Over the Christmas weekend, I wrote a long, long entry reflecting more on the whole UConn streak/UCLA streak topic … but realized (after writing it) that I’m very weary of that particular “debate” right now, and that you might be, too.
So I put that entry on the shelf. I may decide to post it later, or maybe it’s one of those blog entries that just never sees the light of day. (It would hardly be the first.) For now, let’s just move on completely from the Bruins and their record streak for men’s basketball, and instead talk about the next few days and where the spotlight will be for women’s hoops.
As UConn brings its travelin’ show _ 89 consecutive wins and counting – to the Golden State, I find myself wondering when we might see another D-I women’s basketball national champion from the West Coast.
The Huskies play at Pacific on Tuesday night, which will be quite an event in Stockton, Calif. It’s a school that normally has no buzz about its women’s basketball program, but now – thanks to its famous visitors – will be big news for an evening.
I’ll be headed to Stockton after seeing Stanford face Xavier on Tuesday afternoon at the Cardinal’s Maples Pavilion, a rematch of last year’s exciting (but heartbreaking for the Musketeers) Elite Eight contest.
And, of course, on Thursday, UConn will play at Stanford, as the Cardinal take their turn again at trying to be the streak-buster.
Stanford is the last West Coast team to win the NCAA women’s hoops championship, in 1992, and also the only one that’s even made it to the Women’s Final Four since Long Beach State’s appearance in 1988. Over the years at various times, I’ve theorized about why that is.
There is not a single, definitive answer. It’s combination of several things. The competition from other sports, especially volleyball, that women’s hoops on the West Coast faces to get elite athletes is part of it. Pacific, for instance, has won two NCAA volleyball titles (in 1985 and ’86) and also was runner-up (in 1990).
Will there be enough upgrades in coaching (some of those more recent changes are works in progress right now) and enough recruits who decide to stay on the West Coast for there to be a women’s hoops champion from the Pacific time zone NOT named Stanford in the next decade?
For that matter, will the Cardinal break through for an NCAA title again sometime in the next 10 years?
Of course, speaking of elite athletes from California who didn’t stay anywhere near home for college, there is the pending situation with former UConn star and 2009 WNBA MVP Diana Taurasi. Turkey’s basketball federation said Friday that she had tested positive for the stimulant modafinil while playing in a pro league there.
We await the pending release of the “B” sample of her drug test and the rest of the facts of the case to unfold. It’s way, way too early in the process with Taurasi – potential doping cases are quagmires in every sport – to predict what’s going to happen.
We do know what a worst-case scenario could be: the end of her Olympic career, and a major issue for the WNBA to have to confront. And right now, the league is looking for a new president. Or this could end up being not anything nearly that severe.
All things to reflect on we go west to end 2010.