Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Buck to miss Wednesday's game

UConn junior forward/center Heather Buck, coming off one of her most impactful
performances with the Huskies, will not play against the College of Charleston on Wednesday because of a right wrist injury she suffered in Sunday's loss to Baylor.

Buck will have her wrist examined by the UConn medical staff when the Huskies return to Connecticut after Wednesday's game. Her status for the Dec. 29 game against Fairfield will be determned by the test results and how quickly she is able to return to practice.

Buck didn't play against Stanford and saw jsust three minutes of action against Texas A&M but with starting center Stefanie Dolson in foul trouble and strugglng to slow down Baylor's Brittney Griner, Buck came into the game and in 12 minutes of action she helped to keep Griner scoreless.

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Waco crowd gives Geno a warm reception

Without warning the packed house at the Ferrell Center began to clap and the welcoming reception continued on.

The first thought is that the Baylor team was emerging from the locker room or perhaps recently-crowned Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was spotted by the Baylor faithful. No, the applause was a result of UConn coach Geno Auriemma making his way across the court and to his team's bench.

Auriemma said he was surprised and appreciative of the way he was greeted by the Baylor fans.

"People said that people down South are a lot nicer and they proved it," Auriemma said. "It really took me by surprise, the reception I got in the gym. I don't know if they do it for everybody when they think they are going to kick their butt.

It was a great game for people to be a part of and watch. I know we had the same environment last year and I am just thrilled to be a part of it."

Auriemma wasn't the only person curious how the UConn coach was going to be received the first time he stepped onto the court in front of the largest women's basketball crowd in Baylor's history.
"He's a legend and they appreciate what they've done for women's basketball," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "I was kind of curious how they were going to react to Geno. I know they reacted to (Tennessee coach) Pat (Summitt) the way that they did and hopefully recognize that because that s nothing more than great appreciation for what they have done for the women's game."

AURIEMMA SADDENED BY GEMELOS' LATEST INJURY
On the bus ride to Sunday's game Auriemma heard the news that Jacki Gemelos, who initially committed to UConn before changing her mind and headed to Southern California, suffered yet another knee injury during a game against Texas A&M.

"I knew things were difficult for Shea (Ralph) and they've been difficult for Caroline (Doty) but wow to have that happen to a kid ... Just the fact that she has been able to come back as hard as she has, she is one tough cookie. She had a great summer playing with USA Basketball. I hope she is OK."

  

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Huskies fail to deliver knock out blow

UConn coach Geno Auriemma thought that his team had about 35 minutes against top-ranked Baylor on Sunday night but as it turns out, one four-minute stretch did in the Huskies.

Connecticut was up by 11 and had silenced the largest women's basketball crowd in Baylor history. Then UConn went scoreless for a span of 4:06, missing six straight shots to allow the Lady Bears to pull within a point. Down the stretch the Baylor duo of Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims took over to lead Baylor to a 66-61 victory.

"If you come into a place like this, go on the road and play a really good team you have to be able to withstand a lot of things not going your way," Auriemma said. "I thought for the most part we did. I thought for 35 minutes there, we were good enough to win the game. But there was a five minute stretch and maybe less than that where I thought Baylor's aggressiveness and intensity level kind of took over. They made some plays offensively and we didn't make shots on the other end and kind of got out of (a rhythm). When you are on the road and allow that to happen, your chances of winning are obviously much less."

Other than a long stretch in the first half when she was flustered by UConn reserve Heather Buck, Griner played like the All-American and national player of the year candidate that she is. She had 25 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks. She was 7 of 7 from the free-throw line which was a far cry from her nightmarish effort shooting foul shots in last season's loss to UConn.

Auriemma said that he considered Sims to be the pivotal player for Baylor. Figuring that Griner would get hers, he was hoping the Huskies could limit Sims' impact. They did not. The sophomore had 23 points and four steals. She was 3 of 4 from 3-point range (making her 6 of 7 from downtown in two games against the Huskies) but it was her blazing speed which UConn couldn't deal with.

Bria Hartley starred for UConn, hitting five 3-pointers and scoring 25 points and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 15 points. They were 8 of 16 on 3-pointers and the rest of the Huskies were 3 of 13.

"Maybe we are just not there yet to win this game on this night in this building against this team," Auriemma said.
After the game Auriemma said he believed Baylor and UConn would play in the future but it likely won't happen next season.

