Tag Archives: Connecticut Huskies

Geno Auriemma is a Feminist

Prior to Geno Auriemma accepting the University of Connecticut job in 1985, the program had experienced one winning season. The rest, as they say, is history. With Auriemma in charge of the program, the Huskies have won 991 games. Those victories include 11 national championships and two impressive winning streaks. The first of those streaks was 70 games and the second was 111 games.

That 111-winning streak ended with a 66-64 Mississippi State overtime loss in the 2016-17 national championship game. You would think that Mississippi State would be the story, but it isn’t. The story is the comment that placed Auriemma in the societal crosshairs of intersectional feminism.

In a press conference leading up to the championship game, Auriemma commented about the low percentage of women who coach.

“There’s a reason why there’s not as many opportunities for women. Not as many women want to coach,”

That comment seemed innocent enough. He wasn’t saying that women couldn’t or shouldn’t coach. Auriemma was reacting to the low percentage of women in the profession and offered his opinion as to why that percentage may be as low as it is. And for this, he caught the ire of the intersectional feminist crowd.

Leading the mob against Auriemma in the name of intersectional feminism was Ally Auriemma. That’s right. The lead pitchfork and torchbearer is Auriemma’s daughter.

You see? Ally doesn’t consider her father to be anti-woman; being a family member has some privileges I guess. But Ally did play her “white cisgendered man” card against her father. Yes, Ally. We’re all head-desking hard. But it’s not in support of you and the mob that you’re attempting to stir up against your father.

And then Ally went one step further in her attempt to douse her self-created intersectional fire with even more gasoline. She implied that her father was on par with Donald Trump.

Ally is a grand cliché in all of this. If her self-serving indictment of her father weren’t enough, she went a step or 2 or 3 or 4 or 100 further. She attempted to score cheap political points with her “woe is me” “my father is a Trumpian buffoon” slant.

The real issue that intersectional feminism has with Auriemma was articulated by Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins. When Auriemma said that “It’s quite simple. Not as many women want to coach,” he cut to the heart of the SJW issue. Auriemma suggested that the lack of women coaching women’s basketball is, at least, in part due to personal choice. In Jenkins words, “there are so many riling things in that statement that it’s hard to know which one you want to swing your purse at first.” In the opinion of Jenkins, Auriemma is just another male who is blinded by the security of his gender and success.

Jenkins then twisted herself into a logic pretzel when she stated that Auriemma was right in saying that “it’s not like people are consciously depriving women of opportunities.” Thanks for playing, Jenkins. You and Ally should have started and stopped with that.

There are instances where women don’t get ahead professionally due to gender bias. And there are also a seemingly unlimited number of law firms who specialize in handling those cases. But Auriemma was correct in highlighting the role of personal choice. If a person isn’t where they want to be in life, it’s ultimately up to them to create the opportunities that they desire. There should be no expectation that something will be handed to you based on gender. That applies to both males and females.

In leading the intersectional feminist cause in college basketball coaching, Ally and Jenkins have no use for personal choice. It doesn’t matter to them what a potential female coaching candidate wants out of her own life, that potential candidate should be coaching. And if that would-be candidate chooses to be something other than a coach? Ally and Jenkins would have us believe that it’s the fault of an anti-woman, cisgendered male system.

The question then becomes this – Who’s the real feminist in all of this? Is it Ally and Jenkins? Or, wait for it…is it Auriemma?

In supporting the woman’s right to choose which profession best fits her individual goals and life outlook, I would say the real feminist is Auriemma.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Connecticut beats Loyola Marymount, avoids disaster

Preseason No. 18 Connecticut finally earned a win — but lost a key player — on Thursday night.  The Huskies squeaked out a 65-62 win at Loyola Marymount to move to 1-2, but promising freshman Alterique Gilbert’s status for the Maui Invitational is uncertain after he separated his shoulder. The close result after two losses to small-conference schools will do little to instill confidence among UConn faithful, particularly after Gilbert’s injury.

The Huskies’ first two losses of the season were a 67-58 thumping by a Wagner team picked to finish second in the Northeastern Conference and a 64-61 loss to Northeastern, the projected seventh place finishers in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll. It’s the first time Connecticut started the season 0-2 since 1968.

