Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 3:06 pm  |  23 responses

Is UConn Women’s Dominance Bad?

Short answer: absolutely, positively, without a doubt – NO.

by Ben York / @bjyork

I’ve put this off for far too long now; not because I didn’t want to talk about it, but because I didn’t think it needed to be talked about.

Boy was I wrong…

If I’m honest, I thought this debate would have been put to rest by now, but I’ve seen several articles in the past week that keep insisting or insinuating the UConn women’s basketball streak is detriUConn women'smental not just to women’s basketball, but women’s sports in general.

Interesting. So if 72 wins in a row is “bad,” then what in the name of all that is holy is good for women’s sports?

To be blunt, it’s absolutely ludicrous that I (or anyone for that matter) would be in a rightful position to defend UConn’s incredible feat — 72 wins in a row and a mere six victories away from being the first women’s collegiate basketball team to win back-to-back national championships without losing. Yet, somehow, there are individuals who have found a way to diminish and undermine this streak of brilliance.


Was the Chicago Bulls dominance in the 90’s bad for the NBA? How about Tiger Woods supremacy of the PGA Tour (before his fall from grace)? On the contrary, that type of supremacy actually makes their sport better and helps avoid stagnancy.

So what’s different about the UConn women’s team?

The fact that this is even a vaguely acceptable debate (and that I’m writing an article about it) shows how ignorant society can still be in regards to women’s sports. Perhaps even more poignant, it highlights an unmistakable bias and prejudice toward women excelling as a whole.

Multiple media outlets even had the audacity to not only diminish the UConn women but to question the overall growth and talent of the rest of the women’s collegiate game because of UConn’s domination. They compare women’s basketball to women’s golf stating that women golfers are getting better ‘all the time’; so why isn’t the same happening for women’s basketball? This is like comparing apples to oranges; it’s not even a credible or remotely accurate contrast.

By that thinking, one assumes that since the UConn women are so good they should be punished for their excellence. Or, because they are so dominant, it means the rest of the women’s game isn’t on the rise. How do you think that makes Stanford and Jayne Appel feel? Or Kelsey Griffin and Nebraska? Elena Delle Donne? Andrea Riley?

A blanket statement showing a “concern” as to why growth isn’t happening exhibits the typical correlation without causTina Charlesation approach society has with women’s athletics. Instead of praising the UConn women’s team for their dedication, their hard work, and their commitment (don’t kid yourself, it’s unrivaled in the game today) the focus is on the negative aspect of their accomplishment and how disadvantageous they’re being to the sport and women’s athletics in general. This is unfortunate because what UConn is doing is quite remarkable.

Did anyone question the quality of opponents when the Chicago Bulls won 72 games? No way. The Bulls’ 72 wins merely demonstrated how phenomenal they were and how perfect they fit together as a team. No one questioned the quality of play; Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, and David Robinson were certainly not criticized for failing to get over the hump. They each had amazing seasons and were part of incredibly talented teams. Instead, the focus by the public was simply to appreciate how exceptional that Bulls team was.

This type of no-win scenario for women’s basketball is, quite frankly, getting old.

Still, the unfortunate thing is this is nothing new to women’s sports, and more specifically, to women’s basketball. Rather than praising the quality of play, somehow it has become acceptable to make fun of them or diminish their abilities and accomplishments. Don’t believe me? Scroll down and read some of the comments on any article about the WNBA. It’s sickening.

It should have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with respect for the game of basketball. Therefore, instead of perpetuating this negativity, I’ll take a different approach – I choose to publicly commend and thank the UConn women’s team.

So, to all the ladies of the UConn women’s team – I thank you. Thank you for bringing an unprecedented awareness to the women’s game. Thank you for not listening to your detractors and having the mental fortitude to play every game with such ferocity. Thank you for showcasing such excellence on a nightly basis. Thank you for continuing to set such a high bar for women to follow in your footsteps. Thank you for not settling or being content with just one perfect season. Thank you for your hard work, for your investment to the sport, and for your integrity on the court. But most of all, I thank you for exemplifying what pure, amazing basketball truly is.

