ESPN’s Crew Weighs In On Final Four

by Categorized: 2012 NCAA women's tournament, ESPN, UConn women's basketball Date:


Everyone has an opinion about the women’s Final Four. And some even get paid to go on television and share them.


ESPN Studio Analyst Carolyn Peck

National Champion: Baylor


Reason for Baylor Winning National Title: The team has an ideal combination of a dominant center and a strong and assertive point guard. They can shoot from the perimeter and is a team that plays aggressive defense.


Thoughts on Baylor: The National Championship is Baylor’s to lose. They have the most dominating center in the country, but the team is not only Brittney Griner. They have demonstrated they have surrounding players that can make the key plays, score baskets and frustrate opponents with their tenacious defense.


Thoughts on Connecticut: The Huskies have talent, toughness and experience. There are no superstars on this team, but have the possibility to have a night when that one person can lead them to victory. UConn’s shortcomings are they lack a second post, as they used a four guard lineup all season. Although, Stefanie Dolson has been able to be an anchor and hold down the position on her own.


Thoughts on Notre Dame: They are a team with vengeance on the mind. The Irish were so close to holding that championship trophy last year. The team can score, and I really like the way they are playing right now, how they are moving and sharing the basketball. Skylar Diggins has demonstrated to be one of the best point guards in the country and a key to their success will be fifth-year senior Devereaux Peters.


Thoughts on Stanford: The Cardinal will be a challenge for Baylor. They are the only team in the Final Four that the Bears have not faced this season. They have a driving force in Nneka Ogwumike. She has skill, talent, energy and maturity. That is an ideal recipe to be a problem for Griner. They have three players on the roster with Final Four experience, plus a much improved Joslyn Tinkle.


ESPN Game & Studio Analyst Rebecca Lobo

National Champion: Connecticut


Reason for Connecticut Winning National Title: While I think UConn will have a lot of difficulty getting past Notre Dame, I think they have enough to win the whole thing. They played Baylor as tough as anyone in the regular season, beat Stanford, and have the experience of both playing in a National Title Game, and winning it. All the pieces would have to fall in the right place, but with Coach Auriemma guiding them, I think he might get his eighth championship.


Thoughts on Baylor: Baylor has been great all season. Griner is the toughest matchup in college basketball on both ends of the floor. We’ve never seen a player like her. She is not a one woman show, but is surrounded by outstanding talent. Destiny Williams is a perfect interior complement to Griner and Odyssey Sims is one of the most clutch shooters in the game. Add one of the country’s best coaches in Kim Mulkey, and it’s no surprise that Baylor is still undefeated.


Thoughts on Connecticut: UConn is the only team in the Final Four without a star but the Huskies somehow found their way to Denver. They did it by playing phenomenal defense and sharing the basketball on the offensive end. UConn rediscovered its identity during the BIG EAST Championship and haven’t looked back. This could be one of Coach Auriemma’s best coaching jobs.


Thoughts on Notre Dame: The Irish run beautiful offense and are the best passing team in the country. Diggins has been terrific and she has been able to take her game up a notch during the tournament. The Irish’s defensive prowess doesn’t get as much attention as their offense but they are terrific on both sides of the ball. If Natalie Achonwa can give them production like she did in the Regional Final against Maryland, Notre Dame could be cutting down the nets for the first time since 2001.


Thoughts on Stanford: Stanford is one of the most improved teams from the beginning of the season to the end. The Ogwumike sisters continue to dazzle and the improvement of Orrange has really impacted the Cardinal. When Stanford is hitting from the perimeter, they can beat any team in the country.


ESPN Studio Analyst Kara Lawson

National Champion: Baylor


Reason for Baylor Winning National Title: The Bears presence of Griner gives them the ultimate edge. As much as she has improved from a year ago, her supporting cast has improved as well. This is a well balanced team that will have to lean on that balance to win the title.


Thoughts on Baylor: They provide a unique dilemma for opposing offenses. The element of surprise or unfamiliarity with Griner’s presence changes the outcome of a few possessions a half. Their perimeter players place great pressure on their matchups and are among the best in closeout situations. Baylor is an improving outside shooting team, which makes them scary on the offensive end as well.


