UConn-Notre Dame (IV or XII) Final Four Primer

by Categorized: 2013 NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame women's basketball, UConn women's basketball Date:

     If you thought you knew everything there was to know about the UConn-Notre Dame rivalry, now tops in the world of women’s college basketball, you still might want to take in this short refresher course about their history before Sunday’s national semifinal game in New Orleans.

Domination Nation

Notre Dame has won seven of the last eight meetings against UConn since the national semifinal game on April 3, 2011. This type of domination does not come along every day with the Huskies on the short end. Not since Miami won its first five games against UConn from Jan. 17, 1992 to Feb. 14, 1993 had any team had its way, in this way, against UConn.

Close Quarters

Sunday’s national semifinal game in New Orleans will be the third straight between the teams. Notre Dame has won the two previous. It will also be the 15th meeting since the start of the 2010-11 season, the 12th over the last three years. To put that into context in terms of UConn rivals, the Huskies played Tennessee only 22 times from 1995 to 2007. Notre Dame and UConn will not play in the 2013-14 regular season since the Irish are leaving to join the ACC.

Margin of Victory

During Notre Dame’s recent string of success against UConn, the Irish’s cumulative point advantage has been only 40 points, and average of 5.0 a game. Keep in mind that before it began, UConn had won the last 12 games by 178 points, an average of 14.8

Diggins Damage

Notre Dame’s record against UConn was 4-21 from 1996 to 2008 and none of the victories came back-to-back. Included were winning streaks of 11 (1996-2000) and 12 (2005-11) for the Huskies. But since All-American guard Skylar Diggins showed up as a freshman in 2009-10, Notre Dame’s record is 7-8, including the last four straight.

Pro Potential

Since the WNBA formed in 1997, the Irish have had 12 players drafted by the league, 10 who have played. They currently have three; Ruth Riley, Dev Peters and Natalie Novosel. The Huskies have had 24 players in the league and 13 on the rosters last season, including six who played for the 2012 Olympic gold medal team – Swin Cash, Sue Bird, Asjha Jones, Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi

Trophy Case

Notre Dame advances to the Final Four for the fifth time (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012) and this marks the first time in program history the Fighting Irish have earned three consecutive trips. The Irish have one national championship (2001). UConn is making its 14th appearance in the Final Four, its record sixth straight. It has won seven national championships and has never lost the big game. The Irish have lost the last two national championship games.

National Players of the Year

During its history, the Irish have had one Associated Press Player of the Year. Riley, the great center, won the award during its championship season of 2000-01. UConn has had eight players win AP Player of the Year, including two-time winner, Maya Moore (2009, 2011).

Practical Clones

Geno Auriemma and Muffet McGraw are two of the great Hall of Fame coaches in the history of women’s basketball. Both have strong Philadelphia roots. McGraw was a four-year starter at Saint Joseph’s University, captained the 1976-77 team ranked third nationally. She returned to her alma mater in 1980, serving as an assistant coach for two seasons under Jim Foster, recently fired as head coach at Ohio State. Auriemma also was an assistant at St. Joseph’s for Foster before leaving for Virginia.

Indiana Neighbors

The rivalry that ends collegiately on Sunday between Diggins and UConn’s Kelly Faris goes back to their high school days in Indiana; Diggins, from South Bend, and Faris, from Plainfield, a suburb of Indianapolis. Faris won four consecutive Indiana Class 2A State Championships at Heritage Christian High. Diggins beat out Faris twice for Miss Indiana Basketball during her All-American career at Washington High where she won the Naismith as national player of the year as a senior.

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18 thoughts on “UConn-Notre Dame (IV or XII) Final Four Primer

  1. Marty

    Three (3!) “Big East” teams in the Final Four! Unfortunately, each will be playing in a different league next year. How sad…

    1. Merton

      Not exactly. Louisville has one year left as UConn’s conference-mate before moving to the ACC where it will join Notre Dame. So only two different conferences total.

