Notre Dame Again? You Must Be Kidding?

by Categorized: 2012 NCAA women's tournament, Big East women's basketball, Connecticut Sun, Kalana Greene, Notre Dame women's basketball, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

Geno Auriemma’s default response when trying to explain something that defies explanation is ‘it is what it is.”

Like, what’s left to say when Notre Dame and UConn prepare to meet for the eighth time in the last two seasons in Sunday’s national semifinal game in Denver?

“What can you say, other than its great for the Big East to have two of its teams in this position,” Auriemma said Wednesday. “You would love to say you would see someone different. You would love to say you want to see somebody different, but reality they are just really, really good.”

Three weeks ago, the NCAA women’s basketball selection committee anointed Baylor, Stanford, Notre Dame and UConn as its four No. 1 seeds.Tuesday, the Fighting Irish and UConn joined the Lady Bears and Cardinal at the 2012 Final Four in Denver.

And because of the way the bracket was splayed, the Huskies (33-4) and Irish (34-3) will meet in the national semifinals for the second straight season [ESPN, 6:30 p.m.]. That will be followed by undefeated Baylor (38-0) vs. Stanford at 9.

Since the start of the 2010-11 season, the Huskies hold a 4-3 edge; not that it’s relevant anymore.

“It’s great for the conference to know we have two Final Four teams again in the conference,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “It’s a shame that we continue to play each in the Final Four. You look forward to getting out of conference when you get there, but we’re just thrilled to be playing in the Final Four with such great company as Connecticut.”

UConn both regular-season games last year and then defeated Notre Dame in the Big East championship game. Notre Dame avenged it all, ending the Huskies chance to win a third straight national championship – and Maya Moore’s career – in the national semifinals in Indianapolis.

This season, Notre Dame won the two regular-season games before UConn responded with a win in the Big East tournament title game, 63-54.

“We did something completely different for the Big East championship [offensive] which helped us change the game,” Auriemma said. “There are only so many thing we can do that are different. My guess is we go out there Sunday night … I don’t know if we can make a whole lot of changes from now and then. In some ways there is some comfort in knowing that you don’t need to prepare as much because you know them so well.’

“We like to go to the Final Four every year, who wouldn’t?,” Geno Auriemma said. “Some years are easier than others. There are people who live in Connecticut, not at the university, but people who live there who don’t think we can lose next week. They think we’re going to beat whomever we beat Sunday by 100 and whoever we play Tuesday by 90, It’s just the way they are. The expectations are always there, no matter what the probability is of us going.”

Neither team played a nail-biter on the way to Denver. UConn’s 80-65 win over Kentucky in the Elite Eight was paved by an offensive effort led by senior Tiffany Hayes, who scored 20 points on her way to being named the region’s Most Outstanding Player.

Junior All-American Skylar Diggins, a first-team All-American, led Notre Dame to an 80-49 drubbing of Maryland in the Ralieigh final with a triple-double – 22 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals. She is the first Irish player with a triple-double since 1990.

“This game [the Maryland win] is great momentum for us going into [the Final Four] and our incentive is getting back to the championship,” Diggins said. Notre Dame lost to Texas A&M in the title game. “That’s been our goal, which we’ve wanted to do all year. … There’s nothing, really, that you could tell us about UConn that we didn’t already know.”

This is UConn’s fifth straight Final Four, its 13th overall since 1991. They have won seven national championships. This is Notre Dame’s fourth Final Four, its third since 2001. They have won just one title.

“We are thrilled to be back again,” McGraw said. “I’m just so excited about my team. We’ve played so consistently all year long, but right now we are really starting to peak, which is what we’ve been working for the entire season. We want to be better for this time of the year.”

And when they play, a new tradition – of professional respect and competitive contempt – will renew itself again before the national eye.

“It’s good for the sport to new rivalries born,” said Connecticut Sun guard Kalana Greene, the former UConn player. “It used to be us against Tennessee and then that died out. Now it’s UConn-Stanford, which is still going strong.

“I’m guessing this game is going to be just as exciting as the first three. But I will tell you, there is a level of dislike mixed in with the respect we had for each other. When UConn players come into the program, they can’t stand Notre Dame. I didn’t like Notre Dame.

“But how can you not respect the progress they’ve made over the years? They may not be one of the most talented teams, but they are one of the most hard-working teams you’ll see in the nation. You always have to respect a team like that.”



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22 thoughts on “Notre Dame Again? You Must Be Kidding?

  1. UConn Class of 1985

    John Altavilla, what is the under/over for the number of free throws Natalie Novasel attempts against UConn in the Final Four? What is the under/over for the number of free throws Stefanie Dolson attempts?

    1. LA.kent30

      all ucon has to do is play within the rules , and they won’t have to worry about that. i wonder what the shock value will be worth , when they see its not a ucon home crowd.

    1. Bill

      Absolutely no point in trying logic on LA Kent, does not appear to have that talent, among many.

    2. LA.kent30

      Notre Dame (like every other school in the tourney) don’t have the advantage of playing entire conference tourney and the regional semi final and final tourney at home or close by to guarantee a home crowd advantage.

      1. UconnFan

        In case you do not have it figured out yet LAkent the Big East and the NCAA play these games at the site they know they will make the most money and real ball players do not mind playing before a hostile. Nothing makes them feel better than playing well and silencing them which Uconn does a lot when on the road!

  2. Bill Peterson

    I’m old school in which that you are not supposed to like your opponent, respect them sure, but like them, never.

    It will be a tough game but Uconn will take the victory.

