Greatness in college athletics leads to dynasties. One of the greatest is John Wooden’s UCLA teams that won nine championships in a 10-year span. Recently, the Alabama football team under Nick Saban has separated itself from the rest of the college football world by winning five titles in 11 years.
The greatest dynasty in college sports isn’t in Los Angeles or Tuscaloosa though. It’s in Storrs, Connecticut with a program that owns the two longest winning streaks in college basketball history. It’s the UConn Women’s Basketball team.
UConn Women’s Basketball Dynasty
Prior to 1985, the Huskies only had one winning season in its program’s history. Looking for a change and a better commitment to women’s sports, the university hired Geno Auriemma as head coach. Auriemma built the program from the ground up and turned UConn into a powerhouse.
The program has won 11 NCAA Women’s National Championships, including a three-peat from 2002-2004 and a four-peat from 2013-2016. They’ve reached the Final Four 20 times, including every year since 2008. Auriemma’s team has won 24 conference tournaments and 25 regular-season conference championships in both the Big East and the American Athletic Conference (AAC). They’ve been a matchup nightmare for opponents.
The UConn Huskies broke the UCLA winning streak of 88-games by winning 90 in a row from 2008-2010. The team went undefeated in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons as part of the streak, until Stanford broke UConn’s historic run in December 2010. The team from Storrs outdid themselves from 2014-17 by winning 111 straight. This incredible string of excellence included national championships in 2015 and 2016. The 2015-16 team went undefeated. They’ve also reached the NCAA tournament every year since 1989.
Over Hall-of-Fame coach Geno Auriemma’s 34-year career at UConn, his record is 1088-142 as of this article. He’s won about nine out of every ten games he’s coached since The Goonies came out. Sounds pretty good to me. The only coaches who have more wins are Tara VanDerveer of Stanford with 1,091 and Pat Summit, formerly of Tennessee, with 1,098. Auriemma has also coached the United States Women’s National Team. He’s led Team USA to three Olympic gold medals in 2000, 2012, and 2016.
UConn in the WNBA
The Huskies translate their success from college to the pros. Since the inception of the WNBA in 1997, 20 UConn players have been selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft. Five players ? Sue Bird in 2002, Diana Taurasi in 2004, Tina Charles in 2010, Maya Moore in 2011, and Breanna Stewart in 2016 ? have been selected number one overall.
Star Rebecca Lobo was part of the inaugural 1997 draft where top players were allocated to teams in no particular order. Nykesha Sales faced the same situation in 1998 with expansion teams.
In the 2016 Draft, Stewart along with fellow Huskies Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck were the first three picks. It’s the first time in the history of any major sport that the top three picks were from the same school.
Bird, Taurasi, and Moore are regarded as some of the greatest players in women’s basketball history.
The greatness of the UConn women’s basketball program is above the rest. Current stars such as Megan Walker, Crystal Dangerfield, and Anna Makurat make tickets for home games at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs and the XL Center in Hartford hard to come by. Notable programs such as South Carolina, Notre Dame, Baylor, Louisville, and Oregon along with conference rivals Cincinnati, Houston, South Florida, UCF, Wichita State, Tulsa, and Tulane are all vying for a chance to take down the juggernaut. UConn has sustained elite success for over 25 years and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
The Huskies as the standard for excellence.