Swin: Expect Bears, Huskies To Battle
Former UConn star weighs in on the Women’s Final Four.
by Swin Cash / @swincash
The 2012 Women’s Final Four is a battle of the heavyweights! Each No. 1 seed survived their region in dominating fashion, winning every game by double digits en route to what should be an exciting battle of the titans in Denver.
The first game pits No. 1 Notre Dame against my No. 1-seed Connecticut Huskies. A rematch of last year’s Final Four game, UConn looks to extract revenge against a Notre Dame team that ended the Huskies’ season last year before losing to Texas A&M in the NCAA Championship game.
Notre Dame is once again lead by one of the best point guards in the country and the first Notre Dame player since my new teammate Ruth Riley to be named an All-American in consecutive years, Skylar Diggins. Although the challenge will be tough, both these teams know each other well by now so there won’t be many surprises. Notre Dame leads the season series 2-1, but UConn picked up a 63-54 victory in the most recent match-up between these two clubs. Look for this one to be a defensive battle—but I expect UConn Coach Geno Auriemma to play a chess match with substitutions and control the tempo of the game.
Baylor and Stanford will be a treat. Baylor has received the most attention so far this Tournament and rightfully so. The Bears feature a player who needs no introduction, Brittney Griner, while Stanford is led by fellow First Team All-American Nnemkadi Ogwumike. I’ve had the pleasure of training with both superstars and can tell you first-hand they are both very strong players and gifted at their position. It has been amazing to watch Brit develop this year and take her game to the next level.
I saw her gain confidence this past summer with every game while we were training in Europe with USA Basketball. She wants to raise that National Championship trophy this year and is playing like nothing or nobody will stop her from accomplishing that goal. If Stanford can slow her down and limit her touches, this game will get pretty interesting in Denver. If Nnemkadi can somehow get Brittney in foul trouble, that would open the game up for the Cardinals. That, however, is much easier said than done! I still feel that Brit will find a way to help Baylor stay undefeated and move on to the Championship game.
Baylor will meet UConn in the National Championship in a rematch of Baylor’s 5-point victory in December. At that point, when you have two evenly matched teams, all you can do is throw the ball up and see who wants it more. UConn will be in for the fight of their lives but they’ve been here before. And while UConn has enjoyed three undefeated seasons in the last decade (2002, 2009 and 2010) they have never been 40-0. Each time they racked up 39 victories against 0 defeats. Baylor has a chance to accomplish that feat and how fitting would it be to have the program that has recently been known for going undefeated be the team that is in their way. Time to shock the world! Good luck to all the teams—they all deserve to be there! Let the games begin.