Diana Taurasi's meaning to Connecticut basketball fans might be a bit deeper than we think.
Let’s face facts, there’s not a whole lot to be excited about living in Connecticut right now.
We have snow that seems like it’s going to take until August to melt. Our economy sucks, and our new Governor just gave a speech yesterday saying he wanted to further raise the highest gasoline tax in the country. We had a professional hockey team, it moved to Carolina. UConn’s football team makes a major bowl game, and we’re not only considered a laughing stock for being included, our coach then bolts for that hotbed of college football, Maryland. Sure, we have Kemba Walker, but the men’s basketball team at UConn isn’t really given much of a shot to win the national title.
Which leaves us with the UConn women’s basketball team. And THAT is why it was so important for people in Connecticut that Diana Taurasi had her suspension lifted yesterday, even if her actual clearance is about as clear as mud, it is something we needed here badly.
See, the women of the UConn basketball program are more than just athletes in this state. We know women’s basketball in general suffers from “our girls syndrome,” but perhaps it’s no greater than here in Connecticut. These are the daughters of every resident of the state; Geno Auriemma being the smart-ass uncle everyone has.
When you sign your letter of intent to come to Connecticut, you might as well just use your first name. Because as soon as you set foot on campus, you lose your last name. The players are Maya, Stef, Tiff, Caroline, Lorin, and so on. It’s not until you leave, in some cases you get it back. It depends on the circumstances. Asjha, Swin and Tina have not. Walker has. She put herself up for adoption; she got a last name.
Which brings us to Diana. She was Diana when she was a Husky. She was Diana when she won WNBA titles and USA medals. Heck, she was even Diana when she was DUI. But I started to hear an awful lot of Taurasi talk the last few months.
We don’t like rule breakers contrary to what some of the fans in orange may think. We have a stubborn arrogance about it in fact. We were mad about the men’s program and NCAA allegations. We were mad about some of the football players’ off the field activities.
But one of “our girls” doing performance enhancing drugs? That was more than we could take. We all wanted to believe her; we all said publicly we believed her. But some Nutmeggers? Well, I started to hear Diana replaced with Taurasi.
So, now she has her name back…the name is Diana, or even Dee, since everyone in the state knows her personally. Maya is Maya, and should UConn somehow win another title this year, the discussion will rage over who was the greater player. I’ll end the discussion now. Diana was then, is now, and will forever be, the greatest player in the history of the state of Connecticut. She is a treasure. A dynamic personality, with mad skills we all wish we had. And she is our treasure.
Through the piles of snow outside my office window yesterday morning, a ray of light came in. The weather is downright warm today; it’s supposed to go almost to 60 tomorrow. It can only mean one thing: Diana is back; Taurasi has been vanquished.