In the end, whether you think UConn’s streak is good or bad for women’s basketball, there is little doubt it should (at the very least) be respected and valued.

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS


  • jdote

    I really don’t want to take anything away from the Uconn women and their streak. They have been remarkable. Nevertheless, I think the bigger story or side story about this streak is the end of the Tennesee-UConn regular season match up. I just think that the rivalry was so big to women’s sports in general, and really intrigued the average basketball fan. Uconn-Tennessee just has a different feel then UConn-Stanford or Uconn-Notre Dame. It was quality women’s basketball on a national level. So when I look at the record and its dominance, I’m still always reminded that they haven’t played Tennesee. Maybe that will change in a couple weeks though.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben York

    @jdote – That’s a great point, and something that hadn’t occurred to me.

  • Ace

    To fix UConn vs Tenn matchup one would have to talk to their coaches and have them settle their beef. I think the reason why there is so much dominance is b/c the teams with top players don’t have the supporting cast that they need. If you could have put Alysha Clark, Elena Delle Donne, Griner, and 2 good guards pick whoever you want……..put them on the same team this year I guarantee they would have beat UConn….I would even go as far to say by double digits. I blame recruitment for nobody being able to stop UConn since Stanford 2 years ago when they had Candice Wiggins. I think it’s good for the sport b/c maybe it will make teams recruit better and it makes teams play harder b/c they want to be the team to take down UConn.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Tina Charles is a beast. Absolutely dominant.
    That is all.

  • Coffy

    I totally agree about the UConn/Tenn. rivalry. ESPN Classic had a string of those old games on the other day and wow, what games they were! The competition, Taurasi, Holdsclaw, Bird, Catchings, it was great. I really hope we see it in the ncaa’s coming up; It would be another classic :)

  • The Philosopher

    Geno will go down as the greatest coach in NCAAW history. Wityhout a doubt.

  • The Philosopher

    Geno will go down as the greatest coach in NCAAW history. without a doubt.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben York

    @Coffy – I watched those too – how amazing were those games?!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben York

    @Hursty – Well said.

  • HuskyFan

    Once again, it’s not recruiting. UConn hasn’t had the No. 1 recruiting class in years. The women playing for UConn know, and accept, their roles and put 100% effort into practices and games. They work HARD, and that’s why they win. Saying simply that they have the most talent is wrong – and it’s insulting.

  • Ace

    @HuskyFan if recruiting is not such a big deal then why did both UConn and Tenn have a tiff over the she CP3 and Maya Moore? Saying that a team has talent is not taking away from the work that the young women put in. UConn has a stellar recruiting class. They went after Elena Delle Donne and Caroline Doty at the same time. Not to mention their superstars Maya Moore and Tina Charles. UConn does recruiting very well.

  • jborange

    Philosopher,before Geno can go down as the greatest coach in NCAAW history,he would have to surpass Pat Summit’s win record,and I don’t think that’s going to happen.Coach Summit has 1000+ wins and counting.That’s more than any other NCAA coach male or female.Geno only has 760+ wins.I think that the dominance of teams like UConn and Tennessee is a good thing because it speaks volumes about the coaches and the way they know how to get the most out of their players.These two teams draw some of the best talent because of their well run programs,and winning traditions.Occasionally,teams like Baylor,Purdue,Notre Dame,and Maryland(who also have well run programs)have pulled the upsets and won a championship.But usually,all the other teams are chasing Tennessee and UConn.

  • rob

    has anyone noticed that while the specific subject changes in these articles, it always relates back to teh negatve reception of womens basketball?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben York

    @rob – Yep. I wouldn’t be surprised if that trend continues in some capacity. Still, thanks for reading.

