Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

End of an era

With the announcement that Notre Dame is officially joining the Atlantic Coast Conference as of July 1, tonight's UConn/Notre Dame takes on a little added meaning.

Perhaps the teams will meet in the Final Four this year or in the NCAA tournament, maybe the Huskies will eventually get that desired invite from the ACC but in the meantime a truly classic rivalry is about to halted.

UConn was coming off a glorious 1994-95 season with an improbable run to a perfect season culminated with the first of the Huskies' seven national titles when Notre Dame joined the league.

The first stage of the rivalry wasn't really much of one as the Huskies won the first 11 meetings with just two of them decided by single digits. Then it all changed on Jan. 15, 2001 with Notre Dame's landmark 92-76 victory. Then came Notre Dame's stunning come from behind win in the 2001 national semifinals.

However, following the graduation of Ruth Riley everything returned to the way it was. Notre Dame did post wins in 2004 and 2005 before the Huskies ripped off 16 straight wins. Now the Fighting Irish are trying to cap their exit from the Big East with a fourth straight win over UConn in tonight's Big East title game.

"After the era of Tennessee and UConn, obviously it's definitely hard because everyone is talking about it and there is so much hype around it," UConn junior center Stefanie Dolson said. "I think we do a great job of keeping each other grounded as players and focusing more on ourselves as a group of Connecticut rather than Connecticut versus Notre Dame all the time."

The way things stand right now, there will be no regular season meetings between the schools next season. Of course they will be on the short list of national championship candidates so there is the possibility of another meeting in the NCAA tournament. Before the regular-season finale, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw made it clear that she would like to continue to play the Huskies.


"It is a great rivalry, great TV," McGraw said. "It's been one of the best rivalries in women's college basketball. We have tremendous respect for Connecticut and I think that is a big part of the rivalry

"We want to continue playing playing whether we are (in the same conference) or not and no matter what the future holds, we want to continue this game, I think it is great for both of us."

With Notre Dame not being a part of the conference UConn will be in next season, at least now we have a pretty good idea what the Huskies' conference schedule will look like. On Friday Big East Associate Commissioner Danielle Donehew said that the yet to be named conference is locked into an 18-game conference slate. Holdovers Connecticut, Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers and South Florida will be joined by Houston, Memphis, Central Florida, Southern Methodist and Temple. With 10 teams in the conference, it's pretty simple as each team will play their conference opponents once at home and once on the road.

It was long rumored that Notre Dame would be able to negotiate an exit out of the Big East and recently ACC commissioner John Swofford was quoted as saying Notre Dame is welcome to join the conference for the 2013-14 season.

It became official today.


"This decision makes sense for the Big East,” said Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement.  “In view of Notre Dame's expressed desire to join the ACC on an earlier timetable, the Big East and Notre Dame were able to arrive at an acceptable resolution. The Big East can now focus fully on its future alignment and rebranding efforts. I want to thank the Notre Dame administration and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick for their efforts in moving toward this orderly transition.  Notre Dame has been a valued member of the Big East and we wish them well."


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