The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce – UConn/ Notre Dame… The Championship Edition
This rivalry used to be a civil one..Until Skylar Diggins showed up. Since then, it’s been drama, drama and more drama. Of course, UConn got the last laugh last season and left Miss Diggins without a National Championship. Well, the ones who are back clash tonight as two unbeaten teams playing for history in Nashville. Regardless who wins, it’ll be the 8th undefeated National Champion in in NCAA Women’s History…But should it be the Huskies, it’s Title #9 more than any team in WBB…
Without a doubt, these are the two best programs in the game right now…Not even close. They are precise on how they run their offenses, they have great talent and well, these two teams may respect each other, but really they don’t like each other. And that couldn’t have been more on display than at the Monday Media sessions. Geno Auriemma and Muffet McGraw aren’t buddy-buddy…Why should they be ? It’s like the Geno & Pat days, only better…Each coach protecting their teams..Muffet surprised how little fouls UConn gets called on them…Geno on how many foul shots ND gets…especially when they play UConn..and so on, and so on. The difference ? Class….When Breanna Stewart won AP player of the year rather than Kayla McBride, Muffet, her husband and a few on her staff did not applaud. Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register has it on video…When Coach McGraw won the Coach of the Year, Geno and what members of UConn were in the room did applaud. So when Geno says try dealing with the Connecticut perspective of how everyone else perceives UConn, he’s spot on…His 30 minutes in the interview room Monday was better than ANY reality show on television..
As for the game, because it is the players who ultimately decide the outcome, this has the makings of a classic. 5 All Americans will be showcased tonight..3 for UConn,, 2 for ND. And those two “wingers” for the Irish are downright dangerous. Kayla McBride is alot like Diana Taurasi..she loves taking the big shot and can make it. Her performance Sunday against Maryland is the stuff of legend. And Jewell Loyd is so athletic..maybe the most athletic player to play for Coach McGraw..The downside is no Natalie Achonwa with the torn ACL..That really hurt ND Sunday right ? 50-21 on the boards, 19-4 offensive and 20-3 2nd chance points. Markisha Wright played the game of her life Sunday with 12p 9 r and freshman Taya Reimer also effective. Note to UConn, Rebound.
Of course the question is for the Irish, who guards Breanna Stewart ? She’s the biggest matchup nightmare in the Women’s Game right now. But she hasn’t exactly lit it up from three in the tourney, just 4 of 18. On paper, UConn has more weapons at their disposal on offense..But the Irish have more depth. Yes, fouls could factor into this affair. And Notre Dame seemingly has mastered the flopping game. Just watch the Baylor game last Monday for proof. How the refs call this game will be key.
The key for ND is to get offensive boards and create turnovers…UConn ? solid defense as they’ve had most of the season, stay out of foul trouble and execute on offense. A slow start will not help the Huskies tonight. If UConn plays it’s A Game, they win. Plain and simple….
And of course now, there is added pressure for UConn…a good kind…You did see what happened in Texas last night right ?? A wire to wire win over Kentucky to win the Men’s Championship where UConn made the key plays and made their free throws. While Kentucky squandered their chances to take a lead they never got. Shabazz and The Boatshow were outstanding all Tournament long. Major props to Coach Kevin Ollie, his staff and those young men who bought into “10 toes in” and then some on a fantastic run to the promised land.
Once the Men’s celebration is over , give us a listen tonight at 8 as the Huskies and Irish get set to slug it out for a National Championship..Hope the game lives up to the hype !