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UConn Women's Basketball Will Contend Next Year, But Won't Dominate

UConn Athletics
UConn women's basketball players (left to right) Morgan Tuck, Breanna Stewart, and Moriah Jefferson sit on the bench during an NCAA tournament game in March 2016. All three players will be leaving the program, likely for the WNBA.
As UConn loses its star trio to the professional ranks, the rest of the country is gaining ground.

With Tuesday night's victory over Syracuse, the UConn Huskies became the first women's basketball team in history to win four straight NCAA national championships.

It also marks the end one of the most incredible runs in sports history, according to John Bronsteen, who wrote the Slate article, "The UConn Women's Dynasty is Over." The Loyola University Chicago School of Law professor called this year's UConn team the best in women's college basketball history.

"It is a great, great achievement," Bronsteen said. "They did what everyone is trying to do, and they did it at an unprecedented level. And this is the greatest senior class in women's basketball history."

But Bronsteen said next year will bring a sea change to Storrs, and fans will have to lower their expectations.

"They are facing the departure of perhaps the top three picks in the WNBA draft -- Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck. There is just no way to replace that kind of talent all leaving at once," he said.

Bronsteen said there is enough talent returning next year to make UConn a good team, but not a great one, much like the teams after UConn great Diana Taurasi graduated in 2004. Part of what will make UConn coach Geno Auriemma's job a lot harder starting next season is recruiting.

"The perception that UConn just gets all of the best players is ridiculous," Bronsteen said. "People have to realize that these recruits are often close to their parents and there is a lot of pressure on them to stay at home and often they want to stay at home."

There's also a lot of pressure from friends and fans to play for the predominant state school. That means Auriemma and his staff have a much tougher time recruiting when there aren't as many blue-chip players from Connecticut and the northeast.

Still, Bronsteen said, Auriemma has a reputation of bringing out the best in their players, and wouldn't surprised if UConn finds its way back to next year's final four.

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