The Huskies entered the season with high expectations. Gilbert and VCU transfer Terry Larrier joining a lineup that featured returning starters Rodney Purvis and Jalen Adams seemed like a recipe for success on a UConn team that is used to great backcourt play. Obviously, expectations aren’t being met.

Through three games, the newcomers are holding up their end of the bargain for Connecticut. Larrier leads the team with 16.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field. Gilbert entered the night averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.0 steals per game with a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

It’s Purvis, the team’s leading scorer last year with 12.8 points per game, who is struggling out of the gate. He’s averaging just 5.7 points per game on 28 percent shooting this season. Without Gilbert or a consistent offensive threat in the post, Purvis will need to pick up his game dramatically for the Huskies to recover from the ugly start.

Despite being just three seasons removed from a national championship, continued sloppy play could cost Head Coach Kevin Ollie his job. After being ineligible for the NCAA Tournament in Ollie’s first year due to APR issues, Connecticut won the 2014 National Championship. Since then, the team has fallen off quickly.

The Huskies missed the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and bowed out quietly to 1-seed Kansas in 2016. Even during UConn’s title run, inconsistent play during the regular season was a concern. The Huskies finished in a three-way tie for third place in the American Athletic Conference and earned a 7-seed. With the difficult start, it’s easy to imagine another season without an NCAA Tournament berth. If that happens, don’t be surprised if Ollie is shown the door.

Still, there is hope for Connecticut. Rodney Purvis has proven himself to be better than what we’ve seen this season. If he’s able to find his rhythm, the team should bounce back from its early struggles. Connecticut probably won’t meet preseason expectations, but could still be in the mix for an at-large bid. From there, Ollie is likely only an NCAA Tournament win or two away from some more job security.

It’s not the likeliest scenario, and Gilbert’s injury could cost the team some resume-boosting wins. Still, with improved play from Purvis a UConn resurgence is far from impossible. While head scratching regular season losses are frustrating, Ollie’s Huskies know that all you need is a spot in the field to make a run.

Email John and [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jjparker084.

Image via UConnHuskies.com

The American Athletic Conference’s Best Football Games of 2016

The AAC has been looked at as little more than a mish-mash of former Big East teams. One season has changed all that. Nobody expects them to move up to the level of a Power 5 conference, but they can’t be looked at as mere push-overs.

Last season, Houston achieved program-altering success and that momentum, along with their schedule, gives them an outside shot at the Playoff in 2016. It wasn’t just the Houston Cougars earning the AAC respect. Temple, Navy, and Memphis were all in the Top 25 at one point during the season. While a couple of those teams may fall back a bit with the loss of quarterbacks, other teams are primed to improve and make sure Houston doesn’t just waltz through the conference schedule.

Who will those teams be? There are some early season games among the ten best that may show which AAC team can challenge the Cougars for the top spot.

10. Temple vs. SMU (Saturday, October 1)

The conference opener for both teams, Temple will try to pick up where it left off last year. A year ago, SMU put up 40 against a Temple defense that allowed the second fewest points in the conference. The Mustangs still fell 60-40.

9. Cincinnati vs. Houston (Thursday, September 15)

Cincinnati was a disappointing 4-4 in the conference last year but was 5-1 at home, where they’ll get the Houston Cougars this year. The Bearcats only lost by three at Houston last year, and this Thursday home game early in the year will give them a chance to derail Houston’s conference and playoff hopes. This match-up will also provide the AAC’s two best quarterbacks in Greg Ward Jr. and Gunner Kiel.

8. SMU vs. TCU (Friday, September 23)

SMU didn’t exactly put a scare into TCU last year, but a 56-37 final made it closer than the Horned Frogs would have liked. Now the Mustangs get Gary Patterson’s crew at home, and we’ll have a good chance to see how far Chad Morris can bring his team in his second year as head coach.

7. Connecticut at South Florida (Saturday, October 15)

South Florida won seven of its last eight regular season games last year. Included in that stretch was a one-score victory over UConn. If the Huskies are going to improve on their six-win season and stay in the race for the AAC West, it starts here.

6. Temple at Connecticut (Friday, November 4)

This will be a big game in the AAC West race. Connecticut’s offense was abysmal last year, but Huskie fans hope there will be improvement with ten starters back. Temple will be trying to replicate the success of their 10-win 2015 after having just 12 total in the previous three seasons.

