MORGANTOWN — Today, class, we offer a pop quiz.
Q - Playing against the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team can best be likened to:
a. Walking barefoot across a bed of red hot coals
b. Eating a plate of broken glass
c. Swimming across a river filled with piranhas
d. Walking through a burning building wearing a gasoline suit
The correct answer, of course, is e. all of the above.
And then some.
The last time the unbeaten and No. 1 ranked Huskies lost, Sen. Robert C. Byrd was still in diapers, or so it seems.
They have won 60 in a row and on , a talented and game but overmatched West Virginia women’s basketball team goes on the road to face them. Carrying a 20-2 record and a No. 11 AP ranking means nothing for the Mountaineers would be at least a 25-point underdog if a spread were put on the game, perhaps even more.
Among their victories this year, Connecticut owns a 12-point triumph over No. 2 Stanford and a 24-point win over No. 3 Notre Dame, which beat WVU last week, 74-66.
Mike Carey knows what he’s facing and he doesn’t want to build this game up into something it isn’t … which is a winnable game.
“A lot of great teams have gone in there and gotten beat,” Carey acknowledged. “I don’t want a moral victory. If we don’t win, we’re not done.”
The question with playing Connecticut, especially at home, is what is a moral victory?
See, that 60-game winning streak we mentioned earlier, well, every one of those wins was by double-figure margins.
So, lose by nine, is it a moral victory? Lose by 15, is it a moral victory?
By any standard, UConn is a great team with a great coach in Geno Auriemma and great players.
“They beat you with defense, hustle and Maya Moore,” Carey said, then suddenly realizing there is even more than that to it.
“And Tina Charles is not bad,” he added.
No, she and her more than 2,000 career points are not bad. Against Pitt on Saturday, Charles scored 24, had eight rebounds, three blocks and three assists.
And that really is nothing more than just another day at the office.
UConn, though, is more than just Moore and Charles. Like so many great teams, the Huskies are striving for perfection, for the day they pitch a shutout, the day they make every shot they take.
"They are a beautiful team to watch," Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said after UConn took her Panthers apart, 98-56.
That’s the way it is with Connecticut. The Huskies have reached the point where teams come into their building, be it on campus in Storrs or in Hartford, where WVU will play, and, instead being upset with losing, they leave marveling at what they have just seen.
It almost like a visitor leaving the Louvre after viewing the Mona Lisa.
"It's fabulous shot selection," Berenato said. "They don't take bad shots, they don't take contested shots. They know their roles."
But if they are as artistic as Da Vinci, they are a Da Vinci with a killer instinct.
“They play hard, and when they get you down by 20, they keep after it. You don’t surprise them and they don’t lay down,” Carey said.
Like Carey, his players know they are about to meet up with greatness, but they are young and still susceptible to flights of fancy.
“We don’t think any task is impossible,” point guard Sarah Miles said. “We are going in there to win. We’ll go in with our heads high and play basketball.”
And Liz Repella, the team’s leading scorer, she claims not to be going in with stars in her eyes.
“We approach it like any other game,” said Liz Repella, the Mountaineers’ leading scorer. “They’re girls, too, not super humans.”
Perhaps it is best not to lose sight that WVU is a young team, a growing team without a senior, a team that figures to improve from game to game and from this season to next season.
If it isn’t UConn’s dream team, it is a team with a dream and that is what really challenges it on Tuesday, expressed by guard Vanessa House after scoring a career high 17 points against Louisville on Saturday.
“If you want to be the top team, you have to beat the top team.”
E-mail Bob Hertzel at email@example.com.
MORGANTOWN — Today, class, we offer a pop quiz.
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