Culture at UConn has them leaving women’s college basketball in the dust PDF Print E-mail
Written by George Browning   
Tuesday, 02 May 2017 07:10

There are dynasties in sports and then there is the University of Connecticut Lady Husky basketball team.

Entering this past weekend’s Final Four all UConn had done is won 111 games in a row and four consecutive national championships. That’s a stretch that will cover 870 days by the time this paper is in your homes.

The Lady Huskies haven’t lost two games in a row in 24 years

This column was written before the championship game was played, but I haven’t seen anything from watching this year’s tournament that makes me believe the 2017-18 season won’t begin next October with all those streaks still intact.

(If something happens and UConn losses give me credit for the journalist jinx).

The program is amazing and this year’s team was supposed to be different. Three seniors last year were selected first, second and third in the WNBA draft.

Even the best of programs can’t recover from that right?

Wrong!

So what is it about these young ladies that has turned this sleepy little town in Storrs Conneticut into a women’s basketball factory?

Some say it’s recruiting!

Would it surprise you that it’s been a few years since UConn has had the number one recruiting class? They get very good players, but so do other schools.

Coaching?

Yes, that’s a huge part of it, Head Coach Geno Auriemma is one of the best in the business but there are some other very good coaches coaching other women’s programs. His assistant Chris Dailey has been with him for 31 years.

Outside of coaching, one of the most common answers one hears in asking the question about what sets this group apart from the rest is – “The Culture.”

The culture at UConn is this, when young ladies show up on campus they have two options, get to work at getting really good, or don’t expect to see much playing time.

There was a snow storm on campus in early March, all of the UConn coaches were stranded at home and couldn’t make it to practice. Most of the players live on campus, so they trudged through the snow and made it to the gym for a player-led practice.

Did I mention they haven’t lost since Moby Dick was a minnow? If any team in the country could afford to take a day off of practice because of the snow it’s UConn!

Not only did they practice, many players said it was one of the more physical, fast-paced practices they had all year.

Everyone who plays sports wants to win!

I’ve never met an athlete who told me prior to the start of a game they wanted to lose. But not everyone wants to do what it takes to get that win!

What does it take to win 113 games in a row and five national championships? One of the things is getting to the gym in two feet of snow to practice.

It’s more than that, of course, but the desire to keep winning keeps the culture without a crack!

One of my favorite stories on this year’s UConn team is senior point guard Saniya Chong.

Chong averaged 25 points a game in high school to go along with six rebounds and nearly 10 assists a game.

She was a star, but spent her first three years at UConn getting limited minutes.

Chong could have grumbled, complained and even opted to leave. She could have started for any other program in the country.

She didn’t! She stayed. Why? Because she bought into the culture that winning, winning big and winning often was more important than any of her personal accomplishments.

When the Tennessee Lady Volunteers used to be the program with that unblemished culture, I remember them losing in the NCAA tournament on a Sunday night.

Head Coach Pat Summitt was furious. She wasn’t mad that the loss happened, she was mad that she saw the culture on Rocky Top changing. The Lady Vols returned to Knoxville and reported to the gym for an early Monday morning practice even though the season had ended.

We only heard about that practice because some of the players grumbled about having to work so hard. Summitt was right, the culture had changed. And the program has never been the same.

At UConn, there doesn’t seem to be any cracks in the culture and as long as there aren’t, Geno’s bunch is going to continue to lead the pack.

What would you rate as the best dynasty in the history of sports in America? Let me know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .