PORTLAND, Ore. – In the third week of the women’s basketball season, six of the preseason’s top-10 teams have already lost. The Tennessee Lady Vols actually have four losses. In the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend tournaments, more misfortunes will not be surprising.
Coach Geno Auriemma, whose No. 3 UConn Huskies will play the Duke Blue Devils in the Phil Knight Legacy tournament Friday at 6PM ET, says this is how things should be.
“You’re going to see that happen more and more often,” said Auriemma. “Damn, that’s what everyone says we need, right? It happens all the time in men’s basketball.
“What we don’t need when that happens is to say, ‘Ah, that team is no good. How can they lose to that team?’ Well damn you can’t have both Either the favorites win all the time and there’s no parity or the other guys win and you say ‘Let’s celebrate those guys who won and not whine about the guys who lost .’ That’s what we all strive for.”
The Texas Longhorns, Tennessee and the Louisville Cardinals were Nos. 3, 5 and 7 in the women’s preseason poll. They now have a combined nine losses, five against teams that were unranked at the time. Both Texas and Tennessee fell out of Charlie Creme’s Bracketology this week, though they are expected to earn their way back.
There is plenty of time for all three teams to regain ground due to the quality of the schedules they play. But the losses have created a lot of excitement early in the season. The 3-0 Huskies, No. 6 in the preseason poll, record wins against Texas and the NC State Wolfpack, both of whom were in the top 10 preseason.
Also in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament are the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes, who lost to then-unranked Kansas State last week. They face the Oregon State Beavers Friday at 8:30 PM ET on ESPNU.
In the Phil Knight Invitational, which starts here Thursday, the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels will meet the No. 18 Oregon Ducks (5 p.m. ET) and the No. 5 Iowa State Cyclones will face the Michigan State Spartans (7:30 p.m. ET). ), with both games on ESPNU. All four teams are undefeated.
“I don’t know if there are as many great teams as there used to be, but there are definitely more good teams that are able to beat the other good teams,” said Auriemma. “And they come from places you wouldn’t expect in years past.”
Auriemma said the extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the 2020-2021 season, the immediate eligibility of transfers and the constant activity of the transfer portal have had an impact on women’s basketball, just as on the men’s game.
“I think there’s a combination of things,” he said. “Coaching has gotten a lot better and players are more confident. [thinking] “We’ve never beaten them.” Creighton proved it last year [making the NCAA Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed.] It does not matter. You just gotta be good, man.”
Auriemma also provided an update Wednesday on longtime UConn head coach Chris Dailey, who collapsed before Sunday’s Huskies game in Hartford, Connecticut. Dailey was taken to hospital but was released that afternoon.
“I think she has a flight to come here tomorrow,” Auriemma said. “She stayed behind to make sure they checked everything. They said, ‘You’re good to go, clean bill of health.’
“We kept in touch the whole time, [her texting] with everyone on staff and especially with the players. She hasn’t been here physically, but she has been “here.” “