Tag Archive | Basketball

Why Watch the 2017 NBA Finals?

Oh boy, another match up between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. We’ve never seen this match up before… OK we could see this coming from a mile away. The NBA postseason has been wickedly boring and predictable. From the standpoint of a general NBA fan, it was one of the worst postseasons in recent memory. Golden State swept their way to the finals while Cleveland dominated almost every single game they played, losing only one in the Eastern Connference Finals to the Boston Celtics. I’m honestly a little bored with this matchup and discussion surrounding it after the last year. So why watch the NBA Finals this year?

1. Rivalry

These teams don’t like each other. They’ve shown remarkable contempt for each other through the last year with remarkable acts of trolling and subversion. They’ve also stage memorable battles in each of the last two NBA Finals.  This Golden State team is built to defeat LeBron and the Cavs. If there is any series with anticipation energy and height in the last few years, this is it. There is bad blood, and these teams are designed to beat the other. Yay passion and desire still existing! 


2. Style of Play

Since breaking out in 2015, the Golden State Warriors have rewritten in the style of play in the NBA. They took Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced style  of play and took it to its logical next progression. Golden State was the first team to win a championship by predominately shooting three-pointers at a high clip. However the 2015 championship is looked at with a little bit of contempt. They never faced a fully healthy team in the postseason and yet still ran into trouble with highly to please units in Memphis and Cleveland. The next year when facing fully healthy teams in Oklahoma City and Cleveland, The Warriors barely scraped by OKC and were edged by Cleveland. If the Warriors lose this series to Cleveland, I think the NBA will move away from three point shooting as your dominant method of winning basketball games. Teams will start going to size and rebounding more with players like Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love becoming much more desirable than players like Klay Thompson.

3. Are Curry and Durant that good?

The last three MVPs of the NBA are the stars for the Warriors, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. Both have had exceptional success personally and team wise, seeing many playoff roster their careers.  However both have faced sharp criticism in recent years and rightly so.

Curry has won the last two MVPs , the last one unanimously, and has become the NBA’s most marketable player after LeBron.He’s a charming, kind, and respectable individual and not an athletic freak like Durant or James. Despite his personal success though, Curry has seen his image chipped at. He did not win the MVP of the 2015 files and was not a leading contender for that award. Andre Iguodala, the teams sixth man won the award and Klay Thompson was a more likely winner than Curry. The next year, after winning the MVP unanimously in the regular season, Curry was one of the reasons the Warriors lost in the Finals. Outside of game 4, his performance was painfully pedestrian and his game 7 effort, particularly his 4th quarter, were awful and gave the Cavaliers a chance to win their first title. If the Warriors lose the championship this year, Steph takes a major hit to his legacy. 


His one time rival and current team and it has more to lose though. Since entering the league in 2007, Kevin Durant has proven to be one of the most dynamic scorers the league has ever seen. He’s a 7 foot tall forward who can handle and shoot like a guard, block shots like a center, and lead a high-quality team in rebounding. He can do everything on a basketball court, except when the biggest games. With the Oklahoma City Thunder, Durrant went to the NBA Finals one time and the Western Conference Finals  and additional three times. Durant never win a title, with notable losses coming to the Spurs in 2014, the Heat in Durant’s only trip to the Finals in 2012, and blowing a 3-1 lead in 2016 to Golden State with a damning game 6 effort highlighting the lost title chance. To make matters more complicated, Durrant left a talented OKC team to play with the team that just knocked him out in order to take the path of least resistance to the Finals. Durrant look to join a super team to win the Title he desires. Durant has a poor postseason reputation and if the Warriors win with him being a no show or lose, Durant’s legacy gets torpedoed. 


