What a year it has been so far in women’s college basketball.

Baylor, for all intents and purposes, was predicted to have an undefeated season along with winning their first back-to-back national championships but Stanford put the first part of that prediction to rest early on and Louisville prevented the rest of it from happening. 

Shortly after Stanford’s victory over Baylor in Hawaii, Baylor beat Notre Dame in South Bend.  A few weeks later UCONN gave Stanford a drubbing in Palo Alto. To add insult to injury, the California Bears came into Stanford a little more than a week later and gave Stanford their first back-to-back home losses in over a decade.  UCONN continued on their roll until Notre Dame beat them in Storrs, CT. 

UCONN’s troubles were far from over because Baylor later visited UCONN and beat them as well.  Two home losses that early on was quite unusual for UCONN.    

At this point, all the elite teams had at least one loss with Stanford and UCONN having two losses but for UCONN, the bleeding was just beginning.

Notre Dame then went on to beat UCONN twice more, once in South Bend and the last time in Hartford for the Big East title.

With conference tournaments over, Baylor and Notre Dame had one loss each, Stanford had two losses and UCONN, surprisingly, had four losses.

UCONN was not supposed to have four losses at this point in the basketball year; after all, they heavily recruited three “All American” caliber high school players.  UCONN fans assumed these super kids were going to hit it running and never look back – hopefully all the way to New Orleans.

My head is still spinning just thinking about all these contests and their national championship implications. 

I cannot remember a year where all the elite teams were beating each other during the regular season.

Continuing on to the NCAA Tournament, Delaware went  further in the tournament than ever before – UCONN and ND beat Louisville during the regular season, yet Louisville, in the tournament, slayed the giant bear from Waco when it really counted.  Say what?  Did that really happen?

The biggest surprise, however, is that the Big East (or the soon-to-be “former” Big East) has three teams playing in the Final Four in New Orleans this weekend.

It is no surprise that a PAC-12 team is in the final four, but I doubt anyone thought it would be the California Bears – most people thought the only Bears that would be in the final four would be the Bears from Waco. Most NCAA followers also thought that the only PAC-12 team worthy of Final Four consideration was Stanford.

The clue many of us missed was when the Cal Bears beat Stanford early in the season – that game should have told us that Cal was not done yet and they proved it by defeating team after team to earn their place in the Final Four.

I am sure the bookies are scratching their heads while emptying their wallets – and my gut feeling is that the carnage is not over yet. 

Who knows, the other two number one seeds, UCONN and ND,  could fall as well.  I don’t know if that would be a first but it sure would be a recent first.

Cal and Louisville are longshots to win and Notre Dame is probably the odds-on favorite to win it all, considering they beat two of the three remaining three teams.  In addition, Notre Dame beat one of the remaining teams, UCONN, a total of three times. (gasp!)  I hate even mentioning that.  Do wonders cease to exist?

Any team is capable of putting together a streak of improbable victories, but I do not believe Louisville can continue shooting the lights out from outside – so I am picking them to not win it all.  Louisville might win their next game against the Cal Bears tonight but they will not win the whole enchilada because both Notre Dame and UCONN have their number already.

I am not sure if any team has defeated two teams with bears as mascots in one tournament – I will have to research that.

The Cal Bears are new to the Final Four, and as a result will probably freeze up against one of the remaining teams, so if they make it past Louisville, Notre Dame or UCONN will make sliced bread out of them.

Now, for the only two teams with enough depth to win it all – UCONN and Notre Dame.  I believe, for a variety of reasons, that UCONN will have ND in their rear view mirror by game end. One good team beating another equally good team three times is the same season is one thing, beating that same team a fourth time is a statistical improbability.

UCONN didn’t help themselves in one of the games by missing an unusual amount of free throws and they lost another one of the games by making an unusually high number of turnovers and erratic passing.  UCONN fell into the trap that so many other teams make – playing their opponent’s kind of game and not playing their own game that has earned them victory after victory all year long.

Notre Dame, on the other hand was running on all cylinders, which was also unusual.  There were several teams during the year that pushed Notre Dame to the limit and UCONN was a team more than capable of doing the same but for some reason they caved under pressure.

As far as the “Luck of the Irish” goes, St. Patty’s day is long gone.  Luck runs in streaks and the UCONN rookies are ready to put their three Notre Dame losses behind them by going for the gusto.

Moriah Jefferson, aka MoJe and Morgan Tuck, aka MoTuck, and Breanna Stewart, affectionately known simply as “Stewie” have all upped their games considerably since their last Notre Dame loss.

Tonight will not be like the movie, “Groundhog Day” and St. Patty will not see his shadow again for the fourth time, i.e. he has run out of luck. 

As Michael Scott once said on The Office, “Game, set, match, point – UCONN.”  (I added UCONN to the quote.)

Regarding the final game – not knowing which team will win the first game tonight, I will leave the outcome of the championship game to the prognosticators but I feel that UCONN is more than capable of being either of the two teams – and beating them decisively. 

My only “fear” is that the media will place an asterisk to the right of the winning team because Baylor, the team that was predicted to win, was “upset” early on and any team that ultimately wins the championship does not deserve the title.


Before the season even began, I thought Breanna Stewart, now simply known as “Stewie” was going to be THE factor in UCONN raising another flag in Storrs. 

She hit it running and scoring – showing glimmers of her future greatness.

Then she ran into a bump in the road because I believe she realized that a handful of others on her team had very specific “jobs” and she was not sure how she fit in the UCONN puzzle.

Dolson was THE center

KML was THE 3-pointer and scorer

Hartley was THE point guard

Faris was “Miss Odd Job” or “Cleaner”

Their jobs, maybe to Stewie, left her wondering where she fit in.  She lost the handle on the ball a few times and missed a handful of outside shots.  She missed what appeared to be a few easy layups – and all of a sudden, she did not know who she was and how she could contribute.  I bet she was feeling like, “odd man out.”

Even though I lived 300 plus miles away, I saw a glimmer here and there – where Stewie blew by a defender – taking 5 – 6 long strides and making a layup as if she was in the NBA.

Stewie, in high school, was the “Big Man” on campus.  She was the tallest, lankiest, and the best.  She intimidated others; she made 3-pointers, easily blocked shots of others, and hustled her team to victory after victory. 

As a senior, she was the oldest as well as the tallest.

All of a sudden, she was a freshman in college and there were others her height almost everywhere – Duke had big “bigs” and so did Baylor, Maryland, Penn State, and Texas A&M.  For once, she was looking eye to eye at defenders or in the case of Griner – she was looking way up.

