Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie takes a look at the games in the women's Final Four. Her Blue Devils played Connecticut, Notre Dame and California this year.
This has been the matchup in women's basketball over the past few seasons and it's sad that it's coming in the semifinals again. It's a great showing by the Big East conference having these two teams back in the Final Four, as well as Louisville. It's really difficult that they have to play in the semifinals for the third straight season.
They know each other inside and out having played 12 times the past three seasons. The games this year have been so close that the teams are virtually dead even despite Notre Dame sweeping all three meetings by a hair.
Skylar Diggins is so critically important for the Irish. She'll never be stopped, but my concern is if she gets slowed who will step up. She's a phenomenal player and definitely a game-changer. Diggins is playing with incredible confidence about her and seems to be on a mission. It's similar to when Angel McCoughtry carried Louisville to the national championship game a few years ago.
Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa will be important to relieve some pressure off Diggins. Of course, there's also the interesting matchup of the freshmen Jewell Loyd and Connecticut's Breanna Stewart — which one will be able to be more of a factor. All three of UConn's freshmen have been playing extremely well.
UConn is a different team from the one Notre Dame beat in the regular season and Big East tournament. Stewart has been playing so well and it will be interesting to see how she performs on the biggest of stages. UConn's been at home for the first four games of the tournament, so it will be the Huskies' first road test.
The Huskies have really stepped up their defensive pressure lately and done a tremendous job of controlling the tempo. Obviously, Stefanie Dolson is a little banged up from her injuries, and if they are really bad then that takes a huge presence off the court for UConn.