As I begin to write this blog entry, it was 24 hours ago that the UConn Men were in the midst of capping off a tremendous weekend at MSG in winning their first ever EAST Regional to get to their 5th Final Four. Tonight, it’s the Women’s turn to make it 4 UConn Final Four Doubles in 11 years. If it does indeed happen, it again cements the fact that Storrs, Connecticut is the College Basketball Capital of the Country. On a completely different tangent, the first pitch is about to be thrown on the 2014 Red Sox Season….lol
Anyhow, tonight’s Elite 8 matchup in Lincoln has the UConn Women, winners of 42 straight, against a Texas A&M Team trying to reach it’s 2nd Final Four in 4 years. Saturday’s win over BYU was everything Geno Auriemma expected. The Cougars get major props for playing without fear all day long. But the combination of the 10-0 UConn run and BYU scoring only one FG in the last 10 minutes finally did the Cougars in.
The Huskies, who needed to get offensive boards due to shooting just 35%, did just just that with a season high 20 boards that equated into 27-second chance points, also a season high. And no player did it better than Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. The Junior Forward said last Saturday before the Tournament began, that this time was retribution for her with all the injury and illness she’s dealt with. And she hasn’t disappointed. Averaging a double-double in the tourney so far. An NCAA personal high 13 boards Saturday, including 8 offensive against the Cougars. The ability to get inside either via 2nd Chance points or drives to the hoop has brought her back to the All American Form of last season.
The struggles offensively of Breanna Stewart Saturday showed us some maturity in the Sophomore finding other ways to contribute, including 4 blocks. But it took a little calming down from her coach to get her going. Growing even more frustrated by the missed shots, Geno had her over during some FT’s and felt her heartbeat by putting his hand on her back. It going beating very hard. He just told her to calm down, take a breath and all will be well. It was of course..
As for the Aggies, defense is still their formula for success. And Gary Blair’s offense is more of a mid-range attack from his guards. The Courtney’s, Walker and Williams did that very well Saturday in beating DePaul and shooting a season high 60%. But The Blue Demons aren’t exactly the biggest team or best team defensively. Tonight will test that. And the Aggies play a lot of man to man defense. Fifth best in Three Pt % Defense Nationally. You get to this point of the season, noting is supposed to be easy. And it won’t be as UConn plays an SEC team in the Elite 8 for the third straight year. The big side note is that the point guards, Moriah Jefferson and Jordan Jones are best friends. They played AAU ball in Dallas together and supposedly have keys to each other’s home. Hope their parents know that..Jones is the Co-SEC Defensive POY and averages seven assists per game..
The City of Lincoln has been a great host to this regional. over 9,500 showed up Saturday. I’d expect a lesser crowd this evening with it being an 8:30pm local time start. But it gave Nebraskans a chance to show off their new arena. And did it very well. And apparently the beer is inexpensive. A pitcher of Guinness for $15 per Rich Elliott not tl mention the steaks have been tasty. They will indeed host another Regional or host a Men’s 2nd and 3rd Round weekend sooner than later.
Our coverage begins tonight at 9pm after a marathon edition of WTIC Sportstalk with my colleague Joe D’Ambrosio from the end of the Red Sox-Orioles coverage till our pregame show. To say that Joe & Wayne had a heck of a weekend in the Big Apple would be an understatement..Now the heat is on the Women to follow….again :)