All of a sudden, she was on the bench wondering if she would again rise to the top of the heap but it was going to take bench time to “see” what was going on – to get a feel of the college game.

She needed to get into a conditioning program, she needed to learn how college ball differed from high school ball, and the biggest thing she needed to learn was how to play UCONN ball.  She needed to learn how to fit into an existing team – a team with a handful of seniors and juniors trying themselves to adjust to three new brats coming in as rumored “super players” from high school.

Well, it took 30 odd games for the players to figure out how they all fit in the UCONN puzzle.

It took three losses to Notre Dame and one loss to Baylor to teach them that even though they are good, they can get better but it was going to take discipline, good coaching, and practice, practice, and practice.

After the third Notre Dame loss and the loss of the Big East championship and the Big East Tournament, the team realized that if they were going to have what UCONN fans consider a successful season, they knew they were going to have to get their act together – and quickly.

It was not something that Stewie could do alone – nor was it something Moriah Jefferson or Morgan Tuck could do individually or as a pair. 

At UCONN, it is hard for a freshman to break into the lineup.  It almost takes a starter running into a slump for a freshman get significant playing time.

The freshman needed to show some glimmers of greatness and the starters had to show signs of improvement to give fans hope.

The beginning of the NCAA tournament was the time for the team to gel – the time for individuals to step up individually and collectively.

In the first few games of the tournament Stewie made a handful of impressive rebounds, a couple of fluid 3’s, coupled with some great blocks, and fans began chanting “Stewie, Stewie, Stewie.”

However, it was not only Stewie, MoJo ran the floor – making a couple of steals and a couple of impressive layups – even her passes were sharper and more deliberate.

Tuck began looking more intimidating in the paint.  Rebounds, blocks, layups, and overall good hustle.

The real turning point, to me, was when Dolson started limping up and down the court, while still getting playing time.  Her leg brace and all that black tape made her look like “The bionic woman.”  Her leg pain, however, did not deter her from scoring, rebounding, blocking and hustling.

I believe the rookies formed their own conscious or subconscious pact – saying that if Stefanie can do all she is doing with all that leg pain, then we should be able to kick it up a notch or two.

Several torches are being passed – and they seem to be being passed all at the same time.

MoJo was to be the guard of the future but with Doty graduating, the transition is in high gear and it is happening now.

Faris – she still is at the top of her game but she does so many good things it will take a player or two or three picking up the slack that Faris will leave behind.

I believe Tuck and Stokes and KML are starting to do some of the extra things that Faris is so well respected for doing – and they are doing these things in addition to what they already have been doing well.

The biggest torch is regarding Stewie.

Stewie, however, is being passed two torches.  Some might consider the next comments to be premature, but I think not.

Brittney Griner is gone from the tournament and women’s college basketball.  Elena Delle Donne has also had her time in the limelight and she went out on a high note – ready, like Griner, to move on to the next level – the WNBA.

Griner and Delle Donne were head and shoulders above all other centers and post players.  They were # 1 and # 2 and the next nearest big was Dolson and even though I have the greatest admiration for her, she was a distant third.  On a more positive note, there was an equal gap between Dolson and the remaining centers/posts in college hoops.

Now that Griner and Delle Donne are not getting daily or weekly headlines, the time for Stewie to step up and do her thing has arrived.

I could single out a half dozen of truly amazing things that Stewie has done over the past week or two that have dazzled fans and even opponents – things like two handed blocks and rebounds coupled with dominating put backs – turning her own misses into second chance baskets.  Second chances are normally attributed to Chiney Ogwumike from Stanford, but Stewie is now getting her share.

The one play that impressed me the most was when she had her back to the basket and she spun around from somewhere near the free throw line, took three steps and made a layup – leaving her defender wondering exactly what happened.

Stewie is 6’4” and not 6’8” so she does not look as intimidating as Griner.  Stewie is an awkward, lanky freshman who does not look as polished as Delle Donne when shooting 3’s, nor does she look as polished dribbling up the court like Delle Donne – but she is far from awkward – that is just the way she plays her game.

That said, the torch has been given to Stewie and I believe she is more than ready to accept it and run the distance to the finish line.

Stewie is now, “The ONE to watch.”

Seeing her proud parents in the stands the other night truly moved me. 

Has anyone seen Maggie Lucas’ dad in the stands at Penn State games? Has anyone seen Delle Donne’s parents or even Skylar Diggins mom looking in admiration?

I believe Stewie’s parents see the transformation that has taken place in their daughter over the past several weeks and I am sure it makes them proud.

The other torch I was hinting at is the “temporary” torch that Stewie has accepted to help Stefanie through these last games.  She knows Stefanie is playing with great pain and for UCONN to win these last two games it requires Stewie to kick it up even more. 

Stewie likes hanging out in the 3-point area and she does not seem to enjoy confrontation in the paint but she also knows that for UCONN to enjoy the spoils of winning it all, she has to do some things she doesn’t like as much – doing them all for the good of the team.

This resurgent UCONN team has the capacity to blow Notre Dame out of the water but I would be happy with a decisive victory to send Notre Dame back to South Bend wondering what happened.

It is true that Louisville upset Baylor, but UCONN has already beaten Louisville and the outcome for the championship game should be no different.  Go UCONN, Go Huskies!

They all are well known names.  If anyone says the name Diggins, they are referring to only one player – Skylar Diggins.  The same holds true with Griner – to the basketball world only Brittney Griner is known as “Griner.”

Now, the other two, interestingly enough go by their initials and I have not quite figured out why.  Maybe it is because their names are so darn long.

My guess, regarding Mosqueda-Lewis is because her name is hyphenated, it makes it quite long – but then when adding her first name, Kaleena, it makes her name too long to use in everyday conversation, i.e. in a world driven by texting and tweeting, she becomes KML.

Delle Donne, on the other hand sounds more like a brand of pasta sauces or a name of an avenue in Venice – either way, even though it lacks the hyphen in KML’s name, it is still fairly long, even without adding her first name – Elena.

So, again, thanks to smileys, icons, and being in an acronym driven world, someone tagged her as EDD.  It sounds more like a disease – maybe a cross between ADD and ED, both of which are undesirable.  I digress.

The four players in question are all top-notch players – each bringing their own skills to the game.

Three of them – excluding KML – are first team All-Americans and KML is a second team All-American.

What is interesting about the group is how their teams classify each player on their websites:

Diggins is listed as a guard and I have no problem with that but Griner is listed as a post, yet she is a center and only plays center.  Delle Donne, aka EDD, is listed as a guard/forward and I find that quite interesting.  I guess the combo is because she plays as a forward/center but shoots like a guard.

