The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce
The Imperfect Champion – it’s been roughly 48 hours since the Huskies claimed their 8th NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. And the changes started right from the top. When the head coach says he even couldn’t get a grasp on this team until the postseason, it says something. It’s not like UConn needed a complete overhaul to get things in order. A few things needed to be tweaked. Each player had to sacrifice a little bit for the good of the team. And you saw that for three glorious weeks. One similarity of the last 5 games, the famous run came in every game. And usually the late stages of the first half to establish a halftime advantage. Of course the only game they even got tested was the Notre Dame game. But they kept answering back before the Irish had enough.
We’ve seen the birth of the next great player in WBB, her nickname is “Stewey.” Breanna Stewart showed the country just how special a player she is. She would have been the MOP of the Big East Tourney had they won it. She was the clear choice both in Bridgeport and New Orleans. All this, and she’s just playing basketball. Ah the innocence of youth !
Let’s not forget while everyone did their part, let’s give credit to Bria Hartley. The Junior guard played like her old self as each round went on. The most improved part of her game ? Her defense. Like a whole nother’ person out there. Geno really challenged the guards after the Big East Tournament to step it up and they responded.
Most people expected UConn to be playing for a National Championship back in November. If you knew the uncertainty and the injuries that this team endured (not just the Banks ACL) well, you’d begin to wonder if they had it in them. Of course the three wrenching losses to the Irish and the 6 pt loss to Baylor left some doubt. BUT they weren’t that far away from being a contender for the big prize. And you saw just how close in the NCAA’s . It only got a little easier with Louisville’s win over Baylor. I’m not even sure the Bears would have beaten UConn the way the Huskies played. We can only speculate the IF’s and WHATS about that.
But the Baylor loss showed one thing, if your team takes things for granted, you’ll get bit. Their guards played poorly. UConn tried to exploit it in February. Louisville took advantage of it with 16 three’s and the rest is history. Sometime next week, I’ll do the end of season report card. In the meantime, enjoy the parade Sunday !