Friday, April 10, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: NCAA Women's Finals

By Ray Floriani

LYNDHURST, NJ -- At the outset of the final game telecast, the analysts referred to the 1985 NCAA men’s championship where Villanova upset heavily favored Georgetown. That was the recurring theme. What you had to do in order to defeat a highly regarded opponent who defeated you twice in regular season.

As the game, won decisively 76-54 by UConn, wore on however, the thoughts turned away from that ’85 classic and towards the UCLA teams of the early Seventies. And how teams could come out strong, as Louisville did leading 9-6 at the 16:00 time out, only to have the opposition cash in on mistakes, go on a run and suddenly have a double digit lead. To defeat UCLA in their "hey day" with John Wooden on the sidelines you needed to be A. good and B. play a near perfect game. Louisville is good -- excellent in fact -- but they played a less than perfect game. Credit UConn with that. Their defense and offensive options such as Renee Montgomery at the point, Tina Charles (a double double by halftime) down low and Maya Moore allover, can do that to you. Geno Auriemma’s club finished 39-0 with not one opponent coming within double digits of them. The Wizard of Westwood is undoubtedly a UConn admirer. And not just for the record but the way they play the game like true champions. The numbers:


A slower pace, that was Louisville’s objective early on, to eat the clock and shorten the game. Once UConn had a double digit lead, especially during the second half, the Cardinals were forced to quicken the tempo. Louisville took good care of the ball but UConn’s defense made its mark as the Cardinals struggled to make shots. During one nine minute stretch from late first to early second half, the Cardinals did not hit a field goal. Angel McCoughty led Louisville with 23 points but struggled from the field shooting 9 of 24.

UCONN had a better than average TO rate (TO%) considering they faced a good amount of traps and pressure. Geno Auriemma’s club made Louisville pay by breaking the pressure and attacking the basket. Charles with an outstanding 25 point 19 rebound effort to earn Final Four MVP.

Louisville finished 34-5. The Cardinals were runnerup in the Big East Conference and defeated Maryland and Oklahoma to ensure an all Big East Final. An outstanding season in their own right for coach Jeff Walz and Co.

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