Now, as far as Mosqueda-Lewis, UCONN lists her as a forward and I agree with that, but I think UCONN could have listed her as a guard/forward just as Delaware did with EDD because KML plays forward the majority of the time, yet she shoots like a guard when scoring.  She drives for layups and gets her share of rebounds, yet her shooting opportunities are best observed outside the three-point line.

So, who is the better player of the group? 

Some will say that Griner is the best player ever – not just during her playing years – but ever.  Even though I feel she is top notch, she played 39 minutes in her team’s loss to Stanford on a neutral site in Hawaii.  The reason for the loss was attributed to her teammate, Odyssey Sims, only playing four minutes.  One would think that the “best ever” player, along with four to six top-notch players would not lose.  In addition, all of Baylor’s starters played in the loss to Louisville, yet they could not beat the team that Notre Dame beat by almost 30 points and UCONN beat by 14 points.

Delle Donne, on the other hand, is on a team with some good players, but they are not as experienced as supporting players from the top five programs in the country – so it was expected that Delaware would not get far in the NCAA tournament.  Delaware did quite well, however, considering they came from the Colonial Athletic Association, a lesser known conference.  In fact, without Delle Donne, Delaware might get into the NCAA tournament in future years, but the likelihood of victories appear slim.

Delle Donne’s team was the first team of these players to exit the NCAA tournament, followed next by Baylor.  Notre Dame and UCONN are still in until this weekend – and only one will survive.

Delle Donne does it all and she does it quite well.  I believe if she stayed at UCONN, and survived being away from her sister and her family, we would not be having this conversation.  Delle Donne does not stay outside and pump three-pointers, she frequently shoots from inside and gets her own second chance shots, passes to her teammates and does her share of blocks.  If someone was rating players on 8 – 10 categories, I believe Delle Donne would end up on the top of the list.

Diggins also does it all and she is the lynchpin to Notre Dame’s success for the past several years – especially all their recent victories over UCONN.

The one negative for Diggins and Notre Dame is that during Diggins tenure, Notre Dame has not won a national championship – yet. 

KML, from UCONN, does it all as well – in fact, she is the purest shooter in the nation.  She is the most accurate 3-point shooter in the NCAA and she has expanded her game this year by taking her game to the boards – offensively and defensively.  She rebounds, is second in steals, first in scoring average, and first in 3-point shots made in a year, breaking a UCONN record.

Unfortunately, during KML’s tenure with UCONN, they have not won a national championship – yet.

So, one of my questions is this. 

Which of these players would win in a game of H-O-R-S-E? 

For those of you not familiar with the game, Wikipedia has a general description of the game, along with a handful of variations.

The one variation I like is “Around the World.” 

This game is played in a half-circle around the three point line, starting in one corner and working around the three-point line ending up at the opposite corner.

Players start shooting in one corner and if a basket is made, the player advances to the next spot, which is halfway between the center of the three-point line and the corner.  The next position is right behind the free throw line.  The fourth position is halfway to the other corner – the place KML loves to shoot from with the game ending up in the opposite corner.  When a player misses, they “earn” the letter “H”, and when the word H-O-R-S-E is completed, that player loses the game.

I cannot prove this statement, as it is only an opinion based on my observations of the games I have seen, but I feel that KML shoots best when she is left of center or to the right of center.  She seldom shoots from behind the free throw line and she appears to not be as accurate when shooting from the corners – especially the right corner.

Maybe I have seen a handful of her misses from the right corner and as a result, I am more critical when she is shooting from there.

If anyone has formed an opinion of her shooting accuracy based on games they have seen, please enlighten me by leaving a comment.

Here is my honest, unbiased opinion, as to who would win and who would lose in a game of H-O-R-S-E, the “Around the World” version.

I believe EDD would come in first because I have seen her shoot with a high degree of accuracy from all five positions.  KML, who shoots 50 percent from the three, does well left and right of center, but because EDD shots well from all five positions, I believe she would win.  On a side note, KML shoots threes with 50 percent accuracy while EDD shoots at a 47 percent accuracy. Both players shoot overall at 53 percent, which I find quite interesting.

Diggins would come in third because she shoots a lot of three-pointers – not as accurately as KML and EDD, but nonetheless, she would come in third.  By the way, Diggins shoots threes with a 37 percent accuracy and she shoots overall at 43 percent.

Griner would come in last because she seldom shoots threes.

In fact, Griner only attempted one three pointer all season – and she it.  If she played high post a little more, she might improve her outside shooting, but I do not believe she could ever compete in a game of H-O-R-S-E with these three ladies. On a very positive note, Griner shoots overall at 61 percent and that is because the majority of her shots are either layups or short jumpers or as second chance shots from all her rebounds.  Griner seldom shoots from anywhere near the three point line and that is why her percentage is so high, but still, that is a great shooting percentage.

Now, as far as blocking and rebounding, the tables turn in  Griner’s favor, with EDD coming in a strong second.

Now for your part, below are four polling questions and I hope you participate in all of them.  Answer them individually, going from one to the other. 

Also, please leave a comment if you have the time.

All year long Baylor ladies have been playing an excessively rough “street ball” kind of basketball. 

For those who don’t know one of the basic tenets of street ball, the cardinal rule is, “No blood, no foul.”

Baylor’s posts and guards have been getting away with rough play all year while painting Griner as a victim.  They have used every dirty trick in the book to make steals, rebounds, and forcing turnovers.

Sure, Griner got roughed up last night but she has dished it out her entire career – as well as last night.  The punch heard ‘round the world happened over 3 years ago but since then Griner has, on numerous occasions, thrown down opponents and gotten away with it most of the time. 

All she had to do last night was change her game – she could have moved out to a high post and Louisville would have reduced the triple coverage down to double coverage.  Griner chose not to do that however because she has no outside game.  Griner has only attempted one 3-point shot all year (and missed it), which supports my comment that she has no outside game.

She seldom went out to contest Louisville’s 3-point shooters. Why?  Baylor, as a whole, appears to have this air of superiority – and as a result they thought they had no need to alter their game to win.

Also, in the dying seconds, Baylor could have thrown a pass the length of the court – Sims is more than capable of tossing it, instead, Sims dribbled the length of the court and threw a ridiculous desperation shot.

Why din’t Griner and Sims do what Hurley and Laettner did for Duke against Kentucky with little time remaining on the clock?  Why?  Because Griner is not EDD (Elena Della Donne.)  Griner has NO outside shot – she only has a high shooting percentage because she forces defenders backwards until she ends up with easy layups.

