Death by Huskies
For the second year in a row, the forever-dominant Connecticut Huskies buried the Texas Longhorns, 86-65, behind AP Player of the Year candidate Breanna Stewart's 21 points and 13 rebounds. The Horns, who entered the tournament with one of their best teams in years, ran up against a Huskies squad on a date with destiny – the opportunity to finish as the greatest women's team in history, at least since the Alcindor/Walton UCLA teams of yore. The 21-point loss could be something of a moral victory for Texas, considering the larger UConn had been crushing their previous three opponents by an average point differential of 52.6.
Still the Longhorns finished an incredible Elite Eight run, at 31-5 – four of their losses coming to only two teams (Baylor and Connecticut). Star center (and survivor) Imani Boyette ends an illustrious career on the 40 Acres, and will likely move on to additional success overseas and within the WNBA ranks.
The program will continue on in capable hands of rising junior Ariel Atkins and a strong group of incoming recruits, including two five-star talents in Joyner Holmes (Cedar Hill H.S. – Texas) and Alecia Sutton (Parkway North H.S. – Missouri).
The men will experience their own changing of the guard – quite literally – with the (probable) loss of Isaiah Taylor to the NBA, and the graduation of Javan Felix. Cameron Ridley, Connor Lammert, and Prince Ibeh will also be gone – which makes getting 6'9" St. Stephen's Episcopal center Jarrett Allen the utmost frontcourt priority for Shaka Smart. (There will be more about Texas' recruiting needs next week.)
It is of the opinion of this writer that Taylor stay back another season for two reasons. The Horns would be a threat to compete for a Big 12 title, and perhaps even a national championship, with all the seniors and likely NBA early entrants leaving schools, including Oklahoma (Buddy Hield), Kansas, and North Carolina (most of the starters). Secondly, he can improve his shooting – which is at a premium in today's NBA.
If he stays, Texas will have a chance for it all. If he doesn't, Texas will repeat this season.