The UConn women’s basketball team absolutely demolished their exhibition opponent Vanguard on Sunday, as expected. This year’s team looks better than ever with the dominant and experienced tandem of Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier, as well as talented, young players like freshman Christyn Williams and sophomore Megan Walker. This week’s debate is whether or not this season will be considered a disappointment for Geno Auriemma’s team if it ends in anything other than banner number 12.
Danny Barletta: I believe that after two straight heartbreaking Final Four losses, this year will be a disappointment if they don’t win the championship, not just for the fans, but for the team as well. When the perennial best team in the country loses in the tournament after winning four years in a row, everybody can shrug it off because that type of constant domination isn’t sustainable. When almost the same team that dominated all year loses in almost the same fashion the next year, it’s definitely more upsetting, but still not alarming. If this team, which has the talent to dominate yet again, falls short of the championship for the third straight year, it will be not just disappointing but devastating. I may sound like a spoiled UConn fan, but in the past decade the UConn community has grown accustomed to the women’s basketball team being the absolute best, and to continue being the absolute best, you have to win it all. That is why the Huskies have to win it all this season. Otherwise, it will be a disappointment.
Hanaisha Lewis: It will not be a disappointment if the UConn women’s basketball team does not win the NCAA championship this year. With UConn considered the most successful women’s basketball program in the nation, sometimes it is nice to see others on top. Many people make the argument that this basketball program makes women’s basketball “unenjoyable” due to constant domination, but that argument is weakened since they lost two years straight in the Final Four. Although they won the NCAA championship four years straight from 2013-2016, one must also remember the gap between the program’s 2002-2004 reign, in which they did not attain another championship until five years later in 2009. The ultimate goal of any team is to win a national championship; therefore, any team at any moment is capable of stepping up and doing what needs to be done to win. It will not be a disappointing year, especially if an underdog team wins the championship this season.
Barletta: While I agree that it is always nice to see an underdog win, there is one team that hates to see an underdog win, and that is the top dog. I certainly don’t believe that the past two UConn teams thought it was nice to see another team on top. They were the best team each year, but both years were outplayed when it counted most. Even though that may have been good for the sport, it certainly wasn’t good for the program. People are starting to doubt that Uconn really is the best women’s basketball team in the country. The preseason rankings have them at No. 2. This team definitely believes that they are the best, but they will have to prove it this year with a championship. Anything less will be a disappointment for the program.
Lewis: Unfortunately, the “top dog” can’t always be on top. Of course, UConn wouldn’t find it pleasant to see another team on top, but the question at hand is if it’d be a disappointment if they don’t end this season as champions. Clearly, with our conference being the AAC, there’s not as much competition as in other conferences, so it’s hard to label the Huskies amongst others in tougher conferences. Going on your point of being the “best team each year,” there was someone better that came out and wanted it more in the moment; the best team is ultimately sized up for a championship ring at the end of it all. I wouldn’t count a loss in the NCAA tournament as being bad for the program, but as being the ammunition that fuels the team to want more for the next season. Regardless of the sport, there will always be naysayers, people who doubt the team even when they win. While this class of Huskies isn’t used to being considered number two, it will surely push them to have a great season, which is honestly all you can ask from them. A group of players that comes out and works hard can’t possibly disappoint the program, but encourage players to change its current state if a championship is not attained.
Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hanaisha Lewis is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.