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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Buck and Stokes believe they are ready

Starting center Stefanie Dolson played a season-high 31 minutes in victories over Stanford and Texas A&M. The UConn coaching staff will be content if Dolson can match that number tonight. Even if she does, that is nine minutes that somebody else will need to square off against Baylor's Brittney Griner. Perhaps UConn could go with its all guard lineup of Kelly Faris, Tiffany Hayes, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Caroline Doty and Bria Hartley but against an athletic front line like Baylor's that's a risky proposition. There figures to come a time when one of the Huskies' post reserves will get the assignment of defending Baylor's national player of the year candidate.

Heather Buck, who played well against Griner in one stretch when Dolson was sitting with foul trouble in the 2010 Connecticut victory, and freshman Kiah Stokes said they are looking forward to the challenge.

"It is another huge game for us," said Stokes, who played 14 minutes against Stanford but only four against Texas A&M. "So far we have played all right during the season but it is just another game, a challenge that we are all looking forward to. We are looking forward to this 1 vs. 2 matchup, it is something where you want to play in the big game.

"It will definitely be a challenge. I have never played against somebody her size and her talent. In practices, we are trying to be more aggressive defensively and offensively. The both of us and Stef, all the post players, we have been working hard and think we can get the job done."

Stokes thinks she has been making progress in practice.

"Each day is a new challenge but every day you have to try to compete," Stokes said. "We'll see how it goes. It is definitely a mental thing. The coaches and Amanda Kimball, our trainer, have told me I have all physical ability and once I get past that, I will be fine."

As for Buck, you could make the argument that her seven minutes in last year's game against Baylor was the most impactful playing time she has had with the Huskies. Buck didn't score a point (or even attempt a shot) and had only one minute but she was able to provide a steady presence during the time she was in there. Buck has pleasant memories from that game.

"I just remember drawing the offensive foul on her, it was really exciting," Buck said. "We'll see what happens. That was last year and she has changed a lot as a player and hopefully I have grown as a player as well and we'll see.

"She just has an amazing ability to find the ball, she is a good shot blocker. She is a great player and we are going to have our work cut out for us but we are looking forward to the challenge."

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