Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Monday, April 06, 2009

You know, I wasn't expecting a Stanford victory, but I wasn't expecting what UConn, and its Nation, got.

UConn has the best guards in the country, at least if you're willing to call Maya Moore-- given her speed, her agility and her outside shot-- a guard. (Yes, I know she's listed as a 4.) Stanford has perhaps the best post, and the one who has looked the finest in postseason play.

So Geno made it all about the guards: attacking the passing lanes, creating transitions, and licensing his Huskies to take the number and the kind of jump shots you'd expect from an underdog. Renee Montgomery responded with a career game.

Tina Charles, meanwhile, rose to the occasion: she didn't score much, but she, and her double-teaming, fronting teammates, managed to keep Appel in check. Jayne and Renee tallied 26 apiece-- and UConn had other weapons; Stanford did not.

Coach TV-- somewhat surprisingly for a team that's relied on the three-point shot in years past-- didn't ask her guards to take many outside shots, or else they did not want to take them: when they did get those shots off, they mostly rimmed out.

In the end, it was another UConn blowout. Stanford scored nada for seven minutes after halftime: the Huskies led by thirty for a while, and the final margin was bigger than the final margin by which UConn won at St. John's.

Geno's second-half challenge (a familiar one, for him): keeping his Huskies focused despite their growing lead. "In the locker room, I brought up the Louisville-Oklahoma game. Oklahoma was up 12 and we were up 13," he said. "I thought if we would come out in the second half and put together a real good five-minute support, it would be hard for Stanford to come back from that."

The national semifinal was a truly national game, and a reversal of the shocker from last year; the national final could be anticlimactic-- or it could be a jumbo-sized upset-- but it will certainly be a rematch of the Big East championship game, in which Jeff Walz's team got crushed like a can.

The Huskies beat Louisville in January too, so expect to hear a lot about how it's hard to beat a team three times. More relevant than the number of previous victories: the location of each game-- one of the Huskies' wins against UL came in Hartford; the other one took place in Storrs.

UPDATE: Geno against racism, before last night's game: "White kids are always looked upon as being soft. So Stanford's got a tremendous amount of really good players who, for whatever reason, because they don't look like Tina Charles or Maya Moore, the perception out there is going to be, 'Well, they must be soft.'

"Well, I think that's a bunch of bull. I watched them play and nobody goes harder to the boards. Nobody takes more charges. Nobody runs the floor as hard. Those kids are as tough as any of the kids in the country. But people in the sports world like to make judgments on people by how they look. And it's grossly unfair."

Geno on his team's next challenge: "I wish we were playing anybody but Louisville. The last team you want to play is a team that you beat the way we beat them the two times we played them... At least we're going to have a Big East national champion. And that's a good thing."