Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Unranked UT Women Hoops: First Since '85

Holly Warlick of UT: A familiar pose.
For the first time since 1985, the University of Tennessee's iconic women's basketball team is not in the Associated Press' Top 25 teams in the country.

This from a team that has consistently led the nation in attendance, has been a haven for the best players, was the home of the winningest coach in college basketball history (Pat Summitt, who retired three years ago with alzheimers). Behind Summitt, UT virtually created women's college basketball as a force.

This can be laid directly at the feet of Holly Warlick, an all-American player at Tennessee, who was Summitt's top assistant for years. There was never any doubt she would be the head coach when Summitt left, but it looks like the forgone conclusion was dead wrong.

Not only is Tennessee 6-8 in its last 14 games (losing to last place LSU most recently), but it has nobody in its 2016-17 recruiting class. Not one single player of any stripe. The future looks especially dismal, especially when you consider that the current team was No. 4 in the first AP poll this year.

But Tennessee, in the midst of six gender-based lawsuits within its athletic department would hardly be expected to fire her at this point. In fact two of her teams have won 30 games. In my world, firing is not the result of one bad season. It is the result of consistently not living up to expectation, which marks Warlick's teams, and a dismal projected future. The latter is virtually assured.

Here is what is now history at Tennessee, according to the Washington Post:

— The longest AP poll streak for a men’s team is 155 weeks (UCLA 1966-1976).  Tennessee’s streak was 3 1/2 times longer than that.

— The team with the longest women’s streak is now Connecticut at 428 consecutive weeks. According to the AP, it will take the Huskies about seven more years to match Tennessee’s streak.

— The Lady Vols’ fall from preseason No. 4 to unranked is tied for the biggest drop in AP top 25 history. Georgia did the same in the 1991-92 season.

— The Lady Vols were ranked No. 1 103 times over the streak, ranked in the top five 407 times and in the top 10 506 times.

— Tennessee had been ranked in all but 15 AP women’s polls until Monday.

— Blockbuster video opened its first store after the Lady Vols started their streak — on Oct. 19, 1985 — and closed all but a handful of them well before the streak ended.

No comments:

Post a Comment