NEW YORK — UCLA's 88-game winning streak had just been ended by Notre Dame in 1974 when Bruins coach John Wooden was asked how long it would be before somebody beat the streak.
"I have no idea how long it will be before somebody else wins that many. I know it takes at least three years," he replied.
Try nearly 37 years. And the UConn women can do it tonight at home vs. No. 22 Florida State.
Huskies coach Geno Auriemma and his players have been so dominant that some in the sports world have even suggested their overwhelming success is no good for the game.
Auriemma took the debate a step further Sunday after UConn's 88th straight win, questioning whether there is a gender bias against his team.
"The reason everybody is having a heart attack the last four or five days is a bunch of women are threatening to break a men's record, and everybody is all up in arms about it," he said.
There is no dispute, however, that the streak has raised the profile of women's basketball by daring to compare UConn's accomplishment to one of the most revered numbers in sports history orchestrated by one of its most hallowed figures.
"Whether you agree or disagree with the time, the era, the competitive balance — whatever your take on it is, you can put any spin you want on it," Auriemma said. "You can make it better, the same or less; it's just a matter of how you look at it. …
"I like to remind my players all the time, you don't stumble and bumble into the history book," he added.
While no men's team has approached UCLA's record set from 1971 to 1974, Auriemma and UConn once came close. The Huskies won 70 straight in the early 2000s before tripping up against Villanova. That was a record that many thought would never be achieved again.
Until now. UConn, which hasn't lost since the 2008 NCAA Tournament, can pass UCLA tonight before a home crowd.
Florida State coach Sue Semrau is glad her team has this opportunity.
"I am so excited about what it's going to do for our team and their development," Semrau said. "When you get into March, you are going to get into arenas like this. You are going to get into big-time games like this, and to be able to play this type of game in December is really going to grow our young team up."
In the past decade, which includes three perfect seasons, six NCAA championships, a slew of All-Americans and many sold-out crowds and appearances on national television, Auriemma's teams rarely seem to let down. UConn hasn't lost consecutive games in more than 17 years.
"One thing that's non-negotiable is that the one thing we have in common (with UCLA) is we settle for nothing less than the absolute best we give you every single night. They did it, and we're doing it. Everything else to me is meaningless," Auriemma said.