UConn will have 3 players who were ranked #1 as recruits this year, yet they aren't the ones favored to win the NC.
That suggests two things:
1. As I always say, experience can matter just as much as ranking.
2. The #1 recruiting ranking isn't what it used to be. The difference in talent between #1 and #10 now is not nearly as great as the difference between #1 and #10 ten to fifteen years ago.
And only one more averaged more than 1.3 ppg. When you start the season and say "Who are going to be your five starters?" and everyone listing it says "and probably a freshman at center" that can many fans nervous, particularly for a regular NC contender.
Plus, two of the juniors (usually the class that really starts to step up) were ranked #56 and #121 in ASGR.
They need to see the younger players step up and possibly have the freshmen ready to play. Yes, ONO is #1 recruit, but freshmen at the position very rarely play really well, even the #1 recruits, because it's a position that often requires more weight training and more complex moves than they had to have in high school.
I think these are the reasons some UConn fans are concerned, right or wrong.
Basically, it comes down to some of those higher rated younger players haven't shown their stuff yet (I think Walker has, but she wasn't used as much as many people though she should have been). If they progress, they should be fine, although they won't have a lot of senior leadership on the court for 2019-20 (See above ASGR rankings for two of the seniors for that year).
Even with their turnover, Uncle Geno and Saint Chris will be just fine. Be still my beating heart.
Meanwhile, out of the left coast, it seems Coach Graves and The Ducks are down to nine scholarship players as they recently lost a highly touted freshman to a knee injury.
Link, below, per Raoul:
this year. They have their 5 key players from their NCAA run last year including 2 AAs in Ionescu and Hebard. The Spaniard Cazorla and Oti Gildon will be their only seniors and now they have 5 star/ex ND player Erin Boley with 3 years of eligibility along with Nyara's older sister Satou, PAC12 Freshman of the year. That's their top 6 players and then the other 3 are two sophs, Australian Point Guard Yaeger , who was 4* top 100 recruit and 6'6" Giomi along with incoming Freshman guard, Arizona POY, Tayler Chavez.
I'm not feeling bad for Graves. He was still going to have playing time problems with the 10 he had. Watching Muffett handle a short bench, we all know it can be done if the starting 5 and top sub have the talent. No question Graves still has that and Erin will take a lot of PT as she gets added in. Nyara is considered possibly even more talented than her sister. I think it will be easier to fit her in next year which will work well with the other 4 returning starters they'll still have (Sabrina, Ruthie, Erin, and Satou.
Obviously it changes if they get another injury but I think they'll be challenging ND to the end.
I don't think she will be that helpful, ultimately. Great shooter, but lacking in quickness, doesn't pass much, doesn't rebound, not a great defender, doesn't run that well ...
ND just won the national title with noted track stars Kathryn Westbeld, Jessica Shepard, and Koko Nelson. This is basketball, not a 4x400 relay.
You would think if any fanbase would refrain from the "she's too slow" comments it would be this one. But maybe that's my sensitivity after reading that year after year from UConn fans about ND.
I thought Boley was starting to show serious potential after a rough initial adjustment period. It would be a shame if we were all evaluated on our freshman year of college.
I think she has more passing skill especially than she exhibited at ND and she'll fit right in with the wide-open Oregon offense. The biggest thing is the floor spacing, which will help clear the paint for Ionescu. But she's more than a spot up shooter. She has the versatility to play inside in small lineups or outside in big lineups. The two-man game with she and Ionescu should be lethal.
I don't think she's anything special as a defender but that's not really Oregon's game anyway. They're just going to try to outscore everyone.
As much as I loved Lexi, Erin will be an upgrade as she shoots the 3 very well and her height is a big deal. She was a great practice player for them last year as I believe she improved a lot from her ND freshman year. With Sabrina and Cazorla they have their guard playmakers. I think you'll be surprised how effective she'll be.
Bando was the NCAA's active career leader in three-point percentage when she finished her senior season. No doubt Boley has a formidable three point shot herself, but Bando was lights out.
great shooter and good rebounder
needs to improve lateral quickness if she is going to try to guard 3s
..after the Stewie years. Now...
- they've lost Stevens (a year early in their thinking), Wiliams and Nurse to the draft/graduation. Personally, I thought Williams and Nurse were the heart and soul of the recent teams, so it will be interesting to see who steps up on the "grit" front for UConn.
