Connecticut and Notre Dame Reach Women's Final Four

The Connecticut Huskies are going back to a third consecutive Final Four after dispatching Duke 75-40 in last night's NCAA East Regional final. Coach Geno Auriemma called it "99 percent Maya Moore and one percent coaching". The New York Times' Jere Longman says that presiding over such excellence can be a mixed blessing for the long-time Huskies coach, "In winning 113 of its last 114 games, UConn has put itself in an odd position: victory is the only acceptable outcome, but the more the Huskies win, the more indifferent even their own fans become." Moore, who notched her 3,000th career point and was recently named a unanimous AP All-American, was clearly the star Tuesday night for the Huskies. She finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Longman says that it is time to start looking at Moore's star in historical terms: "Is Moore the best women's basketball player? At the collegiate level, she is by wide acclaim. But is Moore better than Diana Taurasi, who has won three national championships at UConn, two W.N.B.A. titles with Phoenix and a pair of Olympic gold medals?" Jan McManus of notes that contributions from unlikely sources like senior Lorin Dixon are what make UConn's run of success possible: "But over the past few weeks, (Dixon's) performance in practice precipitated what she was able to do on the court this weekend, which included making the all-tournament team." Dixon, who was a high school star, has not seen her career at UConn go exactly to plan writes Keith Pompey in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "That's because when she was a senior at Christ the King (N.Y.), everyone expected her to become a lethal scorer at Connecticut. The former high school McDonald's All-American was supposed to use her fleet feet to routinely produce double-figure point totals.Instead, Dixon, now a Huskies senior, has averaged just 2.5 points in mostly a reserve role throughout her college career." Auriemma is confident heading to Indanapolis for the Final Four writes Monique Walker in the Boston Globe, ""There's only one team playing right now that knows how to win a national championship,'' Auriemma said. "There's only a couple of kids in America that are playing next weekend that know how to win a national championship, and I'm fortunate enough to have them on my team. So when things have to get done, they know how to get them done." Notre Dame broke a 20-game losing streak to Tennessee and earned a trip to the NCAA Final Four with a decisive 73-59 win over the Volunteers Monday night. Writes Tony Krausz in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, "the stage, the stakes, the predominately orange-clad crowd wasn't going to stop Irish guard Skylar Diggins and forward Devereaux Peters from dancing at center court like they always do." The Irish were led to the national semifinals - held this year in Indianapolis - by native Indianan Skylar Diggins who notched 24 points in the win. Kyle Nagel writes in the Dayton Daily News that playing so close to home can be a blessing or a curse for a player like Diggins. Diggins also earned Third Team All-America Honors on Tuesday.'s Graham Hays adds that playing for the Championship is exactly what Diggins envisioned when she picked Notre Dame over other high profile suitors during her recruitment. "The coaches gave Diggins a book based around a timeline of how her career might unfold with the hometown team. One prominent inclusion was the Final Four she could lead the Irish to as a sophomore. The one held a couple of hours to the south, in Indianapolis, the place every Indiana kid who ever shoots a jumper dreams of going to win a title." For her part, Diggins has been writing a blog on on the Irish' run and says that nothing can replace the strong Chemistry that Notre Dame has on its team. "Here at Notre Dame, there isn't one teammate of mine that I wouldn't look forward to hanging out with off the court," wrote Diggins. "I feel like we've all taken the time to get to know one another, learn more about each other, and we've built those natural connections that help strengthen our bond once we step on the floor." But Diggins is not a one-woman show says Curt Rallo in the South Bend Tribune. Senior Becca Bruszewski provides the toughness on the Irish. "Bruszewski's status for the game against Tennessee was questionable after she suffered a knee injury in Notre Dame's 78-53 whipping of Oklahoma on Saturday in the regional semifinal. By the time Notre Dame wrapped up its stunning 73-59 victory against the eight-time national champion Volunteers, there was no question about Bruszewski's toughness, and the toughness of the entire Irish squad."