4. Is LeBron the greatest?

I can’t avoid this. I absolutely hate the comparison between Michael Jordan and LeBron James for many reasons. However, it is one of the most compelling reasons to watch the series. Since entering the NBA, LeBron has Reed written in the record book. He’s already put himself in the conversation with Larry Bird, Magic, Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Bill Russell, and Shaq as one of the greatest players ever. If he wins the series against a team that was designed to stop him, LeBron seals his place as a top three player in the history of the league. I won’t say who is the better player until LeBron’s career is done. I want to see the full scope of LeBron’s career before I can rank him historically. That said, LeBron’s performance in this series will dictate his historical ranking. 


Prediction

This series had better make up for such a disappointing postseason. I will be very happy if it does is a basketball fan. Much like my prediction for the Stanley Cup finals, I’m not sure who to choose. Golden State is more talented from top to bottom but the Cavaliers have the best player in the world on the floor. I think this will go six or seven games and if I were forced to choose a winner today, I would pick Golden State. LeBron definitely has the talent to lead his team to victory and the Cavs are a great team. I could just more easily see Golden State winning the series. PLEASE BE A GOOD MATCHUP!!!

My Favorite Player

On February 15, 2006, I was on February break. I was a sixth grader on the cusp of puberty. I was just getting over the Patriots losing in the postseason to Denver and  Spring Training for the Red Sox hadn’t started yet. I wasn’t yet a hockey fan and I was just starting to like basketball in a big way. UConn was good, but not great that year, and Georgetown, my mom’s alma mater hadn’t captured my attention yet. I was aware of the NBA’s existence but wasn’t a big fan. The night of the 15th, though, that all changed. I watched the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers play. It was a classic game that took 2 overtimes to finish. Cleveland won behind a 43 point triple double by phenom LeBron James. My eyes were glued to the guy wearing 34 for the Celtics giving James the business all night. After a 50 point game against the most hyped player of the day, Paul Anthony Pierce became my favorite basketball player, and eventually, my favorite athlete. 

I watched the Celtics through the abysmal 2006-2007 season, got excited when Paul got help from Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, and celebrated when they won the Celtics’ 17th championship. I followed the team intensely ever since. I watched Glenn Davis hit a game winner in Orlando in 2009, KG and Rondo end the Cavs chances in 2010, and watched the Lakers break my heart the next year. I saw Pierce hit a three in LeBron’s face in 2012’s Conference Finals, and watched the Celtics bow out against the New York Knicks in the 2013 playoffs. 

Once that postseason hit, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were traded out of Boston to Brooklyn. I was crestfallen, but I would still follow the Celtics through the rebuild, seeing my first ever Celtics game in February 2014, with no Pierce. I watched the Nets and rooted for my guys in the playoffs that year, loving Pierce’s block on Kyle Lowry, and being bitter with LeBron James and the Miami heat for beating my heroes again. 

Pierce left Brooklyn and joined the Washington Wizards for the 2015 season. I liked the fit. He provided veteran leadership for a young team that was trying to learn how to win. He helped them to a playoff sweep over the Raptors and authored maybe his best playoff moment against Atlanta. In Game 3 of the Conference Semi-Finals, Washington lost a big lead and were tied with the Hawks late in the 4th. In the last seconds, Bradley Beal took the inbound and passed it to Pierce at the left elbow. Pierce called for Beal to clear out, dribbled, waited for the clock to wind down, put up a shot over two players, and banked in the game winning shot. In the frenzy afterward, he was interviewed by Chris Broussard. To end the interview, Broussard asked “Did you call bank?” Pierce answered “I called Game!” and he walked off to hype the crowd more and go to the locker room. 

That play against the Hawks shows exactly why Paul Pierce is my favorite player of all time. He stayed confident through the toughest moments, always giving his team the confidence that they could win the game. He swaggered his way into big time shot after big time shot, on the basis of the ugliest game a superstar has ever played. 