For those who did not see or hear about Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner – Duke guard Hurley threw a long inbounds pass to Laettner, a 6’11” forward, who was positioned near the free throw line and Laettner turned and made a jump shot to win the game for Duke.  Given Griner’s height and wingspan and Sims strength, they could have replicated that famous Duke play.

Considering the clock would not have started until a player touched the ball, Griner could have opted to turn and take

3 – 4 steps and made one of her easy layups or even one of her bland dunks, which would have ignited the crowd and given Baylor the victory. 

Also, Kim Mulkey should be fined heavily for her after game comments.  Her crybaby antics looked ridiculous as well as quite unprofessional – especially when she kept trying to rip off her jacket.  She reminded me of coach Bill Fennelly of Iowa State after he became irate when Griner threw down Chelsea Poppens, resulting in Fennelly ripping off his jacket in protest. 

Iowa State Coach Fennelly got called for a technical when he protested a call when playing against Baylor and coach Geno Auriemma got a technical for protesting a call in a UCONN game, also against Baylor and Jeff Walz got a technical called against him during the Baylor game last night.  So, why is it that Kim did not get called for a technical when she flipped out and ranted up and down the sidelines screaming and trying to rip off her jacket in protest?  Is it a case of double standards for women’s basketball when men coach a women’s basketball team?  It appears that way to me.

I believe women’s college basketball is doing whatever it can to start a dynasty other than UCONN and Tennessee and they are turning a blind eye to the antics of the Baylor Women and their colorful, yet constantly complaining head coach.  Coach Mulkey cries every time anyone on her team gets touched.

She complained about the rough play but three Louisville players got fouled out, while her players played rough the entire game.  Please do not get me wrong, the three Louisville players deserved each and every foul assessed but at the same time Mulkey’s  “street scrappers” got a free pass for most of the game.

Griner slapped a defender across the face – a slap that was worthy of a technical but it either wasn’t seen at the time it occurred – or worse yet it was overlooked.  When Louisville’s coach asked for it to be looked at, it was not called as being a flagrant foul because it did not include an elbow – so, it appears that you can slap all you want without getting a technical.

Sims taunted Schimmel and both of them got called for T’s even though Sims was the instigator who turned to face Schimmel instead of going down the court.  It is as though Baylor can do no wrong. 

Baylor could not defend the 3’s – the few times they attempted to they ended up fouling the shooter for 3 shots (twice I believe). 

Mulkey and her kids have had an “air of arrogance” all year – acting as if they could get away with extremely rough play and not be penalized because they were anointed to win a second consecutive championship – earning dynasty status.

Maybe Kim should change her last name from Mulkey to Karma because Karma showed up last night and put Kim in her place.

Just to be sure, I would be asking the same question if Brittney played for UCONN, Stanford, Notre Dame or any other women’s program in college basketball.

It is not as though Brittney is 6’2” – she is 6’8”, which means that her vertical reach is 9’2” without standing on her tiptoes.  All she needs to be able to dunk the ball is get a little over 10 – 11 inches off the ground to work the ball over the rim and into the basket.

On a side note, none of her dunks has been creative or exciting to watch – all of them just barely make it over the rim – nothing special.

So, why do so many people go “gaga” over her dunks?  Could it be because she is a girl and nothing more?  If so, that is sad.

There are many men a lot shorter that have dunked – some of them a full foot shorter than Griner.

All I am saying is that at her height, one would expect Griner to dunk – and to dunk often – and to be more forceful when doing so.

In a recent game between Baylor and Florida State, Griner chose to Tweet at halftime – doing what I consider a poor imitation of Babe Ruth.

As many baseball fans know, Babe Ruth, known for numerous  accomplishments, is known for “announcing” his intention to hit a home run by pointing to left-center field just before hitting for the distance.  Many baseball historians still debate his gesture – maybe out of jealousy – maybe because they supported other teams or other ball players.

Either way, it seems like Griner was desperately seeking attention by tweeting during a game – just doing so is a “no no” in all college sports programs.

Here is a quote from espn.com regarding the tweet.

“”Need two more dunks on home court for the best crowd ever! #BaylorNation” read a tweet posted from Griner’s account, @Brittney4Griner.”

After the tweet, Griner made sure that she gave her fans the two dunks she promised in her tweet. 

In my opinion, if she simply dunked twice without tweeting her intentions, that would have been fine – it is disappointing that she drew that much attention to herself and away from her team – especially considering there were four seniors playing their last game on their home court – yet she chose to be the center of attraction.

There is no doubt that Griner is an exceptional athlete – but at 6’8”, fans should not be in awe of her ability to dunk – it should simply be expected of someone her height. 

Just to prove my point, has anyone heard ESPN or any other media refer to any of Brittney’s dunks as “Slam Dunks?”  I think not.  Case closed.

If one is to be in awe of someone, all one has to do is to witness the University of Delaware games and see 6’5” Elena Delle Donne shoot 3-pointers like she were a point guard. 

Many of Elena’s 3-pointers are from way beyond the 3-point line.  Elena shoots comfortably from a distance others would consider to be “Hail Mary’s.”  Sure, there are many players who attempt a long 3-pointer or two from time to time, but Elena accomplishes extremely long shots on a regular basis while maintaining a high degree of accuracy – and she does all this while not feeling the need to tweet about her accomplishments.

Delle Donne’s extremely long shot with 2 seconds to go at halftime against North Carolina drew loud applause – the same kind of applause one would expect when viewing a fantastic slam-dunk in the NBA.  I must say, however, that her miraculous shot was during a home game attended by Vice President Joe Biden, a graduate of the University of Delaware.

The Good and the Bad of UCONN vrs DePaul women’s basketball game last night.

Overall it was a great game for UCONN.

The good

–     It appears that Geno worked hard to have his team make adjustments – the results prove that.

–     Stewie had a breakout game and she is only going to get better and stronger from here. She sure loves shooting 3’s but learning to play in the paint more. Her blocks and rebounds made a big difference this time. Dolson had some rest thanks for Stewie, Tuck, and Stokes.

–     Jefferson showed her appreciation for her first opportunity to start by doing quite well – she hustled, scored and passed the ball well. She used her speed well going to the basket. She proved worthy of another start.

–     Faris – Enough said.  No, really, she played another overall great game – especially considering the pain she is reluctant to talk about.

–     Dolson – again proved she is the backbone and heart of the team.  Thanks to bigs coming in from the bench, Dolson got to get a breather and stay in good health for tonight and if they get the opportunity to play ND.

