If you love women’s basketball – and let’s face it, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t – I would highly suggest to click on the highlighted line and read the very interesting conclusions of former WNBA President Val Ackerman about how to kick start a sport grown stale.
Many of Val’s suggestions should spur debate, particular her idea of making the Final Four a Friday-Sunday thing and consolidating the four regional finals in super regional finals.
We all know something needs to change. And its refreshing to read that someone so involved believes so, too
I reached out this afternoon to some of my go-to basketball brains to see what they thought of the possibility that the NCAA would add the 10-second rule back to women’s basketball.
If you don’t know what that is, well, before a team could take all the time in the world to bring the ball across midcourt on offense during a possession.
Now, if the rule is enacted as the committee has proposed, an offense will have only 10 seconds to cross the stripe.
It may not sound like a big thing, but it can have a major impact on the already skewed power structure in the game.
Here’s what my experts had to say:
Debbie Fiske (radio analyst for UConn women’s basketball and former Huskies point guard)
“I like the idea of the 10-second backcourt call coming back into play. Before, the advantage went to the offense. Now the advantage slides back towards defense. In addition to speeding up the game it also presents new strategies for teams to employ. In games when teams are down or choose a pressing style defense to cause turnovers to fuel a run, the offense won’t have 90 feet and 30 seconds to break pressure, but will only have the back court and 10 seconds to get the ball over half court – more opportunity to cause more traps and turnovers in addition to getting a 10 second call as a turnover. A team that may be very strong in the half court set, but not the best ball handling team under full court pressure will notice the difference in strategy.”
It was quite the season, as it usually is with UConn. It featured 35 wins, three losses to Notre Dame, two All-Americans and an eighth national championship.
Not bad for five months work.
Here are some things to remember about it all played out:
UConn lost only four games this season. Three were to the Fighting Irish, which made some people fighting mad and was the reason there was so much concern about their paths crossing again at the Final Four. But those three defeats were by a combined 12 points, In fact, if you add their loss to Baylor, UConn’s margin of defeat was just 18 points in four games. Entering the national championship game against Louisville, its scoring margin all season was +32.7. They beat the Cardinals by 33.
Some time after her emotional embrace with Geno Auriemma on the floor of the New Orleans Arena Monday, UConn’s Kelly Faris, her distinguished career now complete, tossed a tease into the mosh pit of media seated below her.
A question had dealt with improbability of her team’s about-face in the aftermath of its loss to Notre Dame in the Big East tournament championship game, the third defeat to the Irish this season.
How could it be that a team shouldering so much disappointment a month earlier learned to dance and sing in a shower of confetti after winning its eighth national championship by beating Louisville, 93-60?
“We sat in the locker room [after the Notre Dame loss] and he [Auriemma] looked at us and he said, ‘You know what? When we get back together, I’m going to show you how to win a national championship.’ And, sure enough, we’re sitting right here,” Faris said.
“There’s times I don’t know how the heck he does what he does, but he’s pretty darn good at his job and he figures out a way to get it done. And happy to have him on my side.”
Faris was asked a follow-up: What exactly Auriemma had done to make the six-game winning streak occur.
“He might want to keep that a secret. I don’t know.” Faris said. “I’ll let him answer that one.”
If you didn’t know this already, UConn has a tradition that states rather clearly that no net is cut down in the NCAA Tournament except the big one, the one at the end, the nylon that signifies the winning of a national championship.
For the eighth time in his 28 seasons, Geno Auriemma cut down a net.
And this is what it looked like.
Geno wasn’t the only one celebrating.
In this clip you will see him being interviewed by Deb Fiske of the UConn radio network. And you will see some dancing and more cutting.
Here is a little of what Louisville coach Jeff Walz had to say after the game:
“I’d just like to first congratulate UConn and Geno, his entire staff. They’ve done a great job. They’re a fantastic basketball team, and we knew that coming in here. They played as well as I’ve seen them play this entire year tonight, and they shot the ball as well as I’ve seen them shoot.
“We knew coming in here that we were going to have to try and make them take some three-pointers and they took some (26) and they made some (13). We just didn’t quite have enough tonight. But it’s not because we didn’t compete. And we didn’t compete?? and we competed for all 40 minutes.
