The playing of Tuesday’s national championship game between Notre Dame and UConn will lead to the transition to next year when the programs play again in the regular season on Dec. 6 in South Bend.
And one of the key members of next year’s UConn team will be freshman Kia Nurse, the standout Canadian point guard.
Ironcially, one of the Nurse’s teammates on the Canadian national team last year – for whom she started at the point at age 17 – is Notre Dame’s senior center, Natalie Achonwa, forced to miss the Final Four after injuring her ACL in the South Bend regional semfinal.
“I just know she’s very tenacious and she’s very high-energy,” Achonwa said of Nurse. “I only played with her for the first time last year. So I just know off the court she’s a really good person and this summer I’m excited to see what she’ll do for Canada and that might give you guys [UConn fans] a better insight.”
Meanwhile, Nurse is not in Nashville this week due to tournament games at home. But she said Monday she can not wait for next season.
“I am extremely excited for the girls and I wish them the best of luck [Tuesday],” Nurse said. “I know they have worked hard to prepare for this upcoming game all year and I am pumped to watch them compete. I am also very excited for the upcoming year, and hope to have the same opportunity to win a National Championship! I can’t wait to be a part of such an outstanding program.”
This is also an exciting time for UConn’s other three incoming freshman, Courtney Ekmark, Gabby Williams and Sadie Edwards.
“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about the game is that I wish I were playing,” Ekmark said Monday. These games are the reason you work so hard and the reason you come to UConn.I think the game is awesome for women’s college basketball and women’s sports in general. Millions will be watching and the game will be well played between two smart and skilled teams who play an appealing style of passing basketball.
“You have to respect the season that Notre Dame has had. They have good kids who are well-coached. Any time a team has a run like they have been on you will have a rivalry develop with UConn because we are always at the top.As far as a prediction, I think the philosophy at UConn is to just do what we do and play the right way. If we take care of that, the opposition will be irrelevant.”
Edwards, who began her career at Mercy of Middletown and completed her prep career at Blair [N.J.], has been impressed the force that Final Four has created.
“The energy in the gym at the final four was almost palpable,” Edwards said. “ It’s so amazing to me how loyal Connecticut fans are. They are always willing to make the trip to whenever Uconn is playing to support both the men’s and women’s program. It’s incredibly exciting to think that by this time next year that could be me, playing in the Final Four for the greatest program in women’s history.
“It’s really just an honor and a blessing. The way they go to war with each other and ride for each other on the floor is just special. I’m really honored to be able to be a part of such an amazing program and I can’t wait to get there and get to work. “