He didn’t have a pretty shot. He wasn’t smooth. Pierce played a brawny, brawly, physical style of game. Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, and LeBron James all played much more aesthetically pleasing games. Garnett was smooth, Dirk’s shot was beautiful, and LeBron’s athleticism was undeniably magnificent. Paul could spin in the post and be effective, but he was not smooth. Pierce had a good shot, but not a pretty one. And Pierce could throw down, but he was not the dominating athlete LeBron is. Instead, Pierce could switch speeds well with quick dribbles and a smart shot. Pierce played a grounded and effective game that depended upon old school confidence. He never wavered with the Celtics and he carried them through hard times. He lived through being stabbed in 2000 to become one of the most respected players of the decade. He represented the old school heart with a dash of modern flash and flair for the dramatic. And he did all of this while brazenly facing off against the best players of the day and being undervalued and underappreciated. He was a model of consistent confidence and he never wavered as an old school player in the modern day. I love that old school mindset that Pierce walked into the league with. 

Despite my admiration for him, I had never seen Pierce play in person in a regular season game. I saw the Celtics played a preseason game at the XL Center before the 2009-10 season, but that was just a preseason game. The first regular season Celtics game I ever went to was the February 12th game of the 2014 season against the Spurs, after Pierce had been traded. I wanted to see him when the Wizards were in town, but I never had the chance. Before the 2016 season, he signed with the LA Clippers. Before this season, he announced that it would be his last. When I saw the Celtics schedule, I made it a point to go to the February 5th game against the Clippers, which would be (in all likelihood) Pierce’s last game in the Gahden. 

When I bought the tickets and got in, I had an odd feeling I had only felt once before, at David Ortiz’s last game ever. I felt nostalgic, almost longing for more time to watch my favorite player in his prime, winning games and making the crowd go crazy. I cried when Pierce checked out, was tributes with a video from the Celtics, and received a standing ovation from the crowd that stopped the game. I yelled with everyone else in the 4th quarter when we wanted Pierce to come back in. And I cheered when Pierce hit a 3 pointer in the final seconds. It was a perfect goodbye to a legend, and a memory that I will hold personally forever. 

Thank you Paul Pierce for representing Boston well. You are an all time Celtic, and my favorite athlete of all time. We’ll see you in Springfield for your Hall of Fame induction in 5 years! 

2016: What a Year

I started this year reflecting on the trying yet rewarding events of 2015 while enjoying champagne with my family in West Hartford. Tonight, I will do almost exactly the same thing. Except I am in Quechee, VT, and I will reflect on the zany events of 2016. I’ll spend time reflecting on the crazy events of the world at large, like Trump, Brexit, the refugee crisis, the shocking terrorist attacks, and all the reactions to them. More than that, I’ll remember how much happened for me.

It was a chaotic year for many, including me. I started with the promise of my final semester of college. I had my best selection of classes and the excitement to get it done. January turned into February, and I worked through my classes, broadcasts, and beat reporting for WTBU. Lent came with the spiritual gifts I needed, and at Easter, I was getting ready to end my college career. 

Late April and early May came with many trips to Fenway Park, and many sweet Red Sox victories. I also hit the hardest stretch of final papers and exams I ever had in college. A few overnights, enough cups of tea to keep me awake for hours, paper writing, and game broadcasts kept me from sleeping.  But I got through it, and after four long years, my collegiate career came to an end. 

I’ve had some time to reflect on my time at BU, and my ultimate perspective on it is generally positive. I had many difficulties and made it harder than it needed to be. I probably made the wrong choice of schools for academic purposes. But for all the rest that college has to offer, I made the best possible decision. I met many of the closest friend I will ever have, learned more about God and faith than I thought there was to learn, discovered what love is and how good it is to love and be loved by someone, and found my passions and interests. When I got to 2016, I learned so much from prior years, and I made my last semester of college my best. 

