Outside The Hashmarks
February 17, 2017
I was considering writing about the absurdity of the NBA season, and the bevy of talent that resides in pro basketball. I mean, with Russell Westbrook out there dragging a team that largely resembles a rubber chicken, James Harden chucking his way into the record books, the Knicks being the Knicks, and the Heat somehow not being awful, there is no shortage of stuff to write about.
But then the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team won their one hundredth game in a row. Think about that for a second. One hundred games, most of them blowouts, all of them wins. The freshmen, sophomores, and juniors on this team have literally never experienced losing at the college level. What they have experienced, though, are 50-point wins against clearly overmatched opponents. Which, by the way, are my favorite kind of wins. Ever seen a team crack triple-digits while their hapless opponent wallows at 40-55 points? UConn has. They were that team. As has Baylor. As has Maryland. Despite popular belief, women’s basketball is really fun to watch, even when some poor team is being taken behind the woodshed for a 40-point blowout.
While men’s basketball is dominated by sheer athleticism, ridiculous shooting, and the Lonzo Ball Show at UCLA, the women’s game gets sort of treated like a side show. Something to occasionally gawk at. We know of UConn’s streak. But we don’t watch the games that got them there. The games are boring, uncompetitive, too slow. The talking heads on ESPN write thinkpiece after thinkpiece about how something is inherently broken in women’s sports. Is UConn Good For Basketball? Is Baylor Too Talented? Dumb questions with assumed answers get choked from the pens and laptops of male spectators who, like, totally watched that one game where Not Making The Tournament University got beaten to a pulp by one of the UConns of the world. We get two more weeks of buzzer-beaters, close games, and the occasional overtime, but then Syracuse smashes another overmatched team, and we all clutch our pearls and start the process again.
Basically, this is a long road for the hottest of sports takes: more blowouts, please! Unleash the starters in the fourth quarter! Win by 80! Recruit more superteams! If I have to sit through Ohio State beating poor Florida A&M by a billion points, I want to watch women’s teams do the same. We give OSU, Alabama, Duke, the University of North Carolina, and every other male powerhouse the option to blow everyone else out. Why not UConn? To use a common gaming phrase: get good. And until then, enjoy the show.