Wednesday, March 30, 2011

U-Conn's 90-Game Asterisk

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Before the Notre Dame ladies basketball team defeated the Tennessee Lady Volunteers 73-59 Monday Night to reach the Final Four, I was actually interested in the Women's NCAA Tournament.

There was hope that Tennessee and the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies would meet for the first time since January 6, 2007. But the Irish picked the wrong time in My Eyes to improve to 1-20 against Tennessee and now I can just continue to watch the Men's Tournament and the start of the Major League Baseball season.

I have seen a lot of stupid things in sports but for Tennessee and Connecticut to have not played in four years ranks at the top of the insanity.

How insane is this? Extremely insane!

After Tennessee defeated Connecticut 70-64 on the road in Hartford on Jan 6, 2007, Huskies Coach Geno Auriemma said the rivalry has lost some of it's edge because of the increasing parity in the women's game. Maybe losing three straight games to Tennessee forced Auriemma to put his foot in his mouth!

Please! Every sport has its rivalries. Tell me what it would be like if Michigan didn't play Ohio State in Football, North Carolina didn't face Duke in Basketball, Montreal didn't face Boston in Hockey, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics never met. I couldn't see a season without watching the Green Bay Packers facing the Chicago Bears and the New York Yankees not facing the Boston Red Sox on the diamond.

Rivalries are based on tradition, hatred and the spirit of fan bases both nationally and locally gearing up for bragging rights. In college, a team that's having a bad season could deem the year tolerable with a triumph over a hated rival.

Instead, we have a case with Tennessee and Connecticut that there are two "Feuding Fools" that know they should play each other to promote their sport, that should just work out a deal to resume the rivalry. Instead, we had to hold our breath and hope they would meet in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Now we have to either wait until next year in the NCAA Tournament, or hope these two come to their senses.

I actually hold Auriemma more responsible for this than Pat Summitt, but she should be the bigger person and dribble the ball back to sanity.

For years, the Kentucky Wildcats never faced the Louisville Cardinals until the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament fixed this. When Louisville won, Kentucky got smart and began embracing the rivalry.

When I heard that the University of Delaware wouldn't schedule Delaware State in Football, I just nodded my head that even the smallest state in the country was deprived of it's biggest event. The NCAA Playoffs fixed that and now their playing each other.

But for the Women's fan base to not see Auriemma match wits with Summitt is ridiculous. Auriemma's record is 769-123 and he's won seven NCAA titles. Meanwhile, Summitt is 1070-198 with eight NCAA Championships.

On Dec 30, 2010, the Stanford Cardinal ended U-Conn's 90-game record winning streak with a 71-59 victory at Maples Pavilion. Stanford extended it's home winning streak to 52-games.

I have a couple of problems with U-Conn's streak.

First, I wouldn't even dare to compare it with UCLA's remarkable streak of 88-games which ironically ended against Notre Dame. Auriemma doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as John Wooden.

Second, U-Conn never played Tennessee during the streak, therefore, I've decided to put an ASTERISK by this record since the Huskies didn't play the best competition to reach 90.

If you want respect, then you have to play the best. I won't even acknowledge another U-Conn National Championship because they didn't face Tennessee this season. Until U-Conn does face Tennessee, this will be the last time that I even give them any type of publicity.

Lady's Basketball needs to see these two teams play to continue it's growth and until it does, in the Sports World, it will be nothing more than an after thought and foot note.

Women's Basketball doesn't need it's version of the Hatfield's and McCoy's. The Model Programs need to be on display and if they meet, there will be National Television Coverage and Sellout Crowds.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at http://www.scottsports33.com/.

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