Thoughts on Connecticut: UConn, more than any team in the country, demands precise execution of their opponents. They are a great defensive team because of their effort and accountability. These traits carry over to the offensive end where they understand it takes multiple players to make plays for them to be successful.


Thoughts on Notre Dame: The Irish are a team with great synergy. Their lineup allows for versatility in where they attack you and which player makes plays. Rebounding is a huge key for Notre Dame in the Final Four.


Thoughts on Stanford: Nneka Ogwumike is the driving force for this team much like Griner is for Baylor. They have been the two biggest stars in this tournament. Her will and effort make it difficult to game plan for her. Amber Orrange remains a key player because of her ability to make plays and create opportunities.


ESPN Game Analyst Doris Burke

National Champion: Baylor


Thoughts on Baylor and Why They Can Win the Title: The biggest storyline all year has been whether or not anyone can beat Baylor. Sims and Griner are the best players at their respective positions. Kim Mulkey has challenged the players around those two all season, making it clear no two players can win a national title. Each has responded. This group is poised to become the first women’s teams to have 40 wins in one season!


Thoughts on Connecticut: Without a first team All-American since 2007, they have been consistent in their formula for winning all season. The nation’s hardest defense to score against is relentless. Hartley, Hayes, Mosqueda-Lewis and Dolson all must contribute consistently against a complete Notre Dame team.


Thoughts on Notre Dame: At the start of the year, I believed the Irish and the Baylor Bears would play for the title. ND has three playmaking guards in Diggins, Novasel and McBride. All are difficult to contain off the dribble and Peters has been sensational in the post.


Thoughts on Stanford: The Cardinal has the most dynamic tandem of forwards in the country with the Ogwumike sisters. Nneka Ogwumike has had a player-of-the-year type season, imposing her will and at times carrying Stanford. However, I believe Baylor wins this matchup on the strength of the defense they put on perimeter game.


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38 thoughts on “ESPN’s Crew Weighs In On Final Four

  1. John

    Keeping my fingers crossed for UConn. I don’t think there are really any secrets left any of the teams can spring on oneanother. At this stage I think the Huskies’ll need some breaks to go all the way: off nights or foul trouble by the other teams; exceptional shooting nights, especially 3’s, by 3-4 of the Huskies. But that’s why they play the games. Geno and the kids have done one heck of a job so far. Go Huskies!





  4. HGN

    All UConn needs is for their game with ND to be called fairly , and not have the refs give Novosel and Diggins a Squatters Permit at the foul line all night long….Many of their drives into the lane is a charge. Not a block.

  5. UconnFan

    I think the number one factor for any of these teams will be the way officials call the game. None of these teams can afford to have their best player in foul trouble for any length of time, especially in the post.

  6. CPT

    Refs are less likely to get Griner, Sims, or Diggins in foul trouble. Refs are more likely to get Peters, Nmeka, Chiney, and Dolson in foul trouble.

    Griner makes body contact *if you drive in on her*. But the refs do not call it because they are looking at Griner’s hand blocking the ball.

    Nmeka and Chiney need to get in tight against Griner, initiate the contact like Novasel does, and then sell it.

    It is up to Stanford’s guards to sell the contact when Sims reaches in and steals.

    Refs are in bed with the NCAA and ESPN on this bullshit about Diggins being the face of women’s basketball because of Twitter.

    1. Husky love

      LOl Your 5th point is very precise. They deemed Candace Parker the face of College Bball, but she lived up to that title. She led Pat to back to back titles. Diggins is not the face College Bball, she just has a face for Wmns bball. Granted she is a great player, but shes overexposed..not overrated. Ive seen players like her before, they come and go.

  7. jimfort73

    UConn will win it all. I can say this based on the way Kiah played against Kentucky. It’s the reason I watch women’s basketball. She is a real person with emotions, fears, insecurites, and a bunch of desire. It all comes down to HEART. When you mix the chemistry of the players’ desire with Geno’s ability to get the most out of his players, you end up with a team on a mission. If offense gets you to the championship and defense wins it, UConn’s D will bring home the title.

  8. GTB

    Diggins has a temper, which she showed vs. Kentucky. Press her all night and hope the refs don’t give her the “Michael Jordan benefit” when it comes to fouls.

    1. Dave Hope

      A “win at all costs” head coach would take advantage of Diggin’s temper. Mulkey would spend every possible second “yapping like a Yorkshire Terrier” in the refs ear about Princess Prima Donna.