–     Tuck played a good overall game – sweet hook shot, rebounds and blocks and good hustle. Improving every game.

–     KML – More than worthy of the number she is wearing. She has grown from a 3 point shooter to a complete player.

The Bad – yes, there is bad to discuss.

–     Hartley’s shooting is still off, to the point that if she continues shooting from outside it will hurt the team. Also, she has no business driving in the lane when there is a lot of traffic – because she either loses the handle on the ball or she misses.  If she does shoot, she should stick to short jumpers because she is only effective right now from that distance. She is also great on fast breaks, but she should avoid shooting 3-pointers and focus on feeding the real 3-point shooters – Faris, KML, Jefferson, and even Stewie.

–     Doty has lost her impact value – her shots are way off and she also has lost her aggressiveness.  It appears that she has lost her desire. Her rebounds and assists and steals are way down and she seldom scores anymore.  She should be used sparingly, if that.

–     The team on defense – When there are subs in with some of the starters the defense appears out of sync.  When one or two key players for DePaul drove in, it seems like the entire UCONN defense shifted to one side of the court and it resulted in a couple of back doors on the weak side.  One of the bigs – Stokes or Tuck should not shift with the rest of the team to insure back doors are kept to a minimum.  A better opponent would milk that weakness dry.

Miscellaneous Notes: 

I believe Faris should be used sparingly tonight unless her play is critical to a victory.  Her value will be better utilized against ND as she regains strength in her ankle.

Even though Villanova lost last night, it might be worth looking at the game video to appreciate the incredible passing and plays they ran – and how they came from behind to almost win the game. They only lost because their star center suffered a concussion during the previous game. 

UCONN and Villanova – two good teams who suffered losses without their centers.

Lastly, for those who read about my T-shirt saga, I will be wearing my UCONN basketball t-shirt while watching the game tonight on ESPNU.  Go Huskies.

Big East fans that are in the stands today are very fortunate to be there.  The games today will include eight teams that are all expected to make it into the NCAA Tournament.

If the Villanova-Georgetown game is any example, it is going to be one heck of a day for Big East basketball.

The Big East, as we currently know it, is going away after this season, but it is going out with teams and coaches taking the high road – reminding us of how basketball used to be played.

I have been blogging about UCONN and my most recent blog just below this one has, what I believe, is a formula for how UCONN women can insure a victory, or two, against Notre Dame.

Some might think I am hallucinating or that I have a lot of nerve for even suggesting something that Geno can do to change reverse how Notre Dame has gotten the best of UCONN over the past several years.

I was a mainframe computer programmer and a web developer by trade and I have never played or coached basketball at any level – except for some intramural basketball at a Boy’s Club in Springfield, MA back in the mid 50’s – yes, the mid 50’s.

Basketball, however, has been my favorite sport to watch on the big screen.  As I have said many time before, I choose to watch women’s college basketball over the men’s version because it is cleaner, more civil, and reminiscent of how the game was meant to be played.

Today I witnessed a game that, if I did not know better, was recorded 40 years ago and rebroadcast today as a reminder of the real teamwork that was the foundation of basketball two generations ago.

Villanova is not in the top ten in women’s college basketball – nor are they even in the top five in the Big East Conference, yet they played one of the best games I have seen this year.

To be sure, it is not because they shot the lights out from the three-point range – it is because they passed the ball better than any team I have seen this year in college basketball.

They totally destroyed Georgetown’s zone defense and they might have set the Big East assist record – although I am not sure about that. The announcers said that Villanova did set the three point record for a Big East tournament game.

More importantly, two things were said by the announcers that I think Geno Auriemma can learn a little from – something that might benefit him against Notre Dame in the event they meet for the Big East championship and again if they have the opportunity to meet in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. It is a good bet they will meet at least once again this year.

One thing said today is that Harry Perretta, the Villanova coach, believes in ball control and a much-disciplined style of play – as a result his team usually has above average results against Big East opponents as well as other teams they play during the season.

The other thing said is that Coach Perretta believes the game clock can be your friend.

Villanova seldom is in the top 10 in Women’s College basketball polls, but this is not what is important here – what is important is the ethical way the coach and his team plays the game.

One of the announcers said that a few years ago Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in women’s college basketball, contacted coach Perretta to ask him if he would share his approach to the game.  Even though Pat Summitt was the most successful coach at the time, and still is to this day, she wanted to implement any strategy she could to stay that way – and if it meant including a four-corner strategy or very tight ball control, then so be it.

Coach Perretta, from what was said during the game today, was more than willing to share his thoughts with Coach Summitt.  That fact really shows the kind of person Coach Perreta is.

Two other things happened during the game that really earned my respect for Coach Perretta.

  1. With Villanova up by almost thirty points, Coach Perretta replaced ALL his starters at one time with five bench players – something seldom seen in college basketball.  I am sure it has happened before, but I cannot remember when.  It surely was a dramatic moment in the game and for me it was a sight to witness.
  2. Sugar Rodgers, the incredible guard for Georgetown, was on a tear today.  Not only did she best her previous game high, she also became the highest scorer in Georgetown history – men or women – and that says a lot.  Near the end of the game, Georgetown coach Keith Brown took Sugar Rodgers out so she could receive an ovation from the fans – which is a normal thing to do – especially if the player is a senior and playing what might be her last game in a Georgetown uniform.  After going to the bench, someone, maybe Coach Brown, realized that Sugar was close to tying or setting the record for points in a Big East tournament game.  Sugar had 40 points when she left and the current record was 41 points.  With very little time left in the game, it was obvious that something exceptional needed to happen for Sugar to set the record. The “exceptional” came from Villanova Coach Perretta.  As most basketball fans know, Villanova seldom commits fouls and this game was no different – until the waning moments of the game.  Sugar reentered the game and had the chance to set the record.  Coach Parretta, maybe in concert with Georgetown coach Keith Brown, instructed his player to intentionally foul Sugar on an inbounds play to give Sugar the opportunity to shoot two free throws.  What was nice about this is that if Sugar was going to set the record – it was now solely in her hands.  If she missed them both – then she would neither tie the record nor set the record.  Instead, she tied the record on her first shot and set the record on her second shot.

Basketball enthusiasts might remember coach Parretta for doing something similar way back in 1998 – for whom else other than Geno Auriemma.  At the time, Geno had a super star player named Nykesha Sales, who was on track to set the UCONN scoring record – except that she ruptured her right Achilles’ tendon in the second-to-last game of the season against, whom else, Notre Dame.

Wow, how this series of events all ties together – Villanova’s style of play, Pat Summitt, Sugar Rodgers, UCONN, and Notre Dame.

