Defending champion Huskies face “new world” in defending their crown
For 2013-14 the Connecticut Huskies enter the season as the defending national champions. They return All-American talents Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart. The quartet spent their off-season winning five gold medals for USA basketball. They do not return, however, to the Big East conference.
For years, the Big East conference was a dominant force on the women’s college basketball scene. There has been at least one Big East team in 11 NCAA tournaments since 2000. In addition, seven of those times, a Big East team took the title. Last season, both finals teams, Connecticut and Louisville, were from the Big East.
The conference is no more, with some members splintering into a new Big East, and others joining the ACC, Big Ten, or the new American Athletic Conference (AAC or the American, for those unfamiliar). The changes will have a dramatic effect on the 2013-14 season and beyond.
Always known for playing difficult schedules, the Huskies will play the teams that finished ranked numbers three, four, five, six and seven at the end of last season, plus number 11 and number 12. Missing though, is a glaring opening in the team that finished number two last season, Notre Dame.
The Irish and Huskies have become the “it” game to many women’s hoops fans over the years. There was star power, great coaches, battles for conference and national championships and more. Notre Dame’s departure for the ACC has, at least for the short term, taken this game away from the schedule and away from the fans.
There are plenty of high-profile games still involving the Huskies though, including some new and some improved opponents.
One of the more anticipated games will take place in Cameron Indoor Stadium, home of the Duke Blue Devils. A title contender before Chelsea Gray went down with injury last year, Duke has brought in an impressive freshman class. They will host the Huskies in the Jimmy V Classic on December 17.
California was another Final Four participant last year, and in this year’s Maggie Dixon classic at Madison Square Garden the Bears will play UConn for the first time.
Stanford (November 11) and Baylor (December 13) are two outstanding programs that UConn will face in continuing home-and-home series. Stanford will come to Connecticut this year, while UConn will travel to Baylor.
Maryland and Penn State are two teams that finished just outside the top ten last season, and return outstanding talent. A difficult stretch in November will see UConn host Stanford, then go to Maryland (November 15) and Penn State (November 17) all in a span of one week.
Connecticut fans will look forward to the fact Louisville will have one year in the AAC before departing for the ACC. Jeff Walz’s team made it to last year’s final, and will face the Huskies twice this season. Similarly, Rutgers has one year before joining the Big Ten, and C. Vivian Stringer’s teams are always great matchups with UConn.
If you are looking for individual star power and talent, potential 2014 WNBA first round draft choices Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Maggie Lucas (Penn State), Chelsea Gray (Duke), Alyssa Thomas (Maryland), Odyssey Sims (Baylor), Shoni Schimmel (Louisville) and Gennifer Brandon (Cal) will be on the court along with the Huskies’ own seniors, Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley. It would not be surprising if each of the WNBA lottery picks next year play in UConn games!
With the collapse of the Big East, gone are fan favorites like DePaul and head coach Doug Bruno, Harry Perretta’s Villanova, and several other great rivalries. However, those “rivalries” had to start somewhere, so maybe the next batch of Husky rivals will come from ex-Big East now AAC members Cincinnati or South Florida, or new AAC conference members Central Florida, Houston, Southern Methodist, Temple or Memphis. Each member of the AAC will play twice this season.
In addition UConn head coach Geno Auriemma will coach against three former players or assistants that are now head coaches. Jennifer Rizzotti will bring Hartford in for the first game of the season on November 9, followed by conference matchups with Cincinnati, coached by Jamelle Elliott, and Temple, led by Tonya Cardoza.
In some ways the 2013-14 schedule is more of the same from seasons past, showcasing the talented Huskies against seven different national powerhouse programs. It is different in that only Rutgers, Louisville, South Florida, and Cincinnati return as conference opponents; ten conference games will be against new opponents.
It does seem appropriate though, that the final two games of the regular season will be against departing old friends, Rutgers and Louisville. Hopefully by then there will be some exciting basketball, and many of the concerns about the new conference being weak prove misguided.
- 16 home games, 13 road contests and two at neutral sites
- 13 nationally-televised contests, 10 on the ESPN family of networks and three on CBS Sports Network
- Eight games against teams in last year’s RPI top-15
- Seven games against teams that won a conference championship
- Seven games against teams that advanced to the 2013 NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal
- Four games against teams that advanced to the 2013 NCAA Tournament Regional Final
2013-14 AMERICAN ATHELTIC CONFERENCE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TELEVISION COMPOSITE SCHEDULE
|November 11||Stanford at UConn||7:00 p.m.||ESPN2|
|November 15||UConn at Maryland||TBA||ESPNU|
|December 1||UConn vs. Ohio State (Hall of Fame Classic)||5:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|December 17||UConn at Duke (Jimmy V Classic)||7:00 p.m.||ESPN2|
|December 22||Cal vs. UConn (Maggie Dixon Classic)||1:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|December 29||Cincinnati at UConn||5:00 p.m.||ESPNU|
|December 29||SMU at Louisville||3:00 p.m.||ESPNU|
|January 12||Louisville at USF||3:00 p.m.||ESPNU|
|January 13||UConn at Baylor (Big Monday)||7:00 p.m.||ESPN2|
|January 19||UConn at Rutgers||3:00 p.m.||ESPN2|
|January 19||Louisville at SMU||1:30 p.m.||ESPNU|
|January 26||Memphis at Louisville||TBA||ESPNU|
|February 9||Louisville at UConn||1:00 p.m.||ESPN|
|February 9||Memphis at Temple||1:30 p.m.||ESPNU|
|February 16||Louisville at Memphis||3:30 p.m.||ESPNU|
|February 23||Rutgers at Louisville||3:30 p.m.||ESPNU|
|March 3||UConn at Louisville (Big Monday)||7:00 p.m.||ESPN2|
|March 9||American Championship Semifinal||1:00 p.m.||ESPNU|
|March 9||American Championship Semifinal||3:30 p.m.||ESPNU|
|March 10||American Championship Final||7:00 p.m.||ESPN/ESPN2|
CBS College Sports Network (CBS SN) Schedule
|January 26||USF at UConn||2:00 p.m.||CBSSN|
|January 28||Louisville at Rutgers||9:00 p.m.||CBSSN|
|February 2||USF at Louisville||2:00 p.m.||CBSSN|
|February 16||UConn at USF||4:00 p.m.||CBSSN|
|March 1||Rutgers at UConn||4:00 p.m.||CBSSN|
All times Eastern