While the Syracuse men’s team will always have top billing on the Hill (like almost any school in America), the impact of what the women’s team has accomplished this year shouldn’t be ignored. SU has made its first Final Four ever, and now is one game away from a national championship.
Unfortunately, that one game is against a historic buzzsaw which is annihilating everything in its path. Should UConn win a fourth straight national championship tomorrow, the Huskies will be the ones remembered by history. But Quentin Hillsman’s squad may have changed the landscape in CNY for a good long time. They’re ranked in the top 15, and now have 30 wins on the season.
Coach Q took over the program a decade ago, and it’s been a slow and steady growth ever since. They lost 20 games that first year, but SU has now been in the postseason every year after that. The Orange went to the WNIT four straight seasons, one round deeper each year. Then four years ago, SU broke into the women’s tourney. They made it to the second round each of the last two seasons, and now has a chance at immortality. Seems kinda perfect to do it against a long time hated rival for both the men and women.
An upset of UConn will be one of the greatest victories in the annals of women’s college basketball. Not just for SU, but for any underdog ever. These Huskies have seniors who have never lost a tournament game, Brianna Stewart one of the greats of all-time, and no question the best women’s coach ever in Gino. Could the Cinderella Orange crash all that? We thought the men’s win over Virginia was special. This would be more incredible times one thousand.
A national championship would stamp the SU program as a huge playmaker in the women’s game, and possibly the next time a Stewart comes around from CNY, she might choose the Orange. But aside from that, you have people who have never watched an SU women’s game now tuned in. Maybe they go to a game next season. Maybe they watch one on TV. Maybe they catch it on the radio or internet. That’s what a run like this can do.
Darryl Gross wanted the women’s program to be nationally relevant, and his dream has been realized. Brianna Butler, Briana Day and Alexis Peterson have already etched their names in program history. One more win would make the ground shake nationally.
Posted: Damon Amendolara