5. Houston at SMU (Saturday, October 22)

This should be a fun one. SMU struggled in Chad Morris’ first year as head coach but it shouldn’t take him long to get the offense rolling. The defense will have problems stopping Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. led offense, but the Cougars lost all four starting defensive backs so this game should see plenty of points.

4. Temple vs. South Florida (Friday, October 21)

The East division is Houston and everyone else this year, but the West will be up for grabs. This game could determine who plays the Cougars in the conference championship game. Temple and South Florida were the two best teams in the West last year and the winner of this one will have a leg up in the division race.

3. Houston vs. Connecticut (Thursday, September 29)

Houston gets Connecticut on a Thursday night at home, where they will try to avenge their only loss from the 2015 season. It won’t be easy though, with the Huskies returning a conference-high 16 starters.

2. Houston vs. Louisville (Thursday, November 17)

The Cougars get another chance to make a statement with this oddly scheduled non-conference game late in the year. If the Cougars lose to Oklahoma in the opener, no one will give them much credit unless they show up big in this one. This might be the best defense Greg Ward Jr. and company face all year.

1. Houston vs. Oklahoma (Saturday, September 3)

Houston heads into 2016 with a ton of hype after going 13-1 with a win over Florida State in 2015. We’ll see if they can sustain that success right off the bat when they play the Sooners in the season opener. With Greg Ward Jr. back, the offense should hold its own. This game will be about which rebuilt defense can get enough stops (Noon est, ABC/ESPN).

E-mail Jason at or follow him on Twitter @JLindy87

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Building The Dam: Oregon State Women’s Basketball

When you build something with your own hands you take a lot of pride in it. Once the construction is finished you look at what you have built to make sure it’s exactly what you want and exactly how you want it. In Corvallis, Oregon, there is something being built that people are finally starting to take notice of on a national level. It’s the women’s basketball program at Oregon State University.

For the longest time, even when I was a young guy going to school there, the women’s program was something that most fans didn’t take notice of. There was not much to notice, to be fair to the people who have gone to school there. Fast forward to 2010 when Oregon State took a chance on a coach from a small Division III school outside of Portland, Oregon.

Scott Rueck, the head coach of Oregon State, came from George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon and knew what it would take to revive the program. He had experienced a great deal of success at George Fox in taking that program to the Final Four in Division III, but he knew that doing same thing at the Division One level would take a ton of effort on his part and the staff he had assembled in Corvallis.

When Coach Rueck came to Oregon State the program was in shambles, attendance was near nothing, the Beavers had not been to the NCAA Tournament in centuries, and there was no excitement surrounding the program. How was he going to resurrect this program? In one word, family.

When building any type of athletic program, whether it’s football, basketball, or gymnastics you have to have a sense of belonging for the athletes. If the players don’t have that sense of togetherness you will have a team that underachieves most of the time. Rueck knew this from his days at George Fox and his nearly 20 years of coaching. He was determined to instill that feeling of “family” at Oregon State.

Coach Rueck likes to share his success with his family. His wife and kids are a constant for him whether it’s at games or simply on the practice floor, and it appears that his players have bought into that feeling since he arrived on campus. It’s tough being a big time Division One coach because with all the time you spend getting your program to a place where people start taking notice you spend much of your time away from the people you care about the most. It can be a tough thing, but Rueck has made it work beautifully.

When he started to construct his program he had to hold open tryouts just to fill the roster out. I have not heard of anything close to that in major Division One college sports at all. From that first season in 2010, during which the current Senior class went through a 10-game losing streak and finished a dismal 10-21, Rueck has guided his team to its first Final Four appearance in school history. For a bit of perspective, the Lady Beavers had not been past the second round of the Tournament ever, so the accomplishment of knocking off number one seed Baylor will be something that the Beavers will cherish for a long time.

However, Coach Rueck, his staff and players know that the work is not done.

“I think this team is really confident. This is a team that is prepared.” Said Coach Rueck before they took on the Baylor Bears.

When Coach Rueck was asked about his team’s chances going into the NCAA Tournament he simply replied with a huge vote of confidence about his team.

“This team has played against everybody and played well against everybody, and they’ve played storied programs in storied venues, and they haven’t even blinked. It’s been part of the learning process. So I believe that this team absolutely has what it takes.” Coach Rueck said.

