UConn vs. Louisville: Who has the edge?
Updated 9:13 pm, Monday, April 8, 2013
5-foot-10 Sr. Caroline Doty (5) vs. 5-10 Soph. Bria Smith (21): Doty was the starting point guard on UConn's 2010 national championship team. Experience matters in a game like this. How much playing time she will see, however, remains in question. Smith had 17 points and six rebounds against California in the semifinals. She is averaging 12.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in the tournament and shares the team-lead in assists (3.6).
5-11 Sr. Kelly Faris (34) vs. 5-10 Jr. Shoni Schimmel (23): There is not much Faris cannot do on the court. And she proved that again against Notre Dame in the semifinals with 10 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals, two blocks and another sound defensive effort. Schimmel is the heart and soul of the Cardinals. She has plenty of attitude and talent, averaging team-highs of 18.0 points and 37.0 minutes in the tournament.
6-5 Jr. Stefanie Dolson (31) vs. 6-4 Jr. Sheronne Vails (3): Dolson continues to persevere through injuries to her right ankle (stress fracture) and left foot (plantar fasciitis). She continues to make plays, averaging 8.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in the tournament. Vails has not been a factor in the tournament for the Cardinals. She played just 11 minutes against California and is averaging 3.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in the tournament.
6-0 Soph. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (23) vs. 6-1 Jr. Antonita Slaughter (4): Mosqueda-Lewis can take over a game at any moment. She had 16 points and six rebounds against Notre Dame and is averaging 18.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.2 steals in the tournament. Slaughter led the Cardinals with 18 points (6-of-10 3-pointers) against California . She is second on the team in scoring in the tournament (12.8), making 17 3-pointers, and is also averaging 4.8 rebounds.
6-4 Fr. Breanna Stewart (30) vs. 6-2 Soph. Sara Hammond (00): With the Bridgeport Regional's Most Outstanding Player award already in her possession, Stewart now has the inside track on the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award. She is playing like a first-team All-American, averaging 20.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in the tournament. Hammond, a former UConn recruiting target, is a tough, rugged player who made key plays late against California . She is averaging 10.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in the tournament.
Bench: All-American Bria Hartley continued her resurgence in this tournament with 15 points and four steals in 37 minutes against Notre Dame. She has given the Huskies plenty of energy in a reserve role. So, too, have freshmen Morgan Tuck, who had four points, seven rebounds and two assists against the Irish, and Moriah Jefferson. Jude Schimmel has gained tremendous recognition during this tournament, averaging 9.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists. Fifth-year senior Monique Reid, the lone holdover from the 2009 national championship game for the Cardinals who is battling an injured left knee, is averaging 8.2 points through the first five rounds.
Coaching: UConn's Geno Auriemma is looking to win an NCAA record-tying eighth national championship. He is 7-0 all-time in the final and he is second all-time with 15 wins at the Final Four. Louisville coach Jeff Walz has instilled a belief in the Cardinals that they are more than good enough to win this tournament. He also has his team in the tournament final for the second time in five seasons.
Prediction: UConn 84-67
-- RICH ELLIOTT