The biggest problem the UConn women had last season wasn't the lack of belief. They knew winning an eighth national championship was possible. If nothing else, coach Geno Auriemma's team understood anything was possible. Just check the record book for the supporting documentation.
But there was this small matter to attend to: Notre Dame.
The Irish, more than any program in recent UConn history, had been able to jumble the numbers when it came to UConn. And on March 12, in the final Big East tournament championship game to be played at the XL Center, this potent piece of kryptonite brought UConn to its knees again.
Notre Dame's 61-59 win was its seventh in the past nine games against UConn. The Huskies armor was badly dented.
Then again, that point was far from their minds nearly a month later in New Orleans after UConn beat Notre Dame in the national semifinals and then blew past Louisville to win the national championship.
"We sat in the locker room (after the Notre Dame loss) and Coach (Auriemma) looked at us and he said, 'You know what? When we get back together (after the end of the Big East tournament), I'm going to show you how to win a national championship.' And, sure enough, we're sitting right here," senior Kelly Faris said.
"I don't know how the heck he does what he does, but he's pretty darn good at his job and he figures out a way to get it done. And I'm happy to have him on my side."
The magic words kept the Huskies perfect (8-0) in national championship games and enabled Auriemma to tie his longtime rival, Tennessee's Pat Summitt.
"We're Connecticut," Auriemma said. "We go into the NCAA with a different mindset than everybody else. And they're so young, the dummies, they believed me."
Freshman Breanna Stewart scored 29 in the semifinal win over Notre Dame and 23 against Louisville. She scored 105 points in the five games, the most by any first-year player since 2000. Maya Moore had the record with 93. And in the end, Stewart was the first freshman named most outstanding player of the Final Four in a quarter-century, just the fourth ever.