The UConn-Tennessee rivalry that Pat Summitt snuffed out four years ago may not ever be fully replaced, but UConn’s Big East battles with a superior Notre Dame team are taking on a healthy edge.
Especially after the Irish guards sizzled in the second half in Hartford Monday night to down the Huskies for the third consecutive time and earn the Big East regular season title outright.
“A source” told Connecticut media earlier Monday that after Notre Dame beat UConn in last season’s Final Four semifinals, an Irish player stuck her head in the Huskies locker room and said:
“It must suck to be you.”
Given how UConn wilted down the stretch last night, and with the prospect of the rivalry being renewed at the Big East and NCAA tourneys, there may be more misery for a Huskies team that, like Tennessee, is suffering some unaccustomed losses.
And may be seeing more of its new nemesis before the season is done.
Writes Jeff Jacobs in The Hartford Courant:
“We could have as many as eight meetings in 15 months and 11 within 27 months.
“And we have one delicious story.”
Those women’s sports reformers who tout their gender’s perceived inherent virtue won’t like this, of course. It runs counter to their aims of shaming the dominant male sports culture into better behavior, instead of having it influence how women are interacting.
I will admit this is not great sportsmanship, if this incident did take place. But the nature of the competitive beast is that this sort of thing cannot be fully “reformed.”
This rivalry is becoming more heated, which is good for the game, and good for the entertainment product of women’s college basketball that needs all the compelling storylines it can get.