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UConn Women Make Basketball History: 100 Consecutive Wins

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team is doing well this season. And that is so not news - always happens. But last night when the clock ran out on a 66-55 win against South Carolina, the Huskies set a gigantic new milestone.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The UConn Huskies have beaten South Carolina. UConn makes it 100 consecutive wins.

GREENE: That was the sound from ESPN. UConn notched its 100th consecutive victory. No other NCAA basketball program, men's or women's, has ever come close to doing that. Christine Brennan from USA Today is in our studio. You were up until almost midnight watching this game last night?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN: It was a late one, David, but it was certainly worth watching. It was definitely a piece of history.

GREENE: Well, you're really nice - why is it so historic? I mean, put - 100 wins in a row, put that in context.

BRENNAN: Well, no one's ever done it, as you said. Although I will say, Wayland Baptist in the '50s, 131 straight. That was in the days of the AAU. So I guess UConn has one more streak to go.

GREENE: So what was that? That was the AAU?

BRENNAN: That was the AAU in the '50s.

GREENE: OK.

BRENNAN: But I had to look that one up. I did not know that. Bottom line, NCAA, no one's ever done this...

GREENE: This is before the NCAA existed, OK.

BRENNAN: Yeah, and this is big time. And no men's team - UCLA, the best ever, 88 wins in a row in the '70s during the days of John Wooden, of course, coaching that team. UConn blew that one away back six years ago with a 90-game winning streak. Then they lost a few. And then they just started again with a hundred. What's amazing to me is here we are 45th year of Title IX. Today is the greatest day in women's sports until tomorrow.

(LAUGHTER)

BRENNAN: And yet they are so dominant at the most competitive time in the history of women and girls' sports. Geno Auriemma's the head coach. He only gets 12 players. You know, Maryland is a great team with Brenda Frese, they get 12 players. And it's just stunning - and all these, of course, you only get 12. It's stunning how Geno Auriemma's able to cobble together some of the best players and turn them into a team and then continue to beat everybody else at a time when these other teams are excellent.

And that, to me, is the real story here.

GREENE: And players change, right? I mean, he doesn't have the same players and can still keep doing this. Is it about coaching? Is it about this program? What is it?

BRENNAN: Well, that's the key question. And I think you do go to Geno Auriemma. He is able to get the best players in the country. So that's - but again...

GREENE: The recruiting is strong.

BRENNAN: Right, sure. So he will get three or four of the best players every year. Then he brings them into a system that is unlike any other. Of course, these women want to be in the system, they want to play for the best. And it, of course, is then self-perpetuating in that sense. But he makes them teammates. And I know that sounds trite, you know, like, of course they're teammates. But there's something about what Auriemma does is to make them a cog in this system, the greatest system in the history of women's basketball.

And one of the great systems in the history of sports, men's or women's, period. I think sometimes that adjective women's, we should get rid of it. This is just that good. And I think he's able to produce year after year. And they want to be a part of it every year, these players. But it's still - having said all of that, it's still absolutely amazing that he keeps it up.

GREENE: Just a few seconds left. Remind us about Title IX, what it did and why this really is such an important moment.

BRENNAN: This was the law signed in June of '72 by Richard Nixon that opened the playing fields for girls and women to have the same opportunities in federally funded universities and high schools that the boys had for generations. I think it's the most important law in our country over the last 45 years, which is saying something. But it's that big of cultural shift and so important. And we see the results as we are talking about here today.

GREENE: All right, Christine Brennan, thanks so much for coming in. As always, we appreciate it.

BRENNAN: My pleasure. Thank you.

GREENE: She's a sports columnist for USA Today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.