Published April 11. 2013 4:00AM
University of Connecticut women's basketball fans should never take this for granted. Eight national titles in 18 years, and 14 Final Four appearances, can give fans a feeling of entitlement. But winning championships is hardly automatic - ask Baylor - and the fact that the Huskies have been able to win so consistently for so long is a testament to the skill of its coaches and the ability and drive of the players who have passed through the program.
The adversity the team faced this season - at least adversity as measured by the standards of this program - made its latest title all the more rewarding. The Huskies went into the NCAA tournament with four losses, a tremendous season for most squads, disappointing by its aspirations. It lost to Notre Dame University three times, and in the process failed to win the regular season or tournament Big East titles.
Its run in the tournament, however, was as impressive as any of the prior seven championship teams, winning all six games handily, including dispatching of its nemesis, Notre Dame. Fans of the game, we suspect, would have loved to have seen a championship match against Baylor and two-time player of the year Brittney Griner. The defending champions had entered the tournament with a record of 71-1 over the past two seasons and they beat UConn back on Feb. 18. But a hot shooting Louisville team, doing a great job defending Ms. Griner, bounced Baylor.
The championship game against that Cardinals team was a 93-60 thumping. Anticlimactic, perhaps, but you can only defeat who you play.
In Coach Geno Auriemma the women's program has a great recruiter, a master motivator who knows how to effectively push his players' buttons, and a superior game strategist. It's a rare combination that explains the consistent success of his teams. One coaching mountain remains to climb - besting the 10 championships won by UCLA men's coaching legend John Wooden. With Coach Auriemma having recently signed a contract through the 2017-2018 season, it could happen.
Though UConn begins life in a new conference next season, success should continue. At the core of this championship team are two underclassmen, Freshman Breanna Stewart and Sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.
Next year's team could be better.