As Arizona State’s top defender, junior guard Carrie Buckner has been saddled with some daunting matchups.
The test of her career, however, is likely on tap tonight in Hartford, Conn.
Top-ranked Connecticut’s dynamic point guard, Diana Taurasi, is not only the reigning national Player of the Year and probable No. 1 draft pick of the Phoenix Mercury, she might be the best female basketball player ever.
"Wow," Buckner said a week ago about the task ahead of her. "She’s just got amazing versatility and her court sense is tremendous."
With Taurasi at the controls, the Huskies have won consecutive national championships, 76 consecutive games and 73 consecutive regular season games. This year’s Huskies have kicked off the year 6-0, including a come-from-behind defeat of Southern California on Dec. 7.
The complete player, Taurasi is among the UConn career leaders in points, assists and blocks, categories she led the Huskies in last season. The 6-footer was also Connecticut’s top rebounder a year ago.
This season, Taurasi is averaging 21.5 points and 5.2 rebounds a game.
"This is a game where I might not have as many rebounds," said Buckner, who is one of five Sun Devils averaging better than five rebounds a contest. "I’ve got to get a body on her. One of the things I’m going to have to concentrate on is keeping her off the boards instead of getting the rebounds myself."
If Buckner can find a way to neutralize Taurasi, or at least slow her down, that might not be enough for the Sun Devils. Sophomore wing Barbara Turner is averaging 13.3 points a game and junior center Jessica Moore is chipping in 11.3 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds. The No. 4 scorer, guard Ann Strother, was first-team All-Big East as a freshman a year ago.
ASU’s attack has gotten a boost from sophomore post Kristen Kovesdy, who has shot 81 percent in the last three games.