"I have to believe that we are going to be playing them again. I don't know if it is going to be next year because we have some commitments with some other teams. You hate to say this but there should maybe be 10 or 15 of these every year by us and by them. There should be 15 games like this where it comes down to the last two minutes of the game."

There was a funny scene outside the media room when Auriemma was being interviewed and Baylor coach Kim Mulkey walked over to shake his hand. She told him it would mean a lot to Griner if he were to congratulate her after she was done with the press conference. "She loves you," Mulkey said.

"Yeah, I love her too. Like a tooth canal."

UConn leaves for South Carolina tomorrow to play the College of Charleston on Wednesday. The game is part of a home and home as Charleston will play at UConn next season.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Settting the stage for UConn/Baylor

Both teams are out on the court as tip is about an hour away.

I wasn't at shootaround this afternoon but heard that the Huskies were pretty loose and in a good frame of mind.

I believe UConn is going to try to put just one person on Baylor's national player of the year candidate and try to limit the impact of the other players. It won't be easy. Sophomore guard Odyssey Sims can be electric, Brooklyn Pope is a dynamic offensive rebounder and forgetting about Kimetria Hayden, Jordan Madden and Destiny Williams would be a mistake.

"A lot of people focus on her and forget about the other players," UConn junior forward Kelly Faris said. "You have to do both, you have to cover it all. There is not one way. Can you let her get that and guard the rest of them or we'll focus on her and not guard the rest of them, I think we are going to do our best to cover everything."

On the other end, Baylor has to guard UConn as well. If Stefanie Dolson is able to play a full game, UConn will have scorers at every position which could put the Lady Bears in some tough spots.

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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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Catching up with Moriah Jefferson

Just consider this weekend a 2 for the price of 1 special.

My trip to Texas for tomorrow's clash between No. 1 Baylor and No. 2 UConn, but I was able to catch UConn commit Moriah Jefferson in action with the THESA Riders on Saturday afternoon.

Jefferson's statistics (11 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in 18 minutes) in the 71-41 win over host Roosevelt High of Dallas won't blow you away but realizing that the game was under control early on, Jefferson took only one shot in the second half  (she didn't play at all in the fourth quarter). If you take the stats of Jefferson from her USA Basketball bio and combine them with the ones I just received a few minutes ago from Riders coach Alan Burt, Jefferson scored the 3,000th point of her career in the gane, These stats include those from when she was in eighth grade, On the season she is averaging 17.8 points, 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 6 steals while shooting 49.7 percent from the floor including 48.7 from 3-point range. She had 10 20-point games in 26 official games ( a couple of exihibitions don't count towards her stats) and three times had more than 10 steals in a game.

A few observations. Watching her in pre-game drills, she has a sweet shot and is also extremely athletic. The best play I saw in the game was when she caught, shot and scored all in one motion for a fast-break layup. She has a nice handle and made a sweet no-look pass for one of her assists.


Look for a story on Moriah in tomorrow's edition of the Register. A few things of note. First, she said she already has a sister-like bond with fellow UConn incoming freshmen Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck and said she is planning to enroll in summer session at UConn around June 20 as are Stewart and Tuck.

Her main objective right now is leading the THESA Riders to a sixth National Christian Home School title which is why she was so willing to pass up open shots during Saturday's games.

She is rather thrilled that Southern Methodist and Houston are joining the Big East since it will give her some home games in her native Texas.

Finally, I was a bit surprised to hear that she is only "hoping" to be in attendance at tomorrow's Baylor game. I would have figured she had gotten tickets a long time ago but not so.

"I might be, I think I might. Somebody might take me after I leave here. I hope to."

Don't take that as a sign that she isn't thrilled at soon joining the UConn program.

"I can't wait, it should be fun. We have a good group of girls coming in and hopefully we'll do big things. It was fun."

She hung out with Stewart at the Dec. 6 game against Texas A&M and she said she had the time of her life.

"It was like a sense of what it is going to be like when I get there. It wasn't as cold so I didn't get to see that but it was fun and I had a good time. I met everybody and bonded with the team and the coaches. I already knew that was what I wanted or I wouldn't be going there. I love that place."

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Looks like good news for St. John's

When St. John's guard Nadirah McKenith went down with a knee injury during Sunday's Maggie Dixon Classic many people (including me) feared she was another victim of the dreaded ACL. However, I just heard that she has a sprained knee and not any torn ligaments.

