By Mel Greenberg
After Villanova added another Big East upset victim Saturday when the Wildcats beat DePaul at the Pavilion, senior Laura Kurz explained what’s different from earlier in the season and the previous two seasons when coach Harry Perretta’s group struggled.
“I think we finally matured and things just clicked,” the former Germantown Academy star said. “We won a couple of big games. Since then, we found an identity for ourselves and we know what we need to do to win.
“Before, we struggled with roles and what was expected of us, which is our fault,” Kurz continued.
“Two years ago we lost so many close games and last year we missed a lot of close games and I feel like finally we’re able to pull through and it shows how mature we’ve become because we are a senior-laden team.”
And what is that identity?
Kurz, whose first two seasons were spent at Duke, paused and then explained.
“We have to take care of the ball,” Kurz said. “We have to slow the other team down. We’re much better when we play our game and not fall into the way a lot of these teams play.
“And we’re doing a much better job rebounding this year and limiting other teams to one shot and we’re able to keep their scorers low.
“I feel our overall confidence has increased and I think we’re having more fun”
It would be ironic if Villanova and Duke land in the same quad in the NCAA tournament.
Perretta said things began to turn around after Villanova lost at Cincinnati.
“I talked to them in the locker room and told them they have to play a certain way to win,” Perretta said. “They have to play very methodical, grind the games out, and they started to buy into that.
“Even when we lost to Rutgers they started to say, `Hey we can win these games because basically we were in the game all the way.”
Delle Donne Non-Factor
Remember a year ago last summer when Wilmington's Elena Delle Donne, the superstar at Ursuline Academy, made known her final four choices before picking Connecticut and then returning the scholarship to the Huskies, citing burnout, and enrolling at nearby Delaware to play volleyball.
So how are those four schools making it througth the season?
Connecticut has lived up to its billing anyway with an 11-0 Big East start and 25-0 in the nation's as the No. 1 ranked team.
Villanova is the surprise of the Big East, holding third place heading into Wednesday's showdown at Pittsburgh.
Middle Tennessee is unvbeaten in the Sun Belt and lost four games overall -- three to national powers.
Tennessee? Well, the Vols got Pat Summitt her 1,000th win while plunging to the lowest ranking in 23 years.
Delaware is mired again near the bottom of the Colonial Athletic Association.
Florida State's Luck of the ACC Draw
The Seiminoles are holding down first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference and likely to finish with the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
Florida State has earned ther mild surprise status by getting the benefits of an unbalanced schedule in which the team had only to play Duke, North Carolina and Maryland once, and gained home wins over Duke and UNC.
Meanwhile, Diuke must play Maryland and North Carolina again, putting Florida State in the driver's seat.