“I’m proud of every single one of our players. It’s without a doubt going to go down as one of the greatest runs in women’s basketball. To be a 5 seed and knock off a 4, then?? but the No. 1 of all 1s in Baylor and then a 2 in Tennessee and then come back and beat Cal, I don’t think anybody can argue that, you know, unfortunately we just came up one game short.
“But I’m proud of my players. I’m proud of everyone. I’m proud of my staff support staff. And we’re going to hold our heads high and we’re going to be proud of what we did. And I’ll told these players this is something that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives and I was privileged to coach them and be a part of it.”
UConn’s national champion women’s basketball team travel party will leave New Orleans via charter flight at 1:00 p.m. EDT (12:00 p.m. New Orleans time) on Wednesday and is expected to return to Bradley International Airport at approximately 3:30 p.m. EDT.
Upon arrival at Bradley, there will be a short public event. That event will include remarks from UConn head coach Geno Auriemma<http://www.uconnhuskies.com/sports/w-baskbl/mtt/auriemma_geno00.html> and the team will also be in attendance.
UConn fans looking to greet the team at the airport event should take Route 75 in Windsor Locks and follow signs on Route 75 for the event. The public availability at the airport will take place in an area near the intersection of Route 75 and Firehouse Road.
The team will then return to campus for a National Champions “Victory Lap” through campus beginning at approximately 5:15 p.m. The team will ride in an open-air double decker bus and will be accompanied by the UConn pep band and cheerleaders. Upon conclusion of the “Victory Lap” there will be a brief speaking program at the Fairfield Way Plaza – in between the Student Union and the School of Business. The “Victory Lap” takes the place of a rally in Harry A. Gampel Pavilion that has taken place in the past.
The “Victory Lap” will begin at the corner of Route 195 (Storrs Road) and North Eagleville Road at the Storrs Congregational Church. The team will then take a left onto Glenbrook Road and a left onto the “CLAS” Bus Way and drive in front of the Wilbur Cross Building and Gulley Hall. At Gulley Hall, the team will take a right onto Fairfield Way (at Hawley Armory) and make its way past the Homer Babbidge Library and make its way to Fairfield Way Plaza for the speaking program.
Fans can track the Huskies exact progress from Bradley International Airport to campus with updates from Twitter at @UConnWBB.
Parking for the event on campus will be available in both the North and South Parking Garages.
After all the years and countless milestones, it’s hardly possible for UConn to bounce a pass anymore without making history.
Geno Auriemma, the master craftsman, and his series of master classes, have become as synonymous to their sport as Howard Johnson was to the ice cream cone.
Things just seemed vastly different in the world once they came along.
On Tuesday, after being re-routed at times by injuries and, well, you know, Notre Dame, the Huskies arrived at the place they’ve come to know so well.
This eighth team brought to the national championship by Auriemma did what the previous seven accomplished. It won.
Led by freshman Breanna Stewart, UConn’s newest flavor sensation, who scored 23 points with nine rebounds, the Huskies drilled Louisville, 93-60, to win their eighth national championship.
UConn is 8-0 in national championship games and here is basically how this one went: With 13:51 to play in the first half, Bria Smith’s free throw gave Louisville a 14-10 lead.
And then it was over. Continue reading
Rick Pitino, the coach of Louisville’s national championship men’s team, is in New Orleans and will be at tonight’s game.
He spoke to Jeff Walz’ team earlier today in preparation for their national championship game against UConn tonight.
Piino and Walz are good friends and golfing partners and each regularly attend the other’s games, as do the players.
However, the NCAA originally ruled that neither Pitino and Louisville could pay for the team to fly to New Orleans from Atlanta, the site of last night’s win over Michigan, stating it was an extra benefit not permissible.
The NCAA later offered Louisville a waiver, but it was too late to change travel plans back to Kentucky.
Here is my game story from the UConn-Louisville game played in Hartford in January:
There were a few wrinkles to iron out in the blueprint Geno Auriemma carried to practice in preparation for Louisville. Then again, it’s been that way all season.
This time, the male practice players who push his players were still on winter break. And then Auriemma was told Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart could not work over the last two days because of ankle injuries sustained last weekend.
This left the Huskies shorthanded, at least on paper. As Louisville has learned during its stay in the Big East, no team with a roster of McDonald’s All-Americans is ever without recourse.
“It’s all about who you have out there [on the floor] and who you have them out there with,” Auriemma said. “But this isn’t the NBA where you have four or five players capable of out-playing the other team’s starters. It’s not going to happen.” Continue reading