After graduating and celebrating a hard earned bachelors, I went home for a few days, then went to Cape Cod. I found a job at a coffee and bagel shop within walking distance of my house called JoMamma’s and returned to interning with the Brewster Whitecaps. We hosted players this year too, and what a treat they were. The summer was completely different than early on in the year. I didn’t have school hanging Over me, and I was doing things I loved full time. I loved the JoMamma’s people. They were comedic, introspective, entertaining, and loaded up with cool stories. They introduced me to new movies, music genres, and lines of thought. And I loved the Whitecaps even more. Having Zach and Logan around was like having two more physically fit brothers around. We played so many games on Zach’s PS4, talked baseball, food, girls, movies, hopes, dreams, and were just guys for a summer. It was awesome. And then I got pulled into doing a musical through a JoMamma’s coworker. And I got to dabble in one of my loves by complete accident. 

I didn’t figure out a full time job, so I decided to go into the freelance broadcasting world and return to class. This time at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting’s campus in Needham, MA. At that point, life got interesting. 

I had gigs with Tufts, MIT, the Boston Pride of the NWHL, JWHL events, and writing for InsideHockey. I had class in the morning, but my classes were spent in studios and drafting rooms. It was so wildly different from what I knew school to be. And work was tiring, but kept me entertained. 

I never had a gig I didn’t find good in, and never had a class I hated. And while I was tired, and felt more on my own than I had in many months, I had nothing but good things to discuss and think of. 

I have come so far. Graduating, writing, broadcasting, driving all over New England, flying to Green Bay, meeting and saying so long to amazing friends, testing myself in the classroom at BU and CSB, and finding God’s hand in all of it. I feel like I’ve lived a decade in the space of 366 days. I cannot say enough good things about the path I’ve been on this year. 

It’s been trying. I’ve shed many tears and had sleepless nights along the way. I said goodbye to many meaningful people and there are pieces of my life that were very good and are no longer there. I also watched my childhood end. I’m no longer in the standard educational world, which is a bit unnerving. It’s all I’ve known since 1999, and the working world is different than what I’ve known so far. I’m enjoying it, but it’s still different. Symbolically, when David Ortiz walked off the field at Fenway for the last time, my childhood was done. 

But after the madness, I have many more positives than negatives. I had too much fun to be mad, and made too many memories to be angry. 

If there’s one way I would describe my year, its with a phrase coined by my friend Tomás when we played basketball one day. He described his game as “consistently inconsistent”. That phrase sums up my year extraordinarily well. I didn’t know what exactly was coming next. One day I was writing a paper. Next day I was pondering the universe and the nature of love with a friend. Then I was driving to New York to call a basketball game. Or maybe traffic on route 6 going to Bourne for a game was up next. I rarely knew what was up next for me. I just knew I would be entertained. 

Thank you to everyone who made 2016 unforgettable. Let’s make 2017 even better! 

Hard at work


Summer with the Whitecaps

Graduation Day!

Yeah that’s me and Mookie Betts.

Me with Brockstar! (Brock Holt)

Senior Week with the guys.

Me and my roomie.

Prequel characters (and Artoo) at Fenway

Storm troopers at Fenway

Me and my bro at Fenway

The CC Grad Group goes Apple Picking

The Joker

The Grease Cast

Back on the stage.

The JoMamma’s crew

BUCC graduating class of 2016

Me and the Ballplayers.

BUCC Broomball. I was the goaltender!

On skit team for my last retreat of Undergrad

Retreat small group for my last undergrad retreat

Ash Wednesday

Welcome to the Recording World! 

I’ve been writing and broadcasting sports for going on 3 years now. I’ve gotten to cover a huge variety of games in many different sports and levels of play. It’s a fun profession and a busy career to have, but I greatly enjoy it. Today, I expanded my repertoire of sports content. 

I have a friend named Tomas, a graduate student at BU that I met in my Junior Year. He has a wide taste in sports. He watches rugby, soccer, and a number of sports that I’ve never even heard of before. We’ve known each other for years, gone to sporting events together, and analyzed everything from movies to politics together. Earlier this year, we decided to buy sound and recording equipment to make a podcast and express opinions on various games. We worked out the details and put in money for real equipment. 

