Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rick Cleveland: The UConn Dynasty

The term “sports dynasty” brings to mind several teams in several sports over the years.

The Yankees – as in “Break up the Yankees” – will be for many the first to come to mind. That's what 40 pennants and 27 World Series titles will do for you.

But there are others.

Red Auerbach's old Boston Celtics were a dynasty. Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers were a short-lived one. Tom Landry's Cowboys were one before being supplanted by Chuck Noll's Pittsburgh Steelers. In college sports, we had John Wooden's UCLA basketball Bruins, Bud Wilkinson's Oklahoma Sooners of the 1950s and Bear Bryant's Alabama Crimson Tide. In Mississippi, we had the University of South Panola and the amazing high school football run.

Don't look now but the most dominant of all sports dynasties thrives currently, if somewhat under radar. We don't see or hear about the University of Connecticut women's basketball Huskies in Mississippi. They are based way up there in Storrs, Conn., and they play a sport that while gaining in popularity still rarely makes the front page of sports sections nationally. But we will hear more and more about UConn in the coming weeks. The success of the Mississippi State women's team is naturally going to make UConn's amazing story more prominent here.

To make a really long and impressive story, short, here's what UConn has achieved in a nutshell:

• The current Husky winning streak is 91, a national record which broke by one the former record, which, of course, was held by UConn.

• UConn, coached by Luigi “Geno” Auriemma, has won 11 national championships since 1995, 10 since 2000 and every one since 2013.

• A Magnolia State way of looking at it: Mississippi State has now won 20 of its last 21 games, the lone loss a 98-38 trouncing by UConn in the NCAA Tournament last March.

Get this: Auriemma, the mastermind, has won 88 percent of the games he has coached at UConn. Bear Bryant won 79 percent of the games he coached. John Wooden won 80 percent of his games. Bud Wilkinson won 83 percent of his games.

And get this: Over the last 10 seasons, Auriemma's teams have won 350 games and lost 14. That's a 96 percent success rate. Over the last four seasons, they are 140-1. That's 99.2 percent. That's absurd.

If UConn makes the Final Four this season – and “if” in this case is not a big word at all – it will make 10 straight Final Fours for Auriemma and UConn.

And to think, this was supposed to be the year somebody would get UConn. The Huskies lost their three best players – three All Americans – from last season. They began the season ranked No. 3, behind both Notre Dame and Baylor in the AP poll. They have already played both – and beaten both by double digits – this season.

And that's something else. UConn 91-game win streak includes game after game against the nation's best teams. Auriemma doesn't schedule lightly.

By any measure, what UConn has achieved – and continues to achieve – is simply phenomenal.

“They are what we are trying to be,” is the way Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer puts it. They are what everyone is trying to be.

It's a helluva note for the other 348 teams in NCAA Division I basketball when your ultimate goal is win enough games to face the one team that almost never loses, the UConn Huskies.

Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is


PittPanther said...

If he coached boys, teams in the NBA would be throwing money at him. But somehow coaching girls isn't good enough.

bill said...

I think Geno is making more money at UConn than any women's professional coach, and probably as much as some of the NBA coaches. He's fine right where he is and will eventually surpass Wooden and Summit as the best ever. Rick's right - this is the most dominant sports dynasty of all time. I'm not convinced they'll ever lose again.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS