The basketball world should be going bananas. The Big Ten channel, NBA-TV, Fox and at least one of the ESPNs should be scrapping up as much footage as possible of the 1970s UCLA men and current University of Connecticut women, offering breakdowns and interviews about the most poignant win streak in basketball history.
No. 1 UConn has a chance to tie UCLA’s notable mark of 88 consecutive wins on Sunday in a matchup against No. 11 Ohio State at Madison Square Garden. It’s kismet. A historical facility for a historical night. One of those things a basketball junkie would chuck the holiday funds to attend.
But I’ll be covering Washington versus Western Michigan the following day. Oh, joy. So, you look for the build-up and news articles to feed the itch to put the history in perspective. Offer some insights of how UConn got here.
Sure, HBO has done its segments and ESPN has aired its features — in the past. Now is time to dig all of it back out to air, again. In the middle of football coverage, of course.
Doesn’t a feat of this nature deserve that much? Regardless of gender, shouldn’t respect be shown to how hard it is to do anything 88 times in a row? Most can’t even get to work 88 times consecutively — and I’m talking straight Monday through Friday, forget weekends.
I’m sure more coverage will spill out through the week. Sports Illustrated offered a great feature and ESPN2 is focused on a big game between No. 2 Baylor and No. 6 Tennessee on Tuesday.
It’s just that during this quiet finals week for most schools, I hoped the media world would pay homage to the John Wooden of women’s basketball in Huskies coach Geno Auriemma (pictured above by the Associated Press) and the obstacles he’s faced to build consistency only one other coach could relate.
”It’s special,” Marquette coach Terri Mitchell told reporters on Thursday. Her team was No. 87 in UConn’s trail of victories. ”I’m watching it because it’s history. I’m living history right now and that’s worth talking about.”
SPEAKING OF COVERAGE: WNBA legend Lisa Leslie’s name has been tossed around behind-the-scenes as a candidate to replace Donna Orender for league president. Couldn’t hurt since Leslie remains the most covered and recognizable face of the league despite retiring in 2009.
Seriously, if a figurehead slot, Leslie has my vote simply because of her latest outburst, a rarity for Leslie. Seems the three-time MVP also is irked at television media coverage.
“It’s really more the media,” Leslie told FanHouse of why people are uninformed about the WNBA and women’s sports in general. “It’s ESPN. It’s the TNTs of the world…though, really, TNT has done a better job, I have to admit. They’ve covered the WNBA really well, if you have (NBA TV). But ESPN is probably the main focus that drives our sports. Ninety-five percent of sports, you know you can find it on ESPN. Maybe if we had a place [on ESPN] you would be more informed.”
Hmm. Isn’t more ESPN coverage what Orender promised for the 2011 season? Oh, well.
RANK ‘EM: Had to chuckle when Bowling Green coach Curt Miller told me rankings really are only good for recruiting — something for the public relations department to print to dazzle kids. Well, here’s my new batch. For the official tally, click here.
1. Connecticut (9-0): Wish John Wooden were here to sit courtside Sunday.
2. Baylor (9-1): Idle last week, expect an unleashing against Tennessee on Tuesday.
3. Xavier (9-0): Love the focus this team appears to have early this season.
4. Stanford (5-0): To quote Fresno State coach Adrian Wiggins: “Your worst nightmare.”
5. Duke (11-0): Great defensive effort in a 61-58 win against a tough Texas A&M;team. 6. UCLA (7-0): Making sure a dusty old streak isn’t the only news poppin’ on campus.
7. West Virginia (10-0): Redeemed from 39-point output v Villanova in 71-39 win Saturday, but…
8. North Carolina (10-0): So far, coaching matchups more intriguing than teams on court.
9. Texas A&M;(8-1): Good bounce back against Purdue in first Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge.
10. Kentucky (7-1): Senior F Victoria Dunlap named SEC POW, averaged 28pts/9rebs.
11. Michigan State (10-1): Just handling business.
12. Oklahoma (9-1): See above.
13. Tennessee (9-1): Looking forward to matchup against Baylor on Tuesday.
14. Ohio State (7-1): Loss to Syracuse takes some luster off Sunday’s showdown with UConn.
15. Iowa (9-1): Nothing like beating the in-state rival.
16. Iowa State (7-2): Poor Columbia had to face the wrath of the Cyclones, losing 73-27.
17. Florida State (8-1): Looking forward to FSU’s matchup v UConn on Dec. 21.
18. Nebraska (8-1): After loss to Indiana, Huskers have to wait for Big 12 play to get noticed, again.
19. Maryland (9-1): Tall lineup looks interesting.
20. St. John’s (9-1): May be riding the strength of the Big East conference.
21. Kansas State (8-1): Another team that needs conference play to regain national props.
22. Texas (5-3): Everything is big in Texas, including the amount of turnovers the Longhorns allow.
23. Notre Dame (8-3): Thought Fighting Irish would pull few more wins.
24. USC (6-3): Rewarding Trojans for scheduling quality opponents and playing well.
25. Bowling Green (10-1): Congrats to F Lauren Prochaska for setting consecutive D-I FTs made record at 67.
LIVE CHAT: Got offseason questions for the Storm? CEO/President Karen Bryant and coach Brian Agler will be available for a live chat on Wednesday at noon. Here’s a link to some of the previous chats we’ve held.
GOLDEN APPLE: This week’s shiny apple is more a shout out to F Tijana Krivacevic, the 20-year-old Hungary National player the Storm drafted last season. Her arrival date isn’t certain for the WNBA. but she’s playing well overseas to get a mention in the EuroLeague roundup and here.
VOTE FOR CASH: Storm F Swin Cash is up for the 76th annual Seattle Sports Commission Professional Athlete of the Year, again. You can vote once a day until Jan. 21. The winners will be announced at a posh banquet on Jan. 26 at Benaroya Hall.
Cash and Storm teammate Tanisha Wright are up for the Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year award in their native Pittsburgh, although Cash would have to be a write-in. You can help them get an edge in that award by voting here. Former WNBA coach Suzie McConnell-Serio is also nominated.
Voting for that award ends Dec. 20 and the award will be presented Feb. 9.
REDHAWKS WIN: Seattle University will try to win back-to-back games when it hosts UC Irvine at 7 p.m. Monday at Connolly Center. The Redhawks (3-6) defeated Idaho (6-3) in an impressive game by the backcourt on Saturday.
UC Irvine is coached by former Stanford guard Molly Goodenbour, who’s in her second season with the Anteaters (5-3). UCI enters on a five-game win streak after losing its opening three games.
AROUND THE STATE: Gonzaga (8-3) didn’t want to, but defeated Washington State (3-8) for the second time this season on Saturday. The Zags wanted the win, just not the repeat opponent. But since both lost their openers of the Rainbow Classic, they unexpectedly met in Hawaii.
Washington (4-3), meanwhile, was disappointing in the Huskies’ inability to close out a win against UC Riverside (5-2) at Hec Ed on Sunday. Freshman F Marjorie Heard sparkled late, re-entering the game after F Mollie Williams fouled out, but UW shooting 19 percent in the opening half was difficult to overcome.
COMING UP: Stanford coach Tara Vanderveer will go for her 800th career win on Sunday against Tennessee…Spokane’s Angie Bjorklund is close to breaking Tennessee’s all-time three-pointers made record, set by Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun). Lawson had 266 and Bjorklund has 259...Former Washington assistant Loree Payne will go for her seventh consecutive win with University of Puget Sound against Occidental College coach Heidi VanderVeer, a former Storm assistant, on Sunday in Menlo, Calif.