by Ray Floriani
NEW YORK CITY- The Maggie Dixon Classic gave the fans four elite teams. The games did not turn out as competitive gems. Regardless, it was a special day. A history making day and a day to celebrate the life and legacy of Maggie Dixon and women's basketball.
The Four Factors from the TAMU-Rutgers opener:
In a 73 possession game Rutgers saw the extreme at both ends. A moderate to average offensive team entering the game (102 offensive efficiency), coach C. Vivian Stringer's club had defended well (84 defensive efficiency). Until today. The edge was close on the boards but that was about it. Rutgers had no answer for 6-2 Danielle Adams with 24 points 12 rebounds in 36 minutes. Adams hit from outside (2 for 6 from three) but did appreciable damage in the paint with a 50% (7 of 14 mark). In fact the paint was owned by the visiting Aggies with an absurdly high 34-10 edge on points in that area. Another stat that jumped off the page was TO rate. Specifically that of Rutgers with a ridiculously high 38% (27 total). Again, those turnovers spelled points as Texas A&M enjoyed a 38-7 margin in points off turnovers. Coach Gary Blair's group had a nice inside/outside mix. They hit 7-17 (41%) from three and 22-45 (49%) inside the arc. Rutgers was 0-8 from three and 13-41 (42%) from two.
The Efficiency numbers from the nightcap:
Pace was a little quick as UConn entered averaging in the high 60s (possessions) while Ohio State was in the mid 70s. Pushing the pace was by design. "We wanted to rebound and get out and run," said UConn junior guard Tiffany Hayes.
The Four Factors:
About the only area Geno Auriemma will look back in disdain on is turnovers. Fueled by 21 miscues the Huskies posted a TO Rate that could hurt them in a close game. Part of that TO number could be construed to a game plan that emphasized getting out in transition. On that end UConn held a 21-7 edge in transition points. Ever the perfectionist, Auriemma will address the turnovers as early as next practice, if not before.
UConn did a great job on 6-4 center Jantel Lavender. She tied Tyler Hill for Buckeye scoring honors with 14 points but was forced into a 7 of 21 night from the floor. The nation's leading scorer was held 12 below her regular average.
Freshman center Stefanie Dotson had a 'stat stuffer' of a day for UConn. She scored just four points but added five rebounds and three blocks. In fact she was one of UConn's and the game's top three efficiency leaders, and the leader on a per minute basis:
Roster sheets in the press room had Maya Moore listed on both UConn and Ohio state. Buckeye coach Jim Foster would certainly have been willing to add Moore to his 10th ranked team.
Coaches unanimously agree the first four minutes of each half are vital. Ohio State opened the game with a pair of three point field goals by Brittany Johnson to take a very early 6-0 lead. Thoughts of a potential upset were soon ended as the Huskies ran off 11 straight points to enter the 16 minute mark ahead 11-6. The numbers of the first four minutes saw UConn nine possessions (1.22 PPP) while Ohio State with the same possession total checked in at .67 PPP.
At the half UConn led 40-26. The first four minutes of the final half saw each team with 8 possessions. UConn scored 11 points (1.38 PPP) while Ohio State checked in with six (.75 PPP). That put the score at 51-32 UConn at the 16 minute mark and the outcome all but finalized.
Such was the UConn dominance inside (a 48-22 point in the paint edge) the first 8 minutes of the final half, the Huskies eight field goals and the 'longest' was a five footer in the lane.
Ball distribution was solid for the Big East representatives as well. UConn handed out 18 assists on 32 field goals showing 56% of their field goals assisted. Ohio State assisted on 8 of 18 (44%) field goals.
Closing the Book:
Rutgers is 7-5 while Texas A&M is 9-1. The Aggies' Danielle Adams' 24 points led all scorers in the first contest.
UConn is 10-0 while Ohio state fell to 8-2. Tiffany Hayes of UConn led all scorers with 26 points.
With 88 straight in the books, UConn hosts Florida Sate on Tuesday. Record crowd to see a women's game, 15,232, at Madison Square Garden was on hand. Pitt mentor Jamie Dixon was in attendance. His Panthers defeated Maryland Easter Shore the night before in Pittsburgh.
"When I was last here (as an assistant at Louisiana Tech) the major papers sent fashion editors to cover our game. Now I look at all of you out there in the media in this room and that is proof women's college basketball has arrived." - Texas A&M coach Gary Blair.
"It is different times but there are similarities to both teams (UConn women and UCLA men). The two teams shared a level of competitiveness. A level of expectations above that of anyone else." - UConn's Maya Moore on the 88 game win streak.
"I am not doing anything different than other (coaches). The stuff I do I 'stole' from other people" Geno Auriemma on his coaching philosophy.
"We prepared and went about our routine the same way. I did let the players know it was a different week. A chance to get into the history books" - Geno Auriemma on the preparation for the Ohio state game.