The UConn women's record-breaking 90-game winning streak finally came to an end today, with a 71-59 loss at the hands of eighth-ranked Stanford, who actually was the last team to beat them just over two-and-a-half years ago.
Where the streak stands in comparison to others such as the UCLA men's streak can be debated forever (if you ask me, the era of Wooden's dynasty overshadows Geno's dominance), but there is one thing that can't be argued: This streak is the best thing that could have happened for women's basketball.
Let's be honest: If it wasn't for UConn's remarkable run, then nobody would be talking about women's basketball. Not today, not tomorrow, not next month, probably not even next March.
For a sport that flies so far under the radar to be gracing the airwaves of ESPN, any amount of publicity that they get has to be considered a win.
Maya Moore can't exactly be considered a household name yet, but this has helped to get the sport into people's consciousness and has forced people to have an opinion on the team. Without the streak, women's hoops would be 100 percent irrelevant at the moment. (Insert joke that it still is anyway here.)
However, UConn's separation from the pack hurts the sport as much as it helps it. It's hard to want to follow a sport where the best team consistently blows out other Top 25 teams by 30 points or more.
The talent gap just jumps off the screen and it makes almost any game not including the best teams in the country painful to watch.
UConn's greatness can be appreciated, but no one likes to see Goliath win, let alone destroy David every time. Hopefully, more girls out there will be exposed to the sport and the talent won't be spread so thin in the future, but right now it's easy to see that college hoops is UConn's world and everyone is just living in it.
Where do we go from here? Does UConn roll off another 90 in a row and make the headlines again in three years? I'd be shocked to see UConn repeat that effort, but it's certain they'll win a lot of games, probably even the national championship.
It's hard to say what will happen but I know what would be the best thing for the sport of women's basketball: UConn needs to lose. They don't need to lose on a nightly basis, but every now and then, they need a setback.
Proponents of the sport have to be dreaming of a Stanford-UConn rematch on April 5th in Indianapolis. A rivalry between these two giants could help to garner some attention to that other Final Four.
The rest of the nation needs to prove that they can compete with UConn, that this is a legitimate sport instead of a monopoly. Then the sport could garner a little more respect from all of the haters out there and not be as much of an afterthought.
I can't say I'm a fan of women's basketball in the least, but I know this streak has made me think about the standing of this run and women's hoops in the world of sports, and what has to happen in the months and years ahead to make women's basketball a respected sport instead of just a punchline.
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