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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Jim Clark’s Husky Report: Regular-Season Wrap

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By Jim Clark

Did you miss me? Sometimes the rigors of everyday living can interfere with a person’s enjoyment of a good basketball game. During most of the month of February, I was traveling, and unable To report on the final eight games of the Connecticut season. The results, of course, were the same as they have been all year: The Huskies are now 30-0, and have one 69 straight games by double figures.

So, very quickly, what’s worth remembering about these final eight games of the Connecticut regular season?

Perhaps the most outstanding is how very good Georgetown is for a team that was picked eighth in the conference and which no one expected to be a ranked team at this point in the season. Coach Terry Williams-Flournoy gets my vote as Coach of the Year, narrowly beating out Mike Carey of West Virginia. Her Hoyas are very athletic, second in the nation in steals per game at 13.7, and most of them can shoot the ball pretty well. They led UConn as long as anyone this season, and for almost 20 minutes had the Huskies looking very sloppy indeed. Unfortunately for Georgetown fans, the Hoyas had no answer for Tina Charles and her 33 points.

The Oklahoma Sooners either caught UConn on a bad day, or forced UConn into a bad performance. Only against Stanford did the Huskies look as vulnerable as they did in Norman. Connecticut’s 32 first-half points tied its lowest first-half total all season, and when the Huskies went down, 39-38, four minutes into the second half, it was the latest they had been behind in any game all year. UConn followed that deficit, however, with a 13-to-2 run to take over the game for good. Connecticut was fortunate that Oklahoma matched the Huskies’ own miserable outside shooting, or the game could have been contested much longer. The Sooners, however, could not control Tiffany Hayes early or during the run, as she finished with 20 points on 7-11 shooting.

Syracuse proved once again to be Maya Moore’s personal punching bag, as she scored 38 to go with the 40 she scored against the Orangemen last season. Quentin Hillsman demonstrated once more that he is one of the league’s most ineffective coaches, as his team has been inconsistent all season and has not produced the results their talent would have predicted. Syracuse also gets the prize for self-flagellation, by choosing to put the women’s games in the Carrier Dome. The place holds 32,000, and even against Connecticut, they only managed a reported 3,250. Many of those ticketholders did not actually attend, based upon the of the crowd appearance.

The final game of the regular season at Notre Dame, once expected to be a challenge to Connecticut, turned out to be just another Husky stomping fest. The Irish, who lost two games the previous week while Lindsay Schrader was injured, never seriously challenged UConn, which closed out its season with Tina Charles’ duel record-breaking performance.

UConn is showing some signs of being tired, however. Athletic teams from Oklahoma, Saint John’s, and Georgetown hung with the Huskies for extended periods, and forced an unfortunate number of turnovers. Coach Auriemma told Big East TV that his team needed the week of rest between the season finale at Notre Dame and the beginning of the Big East Tournament. It is a long season, and UConn has a very short bench, none of whom provide much in the way of offensive assistance. Lorin Dixon has turned into a game-changer when Connecticut begins to bog down a bit. Kelly Faris can be a defensive stopper, but her offensive game is miserable (by Husky standards), with her field-goal shooting percentage down to .348, and just .204 from long distance. Kaili McLaren continues to be a basically useless player, a mere placeholder with the few fouls to give. The senior post player never got her weight under control, and deprived herself of a successful college career.

As for the starters, Tina Charles has not only put herself into the record books at Uconn, becoming Connecticut’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the final game of the season against Notre Dame, but has also clearly taken the lead for National Player of the Year. Maya Moore continues to be Maya Moore, doing a lot of some things and a little bit of everything, proving that she is among the best players ever to have played women’s basketball. Tiffany Hayes closed out the regular season with the same surge of good play that marked the end of last season. Caroline Doty, however, all but disappeared offensively for six games until coming alive against Georgetown on senior night. Kalina Greene also had five sleepy games before looking like herself again versus Notre Dame.

I am acutely aware, of course, that only someone who routinely sees Connecticut play could find fault with the team that won all of its games this season. But I suppose that’s what my role is supposed to be in writing this regular column—to report on this team objectively with all of its strengths and weaknesses, rather than to simply ooh and aah at its not inconsiderable prowess and chalk them up as unbeatable.

The week’s rest will do the team some good, and there is no reason to believe that they will fail to win the Tournament, as they did the regular season championship. (Later this week, Full Court Press will preview the Big East Tournament).

Amazingly enough, the Huskies have at most nine games remaining to play this season. And while they could have just a stunningly horrible game, I do not see them being challenged on the road to the National Championship, other than by Stanford and perhaps Tennessee. Nebraska is a wonderful story, with an unblemished record of 27-0, but I don’t believe they have sufficient speed to keep with the Huskies for 30 or 40 minutes. This Husky team is so confident that the road to the Final Four will have very few stumbling blocks.

The Huskies get a two-round bye in the Big East Tournament, playing their first game on Sunday, at 2 pm. Stand by for daily reports from the Tournament starting on Friday.

Originally published Wed, March 03, 2010

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
Rank remains unchanged since last week
Ranking has risen since last week.
Ranking has dropped since last week.
Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.