Tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET, SNY will be airing its All-Access special featuring the UConn women’s basketball team. Yours truly had a chance to get a sneak preview. These are my thoughts:
SNY has always done a great job in its coverage of UConn Women’s Basketball, but its original content has been really well-done too.
Last year, the network released a documentary on the Huskies’ first championship in 1995. The trip down memory lane provided more than just nostalgia, it offered perspective on how much the program had grown from its extremely humble beginnings. At the time of the documentary’s release, the Huskies were on their way to the program’s 11th title, fourth in a row.
This season’s Huskies All-Access offers a similar perspective, albeit on a smaller scale.
When the 2016-2017 season started, Geno Auriemma and his staff were staring at a crater left on the roster by the departure of three of the best players to ever wear a Husky uniform. They still had a lot of talent, and a lot of different pieces that could work together, but found themselves severely lacking in assertiveness.
Geno, the obvious star of this show and the realest mofo on the planet, sat in his office with his staff discussing how many different roles needed to be filled and what kinds of lineups they might use. For the first time in years, they were entering a season with uncertainty. They had an impressive 75-game winning streak going, and everybody assumed it would be ending at some point soon.
Or so they thought.
UConn found a way to win in two very challenging games to open the season, on the road against No. 12 Florida State and at home against No. 2 Baylor. Both were tightly contested battles, and both had unlikely late heroes for the Huskies.
Late in the Florida State game, Saniya Chong drove to the basket to make a layup and put the Huskies ahead for good. Against Baylor, with time running down, freshman point guard Crystal Dangerfield dribbled past her defender and hit a huge bank shot from outside the block.
Geno wasn’t surprised by either. We got to see him speaking to the player both times right before she made the game-winning play. One of the beautiful things about a show like this is the opportunity to see a successful leader like Auriemma at work and get a sense for how he manages to get the best from his players.
Ultimately, given the context (13-0 start to the season) which we have, viewing this question-filled start to the season confirms for us what we already knew: Geno and the Huskies operate on a completely different stratosphere than the rest of the league.
Their chief competition is not Notre Dame, Baylor, or Maryland, it is the perfection which they seek and which leads them to consistent excellence. Everyone else is just fighting for second. All-Access reminds us how impressive it is that this is the case again.
- Geno’s office is littered with trophies like they’re cans of Keystone Light in a Northwest dorm room on a Saturday morning. They’re everywhere.
- SPOILER ALERT: Gabby Williams listens to vinyl.
- Nice to see and hear from Morgan Tuck, Moriah Jefferson, and Breanna Stewart speak about their time working with Geno and the challenges facing this year’s team.
- Geno commenting, completely seriously, on how he evaluates his team while they’re doing a holiday photo shoot is outstanding.
- Greatness is always interesting.