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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The more things change ...

When the Big East coaches gathered in New York in October for the conference's annual media day, the growing rivalry between Notre Dame and UConn was a popular topic of conversation.

Here we are five months later and not much has changed.

West Virginia and St. John's certainly got their day in the spotlight thanks to regular-season wins at Notre Dame and at UConn respectively but when the final whistle blew last night, Notre Dame and UConn were the last two teams standing. They will meet tonight in the Big East championship game.

In a tournament dominated by records for offensive futility and either poorly played games or lopsided one, the event could be salvaged if the final game is nearly as compelling as it has the chance to be.

"It is going to be fun, we are going to go out there with the mindset of just being the aggressors, throw that first punch and not take a step back and playing Connecticut basketball like we did tonight," UConn sophomore center Stefanie Dolson said.
Notre Dame and UConn took similar paths to the championship game, struggling at times during the quarterfinals and then simply dominating in the semifinals against teams which beat them just last month.

It will be the 10th time the teams have met since January of 2010. UConn won the first seven with Notre Dame taking the last three including a pair of regular-season wins this season.

A Notre Dame win would give the Fighting Irish three wins over UConn this season which is something that hasn't happened since Miami accomplished the feat during the 1991-92 season. Boston College also pulled off the trifecta during the 1987-88 season as did Providence during the 1986-87 campaign and the 1985-86 Villanova squad was the first team to beat a Geno Auriemma coach Connecticut squad three times.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was asked about the difficulty of beating the same team three times in the same season which is something he is more accustomed to accomplishing than being on the wrong side of the scoreboard multiple times in the same year.

"Four times it is hard but three times, I don't know," Auriemma said. "Sometimes the other team is so much better that it doesn't matter if you play them 10 times. We've had some teams here at Connecticut that we could play a really good team once a week for the whole season and we'd beat them every time. (Tonight) is a huge challenge. Winning tonight's game might be harder than winning any game in the NCAA tournament."

So do his players think they can beat the Fighting Irish?

"Of course they do," Auriemma said. "That is what you want them to think. You want them to think that we are going to win. What do I think, I think we need to play well. Some games you have to play well to win and (tonight) we have to play well."

WNBA DRAFT IS APRIL 16
The WNBA has tinkered around with finding the ideal time and place for its annual draft. For a while it was held at the site of the Final Four and the day after the national championship game. Last year it was held in early April at ESPN headquarters. This year the draft will be held a couple weeks after the end of the regular season as it will be conducted on Apr. 16 and it will once again be at ESPN HQ in Bristol.

GAME TIMES FOR NCAA GAMES
The official NCAA championship bracket will be revealed on Monday but you can mark it down that UConn will play its first two games in Bridgeport and barring a stunning upset, the Huskies would advance to the regionals at the Ryan Center at the University of Rhode Island.

For those thinking about buying tickets for these events, the first-round games will be played at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Mar. 17 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport with the winners meeting at 7 p.m. on Mar. 19.

The Kingston Region semifinals are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on March 25 with the regional final on March 27 at 7 p.m.

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