McKenith will miss some time but it could have been a lot worse for the Red Storm's floor leader.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Griner and Auriemma to be reunited

The last thing Baylor junior center and national player of the year candidate Brittney Griner said to UConn and U.S. senior national team coach Geno Auriemma before heading back to campus after a couple of weeks in Europe was "see you in Waco."

Well, the time for the reunion is quickly approaching.

After a couple of years of trying to get the immensly talented Griner to take part in one of the U.S. senior national team training camps, Auriemma finally got his wish in late September and early October when Griner was there for a series of practices as well as five games against European pro teams.

In the five games the U.S. team played, Griner shared the team scoring lead with former UConn star Tina Charles, had a team-high nine blocked shots and was second on the team with seven rebounds per game. Griner was the leading scorer for the U.S. team in two of the five games. She scored in double figures in the first four games she played including scoring 22 points in a loss to Ros Casares on Oct. 5.

“It was a great experience playing for Coach Auriemma because he is really passionate and he is a great coach,” Griner said. “He was working on my game, just getting big and just playing to my full ability.”

Auriemma was thrilled that Griner chose to come to the latest training camp and he believes there is a chance she could be a member of the 2012 Olympic team.

"We've always in the three years I have been involved with USA Basketball at this level, you are always trying to figure out what is missing that would make our team better," Auriemma said. "Even after we won the World Championship we sat back and said what we do we have to do to make this team better. Brittney Griner's name was always at the top of the list. How can we get her involved? We realized we couldn't make her do it, nobody could make her do it and we just worked pretty hard with talking with her and
Kim (Mulkey, Baylor's coach) and making sure everybody was on board with what we are trying to do and I think she brings something, there is nobody else in the world like her. I don't care who Australia has, who Russia has or who anybody else has. Nobody has anybody else like Brittney Griner.

"I remember Kara Wolters made the Olympic team to go to Sydney. She was the 12th man on the team. She knew she was there just in case in a three-minute stretch she was going to have to play. She never had to because they didn't need her. Brittney Griner might make the Olympic team and might play 20 minutes every night or there might be two games in one game where she wins the game and we win the gold medal because there are things that she can do than nobody else can do on any other team in the world."

Auriemma tells the story of how dominating Griner could be during half-court drills courtesy of her rare dunking ability.

"What I am used to see in drills is stuff we are doing in breakdowns, you throw the ball in there and you work on your post moves and then you realize that every post move she is working on ends with a dunk, one-handed, two-handed," Auriemma said. "You just kind of smile and say I haven't seen that in one of my practices since I coached the guys' AAU team that my son played on. That is how those guys would end
every drill. I just started smiling and saying it must be good to go to practice. I found myself saying that. We would work on something in a game, we are going to screen here and take it, slip the screen and dunk it. She would go 'OK', slip it and dunk it. I was saying 'guys coaches have it easy.'"

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UConn in unchartered waters

When the question was posed to Geno Auriemma, the UConn women's basketball Hall of Fame coach admitted he wasn't quite sure how to respond.

Auriemma has grown so accustomed to being what he affectionately dubs being "an overdog" that he wasn't certain what the appropriate response that his second-ranked Huskies would be the lower-ranked team on Sunday for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

Since the No. 6 ranked Huskies lost to No. 2 North Carolina on Jan. 15, 2007, UConn has played 183 straight games (including 68 against ranked opponents) while being the highest ranked team on the court.

"I don't know if it will play as well as it does in Storrs when we go in as the underdog," Auriemma said. "I don't think it would be any big surprise if Baylor wins the game Sunday night, I don't think anybody's going to call it a monumental upset and I don't think the opposite is true either. If we were to win the game Sunday night, I don't think anybody is going to say 'wow, that was a huge upset by Connecticut over Baylor.' I think Baylor deserves to be where they are, they deserve the No. 1 ranking, they deserve to be treated the way they are being treated because they put themselves in that situation."

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Three UConn signees on Naismith watch list

Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck, UConn's entire recruiting class, were among seven players named to the watch list for the Naismith Girls' High School Player of the Year award. UConn recruiting target Diamond DeShields is the only non-senior on the list.

Jefferson is a 5-foot-7 guard from Glenn Heights, Tex. who is home schooled and plays for the THESA Riders. Stewart is a 6-foot-4 forward/center out of Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) High and the top player in the current high school senior class while Tuck is a 6-foot-2 forward who already has two 30-point games for Bolingbrook (Ill.) High this season.

Joining DeShields, a 6-1 wing out of Norcross (Ga.) on the list are former UConn recruiting targets Jewell Loyd and Jordan Adams, who have signed with Notre Dame and Southern California respectively and Duke commit Alexis Jones.

