a real parallel with football. We will miss the leadership of Diggins and Te'o, but have more talented depth in the lineup. Some combo of Allen, Cable, etc. will have to tag team the role that Diggins played at the point. Lots of talent in next year's sophomore and freshmen classes. And 3 new recruits are 6'3" or better.
I agree that we're closing the talent gap, but this sort of report is actually depressing, because it shows just how vast that gap is. It's just hard to get too excited when the theme seems to be "a few more classes like this and we'll have almost half of UConn's talent, rather than less than a quarter".
Sorry, I'm just bitter that ND is always undersized, and especially disturbing for an undersized team, as I pointed out last night, we always seem to be missing the 3-point game. Both are talent issues, and both bite us in the ass when it really counts.
I understand your point, but it's not like UCONN has/had a talent gap. We beat them three times this year. Unfortunately, Breanna Stewart turned into Dirk Nowitzki last night. She was 4/5 on her three pointers. UCONN pulled away last night, but that was clearly the difference.
In her five previous games combined, Stewart was 3-14 from three. In three previous games against ND she was 0-4, 0-3 and 0-4.
Stewart will be a major force in the coming years, but there was simply no way that McGraw prepped a game plan that had ND defending a player that didn't exist for UCONN until last night.
But we needed to provide a counter punch with one or two of Kayla, Skylar, and Jewell.
Skylar - 3/15 6 TOs
Kayla - 5/20 4 TOs
Jewell - 5/17 3 TOs
Simply put, it was a tough time for all of our best players to have one of their worst games. Credit Geno for getting them out of their rhythm. Tough to think our girls weren't pressing.
could have won that game with a late spurt in the last 6 minutes, despite playing horribly.
In the first three games when we went on our runs, we got bounces, made shots, etc.
Last night each time we tried to counter and get the game down to 1 possession, we would miss an open shot, give up three rebounds or turn the ball over.
I think if we would have tied the game at some point, we would have won but we never got that chance.
in the Bridgeport Regional, so lots of people saw this coming.
In fact, while I take everything TV "experts" say with a grain of salt, Stewart's emergence starting in the BET was the biggest reason people pointed to in thinking that Notre Dame would very much have its hands full with UConn.
And while we may have gotten more rebounds than UConn last night, when it comes to interior play, don't overlook blocked and altered shots. UConn killed us in that regard, particularly in the first half.
And if you don't think there is a talent gap between UConn and Notre Dame, you're not watching the same games that I am.
But Breanna was 7/14 against us in the BET championship and 10/16 last night. It was incrementally better but not so much that we hadn't faced Stewart when she was a weapon.
On the interior play, I just didn't feel like I was looking at 2 teams on a different level. I definitely did see ND struggle to make some bunnies, some of which were highly contested and some that were just blown layups on Braker's part.
During the course of the season Jewell, Skylar, and Kayla never collectively played that bad. It's difficult for me to judge ND's talent level basing it on their worst collective game of the year for its best players.
I'd love to see one person that predicted that Stewart would light it up from 3. Again, she was 3-14 in her previous 5 games, including 2/7 in the tournament.
Clearly Muffet thought that Braker would be able to slow Stewart down as she had all year long. They didn't seem to be giving much help side defense for whoever played Stewart. They were going to make her beat them with the 3, and she did.
As for talent, UCONN is certainly deeper. Last night just about everyone was better than Skylar, Kayla and Lloyd. That's not normally the case. In the previous 3 games, I'd say that Skylar and Kayla were the two best players on the court.
Last night sucked, no doubt. But it's the first time we lost to UConn this year, despite having a size discrepancy all season.
The other game we lost we were at a size disadvantage to the largest player in the women's game.
I wasn't happy with our rebounding last night but I think the biggest issue was Skylar, Kayla, and Jewell having uncharacteristically bad games. From turnovers to forced shot selection to missing looks that they'd normally make. Geno got in their heads.
I don't see the size issue as one that will materially keep ND from breaking the ceiling.
In watching the game last night, Stewart was the X factor. But I wasn't convinced he size caused the issues, it was her shot making. Dolson, the largest player on the court, was largely a non-factor.
I knew the game was over when it was apparent that the refs were going to let her dish out her big, punishing and moving screens. Her ability to push around ND's normally pesky defense was a big reason that Stewart got her open looks and that UCONN scored well above what they had previously against ND. I don't recall that she got called for a single illegal screen last night, whereas, I'm pretty sure that she was called for several in the previous games.
ND plays a Princeton offense. It looks great when cooking. It can be disrupted by physical play like last night. Dolson, Farris and Turner are perfect for it. UConn actually has done it in the games that the Irish won (look at Skyler and Loyds shooting percentages in the 4 games). ND was successful breaking the offense and letting McBride go one on one in previous games. Sub 30% shooting and leaking offensive rebounds could not be overcome.
It is not a coincidence that Muffet's 1 title was when she had a dominant post player.
They got beat two years ago by A&M because their wide-bodied center ate our lunch(no pun intended).
Griner was the difference last year.
This year UConn had too much size(length and girth) inside. Sure--we beat them 3 times earlier, but that was before FR Stewart came of age.
ND had no answers either inside on offense and defense. Our players were intimidated by UConn underneath and had many of their shots either blocked or altered.
It is a shame Diggins didn't get her title, but the lack of bigs was too much to overcome. I know Diggins played poorly and tried to do too much--but she never really had the luxury of inside players to take the pressure off of her.
Where was UConn for the previous 2 years in the FF semifinal losses?
- They had similar size advantages (maybe partially mitigated with Dev Peters but certainly not wholly eliminated) then as they do now.
but she never really had the luxury of inside players to take the pressure off of her.
- Weren't Novocel and Mallory the ones who took pressure off Skylar last year?
- Weren't Kayla and Jewell the ones who took pressure off of Skylar this year?
It seems like we are searching and scouring for systemic answers, and potentially losing sight of the fact that this was a great team that didn't show it last night.
Very good points. As good as Natalie was this year and as much as Braker improved, ND still needed another big girl inside who could score and defend. In college woemns' basketball, ND could get away with a few deficencies because they were so good in the backcourt and Lloyd did so well. But even against Iowa cracks started to show and last night Stewart was just too much for anyone on ND to handle. Diggins and/or McBride woudl have had to have super games last night and,obviously that di not happen. ND will do well again next year, too, but against the elite the inside game and inside defense will be their problem until that extra talented "big" shows up on the court.
I agree we didn't have an answer because of size. We kept trying to go under but UConn focused on the shot blocking which denied easy points. Our only recourse would have been playing more outside and trying to set up jump shots which this ND team had the skills to hit (including Achonwa). Unfortunately it didn't play that way which played to UConn's strengths.
Louisville might play the way we should have played and if they play with no fear and UConn plays overconfident they could put up a much better game, despite lesser talent.
Like them or not, one thing about Louisville teams in all sports over the years is they want to win and think they can win, even though they are underdogs in many cases.
It all goes back to being classified as a second class citizen to Kentucky for many years. When they get the chance they play with a chip on their shoulder, like old ND FB teams used to.
A couple of years ago the ND women's golf team gave UofL a thrashing on the Cardinal Club course. I was out there both days and after the tourney ended I was having a drink with the guy who owns the course. He said he didn't care how many shots ND beat them by, the Cards were still better player for player. They live with that outlook.