It’s time once again for college hoops, and, as the season looms, the UCONN’s women are once again getting all the hype. The Huskies were the AP’s unanimous number one in the first preseason poll, tying Tennessee for most number one rankings overall…at least heading into the season.
And that’s where we all have to come back down to earth. There’s nothing to preseason polls but expectations and pressure. No games have been played, and now the team has to live up to what pretty much everyone believes they are capable of. Any slip will be met with surprise and creeping doubt.
When asked about the rankings, players and coaches all said essentially the same thing: “it only matters where you are at the end of the season, not the beginning.” True. To finish on top, UCONN has a tough road ahead, beginning with a match against a strong Stanford team.
There is reason to believe in these Huskies, though. UCONN brings back four starters from a team that made the Final Four last season. Add to that an incredible group of talented and versatile underclassmen. They will have to play strong all year to keep the top spot against contenders from Texas (#2), Baylor (#3), and defending national champion, South Carolina (#4).
The big test for the UCONN players, though, is not really their opponents, but in keeping up the legacy of one of the winningest programs in all of college sports. In recent years, pretty much nobody has won like the Huskies have won, and no team wants to be on the squad that kills that momentum.
Ask the players and their legion of fans, and they are all certain this team is up to the challenge in front of them. Win on the court, and they will build on that legacy. Keep winning, and they will create the momentum the team needs to erase last year’s Final Four loss that broke one of the longest win streaks in college sports. That 111-game streak included two national titles and the respect of anyone who follows sports.
How they won those games, was as telling as how the streak ended. During the run, UCONN beat most teams by double digits, absolutely dominating on both ends of the floor. Then, in the 2016 semifinals, Mississippi State outlasted the Huskies, winning by only 2 points in overtime.
Now, the Huskies look to begin another incredible streak. They will start at “one” and go from there. How far they go will be entertaining to watch.