Perfect. An impossible achievement, to be perfect. It’s something we all dream about; perfectionists can destroy their lives trying to be perfect. But we all try for it, working at being mistake-free and, as the dictionary says “entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings.” The perfect woman/man – doesn’t exist. The perfect career – doesn’t exist. The perfect trip – we’ve come close a couple of times, but there’s always something weird that happens to destroy it – mostly at airports. The perfect car – doesn’t exist; there’s always those strange little gremlins that steal into the machinery and do something goofy.
So when you’re Geno Auriemma and your ladies basketball team comes to you at the beginning of the year and say they want to strive for a perfect season, you laugh. You marvel at the innocence of late teenagers/early twenty-somethings who believe that it’s a reasonable goal. You tell them it’s unreasonable. You might even give them a hard time about it – because sometimes that’s what coaches do – they give you a hard time to see if you can rise to the occasion. But you’re Geno – you shake your head and do what you’ve always done – you coach for perfection. You yell at them if they do something stupid – even if it’s at the end of a game where you’re ahead 20 points, you yell. Because that’s what you do.
Boy, did UConn respond last night. They responded to all the yelling. They responded to their coach. After an undefeated regular season, the UConn Huskies rolled through the ladies tournament like a house on fire. They were matched by Notre Dame, another undefeated team. And in one of the most compelling match-ups in the ladies tournament final, we had two undefeated teams meeting each other. Someone was going to lose. Someone was going to reach the peak of the mountain, the unachievable – they were going to have a perfect season.
Just to make sure they put an exclamation mark on the perfect season, UConn blew Notre Dame out of the water. It wasn’t that the Fighting Irish played badly, although much like Kentucky the night before, many of the shots that had been falling all tournament were bouncing off the rim, narrow misses by the narrowest of margins, but misses nonetheless. The Irish looked outmatched. They lost to perfection.
So congratulations to Geno Auriemma, who, with the win, passed Pat Summitt in total wins. Pretty good for 29 years of coaching. Oh, and the men’s UConn team won too – they just weren’t perfect.