From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED March 20, 1995
THERE ARE FIVE PEOPLE WHOM CONNECTICUT'S All-America forward-center, Rebecca Lobo, would invite to her perfect dinner party. First: Thomas Jefferson. "He was a Renaissance man," explains Lobo, herself a budding Renaissance woman. Second: David Robinson. "My basketball hero," she says. Third: Bruce Springsteen. "I love him. He would sing." Fourth: Robin Williams. "Jokes. He'll make fun of Jefferson's wig." And fifth: Julia Child. Oh? Lobo smiles. "I'm not cooking for this shindig," she says.
Fair enough, because the 6' 4", 180-pound Lobo is doing more than enough cooking for the Huskies' women's basketball team, which is 29-0, ranked first in the nation and poised for a run at its first NCAA title. Lobo is probably the favorite to win women's player of the year honors. She averaged 17.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 3.8 assists for a team that blew out opponents so badly—by a nation-leading average of 35.1 points—that she played only about 28 minutes a game. "What is she great at?" asks Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma. "I can't say any one thing. But the sum of all the parts is unreal."
Lobo and her teammates have brightened the UConn basketball scene by giving the Huskies a women's team with a record even more sterling than that of the 25-4 men's team. Most women's games at 8,241-seat Gampel Pavilion are screaming, banner-waving sellouts. While other Big East women's teams often play home games in front of Mom, Dad and a janitor or two, UConn sold 6,541 season tickets this season, generating nearly $700,000 in revenue.
Lobo's surname means "wolf" in Spanish, but off the court she is about as unferocious as she could be. Back at Southwick (Mass.) High, where Lobo was also a star in field hockey, track and softball, she once had 62 points in a basketball game while en route to breaking the Massachusetts career-scoring record. Her response to that transcendent performance? "Embarrassment," she says, almost trembling. "I mean, it's a team game."
Auriemma laughs and scratches his head when confronted with his star's humility. He wants her to be mean, nasty, selfish. Score 50, 60 points. Decimate foes. "My nature isn't to be the son of a bitch he wants me to be on the floor," Lobo says.
Still, determination burns in her. Broken noses (she has had two at Connecticut), a damaged knee, a broken finger (she is nursing a fractured pinkie right now)—none of it stops her. "This past summer she was working so hard at conditioning, she was in the best shape she's ever been in," says her sister, Rachel, an assistant women's coach at Salem (Mass.) State. "She told me then, 'I'm doing this because we're going to be playing at the end of March.' She wants a championship very badly."
Rachel thinks about her kid sister, and as so many people do when they ponder the tall young woman with the soft touch around the bucket, she smiles. "Rebecca cares about other people first," she says. "She's a beautiful person."
Sounds like the perfect host for the perfect dinner party.