Big East Notebook: Women’s basketball

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The Big East conference has dominated college basketball at the start of the 2008-'09 season. Multiple teams are ranked in the top 10 in the country, including the No. 1 overall team. Physically, they are dominating college basketball like few conferences have done in NCAA history. Teams in the Big East are just like the name suggests — big. But their talents go beyond size. The conference also includes some of the quickest, craftiest and best-coached teams in the country.

And no, that doesn't just apply to the men's division.

The women's Big East conference has crushed the rest of its competition just as the men's have. Playing with equal parts of elegance and brute strength, the ladies of the hardwood have dazzled and dunked their way to atop the college basketball scene. Connecticut, Louisville and Notre Dame are all ranked in the top 10, perennial powerhouse Rutgers is No. 23, and several other teams lie just outside the top 25.

Heaven sent

Angel McCoughtry, a senior for the Cardinals, won the Big East Player of the Week for the second time this season after a week in which the star forward averaged 29.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 4.0 blocks. She has helped lead Louisville to a 16-1 record. The 6-foot-1 force is a female version of San Antonio Spur's legend George "Ice Man" Gervin. Thin, long and springy, and has limbs that seem to come from every angle as she twists and turns her way inside for scores.

Another Cinderella story

Notre Dame has shown tremendous heart and determination after losing their best player, Devereaux Peters, to an ACL injury. The Irish currently stand at 14-1 and are ranked No. 10. Their inspired play, especially in a gritty 86-62 win over DePaul, has raised some eyebrows in the Big East. DePaul coach Doug Bruno is sold on Notre Dame being the second best team behind Connecticut. He called them "the best Notre Dame team he has seen in four years." Look for the Irish to continue their strong play.

Game of the week

On Saturday, Jan. 17 top-ranked Connecticut and the always-dangerous Syracuse will play in Storrs, Conn. Connecticut (15-0, 2-0 Big East), led by superstar Maya Moore, has looked invincible in the early goings of the season. It seems like the only kryptonite that this superpower has is Tennessee, who has won the last two NCAA Championships.

Syracuse brings a stellar 13-3 record into the game and is off to the program's second best start in history. Chandrea Jones, who is averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game, will draw the tough defensive matchup against Moore. The game has a classic David vs. Goliath feel to it, with the upstart Syracuse team trying to knock off the legendary Connecticut program led by basketball wise-man Geno Auriemma.

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