In a story for Excelle Sports, I look at which women’s basketball teams could pose a threat to UConn, a program that enters its conference tournament having won 104 consecutive games. Some of the people I talked to—coaches of teams that have hung with the Huskies this season, ESPN analyst Kara Lawson—said that familiarity with UConn should be helpful. Many of the top teams have faced UConn this season, but of course none have won.
As the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team prepares for its ninth straight Final Four appearance, there is no debate over the program’s dominance. The Huskies are undefeated and beating opponents by an average of 40 points this season; the next best team’s margin is 24. Last weekend, they won their Sweet 16 game by 60 points, the largest margin ever for a game that deep in the NCAA Tournament. But if you think UConn’s reign over the sport is mostly due to peerless recruiting, think again.
Last season, I profiled UConn’s Breanna Stewart for the website Sports On Earth, culling insights from her parents, teammates, and coaches from all levels, including Geno Auriemma. On Tuesday, Apr. 8, Stewart was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player as the Huskies won their third straight national championship. She is the first woman to win the award three times and will have a shot at a fourth next season.
Breanna Stewart is only a sophomore but she’s already been named MVP of the Final Four and claimed five gold medals for USA basketball. Can she be the best women’s basketball player of all time? A story I wrote for Sports On Earth attempts to answer that question.
After covering a UConn game in which Stewart’s coach, Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma, said she was unlike any other player he’d coached, I talked to her teammates, parents, high school coaches, and USA basketball coaches to get a better idea of her potential. Their praise for Stewart’s basketball abilities was matched only by their glowing reviews of her as a person.