Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Freshmen spark Huskies

Watching his lineup of senior Tiffany Hayes, juniors Caroline Doty and Kelly Faris and sophomores Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley look a bit out of sorts in the opening minutes, UConn coach Geno Auriemma summoned his three freshmen off the bench.

When Brianna Banks, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes entered the game with 15:04 to play in the first half, UConn led 11-7. Just 39 seconds later, the Huskies were off and running - literally - on a 30-2 run to turn Tuesday night's game against Pacific into a laugher.

At one stretch the three freshmen combined for score 13 straight Connecticut points and they were a major reason why the Huskies tied a program record with 68 first-half points.

It didn't hurt that Auriemma unleashed a fullcourt press on Pacific. It was effective with the starters in the game but when Banks, Mosqueda-Lewis and Stokes were out there with Faris and Hartley, the defensive pressure simply engulfed the Tigers.

"Today was the best that they have looked," Auriemma said of his three freshmen. "We are right in that time right now where you  hope you can see some progression, you hope you can see some. We still have a ways to go but today was exacty what I hoped would happen coming off the first game. We showed a great deal of improvement from the frist game to the second game."

I asked him if the relentless attacking style UConn played allowed the three first-year players to just play since they didn't have a chance to think too much of what was going on out there and just had to rely on their instincts.

"There are two ways you can look at that," Auriemma said. "It gives us an opportunity to create some possessions. The more possessions we have, the less they don't know doesn't become as big of an issue. If you limit the number of possessions we have, then they screw up a bunch of them, it is that much more difficult for us to get done what we want to get done. We have four ballhandlers out there most of the time and it is good if we can touch the ball that we can convert defense to offense pretty quickly."

Mosqueda-Lewis had 25 points on 10 of 12 shooting (including going 5 of 6 from 3-point range) and she had a team-leading seven rebounds. Banks had 12 points, eight in a 63-second span, while Stokes had eight points, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

It was pretty evident the trio felt at ease with the way the game was played.

"Run the court, get easy buckets, play defense and get other easy buckets it is fun to play like that," Banks said.

Auriemma's press conference ended with The Day of New London columnist Mike DiMauro asked him about the irony of former UMass coach John Calipari taking his Kentucky team to a tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena.

"Coach Calipari is an amusing guy. He is an amusing guy. You ask people around the country 'what's up with cal?' and they'll say 'that's just Cal, that is what he is. It is ironic that he is coming up to New England. He is not playing at UMass, he is not playing at UConn, he is playing at Mohegan Sun where the Indians are. Back in the day, they fleeced the Indians and we got Manhattan. I can only imagine what Cal is going to walk out of there with."

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