Just For the ‘Record’…

The UConn women have broken the UCLA streak of 88 games won.  I wrote about this a couple of days ago when they tied the record, but I want to double back and touch on it again.  I mentioned that the Uconn women were “possibly the most dominant team in sports history”.  I stand by that claim.  The current streak is the definition of dominating opponents.  I hope you agree.  89 games and only 2 of the wins are single digit??  That component shouldn’t be up for debate in my book.  What is up for discussion is that the teams they have played have been largely non-contenders.  But what other team can someone honestly say is a true contender?  Could you see anyone besides UConn winning the national title last year?  The year before?  This year?  They have a schedule full of tomato cans, and that’s not because they don’t play the other best teams, it’s because there is no ‘other’.  What’s more impressive, the 1992 Dream Team beating other national teams with one, if any, NBA players on them and winning by 43 points a game?  Or the Redeem team in 2008 playing national teams full of NBA players and winning by an average margin of 28?  Not who’s better, or who had better hall of famers, but what feat is more impressive?  Imagine Mike Tyson fighting during the 1940’s or 50’s?  Or even better, take a look at the example of George Mikan.  Mikan is considered one of the best basketball players ever.  He’s on the 50 greatest players list, won 7 championships, and was an unquestioned legend.  He played in the 1940’s and 1950’s when the average hight of a NBA player was roughly 6’3.  Dude was 6’10.  He dominated.  They changed the rules of basketball for this guy.  Do I think he could play in the NBA today?  Absolutely not.  Someone like Shaq, KG, or pretty much any big man would push this guy out of the lane to half court.  I think that anyone who takes the time to think it through would come up with the same conclusion.  Nearly every variable within the game is different now, but by no means do we say Mikan was trash.  He played whoever was available, plain and simple.  Same as the UConn women.  Mikan is in the hall of fame for a reason, but do I take his competition into consideration when ranking him against all time centers?  Naturally.  Again, same as the Uconn women.  Uconn has done the absolute most with their opportunity, and should undoubtedly be mentioned with the greatest ‘major sports’ team streaks of all time.  As I said two days ago, look at the UCLA streak in the mid 70’s and tell me who their competition was through 88 games?  It wasn’t great, and we’ve seemed to have no problem putting them on a pedestal for 35+ years now.  In the end, all these factors are variables.  Different streaks can’t be set side by side, because they’re not all apples.  Some are oranges.  Is this Uconn team/streak the #1 in sports history?  Not to me, but only a fool would say that Uconn isn’t one of these ripe fruits and doesn’t belong in the conversation tree of the greatest ever.

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12 Responses to Just For the ‘Record’…

  1. John Mancini says:

    I think the greatest streak in sports history is Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak….the one I think will never be broken…What do you think?

    • JB says:

      I think its the greatest streak, but I don’t think its the one that won’t be broken. I don’t think another team will break UConns win streak. Its absurd how many in a row they’ve won.

  2. Nate says:

    This was a great assessment of the streak. Whenever something new happens in sports we want to anoint it “the best ______ ever” so we can say that we witnessed greatness, but BL makes some great points about comparing across generations.
    Really interesting read BL.

  3. Top Ball says:

    Womens teams are the same as mens, They can ball just like any other person!

  4. Rocco DiJohn says:

    I Bet if the uconn women play Bulter last year they would beat them! Maybe not in a 7 game series but in 1 game the girls would out play, shoot, and out hustle Bulter! I don’t think they could stay with Duke but maybe who knows. It would be something I would love to see.

    • James says:

      Bah. Sell.

      “conversation tree.” love it

    • James says:

      Auriemma said just last year that the UConn men’s team (when they werent as good as they are this year) would kill the UConn women. When Hall of Famer Nancy Liberman was asked if the UC women could beat ANY D1 men’s team she said “To play a men’s team would not be fair. They might be able to play with a Division II or III team because [the pace] could be a tad slower. But when the pace of the game goes up, you need to match it for 40 minutes. No way.”

      UConn’s squad has one player in the rotation (10+ min/g) taller than 6’1″. and she’s all of 6’3. Remember Matt Howard? He played off-guard/small forward for Butler. And he is 6’9″! Even if there was some magical way let the women use their toddler balls and the men play with a normal ballbasketball, Butler would dominate them.

      I think the top High School boys teams in the country vs the women would be a great matchup. The men would obviously be far bigger, stronger and more athletic, but the UConn women would have the more refined games. Although I dont think the women would win a series against the HS men (and I’m not saying this to incite anyone, I’m not basing this off of anything other than conjecture and personal opinion) I think that would be a more balanced matchup.

      Anyways, great points BL. Reminds me a lot of the current state of college football. A school from a non-BCS conference goes undefeated, which is then followed by the debate of whether or not they should play in the national title game. The school claims that they beat everyone they played and it is not their fault the their opponents weren’t better/big schools avoided these all risk/no-reward small conference schools. The big schools say that their schedules were far tougher and emerging from a power conference schedule with only one loss is far more impressive. In this case, the UConn women are the small schools who played, and beat, everyone who came at them. The ‘big schools’ in this example are those (me, in a way) who say congrats for beating everyone, but we all know it’s easier to win in a top heavy sport (conference, in the football example) with no depth.

      With that, I promise I am done commenting on everything related to “the streak.” It is easy to come across as finding the streak unimpressive when you publicly casts a critical eye on it (as I seem to have done here over the last few days), so I’d like to end by saying congratulations to the women/program/coach: 89 might be easier to do in W CB, but I’ll never confuse “easier” with “easy.”

      • ByesLine says:

        James, some solid analogies man. Monumental difference between ‘easy’ and ‘easier’ and thats more or less my stance. I dont think for one moment that women could keep up with the men. Last years Butler team v.s. UConn, the score in my estimation would be around 116-26. In a shooting contest like a 3-pt contest or what have you, I believe UConn would hang, even win the shootout. The skill-set is probably closer than we think (Shooting, ball handling, defensive concepts, etc), but the athletic range between the two teams isn’t fair. Offensive rebounds would be a sight to see. Every missed shot would essentially be a pass to themselves.

    • JB says:

      I don’t think that makes sense considering Butler took Duke to the final shot in the championship. If the UConn women could stay with Butler, then almost by default they could stay with Duke. I think the UConn women would be lucky to score 15 points on either team.

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