Collision Course 2010

By Gary Norris Gray, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: February 19, 2010

CALIFORNIA (BASN) — The University of Connecticut Lady Huskies and Stanford University Cardinal or Tree are on a collision course to meet each other in the Women’s NCAA Finals.

These are two great basketball powerhouses — one in the Northeast and another on the West coast. The Lady Huskies are undefeated (26-0) and 12-0 in Big East. While the Lady Cardinal are 24-1 and 14-0 in the Pac-10.

Both have outstanding records, but have very different playing styles and different coaching histories. The Huskies play run and gun blowing opponents out of the gym in the first half of most games.

They have beaten teams by 20 or more points most of their game.

This past week, St.

John’s and Oklahoma gave them their toughest matches, the Red Storm lost by 14 and the Sooners lost by 16.

This season the Huskies beat Stanford 80-64 early in the year for the only Cardinal loss. UConn won the National Title last year with relative ease. They’ve also won five of the last ten Big East Titles.

Last year, the Cardinal won their ninth straight Pac-10 title and their sixth straight tournament title. In 2008, Stanford lost the National Championship game to the University of Tennessee with All American point guard Candace Wiggins.

These two teams have dominated women’s basketball and have historic head coaches in Gino Auriemma and Tara VanDeerver. Both began their tenures in 1985. Both have won national titles: UConn in ’95, ’00, ’02, ’03, ’04, and ’09.

Stanford won in ’90 and ’92.

They are seven wins from their former team-mates record of 73 and next year they could reach the UCLA Bruins record of 88 victories next year. Their remaining games include the Providence Friars, the Syracuse Orange, No. 13 Georgetown Hoyas, and a rematch with No. 4 Notre Dame.

The Hoyas and Fighting Irish could be the last teams to stop UConn’s winning streak in the regular season. Needless to say, but coach Geno will not let this happen.

The question remains who will stop Maya Moore, Tiffany Hayes, and Tina Charles.

No one seems to be coming close to their athletic rebounding and shooting abilities.

This UConn team has five seniors, so they have been through the tournament fire and know what to expect.

They could be one of the best college women’s team ever assembled. Possibly better than the Rebecca Lobo team, the Sue Bird team, or even the Diana Taurasi team.

Last Saturday, UConn beat No. 25 St. John’s 66-52 for their 64th win in a row. Then on Monday night, they slipped by No. 12 Oklahoma 76-60 with stingy defense in the second half for their 65th straight victory.

The big three — Moore, Hayes, and Charles — made sure the streak would continue another week. The Red Storm and Sooners were two big stumbling blocks before the March Madness Tournament on this road to another possible national championship.

That is what scares most avid basketball fans about this UConn team continues to beat ranked teams by 20 or more points on a methodical and consistent basis.

Stanford plays more of a slow down post up offensive game with All-American senior center-forward Jane Appel, but will run when they get the opportunity.

The Cardinal stress defense and ball control. They also depend on their starting five most of their games unlike the Huskies who substitute freely. Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Kayla Pederson lead the Cardinal in scoring while center Appel bails them out when the shot clock is running down.

Stanford is a very young team unlike UConn, a senior laden team. They only have two seniors, meaning that The Cardinal will be a terror next year in the Pac-10.

The schedule is much easier than UConn with their final four games. Stanford does not play a ranked team until the NCAA tournament.

They were just tuning up with their Sunday afternoon victory over the last place Washington State Cougars 98-67. They’ll eventually play the Oregon Schools (Oregon State and Oregon) at Maples Pavilion, before traveling to play the the Arizona schools in the desert.

The only real threat would be the Ducks of Oregon but the Lady Cardinal rarely lose in Palo Alto . So it’s two ships moving toward each other again. Now the only question remaining is, will it be UConn’s seventh title or Stanford’s third?

Be aware of the other ranked teams like No. 5 Tennessee (24-2), No. 3 Nebraska (24-0), and No. 4 Notre Dame (23-2) could make this second Cardinal-Huskies rematch not to take place.