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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hayes coming up big as UConn tames Bulls

Several hours before his UConn team played Buffalo on day two of the World Vision Classic, Geno Auriemma had a pretty good sense that senior Tiffany Hayes was ready to roll.

His instincts were correct as Hayes had 30 points, two shy of her career high, as well as 11 rebounds and five steals as she posted her first regular-season double-double at UConn.

"When Tiffany pays like she is playing that whole first half with that ind of aggressiveness that she had, it is awfully comforting to the rest of the team," Auriemma said. "Tonight wasn't just stand out there and shoot 3's and be one dimensional. She did a lot of things we have seen her do in the past and I think that kind of came out of shootaround this morning. I kind of got that sense from her and I was really happy for her."

Auriemma lit into his team after Friday's 46-point win over Fairleigh Dickinson as the ugly brand of basket and his team's inability to execute what they have been working on during practice irked him in a major way. Auriemma had a hunch that Hayes would respond.

"That is the kind of stuff you would like to see seniors do," Auriemma said. "I didn't talk to her about that but I kind of got a sense that there was going to be a little more of a different mindset, that we were going to try to create more and nobody creates more offense for us than Tiffany does and hopefully that was the case."

Hayes downplayed her big scoring night, saying she took more pride in posting her second double-digit rebounding game in the last three games after managing just one game of at least 10 rebounds in her first three seasons with the Huskies.

"When it is your night, it is your night," Hayes said. "It just happened to be my night and a lot of it came from something I have been working on lately and that was rebounding."

A couple of other encouraging signs were seeing UConn make more of priority to get the ball inside to sophomore center Stefanie Dolson as well as seeing Kelly Faris snap out of a shooting slump with four second-half field goals.

"The way we played up to this point, we are just kind of playing and whatever shots are there, we take them," Auriemma said. "It wasn't any concerted effort to get the ball inside or not get the ball inside, it just kind of happened. But with each game that goes, we are going to have to find other ways to score other than just shoot 30 something 3's a game or just scoring in transition. Those things are not going to happen on a regular basis. At shootaround, that was all we worked on either getting the ball into the lane or passing it into the lane, driving it into the lane. We spent the entire shootaround on that. We are not big to begin with and getting the ball into Stefanie, something good is going ot happen more times than not. She is either either going to make a shot of find somebody who is open."

As for Faris' shooting woes, Auriemma wasn't concerned even if she had missed 14 straight shots over a three-game stretch before tipping in her own missed tip in the first minute of the second half.

"People go through periods when they don't make shots," Auriemma said. "The thing you don't want to do is you don't want to get down on yourself, you don't want to all of a sudden start pressing and forcing shots. I think your mindset helps you make shots more than your mechanics. I don't think all of a sudden you lose your stroke. She has been shooting the ball really well since October. Sometimes you get a little rushed. I think she settled down a little bit, took normal shots and made a couple and still does all the things she does. Everybody goes through bad spells, even Baby Jesus (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis) didn't make a jump shot
today. Did she make one? And she was the second coming. Everybody had her already anointed after the first couple of games that she is going to score 4,000 points.

"I never said she was the second coming and I never had her scoring 4000 points and making everybody forget Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi and everybody else so all those people out there who are saying I am stupid for not starting her, I think she did it on purpose just to let everybody know that Coach has a pretty good plan."

Mosqueda-Lewis did miss all eight of her shots although she did have seven assists, three steals and two blocks, Auriemma talked to Mosqueda-Lewis about using her reputation as a lights out shooter to help her set up teammates when defenders run out at her so he was very happy to see her pass the ball and play well in other areas even if her shot wasn't falling.

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