Now it is Baylor time
Well, now that Baylor dispatched TCU and the Huskies overcome a shaky start to win at Rutgers, the focus will be on Monday's nationally televised non-conference showdown.
After the TCU win Baylor coach Kim Mulkey addressed the looming road test against UConn.
"It’s good for women’s basketball," Mulkey said. "It’s good for television. It’s good, I guess, for our program. We’re going to fight and coach hard and play hard and try to win, but I’m ready for next Saturday. I’m ready to celebrate a Big 12 Championship. If we go to UConn and we win, then it’s great. You’re supposed to win; you’re number one in the country. And if we lose, what have we lost? Nothing.”
While it was not good to hear that junior All-American guard Bria Hartley was under the weather and it was scary to see the way UConn's leading scorer Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis reacted after getting hit in the eye during the season half, the play of freshmen Morgan Tuck (team-high 15 points, 5 rebounds) and Moriah Jefferson (10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) was encouraging.
Tuck could barely contain her excitement about playing against Baylor.
"This is a game I have been looking forward to," Tuck said. "I can't wait to see the crowd and being out there and playing in a big game."
While more about Baylor will emerge after we talk to the team following tomorrow's practice, UConn coach Geno Auriemma did address the showdown with the Lady Bears on Monday.
"It is kind of good to get away from conference games for a while,"Auriemma said. "It is a game that doesn't really affect your ability to win a championship. Every conference game has an impact on whether you win the Big East championship or not and this game doesn't. I think anytime you do that and just play a game that is kind of a preview of the kind of game you hope to play in March, it is always good regardless of whether it is January, February. I don't know if we have played on this late before, I guess we have. It is a little different. It is not ideal by the middle of February. I think by now you'd like to be in a rhythm but I think it is good for your younger guys to see this is what potentially it could look like in March."
So does Auriemma consider Baylor the team to beat in the NCAA tournament?
"Until somebody beats them in the NCAA tournament they are the defending champions, they have everyone back," Auriemma said. "They should win it. That is what everyone said about us in 2009 and '10 I haven't seen anything during the season to make me think they aren't as good as they were last year if not better. It is probably the feeling that most people around the country have that somebody would have to play a great, great game and they would have to play a less than their best game to beat them but in the NCAA tournament that could happen."