As part of a preview for the Baylor Lady Bears’ 2012-13 season, Jonathan Tjarks of SB Nation Dallas and I had an e-conversation about whether this year’s team could be better than last year’s undefeated team, how great an accomplishment it would be to go undefeated in consecutive seasons, and who might beat them.
And without saying they’ll definitely go undefeated, it’s hard to figure out who might stop their run as I told Jonathan.
I would imagine the game that most people have circled in that regard is their December 5 meeting with Notre Dame in South Bend – Skylar Diggins is something of a superstar in the women’s basketball world and winning in South Bend is no easy task. But having lost Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters to the WNBA as well as gritty point guard Brittany Mallory it’s not clear if they’ll have enough to take down Baylor.
Other teams to watch for: Kentucky has the athletes to pressure Baylor, though Odyssey Sims is like a one-woman press break. They play Connecticut in Storrs, which is a test for any team though that would depend a lot on the play of UConn center Stefanie Dolson and – again – UConn’s ability to stop Sims. The sleeper team – and maybe not for those that watched closely – is Iowa State. They played Baylor extremely well early in conference play last season simply by spreading the floor with the range that their posts have and hitting a ton of threes. While one would suspect that Baylor is ready for that this season – and given that they won the game, they really found a counter for it in the second half of that very game – the familiarity of Big 12 opponents like Iowa State is probably the most likely formula for an upset.
As Geno Auriemma has said, Baylor is not only a team with all the tools to win but also a team that doesn’t have any really obvious vulnerabilities – when you have a 6-foot-8 center in the middle and a dynamic point guard at the top, it can be hard to either stop them or score against them. So I’m not saying Iowa State will definitely be the team to beat them – it would take them putting together two halves of hot 3-point shooting and an off day from Baylor to make that happen.
But the larger point is that as we’ve seen in the past couple of seasons – with both Baylor and UConn – a conference opponent’s familiarity with their tendencies might have the best chance at beating them.
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