To nobody’s surprise, the UConn women’s basketball team finished its perfect season with an 82-51 victory over Syracuse in last night’s national championship game. If you’re the kind of jerkass who is constantly looking for reasons to slag women’s college basketball, you could point to UConn’s wire-to-wire dominance as a sign that the sport is stale and boring. Don’t do that. Instead, marvel at the career of senior forward Breanna Stewart.
Stewart finished her four-year run as the best player in the country in typical fashion, pasting Syracuse with 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. She won her fourth straight national title, was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player for the fourth consecutive year, and finished her career at UConn with a 151-5 record. Making Stewart’s clean sweep of national titles all the more impressive is the fact that she knew this was going to happen. Here’s what Stewart, then a 19-year-old sophomore, had to say to Emma Carmichael in March of 2014:
When asked what she wants to accomplish in her college career, Stewart jumps right into the company catchphrase, and it’s clear she means it: “I envision leaving Connecticut with four national championships. I couldn’t expect anything else.”
Stewart hasn’t forgotten about that prediction:
No college basketball player has ever won four titles before, and it makes perfect sense for Stewart to be the first one to pull it off. That’s because the women’s game has never really seen a player like Stewart, who has a 7-foot wingspan and plays as a do-it-all forward. She gets compared to Kevin Durant all the time, but not even Durant means as much to the Thunder as Stewart meant to the Huskies. FiveThirtyEight has a great breakdown of just how all-encompassing Stewart’s game is, and I was particularly struck by this chart, which essentially illustrates Stewart’s combined offensive and defensive contributions during her four years at UConn:
This (and this) is what it looks like when a truly evolutionary player is unleashed upon a sport. She was always going to win those four championships.