By Sonja Sykes

Dez Byrd, talking with a reporter during preseason, coined the monikers for Candyce Bingham and Angel McCoughtry. How Bingham was the “mom” to the younger players, bringing them back around after a Jeff Walz rant, helping them adapt. When asked about Angel, well, Angel was like the crazy aunt every one had in their family.

Tonight in St. Louis at 8:30, the University of Louisville women’s basketball team tries to break up the family vacation that the UConn Huskies have enjoyed in the previous five games and send them back to Storrs, CT. with their first loss of the season. A task monumental in its difficulty, likelihood and challenge…unlikely but not impossible.

The teams have met twice this season. The regular season meeting in Storrs saw the Cards stumble during a ten minute stretch that ended the first and started the second half and lose 93-65. The second match was never close and the Huskies roared to the Big East tournament championship game title, winning 75-36.

Just how dominating has UConn been this season? Here are some numbers that demonstrate the efficiency:

  • They’ve averaged 84.2 points per game. The trio of Maya Moore (19.4) Renee Montgomery (16.5) and Tina Charles (16.2) account for 53 points a game.  In the NCAA Tournament, Moore is averaging 21 and Charles has a double double in the five games with 17 points and 11 boards.
  • UConn has eight high school All-Americans on their roster. As Angel told the world Sunday night…UofL has none.
  • 53.4 points allowed pregame this season. A 30+ margin of victory. Only two teams have played the Huskies within 10 points this year…Rutgers and Notre Dame.

What UofL has to do in order to win this game.

  • Score early. In both previous games against UConn, the ball wouldn’t drop despite the good and open looks the Cards were getting.
  • Trust the game plan. Walz will have a good one drawn up. The Cards need to stay with it. You saw what happened in the second half against Oklahoma when the girls follow instructions.
  • Use the emotion positively. No one is expecting Louisville to pull off the upset. To harness the power of the unloved underdog and feed off it could help the Cards. The “we’ve got nothing to lose” philosophy may work.

In the final analysis, though, let’s face it. We may never see a powerhouse like this UConn team again for a long time. A Cardinal win would be the biggest upset in the NCAA Women’s Tournament history. Here’s to upsets, and a good game for the Cards. Let’s hope mom and the crazy aunt extend the win streak to six.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.