the scale with which the Huskies should be judged and praised, not by the standards set forth by men’s teams that they will never play.