UConn/Notre Dame rivalry has a different feel
Miami burst into the league in 1992 and promptly beat UConn five straight times and Rutgers won five of eight games from against the Huskies from 2005-08. With Notre Dame having won four of the last five games, I was curious how UConn coach Geno Auriemma compared and contrasted the vibes from the Notre Dame rivalry to those against the Hurricanes and Scarlet Knights.
"I think what makes it different is that our styles of play are so similar - the way Notre Dame plays, the way we play and that is not always ideal," Auriemma said. "I think whenever you can you can go against somebody who has a completely different style of play than you do (is good) because then you are not (doing) what they are doing. Knowing that they play exactly the way we play and use the floor just like we do and move the ball just like we do, we have a lot of the same concepts and that is a big difference in what we are used to be against Tennessee, Rutgers or Miami. I would say that Stanford is close because they do a lot of similar things too."
"I haven't noticed that big of a change," Auriemma said. "I know (Kayla) McBride has taken on a bigger role and I think that has helped offset some of the losses. I think Jewell Loyd is their best player right now, she just makes a lot of things happen for them. Even though they lost three starters, I think they don't have the experience that they had obviously. Losing those three kids is losing a lot but in terms of getting the same things done, they are finding a way to get the same things done. They are still shooting as many free throws as they have in the past, they get to the free throw line a lot, a lot more than most teams which is uncanny. They must have a secret formula and I would like to see what it is but it is uncanny that they always shoot a lot more free throws and the other amazing thing is they don't foul, they got two things you have to deal with that you can play them. They get fouled a lot and they never foul and when they do, they let you know about it."
So what does Auriemma like about Loyd, who was a one-time UConn recruiting target although she never visited UConn.
"She is a great individual talent, she can take the ball and score from most parts of the floor," Auriemma said. "She gives them a different look that say Natalie Novosel did and she is different than McBride, she is different from Mallory. She is different than anybody they've had there for a long time. I think that makes the lack of experience seem not as drastic because she can just get shots."