As far as easy wins go, none came easier for the top-seeded Huskies than Saturday's 105-37 stomping of Idaho in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led six players in double-figures with 22 points and the game was over pretty much right after it started.
But at the time of year, where "You're only as good as your last win" is never truer, UConn prepares for their next matchup: No. 8 Vanderbilt at Gampel Pavilion Monday night. And unlike Idaho, a team that appeared to get caught up in the bright lights of big-time college basketball, Vandy's seen it all in the SEC.
“I have got to prepare them to come in here and not already be beaten,” Coach Melanie Balcomb said via the Associated Press. “I think most of the teams that play UConn and Tennessee are already beaten before they step on the floor. And we can’t do that tomorrow.”
The Commodores (21-11), face the Huskies after beating St. Joseph's Saturday, and Tiffany Clarke, who led the team with 11 double-doubles this season, is the engine to Vandy's offense.
“I know it’s going to be a very physical game; they’re physical,” said Clarke, who averages 18 points and 11.7 rebounds a game in the postseason. “I think we can compete with them by being physical and being tough right back with them.”
The Huskies play in the Big East, and annually have one of the nation's toughest schedules. They're rarely intimidated physically.
“You kind of want to go out there and make a statement that we are not a team that can be pushed around,” junior guard Bria Hartley said. “We go out there and we’re just as physical back, and make sure we make tough plays.”
And Geno Auriemma, who is as much a coach as motivational psychologist, knows that there are no gimmes at this point in the season.
“You know (the Commodores) have the ability, if they beat Texas A&M, to beat you as well,” he said. “And they have the ability, because of some of the games that they played, to play poorly.”
The underlying message: if UConn plays like UConn, they'll win. If they don't then who knows.