UConn: Regional demolition
BRIDGEPORT – Notre Dame – gone. South Carolina – gone. Maryland – gone. UConn? Not buying into that and not going anywhere except probably to a fourth national title and into the history books.
Tongues were wagging overtime Saturday morning at Webster Bank Arena following Friday night’s decimation of No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Stanford’s derailing of Notre Dame and Syracuse’s dumping of South Carolina throwing March-madness into upset mode. Maryland took the earlier exit. Boy the Final four is going to look different this year.
Ahh, hope for all the underdogs. Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer knew better. UConn is a nightmare to begin with and a Freddie Krueger and Jason element was just thrown into the equation. .
“I thought (the upsets) worked against us. I didn’t think it would work for me,” said Schaefer. “I just felt like this was the worst thing that could have happened. I told my staff that. I said that’s the worst thing that could have happened, is two No. 1’s getting upset because I know Geno will make sure them kids are ready. Those kids will be ready.”
How about UConn, 98-38. That’s ready. That’s in a regional semifinal. Freddie Krueger and Jason, they were boy scouts compared to the Huskies who are 35-0 and winners of 72 straight. This was a clubbing and a drubbing against a team with a 28-7 record entering the game. There was no upset train going through Bridgeport.
This was the emolliation of a defense that entered the game allowing just 54.7 points. UConn had 61 at halftime. This was a team that was holding opponents to 37.2 percent shooting. UConn threw up a buck less than triple digits and shot 63 percent (37-for-59). Schaefer called the Huskies “like piranhas on a roast when in transition.”
This was Breanna Stewart highlight show and what greatness is all about. Stewie scored 22 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked five shots. She hit 8-of-10 shots in just 25 minutes. Katie Lou Samuelson had 21 points and Morgan Tuck 19.
This was defense that choked the life out of the Bulldogs, holding them to 29 percent shooting and leading scorer Victoria Vivians to just 6 points on 3-of-15 shooting.
This was both scary and impressive. How good was it? Hey, Geno doesn’t offer this stuff up too often.
“I told (the team) during one timeout, `you guys are really good,’ said the man who is constantly seeking perfection. But even he could find little to fret about this day.
Disappointed in his team’s play, even Schaefer could admire the team that administered the whipping.
“I felt like we were playing an WNBA team,” said Schaefer. “I don’t know what team can compete with them if they play like that. They play like they played today there is no country that can beat them. What separates them is that there a lot of great teams across the country that have All-Americans but he gets the most out of his. He does not let them settle. That team is developed. I think we are pretty good and we were awful today.”
With praise wagon in full roll what the Bulldogs saw up close from Stewart was equally demoralizing and awesome. Stewie had a double-double just 13:36 into the game. She completed the first half with 18 points and 13 rebounds. By the way, UConn led, 61-12.
When you get a player of her size that has the skill set that she has, there’s not a handful of those in the country,” said Schaefer. “I mean, it’s a nightmare. I think when you are dealing with her and she’s scoring and making thee-balls, she going over the bounce and shooting it from 15 in the mid-range game. Then she gets to the rim and can finish over everybody. You can’t get a butt on her to rebound. She goes to the offensive boards. In all likelihood she’s the best player in the country.”
Is there a debate on that?
You hear the complaint about UConn’s domination. The boredom, the one-sidedness of it all. There is brilliance in this beauty. There is history in this brilliance. Mississippi State was pained by it all Saturday. But they know greatness.
Schaefer talked about the Huskies being one of the greatest programs ever when asked. He talked about wanting to chase UConn, the state of the art women’s program.
He saw it all first-hand. One part of it was demoralizing. But he knows he was victimized by greatness.