When our mics and mixer arrived, and we started fiddling with the equipment. We got things running, got our opinions ready, and recorded a few segments. The next week, we got together to record our first podcast. It was successful! We recorded it, and tried to publish it. It was only after attempting to publish it that we discovered that Audacity, the recording software we used, had glitches out and lost our whole podcast. After that minor frustration major annoyance, we had Thanksgiving Break, and we had time to sort out what went wrong. We went through the week, got together this morning, and finally recorded a podcast. When we finished it, we tested it out, published it, and posted it to YouTube, where it lives now. If you want to hear opinions on the MLB end of season awards, predictions for various NBA, NHL, and NFL games, and jokes and references, then click the link below to listen. I promise you’ll like it! 

Don’t Forget Miami Shaq

When asked what the most important move he has made for the Miami Heat, former coach and current President and Godfather Pat Riley didn’t say it was signing Alonzo Mourning in 1995, drafting Dwayne Wade in 2003, signing Ray Allen away from Boston in 2012, or luring Lebron James and Chris Bosh to South Beach in 2010. He said that acquiring Shaquille O’Neal was far and away the biggest move he made as president of the Miami Heat. “He turned our franchise around. He gave us real legitimacy.” The reaction to the interview in which he said this has been a mix of “really?” and “He’s just saying that as a bitter man who has watched Lebron and Wade leave him in recent years.” To both of those I say, quit your bellyaching and understand the context of Shaq’s arrival in Miami. 

In the 90’s Shaquille O’Neal was the most exciting player in the league. He was a massive man who had the agility of a guard and was averaging 28 and 15 in his sleep. He made the Orlando Magic not only relevant, but took them to the finals and made Orlando the most exciting team in the league to watch. When he went to the Lakers in 1996, he cemented his place as the second most dominant player in NBA history behind Wilt Chaimberlain. He won the MVP in 2000, led the Lakers to 3 straight titles, and was the MVP of the Finals in every Finals Series the Lakers won. 

Contrast this incredible success with Miami’s history up to that point. The Heat were founded in 1988 and were ice cold out of the gate. They lost their first 17 games and finished their first season 15-67. They didn’t make the playoffs until 1992, and they were swept easily by Chicago in the first round. They didn’t make the conference finals until 1997 and lost in 5 games to the Bulls. They built some strong regular season teams in the back half of the 90’s and played some legendarily brutal games against the Knicks, but Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, and new head coach Pat Riley weren’t enough to make it to the NBA Finals. In fact in 1999, they became only the 2nd top seed to lose to an 8th seed in the first round of the playoffs when the Knicks upset them. When they drafted Dwayne Wade in 2003, Miami meant absolutely nothing in the basketball world. Beyond having one of the NBA’s legendary figures in Pat Riley involved with their organization, they hadn’t won anything of major significance. 

Then in 2004, Shaq and Kobe broke up and LA’s championship reign came to an end. Miami had gone to the 2nd round of the playoffs that year, but still needed a piece to make them legitimate title contenders. They decided to trade Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and Caron Butler to get Shaq. Immediately, the impact was felt. Shaq and Wade became the biggest power duo in the game, Miami had the best record in the east, and came within one victory of their first NBA Finals appearance. After retooling their supporting cast, a severely disrespected Heat team upset Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals and the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals to win the franchise’s first championship. Miami completed their quest for a ring and this one is held in high regard by Riley, who has 5 rings as a coach. It all became a real possibility when Shaq arrived. 

The 2006 NBA Finals are regarded as a one man show. Dwayne Wade was absolutely the best player on the floor that series, averaging 34.7 points a game and winning the MVP of the finals. Shaq didn’t have that great a series, only averaging 13.7 points a game. Compared to his points output in prior years, this was a precipitous decline. He still pulled down a team high 10.2 rebounds a game that series and contributed to a championship team. But this series highlights just how under appreciated Shaq’s time in Miami was. 

