By: Josh Axelrod > Freshman > University of Maryland > Journalism, Photo by: Geoffrey Bolte
While Kemba Walker makes mincemeat out of this year’s March Madness field, another University of Connecticut team is flying under the radar. This is the same squad that has dominated their sport for the past three years without much competition. Walker might be the saving grace for the men’s basketbal, but an arguably bigger UConn star deserves to be recognized as a March heroine: Maya Moore.
The UConn senior’s college career is about to draw to a close as her team prepares for the Women’s NCAA Basketball Final Four. Moore has been UConn’s not-so-secret weapon since she was a freshman scoring 17.8 ppg. That average has increased to 23.4 ppg during her senior year, not to mention the fact she pulls in 7.8 rebounds per game and has been a key leader of this two-time NCAA Tournament champion squad. But, if Moore wants to win three titles in four years, she, coach Geno Auriemma, and her No. 1-seeded team will have to defeat some formidable opponents.
Their Final Four opponent will be the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Ben Hansbrough and the Notre Dame men may have been upset by Florida State in the men’s bracket, but their female counterparts have an opportunity to do a little upsetting of their own. Led by junior guard Natalie Novosel, the lady Irish have already toppled No. 1-seeded Tennessee in a convincing 73-59 victory. Beating a Pat Summit team is one thing, but it will take everything Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad has to topple the heavily favored Huskies.
The other side of the bracket features another high profile one seed versus a two seed coming off an impressive upset over a women’s basketball giant. The semi-Cinderellas in this case are the Aggies of Texas A&M. They bested 6’ 8” phenomenon Brittney Griner and her Baylor Bears 58-46. 6’1” senior Danielle Adams, who has been a beast under the basket for the Aggies, leads Coach Gary Blair’s squad. A&M has to contend with not only another No. 1 seed, but also the runner-up in last year’s tournament who have felt the sting of defeat and are looking for another chance at a title.
Stanford has been to the championship game twice in the last three years and have been defeated both times, once by Tennessee and the other by those dreaded Huskies. They steamrolled their way past Gonzaga 83-60 to reach the Final Four and have no intention of easing up on the gas pedal. Seniors Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen, junior Nnemkadi Ogwumike, and coach Tara VanDerveer have come frustratingly close to winning it all and will probably be looking at a rematch of last year’s championship game with UConn.
The Cardinal does have one advantage that no other team in the tournament has over the Huskies though: that one mark this season in UConn’s loss column came from Stanford. They defeated UConn 71-59 earlier this season, handing them their first loss since April 6, 2008, when another Stanford team beat them in the 2008 Final Four. There is no blueprint for taking down a powerhouse like UConn, but if anyone can do it, it would be the Cardinal. Of course, Moore will have something to say about anyone doubting the supremacy of her Huskies. So while Kemba is doing his thing on the male side of NCAA basketball, pay attention to Moore as she attempts to further engrave her mark in NCAA basketball history.