Well, anyway, the RUMOR is that Geno conspired with coach Perretta to allow Nykesha Sales to hobble onto the court and score the two points, unchallenged, to set the UCONN scoring record.

What made this gesture harmless is that it was a UCONN record and not a conference or NCAA record. One would have thought, however, that Coach Perretta committed Grand Larceny – or worse.

In return for allowing Sales to make the basket, Villanova was also allowed to make an uncontested basket.  UCONN, however, went on to win the game in overtime.

What is fascinating about Sales shot is that it was also preapproved by the Commissioner of the Big East – who later said he never would have approved it in a men’s game.

Coach Auriemma later said the arrangement was made as a sign of affection for a deserving player.

The Hartford Courant criticized the shot and a radio host called Geno a “pig” for making the arrangement.

Geno, who is known for being outspoken, said of the men calling in to the radio show, that they were probably unemployed and called in during the day because they were afraid to call in with their wives at home – if they were married at all.

Back to this game.  I stayed up late last night and with the time change, I am surprised that I even got to watch it, but I am sure glad I did.

So how does this game affect the upcoming Notre Dame – UCONN rivalry?  To me, I think it gives Geno a chance to do the right thing once again. 

Geno might consider not being so stubborn.  I think that Geno believes he is either Superman or God’s gift to coaching and that he does not need to alter his game for anyone – or any opponent.

Well, I beg to differ, Geno’s girls always do what he says – they do their best to please him because they know full well that it usually results in victories.

What I am saying here is that Geno, no matter how good or how successful he is, he can still learn a little about the game.  Coach Summitt turned to Coach Perretta about incorporating his style of play into Tennessee’s game and I believe if she could do that, so can Geno.

After all, he owes it to his girls to modify his coaching style to help his girls win.

Villanova spread their offense out and played ball control – passing the ball repeatedly until there was a high percentage quality shot available.

As Coach Perretta believes, the game clock can be your friend only if you make it your friend.

Villanova played ball control and managed the clock the entire game – all I am asking Geno to consider is to incorporate Villanova’s strategy for a max of two to three minutes when UCONN is in the lead.

Please, please, please – participate in the polling questions and please leave a comment – pro or con.

There are several givens regarding the rivalry between UCONN and Notre Dame.

  1. UCONN seldom has a problem building up a  comfortable lead – especially near the end of games.
  2. After building up a lead, UCONN seems to always feel the need to pick up the pace – like they are running a hundred yard dash.  That increases the likelihood of either making bad passes, travelling with the ball, or charging into a ND player when going in for a layup.  Look at the stats – every UCONN player made miscues (Dolson(11), Stewart(5), Faris(4), Hartley(4), KML(4), Tuck(3), Doty(2), and Jefferson(1), On a side note, I watched the game film over and over and I believe Dolson was charged with three turnovers that should have been charged to someone else (KML and Tuck) – I am only saying that because Dolson is taking a lot of heat because of the 11 chargeable turnovers attributed to her.
  3. After going at such a fast pace, UCONN’s free throw shooting percentage goes down from seasonal averages – individually and collectively as a team.

So, what is the remedy?  What logical strategy or strategies  can be employed to insure a victory?  Before I go into that, here are my observations about the triple overtime UCONN loss.  I am careful to not call it a Notre Dame victory because UCONN had three solid opportunities to win the game.

Geno himself said that when you have the opportunity to win the game, you need to do so, because, if not, your chance to win will diminish and Notre Dame will get their act together and eventually beat you.

Anyone who says that Notre Dame wanted the victory more is mistaken.  Both teams equally wanted the victory.  UCONN, in the second half and the first two overtime periods showed that they were working diligently on winning the game but in the process they made some strategic errors that eventually allowed Notre Dame to play their kind of game that resulted in the victory.

Okay, so here is the simple strategy that if followed, will insure a victory at the Big East Tournament and well as a victory, if and when, they meet again in the Final Four.

This strategy is based on the assumption that UCONN has made their patented run and has built up a reasonable lead.  Whatever game plan UCONN had to that point will eventually work against them – so they need to shift gears to take firm control of the ball and use the clock to their best advantage. 

Like in regulation and the first two overtimes, UCONN had leads of 3 points, 6 points, and 5 points with roughly 2 minutes left.

Instead of simply doing what they were doing, UCONN chose to pick up the pace and that resulted in dumb mistakes, charges, turnovers, bad passes, double dribbles, and working smartly for the best shots.

Instead, they need to do what is done in the NFL, totally go into an entirely different mode,  a mode that is totally the reverse of what teams do in the NFL. 

In the NFL, the team that is behind tries to run plays quickly – running plays to gain yards in chunks and trying to run out of bounds to stop the clock.  They are also obsessed with scoring as many points as necessary to tie or win the game.

Instead, UCONN needs to run their two minute drill called,  “Ball control, score if an ideal opportunity exists, protect the lead, and run the clock down” (BSPR) strategy.

Because UCONN has taller players, players who are significantly taller than their ND counterparts, i.e. Stewart, Dolson, Tuck, Buck, and Stokes, Geno might consider bringing in a little extra height to play tall defense anytime ND gets the ball and wants to run a fast break in hopes of making layups.

  1. That done, slow the jets down to prevent dumb mistakes. Use a guard to inbound ball and use bigs as targets to receive ball. Use four corners up the court and keep passing because it runs down the clock and encourages ND to make fouls.  UCONN players with lowest free throw percentages should keep the ball moving toward better free throw shooters.
  2. When on defense, use taller players (Dolson and Stewart and Tuck or Buck to fill up the free throw lane.  Anyone coming in for a layup – make sure UCONN defenders focus on the ball and do anything to block the ball, tie up the ball, steel the ball, or redirect the shot.  Make sure ball will come nowhere near the rim – by that I mean make a foul that will guarantee ball will not get near the rim at all. In effect, play the ball and only the ball.  Don’t worry about all the gyrations the offensive player might go through, the ball is the key.
  3. When UCONN is in possession of the ball, in addition to playing four corner ball control and slowing down the ball, when going anywhere near the basket, stop at a reasonable distance and take a short jumper – unless you can make an uncontested layup.  Don’t risk being called for a charging foul.  ND is great at quickly positioning to take a charge – especially if UCONN is going toward the basket at top speed – so fast they cannot react to someone setting up to take a charge.  If a short jump shot won’t work, briskly pass the ball to a teammate who might be free to take a better shot.
  4. Again, if you have the lead and you are already down the court, run the four corners with brisk passes.  If you are far enough apart, keep an eye on your teammate with the ball – keep moving and if ND tries to run a trap, be ready to receive a pass.  Play slow, pass smart – no bounce passes – and make sure you do not initiate any moving picks or screens (Dolson, they will be looking for you specifically because you are big and strong and well-conditioned AND you are not one of the “little darlings” like Diggins).  Keep in mind that if you are doing things deliberately and smartly they will not get steals and make fast breaks – they will have to foul you and give opportunities at the free throw line.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if UCONN is slowing it down they are not getting exhausted – too exhausted to shoot accurate free throws. Remember how they missed numerous “one and one’s” that would have sealed the victory – simply because they were exhausted from running at warp speed?

