In Week 2 of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Caroline Russomanno, challenges Staff Writer Krystal Spencer, Sports Assistant Alex Wolfe and Senior Editor Bobby Olivier to answer questions about who is the best team in women’s college basketball, what was wrong with some of the NFL teams who are currently sitting on their couches and what was the best move of the MLB offseason.
1. Now that the UConn Huskies’ winning streak is snapped at 90 games and they are no longer ranked No. 1, are they still the most dominant team in women’s college basketball or has another team taken over their long-held top spot?
KS: Come on, let’s not let a number dictate public opinion. The No. 6-ranked teams of the AFC and NFC Championships are in their respective championship games. With that being said, the UConn Huskies are the No. 1-ranked women’s team. Yes, Stanford is their Achilles’ heel, but they’re the only one. On the other hand UConn is EVERYONE’S Achilles’ Heel, and they each probably have more than just the Huskies in their way to being the best. Once UConn learns how to effectively rise above Stanford, another 90-game run and a set of NCAA Championships are on the horizon.
AW: Luckily for the Huskies, one loss does not define an entire season. The UConn women lost to Stanford, the No. 9-ranked team in the polls at the time. However, it’s not like that was the only high-ranked team the Huskies played all year. They beat No. 1-ranked Baylor earlier in the season, and they have also played four other teams in the top 25, most recently besting No. 11-ranked North Carolina. Most of the time losing is bad, but in the case of the UConn ladies, it could work in their favor, because they don’t have to worry about all of the media attention and opponent attention to their winning streak. With more time to just focus on basketball again, UConn should come out on top once again this year.
BO: I’m going to be honest. I have not watched one second of women’s college basketball since Stanford downed UConn, but I do believe that UConn is still the team to beat come tournament time. It’s hard to argue with back-to-back national championships, and many of the current Huskies were on those teams and have that invaluable experience. Maya Moore is still the most recognizable and, arguably, most dominant player in the country, and few can match Geno Auriemma’s ability to drive his team to succeed. Even though UConn is no longer perfect, it’s tough to pick against them in a big spot. They get my vote.
CR: Alex gets 3 for recognizing what I’ve thought all along: that less media attention is what the Huskies needed to just play their game. Bobby gets 2 for mentioning the powerhouse that is Maya Moore and Geno’s drive (when the suit jacket comes off, you know the other team’s in trouble). Krystal gets 1 for not backing up her answer enough.
2. While everyone else is focusing on the teams still in the playoffs, let’s focus on the teams that should still be in and aren’t, like the Colts, Patriots and Saints. What went wrong and what do these teams need to do to get back on track for next season?
KS: The Pats don’t need to do anything except stop losing clutch games. They had a great season, aside for a set of losses to the Jets. The Brady/Bellichick combo is easily the best duo in the league, and
there’s nothing consistently bad about it. The Colts got lucky to even make the playoffs with all of their injuries. And as for the Saints, well the Saints need to drop Butterfingers Bush permanently and use Chris Ivory in the backfield.
AW: The Colts had one of their weakest seasons this past year by their standards, but the Colts will continue their formula of putting weapons around Manning and having a potent offensive attack without much defense.The Saints lost to a talented team that plays about 10 times better at home than on the road. The biggest thing that I took out of the Saints game is not that the Saints need to improve anything but that the NFL needs to change their seeding rules. There’s no way to justify a 7-9 team hosting an 11-5 team. The Patriots are the team that probably has the least to worry about of any of the teams mentioned here. They have a very solid offense run by Brady and their defense is passable. Whatever deficiencies that the Patriots have should be able to be filled through the draft this year with two picks in each of the first three rounds.
BO: The Colts were more unlucky than anything in their loss to the Jets, falling on a game-winning field goal, but as far as next season, Indianapolis needs to beable to stop the run. They ranked 25th in rush defense this season, even with defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis making the Pro Bowl. As far as the Patriots’ loss goes, there is little to improve on after a 14-2 season, but in the Jets game, the Patriots had real trouble keeping the heat off of Tom Brady. Better pass protection should be at the top of the list in the offseason. With the Saints, it was a few things: Seattle is a tough place to play, they thought they would beat up on the lowly 7-9 Seahawks, and most importantly, their two top rushers and the cogs that make that whole offense function were out. New Orleans could not expect Reggie Bush to perform as the every-down back in that game, and sure enough, that’s what happened. Like the Colts, the Saints also have trouble stopping the run. A stopper would be a solid move this Spring.
CR: Bobby gets the 3 for talking in detail about the lack of defense from the teams. Alex gets 2 for pointing out the stupid seeding on the NFL’s part for the Seahawks/Saints game. Krystal gets 1 for calling Reggie Bush Butterfingers — I like it.
3. I know most of us are concerned about football right now, but what was the best move of the MLB offseason?
KS: If anyone else says anything excpet Cliff Lee’s triumphant return to the Philadelphia Phillies, he or she is a liar. When this story broke in the middle of the night, Phanatics were certain Christmas came early. His move was carefully watched, and with links to the Yankees, his return to Philadelphia for a lesser amount than New York’s bid was epic. His return to the Phillies might be that missing link that’s kept us from our next World Series title.
AW: I’m going to go with the Boston Red Sox’s signings (and trades) for the best move by a team. They traded for two-time former All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who has been one of the most dangerous hitters in the league for the better part of the last five years. This fills a need for them in the batting order after losing Adrian Beltre to the Rangers. The Sox also added Carl Crawford, who will give them a deadly one-two punch at the top of the lineup with Dustin Pedroia. Lastly, the Sox added Bobby Jenks, the very successful closer from the White Sox who will shore up their bullpen and provide a quality set-up man for Jonathan Papelbon.
BO: How could it not be Cliff Lee? With his return to the Phillies, he has helped to create the best four-man rotation on paper, arguably ever, or at least in recent memory. Lee is a work horse, doesn’t run his mouth, gives the bullpen a rest, is clutch in big games, can get strikeouts, doesn’t walk people and never has a clean hat. What more could you want? Combined with Cy Young winners Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, in addition to the rebirth of Cole Hamels, the Phillies offense will have little to no pressure, even with the loss of Jayson Werth. There is no reason Philadelphia shouldn’t win the NL pennant this season. This move will make the difference.
CR: Alex gets 3 for not picking the obvious choice in Cliff Lee, but for pointing out that the Red Sox have beefed up their lineup and bullpen. Bobby gets 2 for talking about the Phillies’ ridiculous rotation. Krystal gets the 1 for rubbing it in too much for this Yankee fan.
Alex wins this week’s AtD, 8 – 7- 3.