Ten years after both programs first accomplished the feat, the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams both won national championships in the same season. Which title run was more impressive?
Kowaleski: This is a rough one for us, Mike. As fans of the Big East (old guard edition), it sucks to watch Connecticut take home not one, but two national titles in the span of two days. Let’s try and keep things objective.
As impressive as it is for the men to take a No. 7 seed into the tournament and beat Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, Florida, and Kentucky to win the title, let’s not forget they had their share of ugly losses during the regular season, going into the AAC Tournament on the heels of a 33-point thrashing at the hands of Louisville. But, just like they did with Kemba Walker a few years back, the Huskies got hot at the right time.
The women’s team wasn’t streaky. Well, they were, if you count a 40-game win streak. They won every game of the season, Mike. EVERY game. There’s nothing more impressive than undefeated, and unlike Wichita State in the men’s arena, there’s no “well, they didn’t have good competition” argument. They faced another undefeated team in Notre Dame for the championship, a matchup that was hyped as “a stewing rivalry between the two preeminent programs in women’s college basketball.” The Huskies beat their “rivals” by 21. That’s not a rivalry. That’s an “eff you” win. That’s dismissive.
No team got closer than 11 during the season, and they defeated regular season opponents by more than 30 points a game. I don’t see how you can get more dominant than that, Mike.
Kelley: Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, Florida, and Kentucky. Absolutely. Incredible. Perhaps the most impressive victory, at least in my mind, was the complete dismantlement of Florida in the Final Four. Each one of those opponents, though, was considered a legitimate national championship contender.
40-0 is spectacular. But to be quite honest, my eyes merely glanced over it. The UConn women have become so synonymous with the words ‘undefeated’ and ‘champion’ that it never seems as special or appreciated as it should be. No doubt it is astonishing, but in my mind, the UConn men outdid their counterparts in the NCAA Tournament en route to the national championship. Just reread the opponents that fell to the men you will find yourself in agreement.
Point guard Shabazz Napier time and again hit clutch shots. The unquestioned leader of UConn brought the best out of his teammates in the grandest of stages, and that in itself makes this run so impressive.
Judging by sheer numbers, the women would get the nod. I believe however, it is when adversity strikes that you see the true nature of a champion. Not necessarily that they were in adversity, but how they responded and eventually overcame it. The UConn men found themselves in great deals of adversity throughout this season and thus, earn the more impressive title run.
After two fans ran out onto the field during a Baltimore-NYY baseball game, Orioles CF Adam Jones ripped them apart, saying “They should let us have a shot to kick them with our metal spikes on.” Uncalled for?
Kowaleski: Well, jeez…don’t hold back, Adam.
Mike, I thought this was really over-the-top until I thought about it from the athletes’ point of view. I mean, it’s still over-the-top, but imagine if you were doing your job and idiots thought it was hilarious to run in the middle of your office, or your private library cube, or whatever. This happens on a regular basis to athletes.
I don’t usually fight the fans, Mike. I am one. I’m usually the one who’s more lenient in these columns, letting things go a little farther than is normal today. But here, I don’t see any point in saying no to Adam Jones. What’s the point of running onto the field? What are you gaining? There’s no outcome which I think justifies that behavior. And people continue to do this stuff.
Maybe if sport organizations let their players kick streakers’ asses on a regular basis, people wouldn’t do this anymore. Give them a shot or two. It’ll be like a hockey fight—security guards could break it up if it got too out of hand. I’m half-joking, but the fact remains that there need to be harsher penalties for these morons.
Kelley: Immediately, I will say his “They should let us have a shot to kick them with our metal spikes on” comment is over the top. It was said in the heat of the moment as emotions were running high, but nonetheless, it went too far.
Obviously, if a fan were to make physical contact with a player or coach, that respective person has every right to fight back and defend him or herself. Jones is right though when he says the punishments should be harsher. He is also right when he says you never know the intent of the fan, especially when he or she has been drinking.
Fans behavior at sporting events is becoming a recurrent issue in the world of sports. It was not too long ago we discussed the issue of storming the court in Mike’d UP. Now, that topic and its concerns have spread more publically into baseball.
The MLB, and all other leagues for that matter, need to examine this issue moving forward. Because it is slowly but surely becoming less and less funny, and more and more dangerous.