Experts: UConn best team ever?
REVISITING THE '02 TITLE
They went out as champions on March 31, 2002. But the four seniors on UConn's 2002 championship team also raised the level of women's basketball during their career. Mechelle Voepel »
Editor's note: Following UConn's win in the 2002 national championship game, ESPN.com compiled the following quotes.
Now that Connecticut has put the wraps on a 39-0 season -- the fourth perfect season in women's NCAA history -- one question begs to be answered:
Is this the best team in women's college basketball history? Here's what ESPN.com's panel of experts had to say after UConn's 82-70 victory over Oklahoma on March 31, 2002:
ARE 2001-02 HUSKIES THE BEST IN SHOW?
|I think so. The Huskies' starting five is the best I've ever seen -- passing, rebounding, defense and intensity. They have an incredible killer instinct, a feel for the game no one else has had. They play relentless for 40 minutes.
OU played 36 minutes of the best basketball I've ever seen them play, but it still wasn't enough. OU had a chance to make it 34-32 if Jamie Talbert makes that short jumper with four minutes to play in the first half.
Instead, UConn closes the half with eight unanswered points for a 12-point halftime lead. UConn makes you pay for your mistakes. -- Nancy Lieberman
|I think Tamika Williams and Geno Auriemma said it best. Five years from now, there might be a better team.
The evolution of women's basketball is such that it's moving forward so fast. This championship game was 10 times better than five or six years ago.
The difference in this team is that three players with exceptional ability were all willing to share time inside. And they were the difference against Oklahoma. Without one of them, I don't know if UConn wins Sunday night. -- Mechelle Voepel
|This was definitely one of the most enjoyable teams to watch, but I think what you have to do is embrace what this team has accomplished in itself. You really have to compliment how unselfish and committed to the team these players have been. From 1 to 5, you had All-Americans coming out of high school. But they checked their egos at the door and have been committed to nothing but winning.
Geno Auriemma's coaching performance was as fine a job as I've seen him do. This was his best game. What he did was take advantage of every mismatch he had. Late in the second half, he slowed the game down and looked for the weakest matchup. Dionnah Jackson was checking Diana Taurasi. But Taurasi backed her down, and the play ended up sending Stacey Dales out of the game with her fifth foul. -- Doris Burke
|I'm not going to compare. What I said as far as the individuals, these players sacrifice for each other. Each one can rotate in different spots. As a team, they can shoot the 3. They are versatile. They are unselfish and accept their roles. They are so unselfish they don't care who gets the glory.
To compare them to the past teams, you have to look at the matchups and what year those players were when they won. When Tennessee won 1998 to go 39-0, Chamique Holdsclaw was a junior and Semeka Randall and Tamika Catchings were freshman. Could they have beaten the Huskies? I think UConn's senior leadership would have made that too difficult. And the Huskies' have incredible versatility.
The one thing that probably sets UConn apart is the love of these five (starters). It's not just about basketball, but about what happens on and off the court. You don't see that very often. -- Ann Meyers
|I think this year's Huskies are the new measuring stick that every undefeated team in the future will be compared to until a new group can produce these kind of results.
They led the nation in five categories and ranked second in two more.
The seniors lost nine games in four years. That's incredible. -- Nell Fortner
|I would have to say it is.
There's nobody on that team you can pick on. You can try to challenge or pick on one player, but they just rise to the challenge. Anybody on the floor can make a big play.
Offensively, they find a matchup they want and go to it. -- Beth Mowins
|Yes. From 1 to 5, the Huskies are talented. They are impeccably conditioned. And one of them is capable of taking over a game.
And how much more can you spread the wealth? Asjha Jones was the Big East tournament MVP. Swin Cash was the Final Four MVP. Sue Bird was the national player of the year.
They are talented, and supremely well-coached. -- Michele Tafoya