Every five years or so, a bunch of media knuckleheads – FYI: Couch Slouch is a media knucklehead emeritus – take note of the somewhat otherworldly, once-in-a-generation-or-three accomplishments of Geno Auriemma and the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team.
(If you just unclicked on this column because it’s going to be about women’s basketball, you are part of the problem. If you unclicked on it because you assume it will be poorly written, well, you might have a point there.)
There are two things to look at it here – three if you include global warming, which I believe should be discussed until the globe stops warming – so we will look at both of them:
1. Auriemma’s can’t-be-ignored remarkable run of success at UConn.
2. Why most of America seems to ignore it.
From 2008 to 2010, Auriemma’s Huskies won 90 games in a row, eclipsing the 88 straight by the 1971-74 UCLA men’s team for longest win streak in Division I college basketball history.
Ninety is a big number. So how could Auriemma do it again? Well, he did – another 90 in a row.
(Man, it’s tough to win 90 straight times – I believe Ferdinand Marcos pulled that off in the Philippines, but he had his own refs and replay officials.)
The Huskies tied their own record last week by beating the 20th-ranked team in the nation, South Florida, by 65 points. And then on Saturday, UConn beat SMU, 88-48, for its record-breaking 91st consecutive victory.
Next stop: 100 in a row, no?
(My older readers – yeah, I’m talking to anyone out there born before 1950; check your driver’s license or ask your caregiver – may recall that George Burns aimed for 100 once, and got there.)
The current streak speaks to the durable, dependable nature of Auriemma’s brilliance in Storrs.
From last season’s national-title team, Auriemma lost Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck – the top three picks in the 2016 WNBA draft – and still is unbeaten and top-ranked this season. That would be like the Jackson 5 losing Michael, Jermaine and Tito one year and producing three Billboard No. 1 hits the next year.
Here are some of Auriemma’s breathtaking numbers at UConn:
— 11 national titles, including the last four in a row.
— His only losing season came in 1985-86 – 12-15 – his first year at the school.
— He relatively struggled his first eight seasons: 162-78.
— Since 1993-94 – a span of 23 1/2 seasons – his record is 809-56. That’s 809-56.
— Since the start of the 2013-14 season, UConn is 132-1. That’s 132-1.
And yet Sports Nation yawns.
For better or worse – uh, usually worse – this is still a male-dominated world; whether it’s Fortune 500 companies, TV networks or Congress, men still make most of the decisions, and men certainly don’t show much interest in propping up women’s sports.
I’m as guilty as anyone; I ignore the WNBA like Justin Bieber ignores stop signs.
So when the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 16-game win streak in the NHL earlier this season – I didn’t even know Columbus had an NHL team – created more buzz than UConn’s second 90-game win streak in a decade, it was not shocking.
The thing is, when I have stumbled upon a women’s Final Four or WNBA championship-series game, I have found it to be enjoyable. It’s high-level play, with a better flow and fewer stoppages than the men’s game.
And, yet, when I’m done watching, I never think about watching it again.
I’d call myself out for sexism, but I don’t think it’s that; I just have little interest in adding it to my already overcrowded sports-viewing habits.
Certainly it’s time for change. Just 97 years after we gave women the right to vote, now we might want to give them our attention as they pursue athletic greatness, too. So when UConn goes for 100 straight against South Carolina on Monday, Feb. 13, you should consider tuning in to ESPN at 6 p.m. PST.
Or you can come over to my house and watch “The Bachelor” on ABC.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Do you think the growing Russian presence in Spokane, Wash., is in response to the dominating play of Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski? (Barney Ballard; Sandpoint, Idaho)
A. Actually, the president-elect reportedly is considering building a wall around Spokane.
Q. During their 2013, 2015, and 2017 head coach searches, did the Buffalo Bills learn any lessons that will help them with their 2019 head coach search? (William Murray; Chicago)
A. They will no longer validate parking for head-coaching candidates.
Q. Have you gotten a pair of Tom Brady Under Armour pajamas yet? They have “restorative powers.” (Gary Klein; Milwaukee)
A. My body is self-restorative, enabling me to sleep in the buff.
Q. At this point, wouldn’t it be easier for the NFL to construct a floating stadium and just have it towed up and down the California coast to threaten individual cities? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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