Albert Einstein is rumored to have said the following: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So UCONN, do something even a little different – implement some of all of the two minute strategies above and you will win the game.

Posted by: kevinfortruth | March 5, 2013

UCONN – Notre Dame – the morning after.

“Publilius Syrus said in 35 B.C.: “Admonish your friends privately, but praise them openly.” Catherine the Great, in the 18th Century, said, “I like to praise and reward loudly, to blame quietly.”” http://ezinearticles.com/?Praise-in-Public,-Correct-in-Private-May-Not-Be-a-Good-Idea&id=1263976  

Catherine’s blame needed to be in private because it usually resulted in her executing someone.  Yuk!

Muffet McGraw does it one-way and Geno Auriemma does it the other – both, maybe to extremes.  Ideally, the most effective way is somewhere in the middle – even though McGraw’s style appears to be winning out against UCONN.

Geno made numerous comments after the game and only one of them was in poor taste.

I found these three comments to be spot on and not critical of any player or the team as a whole.

  1. “Every opportunity we had to put it away, we let it slip away,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
  2. “How many chances can you have?” Auriemma said. “You’re on the road, against a really good team. You might get one chance, might get two chances when it really mattered, but you are not going to get unlimited chances.
  3. “We really didn’t need her [Dolson] to go down there and screen for anybody, but she thought it was the best thing to. It’s unfortunate it happened. There was one when the kid tried to choke [Dolson], and she pulled her arm away. Every little foul in of itself doesn’t mean anything, but when they add up to five it means a lot.”

All of the above statements were good observations on Geno’s part.  I do not think he was overly critical of Dolson’s choice to screen, he only said that it was unnecessary but it was her decision.  Looking at the replay, it was obviously a bad call – but if she did not attempt the screen there would not have been a foul called and she would still have been in the game – probably into at least the first overtime.

Dolson, in reality, does tend to lean into opposing players when executing a screen and the refs might have been aware of that and maybe they were looking for it to happen.  That could be a case of her past coming back to haunt her.

Now, as far as Geno saying something very inappropriate, here it is:

Asked to explain the 35 turnovers, Auriemma responded, “I don’t know. I guess we’re not any good.”

Geno spoke out of extreme frustration.  If he took the time to think before speaking, he could have said, [“I don’t know, we are normally better at protecting the ball, we’re a good team but tonight we just were not good enough.”

I believe he owes an apology to the team for that one comment.

On the subject of screens and picks, with 2:04 remaining in the 2nd half of the game, Skylar, on offense, was out near the top of the key near the 3-point line and was being guarded closely by Faris.  All of a sudden, Ariel Braker, number 44, came out and confronted Faris to the point where she aggressively pushed up against her – preventing her from following Skylar Diggins to where Skylar was totally open to receiving a pass and then making a layup. 

If Dolson was given a foul for not moving at all while setting a pick, then Braker should have been charged with the same penalty. 

My thoughts are that Skylar is a superstar and she does get away with a lot – the play looked wonderful if you were a Notre Dame fan.  The official was positioned perfectly to see the overly physical pick – yet he did not call it.  Again, it was at the 2:04 mark in the second half of the game.

Now, I have some personal observations on many of the UCONN players – some critical and some quite positive.

  1. Doty – Prior to her injuries and surgeries, she was a rock star – playing at the peak of her game.  Now, Geno tends to give her the benefit of the doubt by giving her a lot of playing time – but Doty has her limitations and should be used sparingly but Geno tends to give her way too many minutes out of an almost obligation to her past accomplishments. 
  2. Stewart – She is a diamond in the rough.  She is now where Tina Charles was in her first year.  She will get better, no, she will become one of the great ones at UCONN, but not this year.  She is good at blocking and rebounding.  On the other hand, she takes too many outside shots.  My guess is that she probably is shooting 20 percent from outside.  The other thing she really needs to learn is to secure the ball after she gets a rebound or a steal – many times the ball simply gets away from her.  I know she finds that frustrating – she wants to start a big play but that cannot happen until she securely has the ball up high – away from defenders trying to trap her and take the ball away.  Also, if Dolson is going to be in the high post, Stewie needs to be much closer to the basket – making herself available for layups or short jumpers.  She will learn to play using her strengths – her height, her wingspan, her quickness.  My gut tells me that Stewie’s best games, this year, are yet to come.  What I mean by that is she will have tournament games this year that will shock opponents and make UCONN fans say, “Wow, that is the Stewie we have been waiting for.”  Mark my words on this.
  3. Kalena Mosqueda-Lewis, aka KML – not much to criticize but a lot to compliment.  She can do it all and she wants to do it all and for the next two years she WILL do it all. One observation, she is trying to be a combination of Maya Moore and Kelly Faris – all in one.  Maybe she needs to focus on one or the other but not both.  My thoughts are that she should let Tuck grow into Kelly Faris and KML should just be KML – she doesn’t even need to be a clone of Maya because KML will be loved and respected for being KML.
  4. Dolson – enough said.  She does it all as well – she scores, blocks, rebounds, and intimidates anyone coming near the basket.  Two minor observations.  One, she has to get a handle on how she screens for her teammates.  Nine out of ten times she moves while setting a pick and she tends to move into the defender.  Two, she does not get off her feet enough.  Sure, she blocks and rebounds but she might accomplish more if went vertical a little more.
  5. Jefferson – quicker than the roadrunner but sometimes she loses control because of her speed.  She will improve and will probably become a key player sometime next year.
  6. Hartley – I almost hate to say this but I fear that Hartley is starting to go the way Doty did after her injuries.  She needs to get her confidence back and the only way to do that is with more playing time – and not by alternating with Doty.  If she doesn’t have her touch with three’s yet, then step in a little closer and regain confidence with two’s – and focus on feeding those who can consistently make the three’s.  She might focus more on defense and fast breaks – both of which are her bread and butter right now.
  7. Buck – I am a loss of words regarding Heather.  I don’t know how she can sit on the bench as much as she does. My guess is that she could have been used in the overtime periods last night because she would have had fresh legs and with no fouls, she could have cluttered up the lane – preventing Skyler and others from getting easy layups.  She is big and she is tough and is deserving of a few more minutes of playing time.  Shame on Geno for not utilitizing her a little more.
  8. Tuck – another diamond in the rough who will improve with time – game time, that is.  She did quite well last night but more playing time will help her fit in with starters.  She is smart and quick and plays a good inside game.  She and Stewie will both improve exponentially and with Dolson will be an incredible front line NEXT YEAR.  Add KML and Hartley or Banks, UCONN stands a chance of running the table next year.  OMG, where have we heard that before!