    2. Kevin Cavanaugh

      That is truly amazing. 64 teams and three of the last four standing are from the Big East – and some people say that the Pac 12 and Big 10 and Big 12 and SEC and ACC are stronger conferences.

  2. Reading Riting Rithmetic

    Notre Dame isn’t Kentucky. Refs, rotations, and results will be different.

  3. Husky Dave

    Before the first Husky/Irish game this year, I figured that on paper UConn ought to win by 20. I still feel they’re the better team, but ND has had Louisville like good fortune at the end of games. What if KML’s wide open 3 pointer had dropped in game one? Or if McBride’s hail Mary 3 had bounced away instead of dropping in for the first OT in game two? And what if the Huskies had taken advantage of the last 18 seconds of game three? So: the Irish can claim, rightfully, to have won three in a row, OR hasn’t UConn really thrown away three in a row? For the answer, tune in Sunday. Last chance to see Skylar cry.

    1. Kevin Cavanaugh

      My opinion in the matter is that UCONN lost two of the games and ND won one of the games.

      Either way, the slate is clean and it is the last one that really matters.

      UCONN 87, ND 81.

      Stewie, Dolson, KML, Hartley, Faris, and MoJo in double figures.

      1. Bracchus

        The fact is that UCONN lost all three if the games that you referenced. The scoreboard doesn’t lie. At the end of the game the team with the most points wins-period. So, lets put that one to rest.

        As to the future,your analysis is likely, but also speculative. The freshmen have definitely improved and should offer additional options. But, the assumption is that ND cannot handle those options. We don’t know the answer to that.

        The one thing we do know is that both coaches have been looking at film and developing some sort of strategy.
        Only the game itself will tell the tale.

        Personally, I think it is going to come down to which team wants this game the most. A sports cliche, no doubt.

        On another note, if Louisville beats Cal, UCONN or ND is going to have an interesting matchup. This team is on a tear. They haven’t faced teams of the caliber of UCONN and ND in the tournament so far, but their coach has them believing they can do anything. I hope they beat Cal just to see how they would fare at the next level.

        1. Kevin Cavanaugh

          Bracc, I only differientiated between two losses and one win to make a point that UCONN was clearly in control of two games and ran out of steam or desire. ND clearly won one of the games from a laymaking point of view. Sort of like half full verses half empty.

          I also know the score and who hits double figures are opinions and everyone is capable of prognosticating.

          In my estimation, the game will come down to how well UCONN protects the ball and how well they move the ball around so KML has scoring opportunities.

    2. The casual observer

      The way I see it is: we have the horses but they have the brains. So far brains are winning 3-0 but I am going to bet on the horses this time.

      1. Kevin Cavanaugh

        Maybe Geno needs double technicals this last game so CD can call the last 10 minutes and if UCONN is again in the lead she can tell the players to play ball control and slow the game down.

        Doing both is not admitting defeat – it is guaranteeing the victory.

        1. Prognosticator

          Kevin and others—

          The slow down game has 2 effects, 1 positive, one negative:

          1. Positive-it takes away the number of scoring opportunities from the opponent
          2. It moves YOUR team from one that is winning to one who is playing not to lose. Sometimes you lose your MOmentum and scoring (if needed) is then harder to come by

          Basketball is nothing if not a psychological game—in tight situations your head sometimes takes you out of your game. It happened to ND diggins and McBride and Achonwa in the regulation end of the 3 ot game. They lost their composure and played frightened, believing they were actually losing.
          Notre Dame believes they shall win no matter what the score is 10 minutes into the second half. But below the 4 minute mark –they see the possibilities, and act like everyone else–they lose their minds and do crazy things.

