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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

UConn's latest streak flies under the radar

It just seems like a year or two ago when I made the drive to New Jersey for the UConn women's basketball team's date with destiny.

The Huskies played at Seton Hall with a chance to match the NCAA Division I women's basketball record set by Louisiana Tech from 1980-82 with their 54th win a row. Some local television stations sent news reporters on the road to document the history-making event when the Huskies won 53-48 on Jan. 15, 2003.

Well, tonight was UConn's 54th win a row and I don't recall seeing one television station in the house, not one member of the national media made it to the XL Center as UConn matched the Louisiana Tech streak. I guess that is what happens when the Huskies already have winning streaks of 90 and 70 games. With a win on Saturday at Southern Methodist, UConn will own the three longest Division I women's basketball streaks during the NCAA era.

Several questions were asked of UConn coach Geno Auriemma in the post-game press conference before I brought the subject up to Auriemma.

While he is not a fan of discussing winning streaks, he spoke for almost five minutes about it.

"I used to get stat sheets and all of that stuff on my desk now I have to find them at school so I don't really know all that stuff anymore," Auriemma said. "Now what's the big deal? I'll bet there is a feeling that when we get to the 80s, we will take it serious so I really don't pay that much attention to that kind of stuff.

"I remember when Louisiana Tech won all of those games but there are a lot more good teams than there were back then. There is a lot more parity when there was back then. It may not be evident if you put us in the mix and you have to keep your eye on the bigger prize than how many in a row."

There will be people who scoff at Auriemma's words especially when his Huskies followed up a 104-49 win over Temple with tonight's 106-51 victory over UCF.

"If you are Notre Dame, how many would you have won if we weren't on the schedule?" Auriemma said. "How many national championships they might have won if we weren't on the schedule so there are lots of teams out there that 'if this, if that' would be in the same position that we are in but I do think it is a little bit harder. I thought that year when we won 70, that was really hard. I wasn't counting them down but there was a two-year period there where we couldn't even win our league, we couldn't win our conference tournament. It was hard, not that it is that much different now but because we are in a different league, that part is not as hard but there are more good teams.

"If I sat here and said this is not as easy, keeping this going in that direction with the kinds of players you are getting today. Geraldine Saintilus (Smith, Seton Hall's all-time leading scorer) just did the game, she was one of the officials and she was playing at Seton Hall in one of my first years here and we were talking during the game about how much the game has changed. She said these guys are so good compared to back then, these players are so good compared to the mid-80s, late 80s, it is not even the same game."

It is an interesting situation for Auriemma. Part of him would love to see his team suffer the occasional loss especially if it were a result of a team rising up and just making more plays. The loss at Stanford last season was probably more valuable than any of the regular-season victories. But Auriemma knows he has created something that is simply not normal.

"It looks easy but it is not," Auriemma said. "I can't explain it but it is not. I wish it could be like back in the old days, just try to finish with four losses in the league and you are in first place. That was not bad, I kind of like that. Just try to win all of your home games, split on the road, those were normal days. You go .500 on the road now, people would kill themselves.

"If it was easy, we wouldn't be the ones to have the three longest streaks so obviously it is not that easy and the fact that we make it look that easy, I am not crazy about that because I think we diminish our own accomplishments if that makes any sense."

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