The UC women's basketball program full season schedule was released this past week, and it certainly offers fans a little bit of everything this coming year. Second-year coach Jamelle Elliott will be facing her former team and mentor, Geno Auriemma, for the first time on her home court. But there are several intriguing matchups ahead.
The highlights: Ten teams that made it to the 2010 NCAA Tournament will be facing the Bearcats, and that doesn't count the Northern Kentucky Norse, which made it to the NCAA Division II tournament for the fifth straight time last season and will play the 'Cats in an exhibition.
In December, UC renews its rivalry with regional foe Dayton on the road before returning to Fifth Third Arena for the annual rivalry game against Xavier on Dec. 5. UC has won two of the last three games against the Musketeers, who are coming off a trip to the 2010 NCAA Elite Eight.
BIG EAST play starts early against Louisville in mid-December, before a couple of pre-Christmas break games at home against Wright State and Marshall, then a road trip to San Diego for the Maggie Dixon holiday tournament. Back home for another back yard rival, Miami, before diving into the conference.
And the game everyone will have circled will be Saturday, January 29. The Bearcats will entertain defending national champion Connecticut in Coach Elliott's first home contest against her former team. She spent 12 years as an assistant coach at UConn after her four-year playing career with the Huskies, with six National Championship rings to show for it.
If you were to ask Coach Elliott about the game, she'd probably say it's just another BIG EAST contest that the Bearcats want to win. But let's face it, it's bigger than that, even if you took out her personal connection to the Huskies. It's the defending national champions who will be playing here. Husky connections run deep among the alumni, and even casual fans know who UConn is and what they represent.
It'll be an exciting season, and year two of the rebuilding project Coach Elliott has been handed. Sit back and watch this young team grow up.