It's a little like you would feel against a bully...[their] lack of civility...approaches hate. -Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw, AP's women's basketball coach of the year
I don't think we are very fond of each other. -University of Connecticut's Breanna Stewart, AP player of the year
Photo: Charles Krupa, AP
Photo: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
As implied, Notre Dame was already a projected underdog against UConn, but when Achonwa went down with an ACL injury in the Irish's quarterfinal game against Baylor, things looked even grimmer. Inspired performances by the remaining two of the Irish's tremendous trio, Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd, were enough for the Irish to prevail against Maryland, but the Huskies are indeed a different story. Besides player of the year Stewart, the remaining UConn starters are all stars, and would be THE star of any other team of the country—except of course a school like Notre Dame, where they wouldn't qualify academically. Of course, that's also another story (and one Auriemma HATES being asked about), but when Notre Dame has graduated every player in McGraw's more than a quarter-of-a-century career under the Dome, it's difficult to not notice this academic discrepancy.
Still, there is one noticeable thing lacking from the Lady Irish's success, one hopefully that will be corrected after the game tonight. The only talk of religion during the intense pre-game interviews came when Muffet (after both teams left the Big East for different conferences last year) mourned the fact Connecticut refused to schedule Notre Dame during the regular season, to which Auriemma attempted the joke, "it's not nice to fib during Lent." Pray that, in the event of what would be a miraculous Irish victory tonight, that Muffet or one of her girls has the courage to give some of the credit to the Virgin Mary, for through thick and thin, She remains the best fan a team ever had, the true difference between Notre Dame and any secular institution.