TALLAHASSEE, Fl. — Something the world of college basketball isn't used to is the chance that the University of Connecticut could have reasonably started out the season with two losses. After losing the first three picks in the WNBA Draft, there has been a level of apprehension surrounding this year’s squad.
The No. 3 Huskies squared off against No. 12 Florida State in their first official game of the 2016 campaign tonight (Nov. 14) and will be tested yet again versus No. 2 Baylor on Thursday (Nov. 17) on the road.
Connecticut came into tonight’s game riding nearly every impressive win-streak imaginable: 20 straight years with a season-opening win and 75 straight overall wins — just to name a couple.
Even though UCONN could have lost to FSU, and they very well could lose to Baylor next, the first component of a potential 0-2 start was shot down after a 78-76 win in Tallahassee. But the point isn’t the outcome of the game; it’s that UCONN isn’t necessarily expected to go undefeated and win its fifth consecutive national championship this year.
Can they do it? Most certainly. Are they a shoo-in? Not this year.
Florida State confirmed and even exposed this very belief tonight. Maybe Connecticut fans aren’t so happy their Huskies will find themselves in tighter ball games this year and, quite frankly, will probably lose at some point. However, for anyone with a rooting interest in women’s college basketball, the FSU vs. UCONN matchup was an insanely awesome one to kick off the year.
Why? Because we saw more talent and more competitiveness BEYOND Geno Auriemma’s roster. And not just that, but the talent was on full display - in numerous capacities and for both teams - on national television.
The game itself came down to the final seconds. A combined seven players posted double-digit points. Florida State’s Brittany Brown flirted with a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Connecticut’s Napheesa Collier dropped 28 points and pulled down the game-saving block. Connecticut won by just two points.
“It’s about grit and toughness,” FSU Head Coach Sue Semrau said. “I haven't had a team that has shown this kind of toughness in what? A season? It was really amazing to watch, their transformation. Our first game we didn't have that. You know obviously when you get a chance to play on this stage, things change and now we’ve got to continue in that same light.”
Serious question — what more can you ask for in the first game of Monday Night women’s hoops? Regardless of where you fall on the “dominance is bad for the women’s game” and “parity is key to growth” spectrum, what viewers saw in Connecticut vs. Florida State should have them excited and optimistic.