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2010: The Year UConn Has Shined the Brightest

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2010 ended with a loss for UConn, but in some ways it is fitting that the streak came to an end just before the door closed on 2010 as it was a year where a single college basketball program was ever present on every level of women's basketball.  

Whether it was Geno Auriemma, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, or UConn alumni like Sue Bird and Swin Cash so many people associated with UConn had spectacular years in 2010 and not just in a single venue.  Whether it was an NCAA Championship and a World Championship, or a WNBA and World Championship, or a Euroleage title and a World Championship, people associated with the UConn program weren't just winning one championship in 2010.

Certainly the UConn women's basketball team shined the brightest of all in 2010.  From opening 2010 by hosting the first women's basketball game featured on ESPN Game Day to the streak-breaking loss to Stanford, UConn's reach extended beyond women's basketball circles into the mainstream sports media at large.  

Whether it was questioning if UConn was good for women's basketball or what winning more consecutive games than UCLA meant, nearly every media outlet discussed women's basketball in 2010.  From ESPN to PBS to HBO, everyone had something to say about UConn in 2010.  And the UConn players earned that attention with consistency and dedication that led to historic achievements.  The streak and everything involved was the central story and it is well traveled ground, but the impact of UConn's women's basketball program was felt in so many other areas.

So when Swish Appeal's writers discussed candidates women's basketball person and/or storyline of the year and half the candidates were connected to a single program, it only made sense to recognize the program as a whole. After a vote for 2010 women's basketball person or storyline of the year from a broad list of candidates, we ultimately chose the UConn women's basketball program and its rapidly growing impact on women's basketball worldwide. 
USA Basketball

In 2010 USA Basketball fully embraced all of the resources of the UConn women's basketball program to help combat the significant challenge of limited training time for the US National team.  The final result was a World Championship for a squad that included six UConn alumni coached by Geno Auriemma, but the process of reaching that result involved even more extensive involvement from the UConn program as a whole.  

Players like Angel McCoughtry, Tamika Catchings, Slyvia Fowles, and Candice Dupree that played central roles in powering the US back to the gold medal stand were surrounded throughout the training process in 2010 by people that knew exactly what Auriemma wanted.  Not only were the UConn players there in practices to be examples, but so were the UConn assistant coaches and UConn male practice players.  

USA Basketball could have taken a different approach, but 2010 showed that they were committed to everything that the UConn program had to offer from staff to a fan base to media coverage.  And in the end the World Championships ended with UConn players used to winning nearly everything claiming a championship that none of them had on their resumes.  

Euroleague

Even with Lauren Jackson choosing to spend the winter of 2010 back home in Australia, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi won their fourth consecutive Euroleague championship in 2010.  The two guards who were already being called the best backcourt in women's basketball history while they were still playing for UConn capped off what will likely be their final season playing together in Europe with Taurasi leaving Spartak for Fenerbahce.  

WNBA

2010 for the WNBA really began with the trade that sent Renee Montgomery back to Connecticut, kept Tina Charles in Connecticut, and finally sent Lindsay Whalen back to Minnesota.  With the trade, the Connecticut Sun tied the franchise's future to the UConn stars.

Through most of the season the players leading the WNBA in scoring, rebounds, and assists were all UConn alumni. Sue Bird finished the season second in assists, but Diana Taurasi did finish with her third consecutive scoring title. And Tina Charles set the single season rebounding record for not just rookies, but the entire league.
 
And the team of the 2010 WNBA season, the Seattle Storm, featured three former UConn teammates that spent four years together in Storrs, Connecticut.  Three players all extremely motivated to win a WNBA championship for slightly different reasons after years of frustration.  Sue Bird trying to get past five years of first round playoff losses.  Swin Cash overcoming injuries and an ugly end to her time in Detroit.  And Svetlana Abrosimova returning to win a championship after a year away from a frustrating WNBA career filled with injuries on mostly losing teams.  And that's exactly what they did and they did it in UConn style, dominating the WNBA from start to finish.  

In the same year where Rebecca Lobo was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, UConn may have reached its full maturity.  The UConn program's influence on women's basketball is not fading anytime soon, but history may look back on 2010 as the pinnacle of that influence.

For a brief overview of some of the other candidates we discussed, see the Dishin' and Swishin' top ten brightest moments: #10-6 and #5-1.