A friend of mine told me about a women's college team that I should be watching. I told him that there were a lot of teams I should be watching, but aren't.
He said, "Hey, you'll like this team. They don't exactly play in a big city, but they play great defense and can eak out some suprising wins. They generally get off to a good start and fall apart in the second half. But despite a losing record, they made it into the post-season and they're still alive while teams with better records are dead."
I was interested. And I have to admit, he was right.
They played great defense, they were strong starters and weak finishers. They might have had a chance of having close to a 20-win season if not for seven straight conference losses to finish the regular season - but they still finished one game under five hundred in their conference. They won the first game of the post-season tourney, but lost the second. (And insiders told me that if they had gotten past the semi-finals, they might have been able to beat the finals contender, or at least could have made it close.)
Even so, despite a 15-17 record they earned a spot in a relatively prestigious post-season tournament. From there they won their first three games and I think they have a good chance of winning some post-season hardware. This will definitely be a team to watch next year.
You might have an idea of who this team is. "Probably a mid-major team. Had some good quality wins early on. They're probably in the WNIT. Yeah, this might be a team to watch."
You'd be right. They play in Storrs, Connecticut. They're called the Connecticut Huskies.
Someone on ESPN today told me that UConn had won all three of its games in the NCAA tournament strictly on the basis of first-half scoring output - if UConn had scored zero points in the second half, they would have won those three games anyway. I decided to extend that to UConn's regular season to see if UConn would have a winning record if they were just held to their first half offensive output.
Oddly enough, UConn was suprisingly good. At one point, they were 14-9 early on in the season, and then as the real-life UConn slowed down in the back half of their undefeated season, UConn's first-half output wasn't good enough to beat a DePaul or an Oklahoma or a Notre Dame. The Halftime Huskies went 0-3 against the Forty Minute Fighting Irish. Their Big East season record was 7-9.
It seems that UConn can beat most teams with one hand - or one half - tied behind its back. I don't think John Wooden's UCLA team was able to do that. The problem most teams have with UConn...is that Twenty Minutes of Hell is only a half-portion.