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UConn Sank Louisville In Women's NCAA Matchup


We're switching gears now and we're turning to the world of sports. The University of Louisville had a lot to celebrate when its men's basketball team won the NCAA championship on Monday night. However, the women's team didn't fare quite so well. They were beaten last night by the University of Connecticut by a whopping 93 to 60 margin.

We want to talk about that and other news in women's sports with Pablo Torre. He's a senior writer from ESPN.com. He's a frequent guest in our Barber Shop roundtable.

Pablo, thanks for joining us.

PABLO TORRE: Of course, Michel.

MARTIN: Not sure what else there is to say about that. You know, one of the factors, I mean I don't think it's unfair to say that Louisville kind of captured the nation's hearts. They had a compelling story.

TORRE: Yeah.

MARTIN: They'd beaten some higher seeds than they, but - so what happened last night? Just couldn't sustain that momentum?

TORRE: Yeah. I mean, Louisville - they beat Brittney Griner, which no one thought they could do. They had this great Cinderella run. A five seed making the title game is an accomplishment in and of itself, but Connecticut - you know, Geno Auriemma is undefeated in title games. He's 8-0. He just tied Pat Summitt, the legendary coach at Tennessee, for the most NCAA titles ever in women's basketball, and this is what Connecticut does. I mean it's boring in the way that the Chicago Bulls were boring. They're just the best when it comes to the playoffs and they always seem to do this.

They struggled, actually, towards the end of the season, but they just dominated this game. There was a 19-0 run at one point and Louisville at times just looked like they didn't have a chance.

MARTIN: Well, speaking of dominating, you mentioned Baylor University's Brittney Griner. For people who have not heard of her, tell us why she's such a phenomenon and the particular thing I wanted to ask you about is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, said he might actually consider drafting her.

TORRE: Yeah.

MARTIN: Tell about her and tell us what's - how amazing is she?

TORRE: Yeah. She is unbelievable. Brittney Griner, to me, is the most - was, now that she's finished her career - was the most dominant athlete relative to his or her sport. A once in a lifetime athlete, holds the record in the NCAA for women's basketball and dunks, has a longer wingspan than a lot of NBA players, seven foot four, just this physical specimen who also is really skilled down low and a phenomenal, phenomenal athlete that we may not ever see again, to be perfectly honest with you.

But what Mark Cuban is doing now - I mean on the one hand - look, the offer to draft a Brittney Griner in the second round or invite her to an NBA camp is great. It's intriguing. It shines a spotlight, but the reality is, Michel, is that women's basketball players, even the most elite one, like Brittney Griner - she's not big enough to play in the NBA. She weighs reportedly about 175 pounds. That is three pounds lighter than Steve Nash, the point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. Just the bodies are too big, too athletic. Brittney Griner, even at the end of that spectrum for a women's player - I mean she has her work cut out for her if she wants to compete against the men at the top, top level.

MARTIN: Well, when you put it that way. Do you think she wants to?

TORRE: She said that she wants to. She says, bring it on. And I admire that and I'd love to see that. We should make no bones about this. I would watch every minute of every game she plays and I'm sure she would avail herself at times very nicely, but in terms of making this a legitimate roster spot, that's a totally different question.

MARTIN: So is this a Jackie Robinson move or a minute, bold Gheorghe Muresan move, which were mainly really about publicity and the novelty?

TORRE: I think, unfortunately, this errs on the side of novelty and that just speaks to the differences, whether it's testosterone level between a female and a male athlete, just the size difference, the athletic difference, and the fact that, as a power forward, she'd be going against people who are 40, 50, 60 pounds bigger than her, and that's tough for anybody, male or female.

MARTIN: Well, what about Nate Archibald? There have been some smaller players in the NBA.

TORRE: That's true, but you'll notice that Nate Archibald, the Muggsy Bogues, the Spud Webb, all really quick guards, and that's just not Brittney Griner's game.

MARTIN: Well, I would offer to play you for it, to see you out on the court, but...

TORRE: I know that you can defeat me. That's not a question.

MARTIN: OK. Well, I just wanted to hear you say it. Well, before we let you go, we've been talking about history being made in the NBA, possibly, and you've broken it down for us. But speaking of historic, the Masters tournament has two female members this year, a lot of attention on former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who's become an avid golfer. I don't think she really had time before, but she has now. The other is Darla Moore, a partner in the Rainwater investment firm.

Now, a lot of people are focusing on Tiger Woods, who's regained his number one title. Is this important? Does this matter in the world of sports, in your opinion?

TORRE: The Condi Rice story or the Tiger story?

MARTIN: The Condi Rice story, please.

TORRE: Yeah. So I...

MARTIN: Tiger can take care of himself.

TORRE: Yeah, yeah. Tiger's OK. Listen, when I saw that photo of her smiling in the green jacket and people were treating this as if it was historic, I was like, OK, fine, it's historic. But the fact that it took this long, I mean I hesitate to applaud the Masters and Augusta National for taking this long, and certainly, Condi Rice and Darla Moore are two extremely wealthy, extremely successful women who would have been a no-brainer, it seems.

So look, given the world of golf and its culture and specifically in Augusta, which is the - you know, the stronghold of history and being a good southern gentleman - yes. Relative to that, it's a story, but in the macro sense, it was ridiculous that it took this long, to be perfectly honest with you.

MARTIN: Pablo Torre is a senior writer for ESPN. He was with us from our bureau in New York. Pablo, thank you so much for joining us.

TORRE: Thank you, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.