UConn Women

I took L and her best friend to meet some of their travel teammates at Hinkle Fieldhouse for the Butler-UConn women’s game last night. A lot of people had the same idea. I’m guessing this was Butler’s most-attended game of the year, with nearly 3,000 people showing up.

A good chunk of those in the house were high school and middle school players. They were packing the hallways before and after the game, mostly to get a look at injured UConn guard Paige Bueckers. We saw entire high school teams sitting together. There were more signs for Paige/the Huskies than for Butler. L and her teammates ran down to the tunnel that leads to the visitor’s locker room just before halftime. She was rewarded with a high five, that she got on video, as Bueckers walked by.

As for the game…whew. The Huskies jumped out to a quick, early lead. The Bulldogs hit a few 3’s in the second quarter to trim a 15-point deficit to five. That seemed to make UConn mad. They blitzed Butler for the next quarter-plus, getting the lead up to 30 early in the third quarter and holding it right around there the rest of the game.

It was amazing watching UConn play. Their bigs were all faster than Butler’s guards. They had 6’4”–6’5” girls getting deflections, racing to the loose ball, then leading the break, running past 5’7” Butler players on the way. Butler tried to get offense going but were constantly swamped by UConn’s size. There were a lot of forced shots at the end of the shot clock when three girls just refused to shoot and the fourth and to chuck it towards the rim. UConn even had a bunch of players in street clothes – they played just eight – and I know at least one of those ladies is a starter.

In addition to Bueckers not playing, the other bummer of the night was that Geno Auriemma also missed the game due to illness. I would have loved to watch his reaction when Butler made that little run in the second quarter. UConn seemed to do just fine without him, though.

L and her AAU teammates also saw the girl from their program who will be going to UConn next year. We wondered if she would be around since she left the suburban public school she grew up at for a prep school in northern Indiana this year. Must have been a break in their schedule to let her get back to Indy for the night.

Jayhawk Talk

Playing in Lubbock has become one of those games that gets elevated regardless of how good Texas Tech is. Granted, they’ve been really good for the past 5–6 years, which goes a long way towards making those games tough.

So last night’s KU win, which they thoroughly controlled for about 26 minutes before surviving the inevitable Tech rally, might seem a little bigger and more impressive than it actually is. I say that because I’m not sure how good this year’s Tech team is. This felt more like one of those old KU-Tech games where the Red Raiders hit a bunch of crazy shots to stay in it than one where it was a matchup of near equals. I know they’ve been fighting injuries and are working in some new players. But aside from Tech’s early and late runs, KU was clearly the better team.

Still, you never apologize for road wins during the conference season, and KU now has one out of the way that every other Big 12 contender will need to match.

I was looking at KU’s upcoming schedule yesterday and the strength of the Big 12 really hit home. Usually there’s a game or two in there where you think, “OK, that game is a break in the at K-State-Baylor-at Texas stretch,” or whatever. There was no game in the next few weeks where I got that feeling. That may change due to injuries or teams that seem tough now taking a few losses and falling apart. For the moment, though, it sure seems like every 3–4 days Big 12 fans are going to be wound up about the next high-stress game.


What the hell? This might be the most amazing score for a non-KU Big 12 game I’ve ever seen. I’m sure I’m not the only cynical, outside observer who assumes this will make Texas find a way to fix their Chris Beard problem really damn quickly.