Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Friday, January 29, 2010

Remember when the Yankees ruined baseball with all that winning?

Remember when the Packers and the Steelers and the Patriots destroyed NFL football? (Or worse, remember all the lack of interest there was when the Pats threatened a perfect season? Or the Colts?)

Remember how awful UCLA was for men's college basketball?

And surely, you stopped watching hockey because of the dang Canadians. Or did you wait until the Penguins?

And I'm not even going to start on how hurtful Martina and Pete and Venus and Serena and Roger have been to tennis -- but you've got to agree that their excellence and dominance ruined their sport.


Well, then let me pull your attention closer to the subject at hand.

Remember when the Mighty Macs ruined women's college basketball by winning three championships in a row?

And how Delta State continued ruining it by winning another three in a row? (What were they thinking!)

And how Jody Conradt started women's basketball on a death spin by going undefeated?

And how the last breath was squished out of women's basketball when Pat Summitt's teams won three in a row AND went undefeated? (Really, what total disregard for the welfare of the sport!)

The game is dooooooomed, I tell ya, dooooooooomed. How do I know?

Just read this article from Sports Illustrated.

As easy as it is to appreciate forward Maya Moore's ultrasmooth all-around play or the low-post power of center Tina Charles, watching UConn turn every game into instant garbage time becomes, if not boring, at least awfully repetitive. Even the Huskies' own supporters, among the most passionate in the country, are starting to let their attention drift. Home attendance hit a 10-year low last season and has fallen off slightly more this year. And if the blowouts are less than compelling theater to the Connecticut faithful, how do you think more casual fans feel? Let's face it, there is still the perception in some quarters that women don't play the game at a high level, and we're not just talking about jumping ability. It does little to change that view when UConn is making even supposedly elite clubs look as if they were just plucked from P.E. class.

That's why the best team in the game is, at the moment, the worst thing for the game. At this point in the evolution of the sport, shouldn't the pool of talent be deep enough to keep one program from getting so far ahead of the pack? (It's scary to consider that Elena Delle Donne, the nation's top high school player two years ago, left the Huskies to enroll at Delaware, where she was averaging 25.3 points at week's end.) Wasn't the women's game supposed to stop spinning around the UConn-Tennessee axis now that D-I schools are committing more resources to their programs than they did a decade ago? Yet instead of having something approaching parity, the gap between the best and the rest "is wider than I ever remember," says former Texas coach Jody Conradt.