John Smallwood: UConn women's streak is too much

Posted: March 03, 2010

IN MY SMALL opinion . . .

I thought that women's NCAA basketball had evolved beyond this.

The University of Connecticut has won 69 consecutive games, each by double digits.

By delivering a 76-51 beat down at No. 8 Notre Dame on Monday, the Huskies (30-0) are one victory away from equaling the NCAA record of 70 straight victories the program set during the 2001-2003 seasons.

If this were the 1980s, '90s or even the first years of the new century, I would have little problem accepting that one team could be this dominant.

Still I thought the growth in the depth of talent in the women's game over the last 5 years had made it impossible for any one program to go undefeated again, much less roll off 69 consecutive double-digit wins.

It's no secret what's going on in Storrs.

The best coach (Geno Auriemma) with the best players (Maya Moore, Tina Charles, etc.) is the best team. UCLA used the same formula to run off its 88-game winning streak in men's basketball that ended in 1973. But those UCLA teams didn't lap the field the way UConn has.

Since losing to Stanford in the national semifinals in 2008, the Huskies have played every perennial power except Tennessee, which dropped them from its schedule.

They've smoked them all.

This year already, they've won at No. 13 Texas by 25; against No. 2 Stanford by 12; at No. 11 Florida State by 19; against No. 7 North Carolina by 41; against No. 3 Notre Dame by 24; at No. 7 Duke by 33, against No. 8 West Virginia by 33; against No. 24 St. John's by 14; at No. 12 Oklahoma by 16; against No. 11 Georgetown by 18, and then the latest victory over Notre Dame.

With more girls than ever playing basketball at a high level, you would think that competitive balance would prevent such a disparity in results.

In my Small Opinion . . .

At least ESPN.com didn't blatantly question our intelligence with its list of the Top 50 soccer players of the 2010 World Cup.

With the worldwide-leader and its broadcast parent company ABC airing the proceedings from South Africa in June, it makes sense to drum up local interest by hyping a player from the United States.

The USA is a growing power and putting a homeboy at the end of the list isn't so far fetched that it insults the knowledge of American soccer fans.

But Landon Donovan?

I know the 28-year-old midfielder has been the face of Team USA and Major League Soccer for nearly a decade, but he is not one of the 50 best players in the World Cup.

He's not even the best player on Team USA.

After three failed attempts to make it in Germany's Bundesliga, Donovan is finally showing he might have a place with the big boys during his current stint with Everton of the Premier League in England.

Still, internationally he is not considered the top USA player.

Other American stars like Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard; midfielder Michael Bradley of Borussia Moenchengladbach (Bundesliga); forward Clint Dempsey of Fulham FC (Premier League); defender Oguchi Onyewu of AC Milan (Serie A Italy) and defender Jonathan Spector of West Ham United (Premier League) are viewed more highly.

Donovan is the David Beckham of United States soccer - most popular but not the best.

While he is the all-time leading scorer in USA national team history, the fact that he has rarely scored against "power" nations raises questions about his ability to produce against top-notch competition.

ESPN describing Donovan as "comfortably the best player ever produced by the United States and its youth system" is a cleverly worded qualifier to make less sound like more than it is.

I respect Landon Donovan, but he shouldn't be on a list that includes Lionel Messi of Argentina; Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal; Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast; Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon; Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard of England; Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres of Spain; Kaka, Luis Fabiano and Dani Alves of Brazil - even at the bottom of it.

In my Small Opinion . . .

Americans love football and Super Bowl Sunday has become another national holiday, but the Canadians' devotion to hockey is outrageous.

Canada's 3-2 overtime victory over the United States in the Olympic gold medal game was watched by an average of 16.6 million Canadians, about half the population. It's estimated that 26.5 million (80 percent of the population) watched at least some portion of the game.

In my Small Opinion . . .

Cincinnati Bengals' receiver Chad Ochocinco has finally found the perfect venue for his narcissistic need for attention - "Dancing with the Stars."

For his ego's sake here's hoping Ochocino has a better salsa than Olympic ice skating champion Evan Lysacek, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and professional attention-seekers Pamela Anderson, Shannen Doherty, Kate Gosselin and Jake Pavelka.

Send e-mail to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

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