The winner will be announced in March. Current UConn freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was last year's winner.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DeShields hits seven 3-pointers in win

I'm a day late on this but thought people might be interested to know that UConn recruiting target Diamond DeShields had 34 points and seven 3-pointers to lead Norcross (Ga.) High to a 75-46 win over Collins Hill (yes, the same Collins Hill where Maya Moore starred at) on Monday.

DeShields, a 6-1 junior, did her damage despite checking out of the game with 2 minutes left in the third quarter as Norcross improved to 3-2. It's kind of ironic that two of the three wins come against Moore's alma mater and also Fayette County where UConn freshman Brianna Banks played as a senior.

Next up for Norcross is a home game against Peachtree Ridge on Friday followed by a three-day tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. beginning on Monday. With UConn headed to South Carolina for a Dec. 21 game against the College of Charleston, I'd be shocked if at least one UConn coach wasn't in attendance for at least one of those games in the Crescent Bank Invitational.

Speaking of recruiting trips, something tells me that not all the UConn coaches will head directly from Waco, Texas to Charleston as a detour to Arizona to check out the Nike Tournament of Champions would seem a natural destination for at least one member of the UConn staff considering the incredible field put together by tournament organizers. As previously mentioned in this blog, UConn signees Morgan Tuck and Breanna Stewart will square off when Bolingbrook (Ill.) plays Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) in the first game for both teams in the Joe Smith Division on Monday. At the same time, UConn recruiting target Karlie Samuelson will lead her Edison (Calif.) team against Centennial High out of Las Vegas.

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UConn/Hartford to resume regular-season series

According to a report by Lori Riley of the Hartford Courant, UConn and Hartford will resume its regular-season series.

The teams have played 12 times, all won by the Huskies, including six straight times from 2004-09 before the contract was not renewed. Hartford coach and former UConn All-American guard Jen Rizzotti said the Hawks wanted to try to pursue sgames featuring top teams coming in and playing at Chase Arena in West Hartford. Part of the new contract will feature a game on Dec. 22, 2012 in West Hartford followed by two UConn home games including at least one played at Gampel Pavilion. In the past, the UConn/Hartford games were played at the XL Center.

Info on announcing team for Baylor/UConn game

ESPN will have a four-person crew televising Sunday's UConn/Baylor game.

Play by play man Dave O'Brien as well as analysts Doris Burke and Rebecca Lobo are no strangers to calling high-profile women's games but ESPN will also call on former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy during the showdown between the top two ranked teams in the country.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Langley stepping up for St. John's

It's a pretty safe assumption that Keylantra Langley never drove into the lane during her time at Lauralton Hall and encountered anything like Baylor's 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner. Yet here she was in her second year at St. John's showing the willingness to venture into the paint during the first game of the Maggie Dixon Classic on Sunday.

Langley got an early call when Eugeneia McPherson picked up two quick fouls and less than 30 seconds after coming into the game she headed towards the basket, drew Griner towards her and delivered a perfect pass to teammate Amber Thompson for a layup. Langley played 25 minutes and had four points, one rebound, one assist and two steals in the Red Storm's 73-59 loss to Baylor.

"When you are playing against her, you can't really back off," Langley said. "You still have to go through your game plan. You know she is there but you have to try to attack the basket the best you can.

"We are trying to go out there and play St. John's basketball and do the best we can. We came into the locker room with a lead (at halftime). I think we played with a lot of energy and a lot of heart today."

While Langley put up some modest stats, there is no questioning the impact she is making in her sophomore season or the rapid development she has shown since last season.

"She has been playing much better for us and her confidence has been getting a lot better," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "She really brings a lot to our team. I don't know what's going to happen with Nadirah but if she is (out), she will have to give us more. She is having a significant impact for us right now. She is aggressive on the offensive end, she can handle the ball, she rebounds like crazy and can defend. She is playing with a lot more confidence and has grown since her freshman year."

Barnes Arico was referred to the knee injury suffered by starting point guard Nadirah McKenith in the second half. The fear is that it is an ACL which would cost St. John's its unquestioned floor leader. If McKenith is out for an extended time, Langley could find herself as the starting point guard.

Is Langley ready for this challenge.

"Of course, if coach has confidence in me then I have to have confidence in myself," Langley said.

Speaking of injuries, St. John's senior forward and former Trinity Catholic star Da'Shena Stevens is close to playing for the first time this season. Stevens suffered a knee injury in the offseason and was cleared to practice on Dec. 2.

