Geno Auriemma has turned the UConn women’s basketball team into one of the most dominant squads in college basketball history. He’s been the team’s head coach since 1985. The Huskies began their dominance as a dynasty about 10 years later when the women’s team won their first national championship in 1995.
UConn has won a number of titles since then as Auriemma continues to recruit well and build strong teams. While the Huskies were still among the top teams in the country this season, they weren’t quite as dominant as we’ve come to expect over the last quarter-century.
The UConn Lady Huskies’ dynasty
The Huskies went a perfect 35-0 in the 1994-95 season on their way to winning the championship in March 1995, beginning their dynasty. They didn’t win their next title until March 2000 when they capped off a 36-1 campaign. They went 39-0 in the 2001-02 season. At the end of that season, they won the first of three straight championships.
Auriemma led the Huskies to back-to-back titles again in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, with the team going 39-0 in each of those seasons. Then, the Huskies won four straight championships between the 2012-13 season and the 2015-16 campaign. They had two undefeated seasons during that stretch, including a 40-0 mark in 2013-14. All told, the Lady Huskies have won 11 national titles since the 1994-95 season.
A bit less dominant this season
While the Huskies were still good this season, they weren’t as dominant as usual. One way this is evident is that they lost to defending champion Baylor at home in January, 74-58. This ended the team’s 98-game home winning streak. The Huskies ended the shortened season at 29-3, including a perfect 16-0 record in conference play in the AAC.
The Huskies still averaged a 22.3-point margin of victory this season, but they weren’t dominant against the nation’s other top teams. Experts projected the Huskies as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament if it was played this season.
So what’s responsible for the changes in the Huskies’ dominance of women’s basketball? Parity in the sport, with teams like Notre Dame, Louisville, and Baylor emerging as top teams.
Not only does parity make it harder for the Huskies on the court, but it also hurts them in recruiting. Auriemma used to be able to recruit all of the top prospects to UConn when it was the inarguable top team in the country. Now, though, other teams are in the conversation and other schools are able to attract top prospects.
UConn alum-turned-ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo acknowledges the increased competition in women’s basketball, noting, “You have to appreciate what the game is turning into, what it’s become and how it’s grown.” While the growth is good for the sport, it’s not so good for UConn.
The shortened 2019-20 season
Even with three losses on their ledger this season, the Huskies wouldn’t have been lower than a two-seed in the NCAA tournament this season. so, they would have had a realistic chance of competing for the title and redeeming themselves after what’s viewed as a less-than-dominant season.
But UConn didn’t get that chance after the coronavirus pandemic canceled both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments. The dissolution of March Madness put a stop to the Huskies’ attempt to earn their first title in four seasons.