UCONN Women’s Basketball: Down But Not Out

Anna Yavenditti '25, Staff Writer

Even though they didn’t make it out of the Sweet Sixteen this tournament, the women’s basketball program at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) should still be considered one of the best teams in the country.

Historically, UCONN has had one of the most successful basketball programs in the nation. However, with seven years since their last National Championship Title in 2016, the question has to be asked. Is UCONN falling off or is everyone else catching up?

The UCONN basketball team has set numerous records for both the men’s and women’s leagues, including the most National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division one (D1) basketball tournament championship titles, otherwise known as March Madness Championships. The women’s program’s head coach, Geno Auriemma, has led the program to all 11 championship titles and has an overall record of 1,149-150, meaning that for every loss, he has coached his team to about 8 wins.

Not only has UCONN won the most championships in D1 history, but they have also been to the most D1 tournament Final Fours at 22 times, have been declared the top seed in the tournament for a record 22 times, and have had the most undefeated seasons at a high of 25 times.

However, the team’s success seems to have come to a sudden halt. As their last title came in 2016 and their 16-year streak of consecutive Elite Eight appearances ended in the 2022-2023 season, it looks like UCONN’s dominant run is coming to a close. 

Tennessee, also known as the Lady Volunteers (Vols), has always been considered UCONN’s biggest rival in women’s basketball due to the level of skill on both teams and the competition between Auriemma and former Tennessee coach Pat Summit who passed away in 2016. The Lady Vols have been in quite the decline, with their last national championship coming in 2008, under the late Pat Summit. Though it may seem that UCONN is following in Tennessee’s footsteps, this year’s season has demonstrated that they have the means to stay strong in times of adversity.

The team was plagued with injuries and had to postpone one game due to the inability to meet their conference’s (Big East) requirement of having a minimum of seven available players. Their star guard and 2021 Naismith Player of the Year winner Paige Bueckers suffered a season-ending ACL injury. The No. 5 recruit in the country Ice Brady dislocated her patella and was unable to play this season. Furthermore, Auriemma took time away from the team to grieve the passing of his mother and was unable to coach for a couple of games due to flu-like symptoms.

Despite these conflicts and setbacks, the teams continued to play to the best of their ability and stay in the conversation of the best teams in the country. In fact, after losing to the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks by a margin of four points in a highly anticipated rematch game of the 2021-2022 NCAA Women’s March Madness National Championship game, people were questioning if a healthy UCONN team would have been able to beat the powerhouse South Carolina squad. Many thought they could next season, so long as everyone recovers. South Carolina had been dominating the league, with their record of 42 straight wins being snapped by Iowa in the Final four this year.

The fact that UCONN, with so many injuries, still had a close game with South Carolina shows that UCONN may not be at their best, but they are not out of the conversation yet.