It is one thing when your opponent is an even match. It is one thing when you know going into the game that you are standing toe to toe with your foe and the scales are perfectly balanced. The problem here is that UConn has no reason to take us seriously, or to consider us a threat, yet.
UConn has five potential first round WNBA draft picks on their starting roster, with Senior Kelly Faris leading the way. Juniors Stephanie Dolson and Bria Hartley are the next wave and they are extremely talented. Dolson has been battling some physical problems as of late, but she has played through them all. I expect her to do the same tonight. The primary difference between this year and last? Kentucky.
The Wildcats now have an inside presence. The tandem of Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth, backed up by A'Zia Bishop is every bit as talented as Dolson. The real question is, "Are they gonna bring their "A" game?" These two teams have talent levels that are only slightly tilted to UConn's favor. The fact that UConn has been playing on their home court is one of the contributing factors for their success each and every year. The only way to break that string, is to replace them as a #1 seed. The first step to doing that next year is a win today.
Jennifer O'Neill and A'Dia Mathies will be other keys to this game. If UK's guards can get out and get hot from the perimeter, possibly borrowing from the Louisville Lady Cardinals' game plan last night, this game can be a win for Kentucky. The Cats will have to work this game outside in on offense, and inside out on defense. They must get the press up and running, force UConn to run with them for the game, and a Final Four is within their grasp.
Kentucky must play the game of their year to advance, but if they can, parity awaits in New Orleans. This is the best team Kentucky has ever had, the best situation they have ever been in, and the time is now.