- And after spring 2019, they'll lose Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelsson.
- Yes, ND is losing 4 of 5 players, too, but we'll have Jackie back and I think MM and her staff will get our sophs and frosh ready to step up. Plus we've got Sam and Anaya coming (and maybe some more).
- After two losses in the semi's (granted, OT losses both), The Boneyard is not as confident a place. In fact, I feel as if it's gradually getting more populated by "the Huns" from other universities.
Geesh, the announcement about Horston going to Tennessee felt like a Vol/SE conference part on the Boneyard.
- So, the tension for Jones and Boston, particularly Boston, is palpable.
- As a fan, I think we've done great with Sam Brunelle and Anaya Peoples. If things don't go the way we planned with Jones and/or Boston, I have no doubt MM and Niele will go to a very strong approach in 2020, which started with Alli Campbell.
- Remember, MM thinks Mik will be just as good (if not better) than Bri and Shep when all is said and done. And Mik has four more years. If she even comes close to those two's level, we're waay good.
It was more than the loss to Notre Dame ending the 88-game winning streak. That could have been considered an anomaly... ND scoring the last 12 points to win by one point; but UCLA lost again in February that year, to both Oregon State and Oregon on the same road trip and to NC State in the national semi-finals.
UCLA won the championship again in 1975, but the Bruins lost three times during the regular season including at Notre Dame to make the previous loss seem a little less fluky. Then John Wooden retired.
Gene Bartow made the Final Four in his first season as Wooden's replacement. Larry Brown took a nine loss team to the national championship game in 1980. UCLA didn't see the Final Four again until the 1995 championship season. Then came a Final Four drought until 2007.
All it took was a couple of teams to pierce the veil of invincibility. That didn't make UCLA a bad program, but it became a lot more like other good programs than its formerly dominant self.
As long as Geno Auriemma is the coach, UConn will be a formidable opponent just like Tennessee was with Pat Summit once its veil of invincibility was pierced; but I don't think we're going to see 50-game winning streaks anymore. There are too many good programs that are no longer defeated when they walk on the court to play the Huskies.
I also think playing in the AAC is starting to catch up to UConn. Auriemma wisely schedules as many top teams as possible in his non-conference schedule; but once the conference season starts, UConn has to play a lot of weak teams in nearly empty arenas. UConn averaged 9,558 tickets sold per game. The rest of the conference averaged 1,343 tickets sold per game. Five teams averaged less than 1,000 per game. Given the AAC's geographical footprint, that's a lot of 1,000+ mile trips for crap games in front of opponents' friends and families. Not very exciting.
at least a minor recruiting advantage for the Irish. It is rare that UND plays in venues that draw less than 2k fans.
If these women want to play exciting, fan involved games, go to South Bend vs. Storrs.
Have been thinking about this as well. It has got to weigh on the minds of recruits too. Does an AAC regular season or conference title really mean anything in? UConn's starting 5 could easily be the All-AAC First Team each year. There just isn't much talent in those programs.
My belief is that you need two really good players per year. That's been the pattern for the last several years at ND.
Here's ND's McDonald's All-Americans by recruiting class year since 2012 (and assuming Peoples and Brunelle earn that recognition):
2012: Loyd, Mabrey
2013: Reimer, Allen
2014: Turner, Westbeld
2015: Arike, Marina, Patberg
2016: Young, Boley
2017: Patterson (but we know Vaughn has McD's level talent)
2018: Gilbert, Nixon
2019: Peoples, Brunelle
My concern with 2019 is that ND is just short on numbers overall. But with Peoples and Brunelle we've got the top end talent covered.
As for UConn, I think they'll get either Jones or Boston and very possibly both. But I do understand the anxiety. Especially after two straight years of no NC (the horror!)
UConn and ND are very much in similar spots. Neither program is willing to lower its standards to accommodate talented kids who don't fit their culture or have the appropriate skill sets (notice that almost every player in either program is an above-average passer).
This approach results in the occasional thin recruiting class but the results are undeniable.
is all that is needed. As long as they are our coaching staff's choices, I'm happy. It is awfully tough to do, however. Nevertheless, I'd also love to have our recruits' ratings creep up to UConn's rarefied levels.