Coach Rueck believes in his players and the players believe in themselves.

Sydney Wiese, the Beavers’ 5’10” guard, who has been their go to player almost from the day she arrived on campus, shares in her coach’s confidence.

“This is the reason I came to Oregon State. I wanted to take down the big programs and do something special.” Wiese said recently during the Tournament.

The sense of togetherness with this group of players is one of the reasons that the Beavers have been so successful so quickly under Coach Rueck. Sometimes a program just needs to hit rock bottom and then get a little bit of luck with selecting the right coach at the right time to realize what is possible for it. The Beavers are realizing their dreams right now and with the success that they have shown this year and even the past couple of seasons, the run of wins, Tournament bids, and conference titles may not be over.

The Beavers have risen up all season to meet their own high expectations. They have won the Pac-12 Conference, they won the conference tournament, are a number two seed, and are one of the four remaining teams in the Tournament. What’s next?

They have a date with the UConn Huskies and maybe, just maybe, a date with destiny. Go Beavs!

 

Image: google

NCAA Tournament: South Region Round Two Notebook

The Second Round in the South Region brought the close of an era, as Wichita State’s brilliant four-year run ended at the hands of Miami.  There also would be no more magical Cinderella ride for Connecticut, as Kansas quickly disposed of what many hoped would be a third title run in the last six years for the Huskies.  After what took place the rest of the evening around the bracket on Sunday, the South turned out to be pretty standard procedure.

Hurricanes Avoid a Natural Disaster

Miami looked like it was going to blow away the Shockers in the opening game of the Second Round on Saturday.  This year’s rendition of Wichita State isn’t as talented as the 2013/14 squads that Greg Marshall sported and Miami was making it clear early on.  Credit the Shockers for being patient and not attempting to get the entire 21-point deficit back at once.  They slowly but surely worked their way back into the game.

Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet once again showed the calm leadership they have for four years.  They should be applauded for what they’ve done to force mid-major basketball into the collective consciousness of America.  On the flip side, give Miami its due for taking punch after punch from Wichita State, and holding on.  The Hurricanes looked like they were going to buckle under the pressure, but Angel Rodriguez was magical, and Sheldon McClellan made big shot on top of big shot.  Miami is in a good spot to last in this tournament.

Jayhawks’ Execution Puts UConn to Death

Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks appear to have taken past tournament failures to heart in their first two games, handling their business with relative ease to proceed to the Sweet 16.  Execution was the key against the Huskies.  From the jump, Kansas harassed the UConn guards on and off the ball, hounding them into mistakes.  Offensively, the Jayhawks methodically built a 22-point lead by running crisp sets, leading to clean looks at the basket.  Perry Ellis was his usual self, calmly navigating around the paint, and Wayne Selden did damage both inside and out.

UConn’s offense being restricted to the perimeter was sorely exposed by the Jayhawks.  As Kansas built the lead, the Huskies were typically relegated to getting only one shot on offense as Landen Lucas dominated the defensive boards.  A brief lull by the Jayhawks in the second half allowed UConn to creep within single digits, but there was no real threat of a comeback.  Kansas looks fine tuned to contend for the National Title.

Threes Better Than Twos for Nova

The pace was at full throttle right off the tip when Villanova and Iowa met on Sunday afternoon.  Iowa ran some excellent offensive sets leading to easy buckets.  But Villanova’s outside shooting quickly made the Hawkeyes chase a double-digit deficit and they simply couldn’t keep up.  By the time halftime rolled around, the Wildcats had extended to a 25-point lead, and cruised to the finish.  They shot nearly 60 percent for the game from the field, and better than 50 percent from the three-point arc, going 10-19.

Villanova was extremely physical and aggressive on defense, terrorizing the Hawkeyes into turnovers which led to immediate transition buckets.  This was exactly the type of game that Villanova wants to play, and a style which could beat anyone in the field.  The question as always for them will be whether they can continue to hit perimeter shots at an alarming rate.  If not, how will they generate offense?  Fortunately for the Wildcats, their next opponent Miami plays a very similar style.  Nova vs. Miami will be played at a break-neck pace when they meet up in the Sweet 16.

