The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce
The Showdown with #1 Baylor – The Monday Night game between #1 and #3 has gotten a lot of hype from ESPN. And why not ? The two regular season meetings have brought great drama. Bria Hartley leading a late charge in 2010 and Terran Condrey’s 3 in Waco last season put the Lady Bears up for good as Griner and Sims led a rally from 11 down to win by 5.
This season’s game is a February matchup that neither coach, especially Kim Mulkey is thrilled about. But she, like Geno understand why ESPN wanted a non league game between these two teams this late. Both will find some things about their teams in an April like atmosphere at the XL Center.
The marque matchup will be in the post between POY Brittney Griner and Stefanie Dolson. Not many times does a 6-5 center look “up” to her opponent, but at 6-8, Dolson faces her toughest adversary for a 3rd time. In the previous two meetings, points have been tough to come by for Stef, Averaging just 4pts per game. She’s come leaps and bounds this season alone and playing the best basketball of her UConn career right now. We’ll see how she performs and if she can stay out of foul trouble.
Another key will be containing the BEST point guard in the country (Sorry Skylar) it’s Odessey Sims. And in 2 games against UConn, she’s averaged 20ppg and is 6/7 from 3 pt range. She was the catalyst in the comeback in Waco. Her x-factor is how tough and nasty she can be. How Kelly Faris, Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson defend her will go a long way in determining the games’ outcome. Note: This is a game Brianna Banks would play a key role, especially on defense, if not for her injury.
An intriguing matchup could be Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis and Jordan Madden. KML cooled off a bit this week shooting, but a little home cooking could change that. And she could play a role in the post of UConn is able to pull Brittney Griner away from the basket. Madden is regarded as Baylor’s best defender. And KML might have to deal with Brooklyn Pope on the defensive end. The one time Rutgers transfer is having her best season, averaging 11ppg as the #3 option for the Lady Bears.
If there is an Achilles Heel for Baylor, it’s from the free throw line. 66% as a team from the line. Sims their best at 84%, Griner at 69%. Like the 09′ and 10′ Huskies, this Lady Bears’ squad is the bast team in the country and the favorite to repeat as National Champs. UConn has more to gain in this contest than Baylor has to lose as really, nothing is on the line other than a small shift in the top 3 if the Huskies win. But should UConn win, it perhaps opens up the title chase. But let’s reaffirm, Baylor is the team to beat.
The atmosphere promises to be great at the XL Center Monday. Hope you’re among the 16,000 + in attendance. If not, tune us in beginning at 8:30 here on WTIC N/T 1080 !