The UConn women’s basketball team will play in their 11th straight Final Four this weekend. No team in either the men’s or women’s game has ever done that. But not everyone thinks that’s a good thing.
UConn obliterated St. Francis in the first round of the NCAA tournament this year -- scoring 94 points in the first half.
Kia Nurse is a senior guard on the team. “We played a pretty good game of basketball," she said after that win. "I think whether you want that to be good or bad for the game -- we played almost a perfect game, we played great team basketball.”
But the win, and the rest of their play in the tournament, has revived an old debate. Are the Huskies too dominant?
Dan Shaughnessy, sports columnist and associate editor for The Boston Globe, has accused coach Geno Auriemma of bullying opponents.
"I’m not a fan of landslide and lopsided games and they are involved in so many of those and this is not their fault," Shaughnessy told Connecticut Public Radio. "They are great. They are tremendously dominant and have a great coach, great players. I just feel until there’s more parity in their sport… that is unfortunate, I don’t think it helps the sport pick interest or helps viewership."
David Berri is an economy professor at Southern Utah University. In a recent column for Forbes, he said UConn is not the reason women’s basketball isn’t growing. The problem is the coverage.
“I think it is the case that women’s sports get less coverage than men’s -- and again it’s men telling the story, so men are telling stories so they don’t pay as much attention to women’s sports.”
Berri also said most sports aren’t balanced and that has not made fans turn their attention away. He uses the NBA and men’s college basketball as examples.
Besides, where would women’s basketball be without UConn? That’s the question Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabri asked after her team lost in the second round of the tournament to UConn.
“If Geno is not here with UConn, where is women’s basketball?" said Fabri. "I think [it] is the complete opposite, what he has done to the sport, how he's gone and built, and then he built that rivalry playing with Tennessee. If we don’t have Geno, we don’t have UConn’s dominance… who’s truly paying attention to the sport?”
Nurse said the team isn’t listening to the critics - they’re focused on winning their 12th championship. “You wanna see the fundamentals, you wanna see the all that good stuff happen. So either you want that or you wanna see a bad game. So pick your poison,” she said.
This season, UConn has beaten every ranked opponent they have faced. In Sunday's final they could potentially play Mississippi State, the team that snapped their 111-game winning streak last year in the championship game.