Stanford’s lineup, while not has deep, does mirror-image UConn’s in many important ways. The Cardinal has senior Chiney Ogwumike, perhaps the most forceful player in the nation this season. She is averaging 26.4 points, 12.1 rebounds and plays with such boundless energy that it’s a sure bet the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun will take her first the first pick in next week’s draft.
ESPN’s Kara Lawson believes Stanford’s chances of beating UConn are greater than either Notre Dame or Maryland, the winner of whom would the Huskies in the championship game
“The biggest question one has when playing UConn is what are you going to do with Breanna Stewart,” Lawson said. “That is the one match-up, even for Notre Dame had it had a healthy Natalie Achonwa … what do you do with Stewart?
“I think Chiney can do something with Stewart. And I think Stewart with need to do something on the other end [offensively] with Chiney. The frontcourts match up well.
“The question then shifts to the backcourt; limit turnovers, make enough shots.”
Stanford’s other players are also excelling. Center Mikaela Ruef scored double figures in back to back games for the first time this season in wins over Penn State and North Carolina in the Stanford regional. Bonnie Samuelson is averaged 12 points during the NCAA tournament; Amber Orrange is contributing 12.3 points. And freshman Lili Thompson has arrived to aid the rotation.
However, no player has made more of a jump since the beginning of the season as freshman Lili Thompson who has been in double digits in the scoring column in each of the last six games.
Still, it is the multiple of challenges that UConn’s multitude of talents presents that Geno Auriemma hopes will carry them through the weekend to a ninth national championship.
“This particular team, they [an opponent] needs to have answers for a
lot of things that come up on the court, and I just hope that continues,” Auriemma said.