Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WOMEN'S NCAA TOURNAMENT ; Auriemma Wades into Final 4 Debate over UConn Dominance

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WOMEN'S NCAA TOURNAMENT ; Auriemma Wades into Final 4 Debate over UConn Dominance

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Geno Auriemma finds himself right in the middle of another gender battle. As the Hall of Fame coach spent Wednesday trying to tamp down the debate over the first women's Final Four with all male coaches, Auriemma also acknowledged that the Connecticut Huskies' dynasty is being viewed differently largely because it's a female sport.

"The people who write, for the most part, are men, Auriemma said during a national conference call. "The people who follow sports a lot that have opinions, that are quick to voice their opinions, are men. So the easy answer - I'm not saying it's the right answer - the easy answer is it's a male bias. That's easy. And because we're in the news when we do something, and we've been in the news and we're thrown out there against a lot of people's wishes, it's like it's as if it's our fault. Or that the women's game is not a sport, that it's a joke.

It's not the first time Auriemma's strong opinions have made headlines. It's almost certain it won't be the last.

Last April, also in the lead up to the Final Four, Auriemma described men's basketball as "boring. In October 2012, he called for lowering rims for women's basketball.

But now with Auriemma needing two wins to become the first Division I women's coach to capture four straight national titles, there are loud discussions about the impact on the sport of UConn's continued dominance.

Critics contend the 73-game winning streak, the record-breaking 22-game NCAA Tournament winning streak, and the continual blowouts have turned off casual fans because there's little drama when the Huskies step on the court. Inside the sport, the dynasty is viewed as more a challenge than a problem.

"I am one of these people that's not buying into this whole UConn doing what they're doing is bad for the game, Washington coach Mike Neighbors said. "It's been great for the game. It's raised everybody's level up to where we have what we have this year: three new people in the Final Four because we've all been able to use their success as a little part of the formula to get there.

In many ways, this weekend could be a pivotal moment for women's basketball. …

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