Remarkable UConn win streak disrespected

Winning 90 consecutive games is remarkable. Doing it twice is nothing short of greatness. Yet, more attention has gone to the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets’ 16-game win streak or an English soccer team’s 13 straight wins than to the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, who won their 91st straight game last weekend.

The Huskies won 90 straight games from November 16, 2008 to December 30, 2010 — two more than UCLA’s 88-game streak (1971 to 1974) in men’s basketball. Their current streak began on November 23, 2014.

Connecticut now owns the two longest winning streaks in NCAA basketball history, but it’s ho-hum to the mostly male sports media. At press time they were scheduled to play at Tulsa for win number 92.

Sports Illustrated’s Charles Pierce devoted the magazine’s weekly “Scorecard” section to UConn’s streak: “Most people enjoy them. Most people also want to be watching when they come to an end,” he wrote in the January 16 issue.

I remember UCLA’s streak, which took place while I was in high school. Decades later, I remember the Minnesota women’s hockey team’s 62-game win streak (February 28, 2012-November 17, 2013). I was at Ridder Arena the night it snapped.

I also remember the same ho-hum media coverage as UConn seems to be getting now. Sadly, if the gender of the team were reversed, media reports would be on overkill.

Streaks, regardless of gender or sport — pro, college or prep — should be recognized in themselves as remarkable feats. It’s not easy to do. “Every win matters, not only because it keeps the streak going, but also because it can be its own beautiful moment. This is how everyone, from players to observers, should experience a streak,” suggested Pierce.

In a supposedly down year because they graduated three WNBA first-rounders from last year’s unbeaten squad, UConn junior Kia Nurse said in an espnW.com article, “That’s something that I play with a chip on my shoulder about.” This chip seems to help, along with annual top-notch recruiting and a competitive edge by its coaching staff.

The team is constantly challenged internally as well by opponents — the Huskies don’t play a cupcake schedule. The aura of invincibility that accompanies them whenever they come into the arena doesn’t hurt either.

Hail to the UConn women. Boo to the mostly male sports media who let their gender-biased ways get in the way of covering greatness.

More gender inequity

Are we the only one who wonders out loud why BTN can’t do a series like The Journey for women’s basketball as they do for men’s basketball? The weekly series follows Big Ten men’s players and teams in a diary-like fashion throughout the entire conference season.

Why is it that an intimate look at men’s hoops is supposed to be more compelling than women’s hoops?

Finally…

Rashida Beal last week was the 35th overall pick in the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League draft by FC Kansas City. The former Gopher standout graduated last month after studying psychology and neuroscience as an Academic All-American, a second-team All American, and Big Ten Defender of the Year.

Beal was a key part of the Minnesota team that won both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles for the first time in school history, with a defense that posted 14 shutouts and a 0.52 goals against average.

 

Information from Sports Illustrated and espnW.com was used in this report.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.