The coach of the nation’s top-ranked Division I women’s basketball team, Mr. Auriemma, on the big game to be played Saturday at Gampel Pavilion with the No. 5 Fighting Irish of South Bend, Ind.
On losing 4 of last 5 to ND, including 2 straight national semifinals
“They were really good when they needed to be and we sucked when we needed to be [good]. That leads to one team winning four out of five.
“They are as good as any team we will play, so if you play poorly, or don’t make plays when you need to, they are good enough to beat you.”
On ND freshman guard Jewel Loyd, a high school All-American who played USA Basketball with some of the UConn kids
“I think Jewel Loyd [freshman guard] may be their best player right now. She is a great individual talent. She can take the ball and score from most parts on the floor. She is different than anyone they’ve had there in a long time. That makes the [playing] experience they’ve lost [three seniors] not seem that drastic. She gets shots.”
On playing ND 11 times in last three seasons
“What makes this different is that our styles of play are so similar. That is not always ideal. Whenever u can, you like to play a team that is opposite, someone with a totally different style of play so you both are uncomfortable with whatever each of you is doing. We have many of the same concepts.”
On scheduling ND in the future once it leaves BEast for ACC, especially if the Catholic 7 bolt immediately.
“I don’t know where it stands in terms of priority [for future scheduling]. But I am sure there will be many discussions with ND about how we move forward. So much will depend on what the Big East looks like, what the eventually timetable is [for expansion or contraction]. I don’t when that will happen. But I am sure there will be a lot of conversation once the dust all settles.”
On whether he believes the last two teams that lost to ND in the Final Four were legit national championship contenders
“Any time you get to the Final Four, you are a national championship [contender]. Plain and simple. If you get there and don’t win, well, then you’ve passed up an opportunity.
“But I said before last season began that we weren’t a national championship team and that we’d have to get lucky [to win one]. The year before in Indianapolis, we played terribly and the officials helped [Notre Dame]. So to win a national championship, you need to be both good and lucky. Just one of them will not be enough. You can be really good and still lose.”
“The Stanford game was a bit of an anamoly. That is not what Stanford is. I don’t think Saturday’s game will be 61-35. That I am sure of.”