  4. martin fallon

    Can’t predict a UCONN blowout, but would love to see it. ND has weapons in McBride and Diggins with Jewell emerging as a threat. Team defense will be the key. Skylar is an excellent defender, one on one, and can and has disrupted Bria and Moriah as they’ve dribbled up-court. They should NOT try to dribble through Diggins, but give it up quickly and get it back closer to the half-court line where they can try and attack the paint or hit the open teammate. We don’t need to give Skylar steals from which she can score quickly. Stewart’s new confidence and contributions on both ends of the floor could prove the difference. Just wish Kiah would bang with abandon, and take the short shots she’s given, but without an attitude adjustment, she may well remain a non-factor. Good luck Huskies; hope the refs let you play your game.

    1. Village Idiot

      Notre Dame HAD more real shooters on last year and this years teams. Their defense has been “in your face”. Uconn’s freshmen have come a long way. Now for the biggest stage they’ll ever see–New ORleans, NC and the crowds and Fans going crazy.

      Geno screwed up in Diana Turazi’s freshman year by not protecting her from the hype and hoopla–. No one has/had more nerves of steel and she missed 15 3 balls, the kid who didn’t miss.
      I hope Geno and Christine does something to make the biggest stage less of any shock to the nerves of the kids.
      What ever happens in New orleans our Kids will learn what it’s like to be THERE, and next year they’ll wipe the slate clean.

      They can do it this year–but it takes a lot \

      Ever think Dolson made Ogumike look like has HS senior and ran even Griner ragged. Yet she didn’t even make the second team All American?? What’s wrong with that picture???

      1. Kevin Cavanaugh

        I speculate because UCONN lost to ND three times, Dolson suffered in the voting.

        Yet, as you say, she dominated Stanford and Duke and Maryland and Penn State and a bunch of other teams, while Stewie was finding herself.

        Now, I believe, Stewie will pick up the slack if Dolson has limited play and MoJo will rise to the biggest game of her short career. Tuck and Stokes will offset ND bigs and KML will get free to do her thing. Not sure about Doty or Hartley but something tells me Hartley will be on track for this one.

        UCONN by 10 or less, but a win is a win.

        Two of the “Three two watch” are already gone and hopefully the remaining one will depart Sunday night.

        1. Bracchus

          Dolson is underrated. Gets more press than Lewis, but is still underrated. She should be lauded for the weight loss and the dimensions she has added to her game. This young lady has a jump shot from around the top of the key and to the side that is money. We should be taking far more advantage of that. If Griner had Dolson’s jump shot, Louisville would be back on campus now.

          Stephanie is not spectacular and is very pleasant. Sad to say, but those characteristics plus goo performance dont seem to always merit consideration. I guess she needs a little more attitude.

  5. Inge Nissan

    Under “Pro Potential – “…including six who played for the 2012 Olympic gold medal team…” – a bit disingenuous there John without at least referencing the fact that UConn’s head coach was also the Olympic coach. OK – so clearly most of them make it anyway – but doubtful all of them would have.

    As for the “clones” postulate – I absolutely disagree.

    Coach is by far the superior recruiter – his 7 championships come by the Lobo class, the TASS(K) class, Diana Taurasi, or Maya Moore / Tina Charles. McGraw’s teams were simply inferior in terms of talent.

    Coach is a phenomenal prep coach, and a peerless builder of character.

    Whereas McGraw trumps him (unfortunately) from the opening tap to the final whistle. Coach has proven over the years to be an average to below average game day coach, while ND’s second half successes point to a superior ability to install adjustments.

    And then there’s Coach’s mind-blowing last second failures this year – failure to foul up 3, failure to call timeout, and the worst – tie game, 19 seconds to go, and he calls for a weak side alley-oop, then publicly criticizes his freshman for not taking a poorly thrown inbounds pass directly to the hoop.

    One can only imagine what Coach would have done with Ohio State men’s team, down 1 with 29 seconds…

  6. Kevin Cavanaugh

    Who will win it all n New Orleans?

    Who will be player of the Tournament?

    Who would win in a game of H.O.R.S.E?
    Elena Della Donne, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Brittney Griner, or Skylar Diggins?

    Read the blog, take the polls.

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