  9. RH

    Leave it to Rebecca Lobo to be the only one picking UConn, even though she says it will require everything to fall into place. That’s loyalty speaking, or maybe just being a contrarian. We can all hope though. Any of the four teams can win it all, but it is Baylor’s to loose.

    1. Steve Walsh

      Huskies lost to Baylor, Notre Dame twice, and St. John’s. Huskies blew late leads against the Lady Bears and Free Throwin’ Irish. Huskies played miserable against the Red Storm.

      Huskies also got sucked into Louisville’s mug-a-thon and gave a few cheap shots in retaliation. Auriemma was unhappy with the Huskies first half effort against power house PVAM.

      Not interested in the reasons or excuses. It all happened. And those games have no direct effect on the Final Four.

      However, there is a better chance that UConn replicates the effort from 1 of the 6 games mentioned above, than there is a chance for Rebecca’s everything must fall into place.

      Here is hoping that everything falls into place. Go Huskies.

  10. Jim

    Uconn has been the only team to have a lead over Baylor. That game was on Baylor’s home court, and Baylor did not win, as much as Uconn lost that game. One of the best peices to the Uconn Post (s) vs Griner, is that in That game at Baylor, we had three post players (i.e. 15 fouls) to trade against Griner’s 5. Heather Buck played her best defensive game against Griner that day, and although the offense from her was not there, her ability to push Griner to the sides of the basket to shoot from was very effective. It seems that when forced to the sides of the lane, Griner’s shot percentage goes way down, and she is cut off from the rebound also. A double down with Kelly when the ball comes into the middle and a tough physical game against Griner, and a close man to man defense by Bria on Sims, means Uconn’s chances are better than anyone elses.
    On the ND game, The same can be done to Peters, but there will have to be a very tight defense on Diggins by either Bria or Kelly. We have often taken Diggins out of the offensive game of ND, the biggest key will be to get Novasel into foul trouble early (hopefully the refs will recognize that she is the one that jumps into the defenders when she shoots) by playing defensive straight up on her and not get caught leaning or reaching in to her during the shot. Mallory will get a few 3’s, if you can’t get out to her in time, best to have some one near her for a hand in the face. If your going to give slack, let McBride have to fill the void, 10 from her with the others shut down wont get ND to the championship. 3 to 4 Uconn bodies should be crashing the boards on each ND shot, limit ND offensive rebounds, even then, we must put ball in the basket often.

    1. Dave Hope

      Yes, but UConn will get 0 points from Buck. When the Huskies are on offense with Buck and Doty or Buck and Faris, it will be 3 on 5. Can the Huskies afford to play Buck when they are behind or when the game is even? Substitute Stokes for Buck and you get the same problem on offense.

    2. Steve Gee

      If the Huskies can get by N.D. (who I think is a better balanced team than undefeated Baylor) I think they can beat Baylor. They will try to reduce Griner’s impact on offense by denying her the ball into the post with guard pressure on the ball plus Dolson fronting. But Griner cannot be denied on defense. She has the size and mobility to control the lane, hopefully she’ll be forced to stray out to the top of the key more if Dolson can hit her first few 15 footers, opening up the back door a bit for the wings.
      BUT, they’ll have to beat ND first. I’m a closet Skylar Diggins fan, so if UCONN loses, I hope the title stays in the Big East.

  11. Jean R

    If the refs were fair and the NCAA then Griner and Diggins would also get the unsportsmanlike conduct BS foul that has only ever been given to Taurasi from Uconn. They both thump their chests hi 5 teammates in front of the opposing team bench and more during every moment of the gameyet not once has anyone ever been called for it. They also never watch their bodies I agree only their hands too bad their pushing bumping and other nudges never get called.

  12. nhntc47

    Why do they let a man play women’s basketball? I mean the guy at Baylor.

  13. newgirl2

    Come on nhntc47, Brittney Griner’s makeup is similar to that of Caster Semenya, the female track star from Africa. They were “blessed” with a lot of the male hormone – testosterone. It is unfair to criticize them because of their physical appearances, and you wouldn’t like the public to speak distastefully about you or any of your family members.