  • http://jayemmbee.blogspot.com/ ClutchPerformer

    you know what is comparable ? canadian womens hockey team, the olympics wants to cancel womens hockey because canada is too dominant and they think its stunting the growth of the sport
    but the answer from team canada that applies to this is: its not their job to make sure other teams get better, they train hard and long throughout the years, maybe the other teams should emulate them and get on their level

  • HuskyFan

    @ace – UConn and Tennessee didn’t have a tiff over Candace Parker, Parker was never interested in going to UConn. Pat Summit cancelled the games with UConn because she claimed G. Auriemma cheated in recruiting. She filed a 30 page complaint with the NCAA about fans giving parents signs, players sharing their lunches with recruits and a bunch of internet posts from a fan board. UConn has a stellar class coming in next year, true, but previous classes have not been highly ranked, even the ones with Maya Moore and Tina Charles. That’s a myth people use to explain why they can’t beat UConn.

  • http://slamonline.com MooButter

    UCONN’s dominance pretty much sums up why I don’t watch women’s basketball, outside of the lack of athleticism. No one, outside of UCONN fans, wants to watch one team win every single game. It’s boring. It’s like watching a movie with no conflict. I honestly think I would be bored with it even if I were a UCONN fan.

  • Ace

    @HuskyFan they even talked about how the she CP3 was one of the reasons UConn was going into Tenn. recruitment pool. That’s why there was the big deal about recruitment violation in regards to Maya Moore. “At UConn, the women’s basketball program has had the most self-reported violations in the past five years with seven.” Seems as though Pat Summit was right in some respect. Are you telling me that the class that had Elena Delle Donne and Caroline Doty both of which were ranked very high EDD coming in as #1 was not a highly ranked class? The years that UConn have been dominant with no losses is when they have a team of more than 1 star player. DT, Sue, Swin, all stars in the WNBA played together and dominated. The year it was just DT as the star Duke came in and beat them. When UConn has more than 1 star and you force the other teams defense to pick their poison they are harder to beat. That goes for any team mens or womens, a team with more than 1 star is harder to beat.

  • pilight

    Of course it’s not bad. Guys fondly remember dominant performers like Ali and team dynasties like the 70′s Steelers. It’s only when women excel that anyone questions it. The whole question is barely concealed sexism.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben York

    @pilight – Well said, my friend.

  • Mike

    I think women’s basketball fans will remember UConn’s dominance years from now. But it’s not really that simple.

    When I was about a 14 year-old kid I would occasionally play basketball against a neighborhood kid who was much smaller and about 10 years old. Of course I would beat him. I never got a bit of satisfaction from these “victories”. I did not win because I was smarter, out-hustled him, in better physical condition, or practiced harder. I would beat him because I clearly had more inate basketball ability at that point in our two lives.

    UConn is a little bit like I was when I played this little kid. They have simply recruited greater basketball talent than other schools. It’s always better to win than lose, but I’m not sure where the satisfaction would come from.

  • jborange

    Women’s basketball fans will indeed remember UConn’s dominance,just as they will remember Tennessee’s dominance. But it’s not just that these schools recruit great talent,they attract great talent.The recruits want to go to these schools because they know the history of these programs,and the success and results Coach Auriemma and Coach Summitt have gotten.Even the parents of the recruits want their kids to go to these schools.And although they don’t meet in the regular season anymore,the rivalry is still alive and well.Only now, instead of the clash of the titans, it’s a competition to see who will win the next championship.Tennessee or UConn.UConn or Tennessee.So both of these teams have cemented their place in women’s basketball history.But Tennessee’s legacy will be more special because it looks like it’s going to include a coaching dynasty.Coach Summitt’s son Tyler is considering following in his mother’s footsteps and one day coaching the Lady Vols.

  • lsmith

    It is what it is…UCONN is just that good. It’s boring to watch. They are just so much better than everyone else. They play defense, can shoot the ball…and don’t turn it over. Like I said though…it’s boring to watch. So from that perspective, it’s bad for women’s basketball. It’s of no fault of theirs though. It just shows that the other coaches aren’t doing something right and Geno is doing everything right. I wish and hope that SOMEONE can challenge them in the tournament this year. Otherwise another BORING final….just like last year…BORING. Best game ever was Terps vs Duke in 2006. What an exciting game to watch.