"The Stack" 3-29-16

Geno Auriemma's is right to go after Dan Schaughnessy's tweet and defend what he is doing at UCONN because HE ISN'T DOING ANYTHING WRONG. He is not killing women's basketball. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Geno Auriemma's is right to go after Dan Schaughnessy's tweet and defend what he is doing at UCONN because HE ISN'T DOING ANYTHING WRONG. He is not killing women's basketball.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Breanna Stewart and the Lady Huskies are back in the Final Four looking for their fourth straight national championship after beating Texas 86-65.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Stack is back on this Tuesday and we have more basketball to talk about today as well as perhaps a couple of other headlines to discuss.  Reminder to be on the lookout for The Stack’s 2016 MLB season preview post either Thursday this week or sometime next week.  Now though, let’s see what is in “the stack” today for Tuesday, March 29th:


Women’s Final Four is set


The NCAA women’s basketball tournament is down to their Final Four teams who are all headed to Indianapolis to see who will cut down the nets.  No need to question who.  It will be um, who is that team that has won 73 straight games…UCONN.  The Lady Huskies won again Monday night, this time taking down #2 seed Texas 86-65.  Not nearly as big as the 60 point win over Mississippi State Saturday night (more on that in a moment), but still impressive nonetheless.  They will take on Oregon State.  The Beavers are making their first ever appearance after the #2 seed took down #1 Baylor 60-57.  No more seeing Kim Mulkey complain about every little call this season.  I’m sad by that.


The other side looks a lot like the chaos we’ve seen in the men’s tournament.  The matchup features #7 seed Washington led by one of the leading scorers in women’s basketball in Kelsey Plum against #4 Syracuse whose coach looks an awful lot like Mike Tirico.  Tirico also happens to be a Syracuse grad.  Don’t think many people saw a #7 seed versus a #4 seed on one side of the bracket to have the right to take on UCONN.  Most like myself thought Notre Dame would be the team UCONN gets to face, but it will be either Washington or Syracuse who will be the sacrificial lamb to UCONN for the national championship game.  Final Four starts Sunday in Indianapolis on ESPN.


Is UCONN bad for the women’s game?


After UCONN’s 98-38 drumming of Mississippi State on Saturday, Boston Globe columnist Dan Schaughnessy tweeted, “UConn Women beat Miss St. 98-38 in NCAA tourney. Hate to punish them for being great, but they are killing women's game. Watch? No thanks.”   The tweet has generated plenty of discussion (and criticism) regarding the UCONN Lady Huskies and if they are good for women’s college basketball or not.  There are points of this I agree with and there are parts I do not agree with.  I am not infatuated with teams that win all of the time.  Teams like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Cowboys, Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball and to a lesser degree Alabama Crimson Tide football, I don’t cheer for.  Just don’t really like them.  I don’t want to be that bandwagon person that jumps on and roots for a team that wins all of the time, especially when I am hundreds if not thousands of miles away from one of these teams.  I cheer for Minnesota sports teams so maybe I shouldn't say too much.  Then again, I like Tiger Woods and watching him dominate the game of golf the way he did for so many years during the early 2000s.  He didn’t win every game though so the comparison of him to UCONN winning now 73 straight games and being on the verge of their fourth straight national championship doesn’t quite measure up like UCONN head coach Geno Auriemma brought up in response to Schaughnessy’s tweet. 


Unlike the Cowboys, Lakers, Yankees and others, I don’t have a strong disliking for UCONN.  Does it get a little boring knowing that year after year UCONN is the dominant team in women’s college basketball and that there is a strong 90 percent chance that they will win the national championship?  Absolutely.  It would be great for there to be some other programs that could really compete with UCONN, but the fact of the matter is, there isn’t.  And that isn’t UCONN’s problem.  And it’s not ours either.  We shouldn’t criticize them for that.  Notre Dame and South Carolina are really strong programs.  But they can’t get over hump and take down UCONN.  They’re just not there yet.  UCONN isn’t getting all of the top players in women’s basketball.  Auriemma and his staff just know how to coach the players they get up and maximize their talent.  Instead of criticizing, perhaps these other schools should put more resources into women’s basketball and recruit to get some of the best players in the game.  Now to be fair, I haven’t heard of a lot of schools criticizing UCONN’s dominance.  It’s more members of the media. 


But being a South Dakota State alum, I can look at the Jackrabbit’s dominance in the Summit League winning seven of eight Summit League championships and showing no signs of slowing down and see comparisons to what UCONN is doing.  SDSU gets the best talent in the state of South Dakota and head coach Aaron Johnston is getting some of the best players from the state of Minnesota as well.  No other school in the Summit League is really even all that close to the talent level that SDSU has.  South Dakota was right there, but their best player Nicole Seekamp is done now.  They’re going to regress.  The Summit League basketball tournament is held in Sioux Falls, some 50 miles away from Brookings where SDSU’s campus is.  Bit of an advantage for SDSU thanks to all of the fans that show up?  Absolutely.  I’m sure the opposing schools aren’t thrilled about always having to come to Sioux Falls where one team has a significant home court advantage, but if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.  They seem to have accepted that challenge.  That’s what the rest of women’s basketball needs to do with UCONN.  The Lady Huskies are dominant and should be celebrated for doing something historic.  Auriemma has built a dominant program, but he plays by the same rules that everyone else does.  Instead of criticizing them, perhaps we need to look at the rest of women’s college basketball for not getting to UCONN’s level.  Maybe they never will.  There are a number of good teams in the women’s college basketball and some very storied programs like Stanford and Tennessee even though the Volunteers have ran into some tough times the past couple of seasons. 


You would always like to see a handful of teams have a realistic chance to win the championship and right now it doesn’t seem like that is the case in women’s college basketball.  That will change.  UCLA men’s basketball had a great run there in the 1970s.  Was there a lot of criticism then?  Not nearly as much as today with the Lady Huskies it seems like.  UCLA’s dominance ended and so too will UCONNs one day.  But now is not the time to criticize them and say they are killing women’s basketball.  Ratings are up for the tournament and we are talking about the women’s college basketball tournament a lot more than if UCONN had lost.  Be appreciative of what they are doing.  It’s something historic that we may not see for a while again and we can one day tell our kids and grandkids about the historic play we saw from the UCONN Lady Huskies one day.


You know what?  We’ll stop right there for today.  Coming up later this week: Final Four picks and other top headlines in the sports world.