Next up, the defending champs

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Saturday's UC women's basketball game against the University of Connecticut has been circled on a lot of calendars for a long time.

Too bad the timing wasn't better for the Bearcats.

Not that there's ever a great time to face UConn, but the injury bug has bitten the Cats so hard, and so often, that Coach Jamelle Elliott may need to check the record books to see whether she has any leftover eligibility stashed somewhere.

A thin bench has gotten downright gaunt, with the loss last week of Chanel Chisholm, at least for a handful of games, with a sprained ankle. That leaves seven, count 'em, seven, Bearcats able to dress and get out on the floor.

And get them out, Coach Elliott does. While she rotates her starters with a couple of minutes rest during the games, there's only so much of a break they can get, with only two coming off the bench. During Tuesday night's game against Depaul, four freshmen were on the floor for UC for a signifcant amount of time in the second half.

That kind of experience is good down the road, but right now, it's on-the-job training. And their next job is going up against the number two team in the nation. Don't let the UC coaching staff fool you with 'this is just another game.' This game means a lot to Coach Elliott, facing her old coach and old team. They just wish they had a healthier team to take the court.

I know a lot of you will be coming to the game for the chance to see one of the storied programs in women's college basketball in action. Coach Geno Auriemma does a magnificent job in keeping his players hungry for the ball and fighting for every point. But while you're admiring the UConn program, keep an eye on the UC women. They may have half a roster, but they have a full measure of pride in their play, and in their program.

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