The second-ranked Huskies have won their first 10 games by an average of 45.1 points. The only teams that have lost by less than 31 have been No. 9 Maryland and No. 10 Penn State.
UConn defeated the Terrapins 63-48 in the Jimmy V Classic Dec. 3. Penn State lost 67-52 Dec. 6. They also represent the two most physical teams the Huskies have faced.
And this physical style of play worked as it helped take the Huskies out of their rhythm offensively. It marked the only time this season that they have failed to score at least 81. They also shot a combined 39.7 percent from the field and were outrebounded in both games.
Led by junior All-American Chiney Ogwumike, No. 1 Stanford will start three players at least 6-foot-3 when the Cardinal host UConn Saturday at sold-out Maples Pavilion. Judging from the comments made by Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer today, though, it does not appear as if there will be an excess amount of contact made by her players.
“Philosophically, I think basketball is different than wrestling and football and hockey,’’ VanDerveer said. “I think that there’s a part for physical play, but not at the expense of seeing the athleticism and the skill that our team has. Quite honestly, our team has never said, `We’re going to try to beat you up instead of just beat you at basketball.’ Our team basically is about basketball. We value kind of the different players individually so much that it’s really important that our key players are in the game and available. So I don’t know what other styles different people play. I think the other thing too is that I personally feel that the game has become too physical and it doesn’t highlight the great skill of the female players that people are paying good money to come and watch. So from my point of view it will be a basketball game.’’