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Aren't UConn fans supposed to know something about women's basketball?

OK. So before we begin, a big salute to Anna Labonte, Pat McKenna, the UConn sports information staff as well as anyone else in the UConn women's basketball family who hatched the idea of an NCAA-Tournament style bracket of the top 32 players in program history.

Fun, fun, fun, especially during times that aren't so fun. Fans on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram picked their winners recently from four regions of eight players apiece. The top seeds: Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Tina Charles. It's worth noting here that some programs never had 32 good players. UConn could have probably done an entire field of 64.

And so ends the pleasantries.

Now I must ask some UConn fans: Aren't you supposed to know something about, you know, women's basketball? Because Rev. J.W. Harrell's quote belongs on a billboard outside Gampel Pavilion next year:

"It's not what have you done for me lately, it's what have you done for me formerly."

Some of the selections, dubious at best, reinforced a valuable lesson: Streisand was right. Memories may be beautiful ... and yet we choose to forget. Such is the case with some greats from UConn lore and legend, who lost their head-to-head meetings to more modern members of the menagerie.

Full disclosure: It doesn't take much for me anymore to lose my sunny disposition. But some of this stuff ... Holy Hallucinations, Batman.

In the first round, for instance, various regions produced No. 6 seed Kia Nurse over No. 3 Svetlana Abrosimova. No. 4 Gabby Williams beat No. 5 Shea Ralph. No. 5 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis beat No. 4 Nykesha Sales. No. 4 Moriah Jefferson beat No. 5 Asjha Jones. No. 6 Morgan Tuck beat No. 3 Kara Wolters.

In the Sweet 16, Nurse defeated Jennifer Rizzotti. In the Elite Eight, Sue Bird beat Maya Moore. In the national championship, Stewart beat Taurasi.

I'm going to hum the Jeopardy theme here while you process that.

OK. First question: When did Kia Nurse become Oscar Robertson? Nothing against her. But she's better than Sveta? I know day drinking is more prevalent in a pandemic. But c'mon, people. There's a reason late, great Manchester Journal-Inquirer columnist Randy Smith used to call Sveta "Havlicek." This just in: It wasn't because they shared eastern European surnames.

Williams over Shea Ralph? If Shea got to play East Carolina twice a year, she'd have broken every scoring record from here to Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Mosqueda-Lewis over Sales? I can't even.

Jefferson over Jones? Jefferson was a wonderful guard, sure. But this is more proof that Jones is the most underappreciated player in program history. And while we're at it: Can the Connecticut Sun retire her number? She's only the greatest player they've ever had.

Tuck over Wolters? Kara Wolters ("Wilt," as some of us still call her), won the National Player of the Year Award in 1997. One of the most dominant post players in women's college basketball history. Did we forget that?

Nurse over Rizzotti? Again with Kia Nurse. Rizzotti won the Wade Trophy in 1996. Plus, she's, you know, Jen. Iconic. Did we forget that?

Bird over Moore? OK. We all love Sue. But it's Maya Moore, for heaven's sake. You know. Maya. Remember her? Apparently not.

Stewie over Taurasi? Again: We all love Stewie. But Diana Taurasi is the greatest women's basketball player of all time. Period. End of discussion.

Good thing Kyla Irwin didn't make the top 32. She'd have probably made the Final Four.

I'd be the first to admit my bias. I covered the team as a beat writer from 1996-2001. Loved every minute. Some of those "kids" have become friends in adult life. So maybe I'm a little partial to the old days.

Or maybe my eyes still work.

Maybe UConn could use its website to re-air a few games from the old days as a refresher? We could see Svet, Shea and Rizzotti. Wolters, Jones and Sales. They're not bad, as Jim Calhoun said when he took Caron Butler and Emeka Okafor over Ryan Gomes.

Anyhoo, it was quite fun to get irritated over something as insignificant basketball again. Well done, UConn. Can we do a men's bracket now? Can't wait to see Alterique Gilbert over Khalid El-Amin.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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