The UConn women's basketball dynasty ended. Don't write off the Huskies.

The top 10 of the Associated Press women's college basketball rankings this week included South Carolina, Texas, and Stanford. Connecticut ranked 17th. Oh how the powerful fell.

The last time the Huskies were this low, Bill Clinton was ratifying Nafta, Princess Di was retiring, and Schindler's List was winning the Oscars. UConn's slipping to 17th in the AP poll ended a 357-week streak in the top 15, second only to Tennessee's 428. 5 weeks after UConn lost to top-ranked LSU in the season opener.

The prospect of the most successful women's basketball program facing the defending national champion seemed likely then.

What happened? No, the basketball gods don't give twice. After the club welcomed back 2021 player of the year Paige Bueckers, out for two years with knee problems, guard Azzi Fudd suffered a season-ending ACL injury, bringing the total to four Huskies on injured reserve since the summer.

Connecticut struggled without those players, starting 4-3. A program that hadn't lost three games this early in a season since 1980 wouldn't be consoled by the fact that all of those losses had come against top-five opponents.

It makes you believe the Huskies may fall out of the AP rankings. Geno Auriemma told beat reporters this week, “I think they were all anticipating that this year was going to be different that this year all that was going away and that was all behind us. 

I think the response was gut-wrenching. Like, ‘I must repeat this.’ I think it's inevitable. I feel their frustration and they see mine. You can't hide.

Connecticut shouldn't have bad years. In Auriemma's 30 years as coach, the Huskies have won 11 national titles, six of them in undefeated seasons. Not long ago, they won 111 straight. They collect top players, play in the most-watched games, and battle for big money. Everyone measures oneself against them.

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