On Saturday, Breanna Stewart won UConn women’s basketball’s Best of the Best bracket, defeating Diana Taurasi by roughly 400 votes. The bracket wasn’t anything serious, just something fun to talk about after the coronavirus cancelled the NCAA Tournament and all other sports.
Stewart winning is no surprise considering she’s the the only player in NCAA history to win four national championships (along with classmates Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck) and is responsible for pushing expectations at UConn into the stratosphere.
But Stewart isn’t the best player in program history. Neither is Taurasi, either. Maya Moore? Nope, not her. The fact is there isn’t a singular best player in program history because it’s simply impossible to say any one of those three are better than the others.
Let’s start with Taurasi. She has three national championships, three All-American honors and two national player of the year awards. The most vocal argument for Taurasi is that she didn’t have much talent around her in 2003 and 2004 yet still carried the Huskies to national championships. There’s no question Moore’s and Stewart’s supporting casts were stronger, but how competitive was the rest of the country those years? And why should Moore and Stewart get knocked for having great teammates?
Statistically speaking, Moore is pretty clearly the best player in program history.
She's the program's only 3,000-point scorer *and* is the only player in UConn history to appear in the top eight in points (3,036, first), rebounds (1,276, second), assists (544, eighth), steals (310, fourth), blocks (204, eighth). https://t.co/fwGDDaemi9— Alexa Philippou (@alexaphilippou) April 2, 2020
What’s the knock against her? Is it that she only has two national championships? Again, that deserves context. She played during the height of the superteam era. When Notre Dame beat Moore and the Huskies in Indianapolis in 2011, the Fighting Irish had Skylar Diggins, Natalie Achonwa, Kayla McBride and Kaila Turner. The Stanford teams were loaded back then as well.
As for Stewie, the four national championships speak for themselves. She won everything she possibly could, lost a single game over her final three years and impacted the game in every imaginable way on the court. Her only fault is that her teams were absolutely loaded year-in, year-out.
To try to determine the best, it involves finding a reason to take away from the greatness of the other two players. There’s never been a perfect player in basketball history and nobody’s career has ever gone perfectly. Taurasi, Moore and Stewart are clearly in a class of their own as the best three players in program history. The margins are so thin — if even existing — that there’s no need to disparage two just to raise up one of them.
All three played in different eras. All three played under different sets of circumstances. All three played with different supporting casts. And all three are the greatest players in program history. Let’s leave it at that.
Latest mock drafts for Walker, Dangerfield
The WNBA Draft is just over a week away as Crystal Dangerfield and Megan Walker wait to hear where they’ll start their professional careers — whenever sports come back.
Looking at some mock drafts, Howard Megdal of High Post Hoops has the Dallas Wings taking Walker at No. 5 overall — a common landing spot for her — and Dangerfield heading out to the Seattle Storm with the No. 11 pick to be a backup to Sue Bird.
ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel has both players joining Napheesa Collier on the Minnesota Lynx. Walker gets scooped up with the No. 6 selection while Dangerfield doesn’t go until the second round, 16th overall.
This year feels similar to the 2018 draft with Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse. While Williams was more highly-regarded as a prospect, she also had a higher bust potential. Nurse was the safe pick, likely to be a solid role player at worst, without the star potential. The Chicago Sky took Williams fourth overall while Nurse didn’t go until the 10th pick to the New York Liberty.
For this draft, Walker undoubtably has a high ceiling but her decision to leave UConn early also increases the chances she doesn’t pan out. Dangerfield might not be a first rounder due to her size and durability concerns but it’s hard to imagine her not becoming a contributor for whatever team selects her.
Christyn Williams’ new hobby
Christyn Williams is bored at home after the coronavirus cancelled the NCAA Tournament and shut down UConn’s campus. So the sophomore has found a new hobby to pass the time: Making Tik Toks — a social media app for short videos (mostly) based around music and dancing.
Streaming Church on Easter Sunday this year like... pic.twitter.com/yz64rdjquQ— Christyn Williams (@christyn2000) April 6, 2020
Williams then joined NCAA Digital to talk about the inspiration behind her Tik Toks, what it’s like to be home and some of her favorite memories from this past season:
"They come out pretty funny, the people like them!"— NCAA Women’s Basketball (@ncaawbb) April 8, 2020
Christyn Williams talks about making Tik Toks during this time and nominates UCLA's Michaela Onyenwere to be next in the #UnitedAsOne series.#ncaaW | @christyn2000 @UConnWBB pic.twitter.com/P5C3fEALzK
BTS with the 2002 national championship team
This past week, WTNH’s John Pierson posted two behind the scenes clips from UConn’s 2002 national championship squad. Channel 8 gave the the team a camera for the Final Four and the results were glorious:
They were so young & so good! And they gave @WTNH a behind the scenes look at their perfect season! Happy Anniversary to the 2002 @UConnWBB National Champions! 18 years since @DianaTaurasi @S10Bird @SwinCash @Asjha_J @Twms34 & the @UConnHuskies went 39-0! pic.twitter.com/ksUrANzdr2— John Pierson (@JPPierson) April 1, 2020
Love a good flashback! 2002 @UConnWBB team w/ the @WTNH "Behind the Scenes" cam in Milwaukee & San Antonio! A 39-0 season led by @DianaTaurasi @S10Bird @SwinCash @Twms34 @Asjha_J @CoachMValley @The_Battle_Zone and the rest of the @UConnHuskies pic.twitter.com/Is3lrqN18o— John Pierson (@JPPierson) April 7, 2020
News from the week
- 2021 prospect Caroline Ducharme commits to UConn
- Geno talks transfers, Megan Walker’s departure and more
- Geno Auriemma, UConn adjusting to new normal during COVID-19 pandemic
- It was 25 years ago when the 1995 UConn women beat Tennessee for their first title. Their legacy was just beginning. (Hartford Courant)
- Origin Story: An oral history of UConn’s 1995 national championship win over Tennessee (Hearst CT)