BASN Women’s Hoop Spotlight

By Richard Kent
Updated: February 3, 2008

CONNECTICUT – With the end of the women’s college basketball rivalry of Tennessee-UConn, there really isn’t a true rivalry in the game.

The closest thing to that rivalry occurs in the Big East Conference with UConn-Rutgers. Sure Duke-Carolina is a big game but it doesn’t have the history of quality games, quality players and national significance that UConn-Rutgers has had over the years.

The two teams will meet on Tuesday at the Rutgers Athletic Center and again in March in Hartford. They will probably also meet again for the Big East Championship later in March, also in Hartford, even though there are quality contenders like Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia and Notre Dame who could make it to the finals of the Big East Tournament.

Rutgers and UConn are two vastly different teams playing two vastly different styles. UConn likes to push it up quick. They have speed, speed and more speed. Ketia Swanier is as quick as they come.

UConn likes to score in the 80′s and have put up totals of 100, 98, 97 and 91 points this year. They are a prolific outside shooting team. They have three players in Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery and Mel Thomas who have over thirty treys. Thomas is out for the season.

UConn has lost two players for the season in Thomas and Kalana Greene, but are still very deep with Moore, Tina Charles, Montgomery, Brittany Hunter, Swanier, Charde Houston and Kaili McLaren seeing plenty of time.

Rutgers by contrast has scored 50 or fewer points in nine games this season. Their highest point total was 71 against Cincinnati. They are shooting a woeful .327 from three-point land and don’t have any players who have made over thirty trays.

They do play great defense but it is that defense that have kept them in many games. They also tend to play to the level of their competition. They had a scintillating 8-point win over Maryland but only managed to beat Princeton by five points, Saint Joseph’s by six points and Pepperdine by 10 points.

Both teams have superstars. Moore from UConn is certainly the best freshman in the country and maybe one of the best five players in the country. Charles is a first team All-American. Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson of Rutgers, both seniors, are first round WNBA selections.

That comes directly from a WNBA scout. Epiphanny Prince of Rutgers, a sophomore, is leading the team in scoring at 13.1 ppg. Center Kia Vaughn, a junior, is having a disappointing season. She is only at 9.6 ppg and the star guards on Rutgers have been unable to get her the ball inside in key situations.

Both teams have Hall of Fame coaches in Geno Auriemma and C. Vivian Stringer.

The crowd should be raucous. If Rutgers can keep the score in the 50′s then they should beat UConn, but if the game gets into the high 60′s then UConn should win easily.

UConn is currently rated no. 1 in the country.