Lisa Leslie: Congratulations to the Huskies
First off, a huge congratulations to the Huskies!
Less than 24 hours removed, as somebody who’s been at the top of the sport, I’ve heard what’s being said to UConn women’s team today: So . . . what’s next?”
It’s the same for every champion. Now that they’ve broken the NCAA basketball winning-streak record, how are they going to top it?
Getting to know coach Geno [Auriemma], playing with former Huskies like Jessica Moore -- my teammate with the Sparks -- and understanding the mindset he develops, I’m pretty sure they’re not going to be satisfied with 89.
A lot of athletes talk about what they learn from losing. What’s often forgotten is what you learn from winning: never stop learning, work harder, stay humble, stay focused. Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Diana Taurasi, Rebecca Lobo. They all share that latter single quality, focus, that makes them successful. They know what they want -- and they don’t lose sight.
Eighty-nine is a big number for me too: 1989, the beginning of my senior year of high school, when I realized that basketball could take me places. Once I figured that out -- like the Huskies this week with their eyes fixed on that streak and a place in history -- I too made sure I didn’t lose sight. I was born two weeks after Title IX passed, and sometimes I jokingly say I was its first baby, one of the first of a generation to reap its benefits. In 1989 I was recruited by USC, a private school, a place I would’ve never been able to go without the amendment.
Thanks to Title IX and forward-thinking sponsors like Capital One, now others are reaping that same benefit. My favorite player on this UConn team is Maya Moore. Unselfish, tenacious. Above that, I love that she’s a scholar off the court. Maya will definitely go on to the WNBA. But for others here at UConn and around the country who won’t play professionally, I ask the same question people are asking about this streak-breaking team: “So . . . what’s next?”
Come April many of Coach Geno’s players have the opportunity to be holding a national championship trophy, months later a diploma. After that, another number, another goal. As with 89 [Tuesday] night, I hope they’re never satisfied.