His first season in Miami, Wade was not the future Hall of Famer that he is today. He was a quick shooting guard with a big upside and plenty of scoring ability, but he wasn’t Flash yet. The Miami Heat were a promising team, but hadn’t earned the respect of the league yet. When the Big Aristotle showed up, Miami became a legitimate title contender. They had an MVP candidate, one of the greatest centers of all time, and a player with plenty of game left to give. While the Shaq that played in Orlando and LA is treated as a legendary player, Miami Shaq is generally regarded as the start of the old, lumbering Shaq who barely resembled his former glory. That’s not a fair description. In fact, Shaq was almost the MVP of the league in his first year in Miami. He averaged 22.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a game while leading Miami to 59 wins in 2005 and lost the MVP to Steve Nash in one of the closest votes in the history of the award. His 2nd year in Miami, he still averaged 20 points and almost 10 rebounds a game, and had 27 point and 12 rebound performances and better against the Bulls and Pistons in the playoffs. Shaq played at a Hall of Fame level in Miami, even though many fans have forgotten that. 

Lebron and Wade were a more dynamic and explosive duo in Miami than Wade and Shaq were. But without Shaq going to Miami, the Heat never win a single championship and Wade’s successes that made Miami appealing to Lebron and Bosh in 2010 don’t exist. Thus, Pat Riley is correct about Shaq’s importance to the Heat organization. 

When Shaq is inducted into the Hall of Fame on September 9th, most highlights will be from his years in Orlando and Los Angeles. Don’t forget to talk about his Miami years though. Wade didn’t become Flash until Superman joined him, and Lebron might never have taken his talents to South Beach of the Big Aristotle hadn’t made Miami credible six years earlier. 

Kobe: A Legendary Opponent

I do not like the Lakers. I am a life long Celtics fan with a tendency to despise the purple and gold. In addition, I do not like Kobe Bryant. He has been the face of the Lakers for most of my life and my entire time as a basketball fan, which began in 2006. He has been responsible for some of the hardest losses that my Celtics have endured, and has been a villain from my perspective for my entire life. I got so sick of seeing his highlights on Sportscenter, his advertisements on television, and his Lakers on the big stage in the playoffs. Mike Tirico said it well in the postgame wrap up on Kobe’s final game tonight. “Fans around the NBA didn’t love Kobe, they loved to hate Kobe Bryant.” I am guilty as charged there.

But today is not the time for me to think about all of that. I had a great conversation earlier this week with a friend of mine who is also a hard core Celtics fan, but has a special appreciation for Kobe. My friend was born in the Phillipenes, and he came of age as a Celtics fan after he moved to Boston in 2004. Before then, he was a basketball fan at large, and as he put it, “Kobe was the face of basketball to us around the world”. He has a special appreciation for Kobe, as he was the face of a sport he came to love as he grew up. He gave so many thrills to fans around the world and set the standard for how to compete. He succeeded Michael Jordan as the most exciting player in basketball. He made fans stop and marvel at what he did on a nightly basis. And he earned his way into NBA lore. 

I watched the second half of the Lakers game against the Jazz because I wanted to see what the reaction in the crowd would be. I wanted to see how Kobe’s incredible 20 year career would end. Mostly, I wanted to watch him play one last time. I may have painful memories from watching him play, but I cannot help but respect him. 

I cannot help but appreciate how great Kobe Bryant was last night and how great he was for his whole career. He set the standard for years with his clutch play making, toughness, and silky smooth play. His accomplishments are legendary. He’s the 3rd all time scorer in NBA history, a 5 time Champion, scored 81 points in a game, scored 60 points in his final NBA game, and played in 18 all star games. All of this as a kid drafted out of high school when he was just 17 years old. He couldn’t sign his first NBA contract because he wasn’t 18! He needed his parents to cosign his contract. Not a bad outcome for him. 

