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UConn Women's Basketball On Verge of Making History

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WNYC

On Sunday, the Huskies matched the record set by UCLA in the early 1970's for the longest win streak in NCAA basketball history. They play for the chance to possess that record outright on Tuesday.

Their coach, Geno Auriemma, has led the team for 26 years, guiding them to seven national championships and earning himself a place in the Hall of Fame along the way.

On Sunday, UConn won its 88th straight game when they played in the Maggie Dixon Classic in Madison Square Garden, beating 11th-ranked Ohio State and tying the record set by Coach John Wooden and his UCLA men's team from 1971-1974.

Auriemma says everyone's paying attention because it's women breaking the men's record. "If we were breaking a women's record, everybody would go, 'Aren't those girls nice, let's give them two paragraphs in USA Today, you know, give them one line on the bottom of ESPN and then let's send them back where they belong, in the kitchen.'"

The Huskies have not lost a game since 2008, when they were beaten by Stanford in the NCAA tournament national semifinals. Over the course of the streak, UConn has won most of their games by an average of 25 points.

In NCAA Division I college football, the longest winning streak is 47 games, held by the Oklahoma Sooners. In NCAA Division III it's 55 games, held by the Mount Union Purple Raiders.

In professional tennis, women already hold the record over men for most matches won in a row. Martina Navratilova's whopping 74 match streak easily bests Guillermo Vilas's record of 46 straight match wins.

The magic formula behind a winning streak is debated, but certainly involves a combination of skill, momentum, focus and confidence. That last quality is what Harvard Business School Professor and author Rosabeth Moss Kanter says is the most important.

"Confidence is the sweet spot between arrogance and despair -- consisting of positive expectations for favorable outcomes," she writes.

Jahangir Khan, who holds the longest wining streak of all time in a professional sport, must have had a lot of it. He won 555 squash games consecutively from 1981 to 1986. But the way they're going, the Huskies might catch up to him one day.

"All the women are happy as hell and they can't wait to come in here and ask questions. All the guys that loved women's basketball are all excited, and all the miserable (people) that follow men's basketball and don't want us to break the record are all here because they are (ticked)," Auriemma said after Sunday's game.

Women's basketball has come a long way since the first intercollegiate basketball game was held between the University of California-Berkeley and Stanford University in 1896. At that game, male spectators were barred. Now they fill the stands.

Tuesday's game is against the Florida State Seminoles and will air on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.

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