Through 16 games all that separates the UConn women from perfection are the imperfections that cost them the Notre Dame game on Jan. 5.
The one-point loss sent the Huskies spiraling to third in the national polls after a one-week stay on top. But what’s a poll, really, but a vehicle to promote conversation?
And from now until the season ends in South Bend March 4, there will be more discussion about whether the Huskies are sound enough to win an eighth national championship for Geno Auriemma.
Here’s a look at 20 superlatives from the first half of the season:
Best game: UConn’s annihilation of No. 1 Stanford Dec. 29 was more parody than competition. The Huskies historically embarrassed the Cardinal before a partisan crowd.
Worst game: The loss to Notre Dame was no pratfall. The choice is a winning performance against Penn State during which there were 20 turnovers.
Best performance: The Huskies held Stanford to 35 points, 19.3 percent from the field. It was Sinatra signing “Night And Day” in 1965.
Most Valuable Player: Senior Kelly Faris is to a basketball team what a support pillar is to a bridge.
Weakest opponent: Let’s put it this way: If Oakland [Mich.] is accepted into the Big East, UConn should immediately secede.
Strongest opponent: Until UConn figures out a way to make one more shot or commit one less foul, the luck of the Irish is also an internet hoax.
Biggest surprise: Considering where she was last year, which was nowhere, sophomore guard Brianna Banks has been a revelation.
Most improved player: Stefanie Dolson is now an elite, All-American-type post player. If she was a pro, she would be endorsing “Insanity” workout DVDs.
Most disappointing: You look at sophomore center Kiah Stokes and think “great athlete.” You see her and you think “needs motivation.”
Best performance by an opponent: Notre Dame had already beaten UConn four out of five on Jan. 5. You could have understood if it took the day off.
Best coaching move: Every time Geno Auriemma gives freshman guard Moriah Jefferson the keys to the offense, the visibility improves to four years.
Best play: Dolson has made two three-pointers. It’s impossible to determine which one was more memorable.
Best defensive shut-down: Did we mention that Stanford was held to 11 field goals? Charleston had 15, for goodness sake.
Best off-the-court news: The NCAA’s decision to tap Bridgeport to host UConn’s likely regional. It’s not St. Thomas, but have you ever been to Trenton, N.J?
Worst off-the-court news: That Big East road games next season likely will be played in Houston and Memphis and not Louisville and South Bend.
Best recruiting news: Saniya Chong, the high scoring guard from New York.
Worst recruiting news: Saniya Chong, the high scoring guard from New York, is the only member of the Class of 2013.
Best chance for second half upside: Bria Hartley has been bothered all season by a cranky left ankle. It’s time for her make opponents cranky.
Best game coming up: Is it true? Does No. 1 Baylor really have a 6-8 All-American senior center who can dunk?
Most memorable quote: Geno on being blunt: “The truth is the truth. I don’t think enough people want to go in that direction. Maybe from now on when the media asks me a question that I don’t want to answer, I’ll just break out into a song.”