It’s really hard to expect the Louisville Cardinals women’s basketball team to be able to beat Connecticut. Connecticut is fielding one of their best teams of all time. The Huskies are firing on all cylinders and they have been since the first tip-off of the season as they remain undefeated heading into tonight’s championship game. They’ve beat the Lady Cards twice this year by an average of 33.5 points and one of those blowouts was in the Big East Tournament championship game. They’ve beaten all of their opponents in the NCAA tournament by double-digits.
Connecticut has the nations best player in Maya Moore. They have the nations best coach in Geno Auriemma. They have eight players who were All-Americans in high school. Louisville has none. They have a history that contains five national championships and over 30 regular season and conference tournament championships. They also have Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles.
Regardless of UConn’s long list of accolades, there is one thing that Louisville has more of.
Louisville showed they had more heart than anyone in the country when they erased a first half lead of 14 points and came back to win the game against a stacked Oklahoma team in the national semi-final on Sunday evening. Angel Mccoughtry played her worst half of the season in the first half against the Sooners and played the most memorable half of her career in the second half as she led Louisville on a charge against Oklahoma. A charge where the Lady Cards were able to grab the lead by as much as six points and coast to victory, despite a very late push by OU.
Becky Burke, Candyce Bingham and Deseree Byrd all played tenaciously on both sides of the court in the comeback. Coach Jeff Walz ripped the team at halftime and told his All-American, Mccoughtry that she was an embarassment. They came out with something to prove and left the Oklahoma Sooners shocked and in tears at the end of the game.
Some say that Oklahoma became too comfortable after their big halftime lead. Some say that Jeff Walz might be the best motivator in the country. But no one can deny that Louisville has earned their spot in the NCAA national championship and has catapulted themselves in the national spotlight as this team has become the story of the year in NCAA women’s basketball.
Louisville enters tonight’s game the underdog once again. Not just expected to lose to the Huskies but many “experts” and fans expect Connecticut to blow them out of the water. It’s possible. Connecticut seems to be on an entirely different level from the rest of women’s college basketball this year. The entire season, they’ve proven that they’ve been the best team in the country. The program hasn’t won a national championship since the 2003-04 season, and you know they’re hungry for one.
Whatever happens, I will make one guarantee and that is that regardless of whether they’re winning by 20 at halftime or losing by 30, Louisville won’t give up until the final buzzer sounds. They’re going to give it their all tonight as they have nothing to lose. The Lady Cards want this as bad as anybody and they’re not going to let anybody crown the Huskies the champions just yet. Remember, they have heart.