Maya Moore remains player of the year

UConn senior earns ESPN.com's top preseason honor for third consecutive season

Originally Published: November 11, 2010
ESPN.com

Is this getting a little old? Or, at the very least, a tad redundant?

As we name Maya Moore the ESPN.com preseason player of the year for the third consecutive season -- after she has led Connecticut to back-to-back 39-0 records, to two consecutive NCAA championships and to a women's NCAA Division I record 78 straight victories -- what is left to say?

Perhaps that the 6-foot senior forward simply is the best player in women's basketball right now? That she already has established herself as one of the game's all-time greatest players? That as her final chapter in Storrs, Conn., is set to tip off she's probably an even better player physically and mentally after competing with the U.S. national team this summer and fall?

Yes. Even. Better.

Moore averaged 18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds last season, shooting 52 percent from the field to lead the Huskies to the NCAA title. And whether she can lead UConn to another three-peat might not be as enjoyable as witnessing how the ever-mature Moore handles the journey.

[+] EnlargeMaya Moore
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesUp, up and away? OK, not quite. But Maya Moore has been nothing short of super at Connecticut for three seasons.

ESPN.com's women's basketball experts weigh in.

"Maya Moore is wisely cautious about trying to do too much for UConn, all the while knowing she'll have to do a lot," Mechelle Voepel writes. "She is prepared for a big load, but realizes she has to keep her teammates engaged and involved. An intuitive understanding of that is part of the reason Moore has become a truly great player. She takes a lot of responsibility without taking all the initiative away from the rest of the Huskies."

Graham Hays agrees, and it's clear that while Moore remains the star of the Huskies, her ability to elevate her teammates might be her greatest feat this season.

"She handled herself like a senior from her first day in Connecticut," Hays writes. "The only thing left to prove is how much better she can make those around her."

Still, as the Huskies close in on the UCLA men's NCAA-record 88 straight wins, and as Moore's career begins to wind down, "much of this season might be about comparisons to UConn greats of the past and where Maya ranks among the greatest players of all time," Charlie Creme adds.

Moore already has done the unthinkable and, as Voepel notes, put together a career that has shadowed UConn legend Diana Taurasi's in so many ways. And we all know how Taurasi went out.

Back then, Geno Auriemma needed one super player and six words to sum up three fantastic seasons in UConn history.

And right now, UConn has Maya … and that just might be enough.

ESPN.com women's basketball editor Melanie Jackson and columnists Graham Hays, Mechelle Voepel and Charlie Creme contributed to this report.