I’m also in a position where I have to move on as a basketball fan. Kobe has been playing the entire time I’ve been aware of basketball. He was always there, always on TV and always playing hard. He was the best in the league for my time in middle school and most of high school. He came to define what a great basketball player is for my generation. Now he’s done. That’s it. No more dunks, clutch shots, or Mamba highlights. The Celtics fan in me loves that. The basketball fan in me has to adjust in a massive way without him being there. I am watching a big piece of my childhood retire from basketball. Much as I rooted against him, he was always there and I couldn’t ignore him. Now, he’s done. I’ll never be able to fully appreciate him as a player anymore. That is an eerie feeling. But for now, I am perfectly willing to say congratulations to Kobe on a Hall of Fame career, and thank you for giving me so many moments where I had to appreciate the sport of basketball, more specifically, the way you played that sport.

UConn Basketball: The Best and Worst Thing About Women’s Hoops

The UConn Women’s basketball team has dominated the sport for years now. They’ve won 11 championships in 20 years, and have won 4 championships in a row. In their last two years, every victory for UConn has been by double digits. They are the gold standard for women’s basketball and among the greatest program in all sports regardless of gender or sport. Geno Auriemma is one of the greatest coaches of all time, and Breanna Stewart is one of the greatest players in her sport. It’s a marvelous unit and outstanding team to watch and support. The state of Connecticut takes a good amount of pride in their Huskies, as they should. It is some of the best basketball anyone has the privilege of watching. They are among the best parts of women’s basketball.

However, it can, and I believe it does, hurt the sport. How? Because if the sport is not competitive, people will be less inclined to follow and watch it. Sports are fun because they are competitive and you’re not sure who is going to win. We watch for the thrill of competition and potential for both sides winning. It’s more fun when both sides are actually in the game and have a chance to win. In theory, anyone could defeat UConn. But for the last few years, that has not been the case in practice. UConn has so clearly dominated in the women’s game that it almost isn’t worth watching for any reason other than to watch how good UConn can be. Admittedly it is fun watching them control their opponents, especially as a Connecticutian. But when I step back and take a look at it from a wider perspective, I can see some major problems with this, especially when compared to the men’s college game.

This year’s Men’s tournament was unpredictable, filled with consistent turns and had many teams who could win the championship. And this resulted in one of the greatest college basketball championship games ever played between North Carolina and Villanova. The tournament this year demonstrated what college basketball is at its best. Women’s basketball is still a fairly young sport when compared to the men’s game and needs a few more storylines than just “UConn is destroying everyone”.

Dan Shaughnessy wrote his response to the domination of the Huskies and drew a tremendous amount of flack for it. I think that Shaughnessy is partly right. I think he is correct that it does hurt the sport if UConn is not even close to being beat. No game summed this up more than this year’s National Championship game against Syracuse. Keep in mind that I am a Big East basketball fan who will always want Syracuse to lose. The basketball fan in me wanted to see the game be somewhat close. I wanted it to be tight and see UConn rise to the challenge. But there was no challenge to rise to, and there certainly was no effort that Syracuse could muster to top the clearly superior Huskies. That is harmful to Women’s hoops, especially when the Men’s championship the night before was so compelling and entertaining. That can make them the worst part of the sport too.

The way to improve the sport is not to complain though, it is for at least one or two other programs to get some good recruits and build a strong program, which is certainly possible. There are other historically succesful programs in Women’s hoops, like Tennessee, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and Baylor. There are other programs that can rise to challenge the Huskies. Women’s basketball can be a major sport, but more competitors are needed to elevate the sport. They need a set up something like what the NBA had in the 1980’s. There were two top teams in the Celtics and Lakers, and there were worthy opponents in the Rockets, the 76ers, and the Pistons. There were several talented units that played intense basketball and elevated the sport to a higher level. UConn is doing that by themselves, but no one else is joining them on their pedestal. The Women’s game is simultaneously benefiting and suffering from this, and all decent fans want to see it improve, myself included.