A Tale of Two Terrapins, Part 2

Sunday’s game between Maryland and Hawaii was eerily similar to the Terrapins’ First Round game with South Dakota State, only this time their better half showed up later rather than sooner.  Hawaii brought the fight right to Maryland in the first half, with Michael Thomas doing the majority of the damage for the Rainbows early.  The Terps struggled to find any real rhythm offensively, but were able to hold a slim lead at halftime, mainly by getting back to the basics, and leveraging Diamond Stone in the paint for easy buckets.

For a large portion of the second half, it looked as if this game would come down to the wire.  However, some of the careless mistakes that Hawaii made against Cal began to creep into this game.  The difference is Maryland made them pay.  The Terrapins went on a 14-0 run, powered by Rasheed Sulaimon, which essentially put the game away without much fanfare.  Once again, Maryland will need all of what they displayed in the second half, and very little of what we saw in the first half, if they’re to knock off Kansas in the Sweet 16.

While the South lacked the insanity which took place in both the East and West regions on Sunday night, it’s set up well for some outstanding Sweet 16 games, with legitimate contenders emerging from the pack.  Thursday and Friday can’t come fast enough.

Email Damon at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DamonKnowsSports.

Image via Flick/Phil Roeder

The College Quickie: College Football is Only Two Weeks Away

We’re two weeks from kicking off the 2015 college football season. Each conference’s media days are over, practices are coming to an end and the two-deeps are being tightened up around the country. It’s finally time to kick this thing off.

There are a handful of games on the opening weekend of this season that I will have my eye on. I’m not here to tell you who I think will win, rather I am here to tell you what interests me about these games.

Villonava at Connecticut; Thursday, September 3

Jay Wright going head-to-head with Kevin Ollie is a great way to start the year off. Oh, this isn’t an early heavy weight tilt in basketball? Because if it were, I’d be all in.

Connecticut had a decent program. From 1999-2010, Randy Edsall went 74-70 at UConn. Coach Edsall guided the Huskies to five bowl games including a 2010 appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Edsall is now at Maryland where he’s becoming the Butch Jones of the Big Ten…you know, high profile recruits with low level win totals. As for this year’s UConn head coach, Bob Diaco went 2-10 last season and that 2010 Fiesta Bowl was the last post season action the Huskies have sniffed.

Coach Diaco will need this win because his next two games are against Army and Missouri.

TCU at Minnesota; Thursday, September 3

Both of these teams have the opportunity to prove something in this opening game between the Big 12 and Big Ten.

First of all, congratulations are in order for each of these teams. In this day and age of cream puff non-conference schedules and neutral site games, these teams rose above the fray. TCU plays Minnesota in Minnesota. Second, each of these teams has the chance to make statements and set the tone for 2015.

TCU probably feels a bit slighted for being left out of the playoff last year. If so, this is their opportunity to run over a quality team from a quality conference. Nothing would set the tone better for the Horned Frogs and their 2015 season.

As for Minnesota, they can lose and still set the tone for their season. The Gophers replace some key members of last year’s team. Coach Jerry Kill is as respected a coach as there is in the country and he has the opportunity to prove not only his coaching prowess but his recruiting prowess as well. If he has recruited well, replacing last season’s players should not be an issue.

If the Gophers win, the Big Ten as a whole just became much more interesting. And if they lose in competitive fashion then Wisconsin and Nebraska will have been put on alert in regards to the Big Ten West.

Texas at Notre Dame; Saturday, September 5

This is like Grandpa Simpson taking on Izzy Mandelbaum. Two well respected grandpas whose better days are arguably behind them yet they still think they can kick everyone’s ass.

Texas and Notre Dame have individually had some great seasons recently, but do you remember the last season that both Texas and Notre Dame were kings in the same season? You have to go all the way back to 1995. That was the year John Mackovic led the Longhorns to the Sugar Bowl and Lou Holtz led the Fighting Irish to the Orange Bowl.

This season, Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame team is considered to be a contender for the playoff. After all, they did finish 8-5 last year. As for Charlie Strong’s Texas team, they finished 6-7 last season, but expectations are still high in Austin. But then again, lots of things are high in Austin.

And to both Texas and Notre Dame, I have this to say: In the immortal words of Izzy Mandelbaum; It’s go time, butterbean.

Leave a comment below, follow Seth on Twitter @SMerenbloom or e-mail him at [email protected].