  3. sam

    I think the woman will be fine against ND on Sunday, look for Tiffany to play like an All- American..the fact Huskies don’t have one this year has got to be a motivator that Geno will use effectively, the temporary curse ND had past couple of years is gone I could see it in Muffet’s eyes at BE Tourney final. One big factor let’s hope ML gets a good start with her shot and that Kelly contributes offensively. Should they win and play Baylor I guarantee Geno and staff will develop startegy to contain Brittany within reason…..

      1. UconnFan

        LAkent30 is going to be a sad soul next year when his team has lost the majority of their players and Uconn has most of theirs back with the number one recruiting class. Then he will ignore the fact that these players could have chosen ND, but wanted to play for Geno. Lete see if Muffit can do next year what Geno did this year with no All Americans!

  4. Publicus

    The S curve does not seem to have been used in the final four match-ups. Baylor was the highest 1 seed and ND was the lowest 1 seed. Shouldn’t the final four match Baylor-ND and Stanford-UConn? Beside being the stated way of matching teams according to the selection committee, it would make for more interesting match-ups.

    It would also allow the sullen, graceless, dirty ND team to get a good beating in the first game.

    1. LA.kent30

      what i don’t get is why would Notre Dame be the fourth #1 seed ?? they beat ucon 3 out of the last four games , including knocking them out of last years final four AND winning this years conference championship on ucon’s home floor…oh yeah , AND Notre Dame has a better record. its been typical for the ncaa and the press to favor ucon and tennessee. the press don’t pay close attention and just assume ucon and tennessee are the best judged on past history. tennessee has fallen off lately , so the ncaa only pampers its lone golden child in ucon. if baylor is the first #1 seed and Notre Dame is the fourth , why does ucon get the easiest bracket ? right along with a home court venue ? why does ucon’s chunky , clumsy center rarely get called when she’s mugging , elbowing , pushing off or throwing her weight around ? recently , SOMEHOW , Notre Dame has overcome ALL of these ucon perks from refs and the ncaa , to beat them. kudos to the hard working irish ! they have already accomplished what all others have failed ! they are beating ucon consistantly.

      1. UconnFan

        Would not have mattered, they would have been put in the same bracket anyhow, and they probably saw the game with Uconn at ND where the refs gave ND every call in the world and keep them at the free throw line and they only won by 2. If you took your blinders off you would see things more clearly!

    2. Matthew

      I imagine the committee is more concerned with selling tickets than they are with the S curve. Decisions were likely made in the interest of allowing UCONN to play in Kingston and Stanford to play in Fresno. I believe region pairings in the Final Four are set before the teams are plugged in. The men’s tourney moved away from this several years ago, but not sure the women followed. They appear to have paired the 2 seeds based on the S curve logic. Really insignifcant at this point as the best 4 teams in the country remain and the winner will have to knock off 2 of the top 4 to claim the championship. I’d be suprised to see any “good beatings” handed out in the Final Four considering how closely all of these teams played eachother during the regular season.

    3. Steve Walsh

      WCBB tournament committee arranged the brackets for the best chance of 2 All-Americans playing 2 All-Americans in the Final Four.

      If Baylor and Stanford were not paired in the semi-finals, the committee risked losing a game with 4 All-Americans (Griner, Sims, Nmeka, Chiney) and ending up with only 1 All-American (Diggins) in a UConn-ND championship game.

  5. Husky Pat

    What I can’t understand is why all the negativity. And, Kent30’s derogatory remarks about Steph Dolson are signs of a child who has been punished too much. Grow up and everyone, just enjoy the games however they turn out. Go Huskies all the way.

    1. Husky love

      Yes, the insults were uncalled for Kent30. If you want to talk about the media cradling Tenn and UConn, lets talk your Irish Women. The media harped about ND all year due to Diggins appearance. I heard ND talked about on TV more times than I heard undefeated Baylor and 1 loss Stanford. Stanford was cheated out of their publicity.

      Diggins had a segment on Sports Science, and I still dont see why or how she got on the show. O Sims can match up with Diggins any day, if the refs call it fair. ND has 3 seniors, and 2 of them have 5 years of College between each other. They should be a top 5 team, its only right.

      Lets see what ND does next season without their big 3, I guarantee St Johns will be #2 in the B.E. That chunky girl you spoke about is way better than what Dev was as a Sophomore. Tina Charles totally punished Dev Peters in the post, she didnt stand a chance. Dev is older and more experienced than Stef., Stef will be a better player than Dev by the time shes a Snr.

      Geno took a smaller, non All American having, 1 Senior led team to the Final 4, that speaks volumes. Geno is relying on his defense for the first time in a long time. This will be a great game if its called evenly on both sides. I wish both teams good luck in Denver.

  6. Mary Anne Hartley

    Hey folks, L.A. is a UConn fan trying to hype up an already hyped up game.
    I think it is wrong for any team to play another team 4 times before the championship game. How many times can you play a good team before they beat you?? Last year ND, beat UConn in the 4th game and this year UConn beat ND in the 4th game (if you use the L.A. concept of carry over). But luckly no one else uses the carry over.
    When UConn and ND take the court tomorrow night, it will be a new day, with a new game. If the Refs call fouls by who initiate the contact–Uconn will be in a good place.
    Home crowd will be UConn Baylor. I agree Stanford was dissed by the media as not important–talent wise they have the most talent of any of the 4 playing. Go Geno, Go Christine (and Anne’s parents), Go beat the Irish..

  7. Financial Wizard

    Anyone who thinks the NCAA or any bowl game is not about MONEY–think again. They schedule all events to obtain the most money. Each school in the final four gets big bucks, the coaches get bonus’s for being there. Everyone makes money except the players, and if they take carfare, they get punished by the NCAA and by their school. Something isn’t very fair in any of this is there??? Wouldn’t it be fair if the student players who win, get say 5000 bucks each?? Losers get 2500?? Fair, equitable, honest, decent thing to do.

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