  14. David

    I say one game at a time…the focus is on ND. UCONN has proven they can beat ND. So why not beat them again. I’d like to see a little more aggressiveness from KML. She shows it at times when she drives to the basket. She needs to do that more to get to the foul line. I like Stokes, she does some good things when she is in there with Dolson. Tiffany needs to bring her A game to this game too. They all know this, and know what they have to do. I am looking at them beating ND again to get to the championship game.

  15. Kenny

    If the ref’s don’t put Saint Novasol and Princess
    Diggins on the foul line all night long they don’t stand a
    chance. At the B E championship IknewUconn would win, they will do the same sunday.

  16. Maria

    I’ve always said the heart is the strongest muscle, they may not have a star, but my Huskies have heart….AND GENO

  17. Jodi

    Brittany Greiner is still having anger management issues…it is possible to get her cranky and then ito foul troubloe.

  18. UHF

    UConn has not been punched yet in the tournament. 1st half of PVAM and Kentucky hanging around briefly is not getting punched.

    Teams punched back in UConn’s 4 losses. Louisville punched back after being down by 21.

    Notre Dame will punch and punch back on Sunday. Pressure is on the senior Hayes to play like she did against Kentucky and not like she did in last season’s Final Four.

    Dolson has to play smart and not get called for cheap shots, moving screens, and arms not verticle. Hartley has to have one of her big games in big moments.

    5 players cannot rely on KML to carry them. We will soon see if the Big 6 players are ready to handle Notre Dame, foul trouble, being far from home, and winning on the biggest of stages.

  19. John D

    As the old song lyrics by Marilyn McCoo went without sounding sexist,”You don’t have to be a star,baby,to be in my show”.For over 25 years and still counting the Huskies and the Coaching Staff have gotten me through another winter and made me proud to be a fan.As the saying goes,”It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game” and they have proved this year in and year out.Myself and wife want to thank u for what we consider the most enjoyable part of our year.Go Huskies !!!!!!

  20. BTO

    You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
    B-B-B-Baby, you just ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
    Here’s something that you never gonna forget.
    B-B-B-Baby, you just ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  21. Mary Anne Hartley

    John D and True UConn fans, right on. This will be a tough final four for Geno and crew. They’ve beaten ND and Stanford and lead Baylor by 11 in Texas. Uconn has the ability to win it all. They have the heart. They have the defense. The one thing they can’t control is how the refs call the games–Again’st ND if the refs call it correctly –Novesol and Diggins will be called for offensive fouls when every they create contact by ” leaning in”. Then all they have to worry about is McBride and Peters–Dolson and Stokes will handle Peters. Who will pout and walk off the floor with 5 fouls. Maybe a technical too.

    1. USA Huskies

      If you want the refs to call fouls on Novasel and Diggins for leaning in to create the contact, then it is only fair the refs should call Dolson for her numerous moving screens, Shaq-ing her buttocks to cause displacement of the defender, and failing to have her arms vertical.

      I am a UConn fan. If UConn loses, it will be because the Huskies did not take care of business.

      Turning the ball over 15+ times.
      Failing to hold a lead.
      Failing to hit 3PT with consistency.
      Failing to get to the FT line.
      Failing to keep their heads in the game.
      Failing to take their time to run plays.
      Failing to get production from more than 3 players.

  22. LA.kent30

    HAHAHAHAHAHA , wow ! ucon fans give a whole new meaning to the words “ucon arrogance”. why are y’all in such a panic before hand ? making excuses ahead of time.
    the team that wants it the most (out of the four) will be the champions tuesday night !! its that simple.
    if you want less fouls called , then all they got to do is play within the rules , not get frustrated from getting beat on so many plays. especially that clumsy center that trips over her own feet while flinging her arms and body all over. shes not exactly…quick , and y’all get panicky and frustrated and make excuses.
    it will be alright ucon fans , it won’t be the end of the world , the sun will still come up the next day , i promise. y’all need to get out of connecticut once in a while. theres a whole big exciting world out here. theres even other universities that play basketball…….no kidding !!
    ucon did not invent the game and geno did not invent defense.

  23. Lynne

    People who use “y’all” in a blog post scare the S**t out of me!
    Oh…and we Connecticut fans get out of CT plenty! Look for a lot of us to be in Denver!


    1. LA.kent30

      that will be an extremely short vacation. why will there be very many in denver ? there wasn’t all that many in kingston.

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