Baylor has a tough schedule early with a potential matchup against No. 2 Notre Dame in the Preseason WNIT final in mid-November. The Lady Bears also play the Lady Vols and Huskies before the New Year. With Griner, coach Kim Mulkey feels her squad is ready.
“If you have a team capable of playing them, go play them,” Mulkey said. “This schedule’s extremely tough _ the toughest since I’ve been at Baylor.”
One team that Mulkey won’t play after this season is Texas A&M. The defending national champions are the biggest name in women’s basketball to change conferences, with the Aggies heading to the SEC next season.
Mulkey said at the Big 12 media day that she won’t play them anymore. That’s unfortunate given the two rivals had four riveting games last season, including a NCAA regional final game that drew more than 11,500 fans.
The Pac-10 has undergone a major change this season, growing to the Pac-12 with the addition of Colorado and Utah. The new conference name probably won’t effect the standings much as Stanford is the favorite to win its 12th straight league title.
Stanford will be looking to tie Connecticut and LSU with a fifth straight trip to the Final Four. The Cardinal have made it to the title game twice and lost in the semis twice.
While Stanford has been a Final Four mainstain the last few years, the Big Ten has been absent. No team from the conference has made the national semifinals since Michigan State lost to Baylor in the 2005 title game. It’s the longest drought of any of the six major conferences.
Notre Dame fell just short of winning its second national championship last season, losing to Texas A&M in the title game. The Irish became the first team to beat both Tennessee and UConn in the same NCAA tournament.
Sensational junior guard Skylar Diggins became a fresh face for the sport during the Irish’s tournament run, gaining nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter.
With Diggins return along with stars Devereaux Peters and Natalie Novosel, Notre Dame was picked to win the Big East for the first time in a decade.
The Fighting Irish have bigger goals in mind.
“It definitely still hurts,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think that when we look at the last game, we decided then that we had to get ready for next year. We’ve got some unfinished business is the way we’re looking at it. It’s a different type of chip on our shoulder.”
Follow Doug Feinberg at http://twitter.com/dougfeinberg.
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