Next year, UCONN might be in a position of having too many bigs and not enough smalls.

Maybe Saniya Chong, UCONN’s only recruit for 2013 will be able to hit it running.  Next year UCONN will have no problem scoring points but I think their biggest problem will be playing defense without Faris – unless Tuck and/or Stokes can fill in the tremendous void by Faris’ departure.

UCONN might want to start focusing on Jefferson being a true point guard and grooming Chong to be the shooting guard.

UCONN will have no problem scoring next year – their biggest problem will be on defense – my guess is that there will be a lot of very high scoring games with UCONN ending on top the majority of the time – if not all the time.

Lastly, I have a question for those who made it all the way through this blog.

Does anyone know how many games UCONN loses when Geno is assessed a technical foul?  I can think of two games at least.

Every time Geno gets charged with a technical foul, the opposing team gets two shots AND the ball after the shots.

Fortunately, for UCONN last night, Diggins made only one of the two free throws and on Notre Dame’s possession, Stewart blocked a Diggins layup – otherwise it could have been a four point swing for Notre Dame.  Maybe Chris Daley needs to be more forceful with Geno when the Italian Stallion gets all worked up with a bad call.  Maybe Chris needs to recruit the assistance of another assistant coach to settle Geno down. I am sure Dolson was pleased that Geno stood up for her but the net effect is that his anger benefits the other team more than it benefits UCONN.

It is true that the technical was early on in the first half and did not affect the outcome of the game but even though his anger was justified but his actions were not.  For those who recorded the game, the controversial play when Markisha Wright hit Dolson in the neck with her forearm and Dolson responded by pushing her arm away she was charged with a foul – it was at the 8:21 mark in the first half. 

What doesn’t make sense is that the official was looking at the two players the entire time – yet he did not call a foul on Wright.  In my opinion, Wright could have been called with a Technical one. That play reminded me of elementary school where one kid hits takes a swipe at another kid and when the kid chooses to defend himself, he is sent to the principal’s office.

I wore the new UCONN shirt and sat down to watch the game.

UCONN did well early on – taking a 6-point lead at the end of the first half. They held their throughout the second half, until the end of regular time that ended in a tie. The game went into first overtime with UCONN building what appeared to be an almost insurmountable lead for most teams – unfortunately, UCONN was not playing most teams – they were, after all, playing Notre Dame.

UCONN choked at the free throw line near the end of the first overtime and that was the reason the overtime ended up in another tie.

During the second overtime, UCONN built another good lead and then they chocked at the free throw line again. As time ran out in the second overtime, Notre Dame made an incredible 3-point shot to put the game into the third overtime.

If there is one thing I know, it is that you cannot give Notre Dame too many chances to win – if you want to beat them you have to seize the moment and beat them decisively – instead, UCONN lost the game three times before Notre Dame finally won the game.

In the third overtime, Notre Dame got hot while UCONN made a steady stream of miscues – charges, turnovers, bad passes, etc. Sure, Notre Dame forced many of the miscues, but UCONN did an equal amount of damage to themselves – in effect, UCONN shot themselves in the foot three times before they finally lost the game.

There were two very bad calls in the game but even after those bad calls, UCONN had numerous chances to win the game. There were a handful of “no-calls” that benefitted both teams.

The 5th foul on Dolson was for a moving pick that in 99 out of 100 times would not normally have been called – but it was and she fouled out of the game. There was another call where Dolson’s opponent reached in and hit Dolson hard in her neck – yet, Dolson was charged with a personal foul. That is when Geno became unglued.

Geno did not help his team’s cause when he protested that play. In addition to raising such a stink, Geno was assessed a technical foul because he walked onto the court. Notre Dame was awarded two free throws, which Diggins made and ND got the ball as well.

No complaining on my part. It is just that UCONN choked and Notre Dame was the better team during the third overtime.

There is always the Big East tournament. It is in this tournament that UCONN seldom chokes.

UCONN will probably win the Big East Tournament and get the higher seeding in the NCAA tournament, but that will barely be sweet revenge for the two regular season losses to Notre Dame.

The one shining highlight in this game is how Morgan Tuck grew up in this triple overtime nailbiter. She will be ready for the next meeting and hopefully will be part of a decisive UCONN victory.

This was a serious wakeup call for UCONN – if they do not buckle down and correct their mistakes, which included a high number of turnovers – poor free throw shooting – and not protecting the basket from backdoors and easy layups, UCONN will not make it as far as the final four. UCONN has a significant height advantage over Notre Dame, yet they did not take advantage of it as well as I thought they would have.

For a senior, Doty made more than her share of mistakes and unless their next meeting goes into overtime she should not see a lot of playing time. She did not score and only attempted one shot. In my estimation, she had a few opportunities but seemed hesitant to shoot. In my humble opinion, I believe Jefferson should get more playing time in upcoming games and Doty should only get playing time when absolutely necessary.

Stewarts height makes her more valuable inside instead of outside – her outside shooting is lacking but her blocking and rebounding will give UCONN a better chance next time. Stewart gets her share of rebounds and steals but she tends to lose the handle on the ball too often. I believe she needs to focus on securing the ball first before she attempts to pass it or shoot it.

On a good note, Stewart gained a ton of experience in this game – experience that just MIGHT give UCONN a distict advantage in the upcoming Big East tournament as well as the NCAA tournament.

As far as the t-shirt goes, I plan on wearing it for all future games because I believe UCONN will learn from their mistakes tonight. The sky is the limit for UCONN. I believe they are more than capable of beating Notre Dame in both tournaments and as far as Baylor goes, I believe Dolson, Tuck, Stewart, Faris, and Mosqueda-Lewis will be up for the challenge.

I am glad I bought an extra UCONN shirt. The games are more frequent so I do not want to be doing laundry every other night. On the other hand, maybe I will just wear the original shirt until they either lose or win it all in the NCAA tournament.

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