Sorry folks, but UConn women can’t break UCLA men’s record
BY MARK POTASH | Commentary
Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma is making a bigger deal of his team's 88-game winning streak than it should be.
It was a fitting celebration for a women’s basketball team when UConn won its 88th consecutive game on Sunday — Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma making it more than it really was.
‘‘I just know there wouldn’t be this many people in the room if we were chasing a women’s record,’’ Auriemma said after the UConn women beat the Washington Generals by 31 points at Madison Square Garden. ‘‘The reason everybody is having a heart attack the last four or five days is a bunch of women are threatening to break a men’s record, and everybody is all up in arms about it.’’
Here’s a news flash for Auriemma: You’re not chasing UCLA’s record of 88 consecutive victories under John Wooden. You didn’t tie it and you’re not going to break it. That’s a men’s basketball record. You coach a women’s team. A women’s team can’t break a men’s record any more than a men’s team can break a women’s record.
Nobody’s having a heart attack over your perceived ‘‘threat’’ to UCLA’s record. The only reason people are writing about it, if they are at all, is in response to others who are trying to convince themselves that you’re breaking it.
You’ve got the best women’s basketball program in the country, and Tennessee’s Pat Summitt has lost 16 times since you last got beat. Why can’t you be happy with that?
But he’s not. He’s too caught up in the myth that UConn is about to break UCLA’s record.
‘‘Because we’re breaking a men’s record, we’ve got a lot of people paying attention,’’ Auriemma said. ‘‘If we were breaking a women’s record, everybody would go, ‘Aren’t those girls nice, let’s give them two paragraphs in USA Today ... give them one line on the bottom of ESPN and then let’s send them back where they belong, in the kitchen.’’
There’s the dead giveaway of a bad argument — the gross exaggeration that we aren’t just disinterested in women’s basketball, but we think the women playing it should be ‘‘in the kitchen.’’ Interesting that he didn’t say ‘‘barefoot and pregnant.’’
Auriemma should be happy that established media are buying the idea that UConn is breaking UCLA’s record and giving him a soapbox to whine about the lack of respect women’s basketball receives in the sporting world.
Women’s basketball gets what it deserves. Probably more than it deserves if you include a professional league that is attached to the NBA like an oxygen machine.
It’s not as popular as men’s basketball because it’s neither as good nor as entertaining. All you have to do is watch five minutes of a women’s game to know that. It’s basic physiology, Geno. Basketball is a game that emphasizes jumping ability and quickness. Women — no offense, of course — can’t match the jumping ability or the quickness of elite men’s players.
It’s nothing against the women. When the men’s game was all layups and set shots in the 1930s and ’40s it wasn’t very popular either.
It’s all about entertainment. Even the Harlem Globetrotters are introducing a four-point shot this year — a 35-footer — in their appearances at Allstate Arena on Dec. 29 and 30.
Auriemma’s Lady Huskies will go for their 89th consecutive victory on Tuesday night in yet another showdown against a nationally ranked opponent — No. 14 Florida State, which just got beat by 1-7 Yale on Saturday night.
But if Geno wants to continue the charade of breaking the men’s record, he’s going to have to start playing some men’s teams. I think he knows how ugly that would get. There are probably 10 high school teams in the city that could beat the Connecticut women.
The UConn women vs. the Simeon boys, now that’s a game people of all genders would pay to see. If Geno Auriemma thinks there were a lot of reporters to watch his team win No. 88, there would be twice as many or more to see him play the Simeon boys. It’s all about entertainment.