Last night, with a win over the South Carolina Gamecocks, the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Team extended its already epic win streak to 100 wins. That 100th win encompasses more than two straight years of victories, the vast majority of which were earned by beating opponents by 40 or more points. It surpasses the team’s old streak of 90 games by a nice round number of 10 and beats the longest win streak by a men’s college basketball team by twelve. The Huskies have weathered injuries, close calls and changes in talent to reach this unprecedented mark. It’s truly awe-striking.
This morning I found myself in the midst of a debate about late bloomers. The question at hand: Is it possible to get a scholarship to a NCAA Division I school and not have received any major accolades for your athletic prowess in high school? Of course, being the fan of underdogs that I am, I was team #YesYouCan. Well today’s Woman Crush Wednesday proved me right. Phylicia George is one of the top hurdlers in Canada and the world, but things weren’t always so glamorous on the track for her. Unlike many of her peers, George didn’t start running until she got to high school and even then it took her a while to find her niche. She lovingly settled into the sprint hurdles, but didn’t attract a great deal of attention from colleges. The coaches at the University of Connecticut; however, gave her a chance. And it paid off, kinda. While George set school records in the 60m and 100m hurdles, she didn’t earn any national accolades. When she graduated she was equipped with a degree in Biological Sciences and was poised to enter medical school, but she chose to follow her dreams of being an Olympian. Her track record (pun intended) didn’t support this dream, but she believed. Her faith paid off. Within a year of graduating, George ran a sub-13 second 100m hurdles, and made it all the way to the finals in the 2011 World Championships. Cramping prevented her from running in the finals, but she came back in 2012 with a vengeance. In 2012, she won the Canadian Track Athlete of the Year award, won silver in the 100m hurdles and gold at the 100m in the Canadian Championships and she achieved her dream; she became an Olympian. Not only did she compete in the Olympics, but she made all the way to the finals in the 100m hurdles and placed six; all the while setting a personal best of 12.65 seconds…
Because her life is a true testament that it’s never too late to start chasing your dreams and that how you finish is more important than how you start, Phylicia George is our Woman Crush Wednesday. But don’t think George’s career is over. She’s gearing up to return to the Olympics this year and she’s off to a good start. This past weekend she competed in and won the 100m hurdles at the FBK Games in the Netherlands. Keep an eye out for her because if history tells us anything, she’ll likely make a podium appearance in Rio. #HiPhylicia
It’s rare that fans of women’s college basketball get to experience the madness of tournament time like those who watch the men’s tournament. Usually, in the NCAA women’s tournament, the higher seed wins; there aren’t too many shocking upsets. Well this year, the women have started to make up for lost time. The upsets have come early and often and we’ve loved every minute of it. It all started when no. 10 seed St. Bonaventure sent no. 7 seed Oklahoma State home in the first round. Round 2 gave us more of the same when no. 6 DePaul shocked everyone by beating no. 3 Louisville. And the underdogs only picked up steam from there. In round 2, no. 7 Washington left us flabbergasted with their win over no. 2 Maryland, a team many predicted to make it to the Final Four. Washington continued to bust brackets when they sent no. 3 Kentucky and no. 4 Stanford home in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, respectively. Not to be outdone, Tennessee’s no. 7 Lady Vols wreaked some madness of their own when they went from barely making the tournament to knocking off no. 2 Arizona State and no. 3 Ohio State on their way to the Elite Eight. This year also saw some no. 4 seeds end the Final Four hopes of no. 1 seeds when Syracuse beat South Carolina and Stanford beat Notre Dame in the Sweet Sixteen. It has been true madness at its finest.
Geno puts these ladies to work!! Being number one, sheer domination, striking fear in the hearts of your opponents…those things don’t come easy.
If history is correct, tonight’s game against No. 2 Duke won’t offer much in the way of excitement. History says that No. 1 UConn will dominate. While any fan will tell you that they love to see their team mop the floor with an opponent, I submit to you that we really don’t need another blowout between these two.
Part of what makes men’s college hoops exciting is the sheer competitiveness of teams. On any given NCAA court, an upset is around the corner and closely ranked teams are sure to put on an exciting game. The women’s game needs that. Fans want to tune in and see a knock out, drag out fight between the No. 1 and 2 ranked teams in the country. The excitement of not knowing who will be the victor is captivating and keeps the audience begging for more!