"I think she is close, maybe this weekend," Barnes Arico said. "She has to go see the doctor again. She has been practicing and has been getting banged around a bit.

"She is not doing all the contact but she is running up and down and doing all the (non-contact)  drills  but she is not doing offensive/defensive stuff."

"It is tough and our schedule we went to the Bahamas and played in the Maggie Dixon Classic, we did all this stuff for her senior year and it has to be tough. We try to keep her upbeat at times but it really has to wear on her, it has to be devastating. She has done so much for our program, as been the face of our program for so long that you really wanted her to enjoy this season. She has been positive and hopefully she finishes strong."

Some early thoughts about Baylor/UConn

Having watching No. 2 UConn and No. 1 Baylor play in a span of three days, the first thought that comes into my head as I look ahead to Sunday's nationally-televised showdown is that I hope I don't see UConn's second-half performance against Seton Hall and Baylor's first-half effort against St. John's.

Something tells me both teams will be a little more zoned in when the ball is thrown into the air a little past 8:30 Sunday night.

I'll start with that I saw on Sunday when Baylor allowed a small but athletic St. John's team to dictate tempo for the first 30 minutes. I loved the Red Storm's game plan. On offense they drove the ball towards Brittney Griner whenever possible and if they couldn't get her far enough away to set up a cutting teammate for a layup, they would kick it out to the perimeter. When St. John's let the game get away in the second half it was in large part because of ill-advised drives right at Griner. While Griner's shot-blocking numbers (she is quickly closing in on Courtney Paris for No. 5 on the NCAA Division I all-time list) are impressive, it is her ability to block the ball and keep it in play which leads to the Lady Bears getting out on the fast break. I fully expect to see UConn try to do what St. John's did during the first half and try to get Griner moving laterally and throw the ball to offensive players away from Griner to limit her impact as a shot blocker.

Defensively, I was impressed with what Mary Nwachukwu was able to do early on against Griner. I doubt Nwachukwu's name made it into too many game stories since she was scoreless (missing all four of her shots) and had just two rebounds, one assist and one steal in 34 minutes. However, she was able to get physical with Griner and pushed the Baylor star off the blocks whenever she could. That style seemed to fluster Griner. Although giving up six inches, she was able to front Griner and teammates would cheat down from the other Baylor forwards to keep Griner from getting the ball. St. John's also did a good job of applying pressure on the ball so they couldn't have an easy time throwing the ball into the post. What this did was open up room for Brooklyn Pope and she responded with 19 points and eight rebounds and give Baylor some open looks from 3-point range.

With all due respect to Nwachukwu, I don't see her as being a pivotal part of St. John's offensive game plan so the Red Storm could afford to let her bang Griner around and if she picked up some early fouls, no harm done. I don't think that is the case with Dolson. I don't see UConn beating Baylor if Dolson is saddled with foul trouble so she will need to be careful just how physical she gets with Griner. Depending how quickly Dolson gets her first foul, I wonder if the UConn coaching staff might go to either Heather Buck or Kiah Stokes early on and use up some fouls.

I also doubt that Odyssey Sims will commit as many silly fouls as she did on Sunday. Once she was out of the game, the Baylor offense seemed like a rudderless ship. Also, Destiny Williams was benched for the first half for a disciplinary matter and she will be available for all 40 minutes against the Huskies. Having those two on the floor brings a different dimension to Baylor.

On UConn's end, I already addressed the Dolson factor. Tiffany Hayes figures to play a key role. If she steps up in a big way, I think she can wreak havoc with the Baylor defensive scheme with her ability to penetrate as well as being able to hit from the perimeter. I would expect to see Hayes and Bria Hartley drive into the lane early and often giving Caroline Doty, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kelly Faris opportunities from the perimeter.

I have a hunch UConn will try to deal with Griner one on one more often than not and make the other players beat them. They need to keep Pope off the offensive glass and turn Kimetria Hayden and Jordan Madden into jump shooters. I know Hayden has eight 3-pointers but I'd take my chance with her having to knock down shots. More than anything, they need to make Sims' life as difficult as possible. Before Sunday I thought UConn would be crazy to try to press Baylor but watching how out of control Sims was at times bringing the ball up the floor makes me think the Huskies will attempt to extend their defense against Baylor.

I will be curious to see who Kelly Faris matches up with defensively, will she be asked to deal with Griner (even if she is giving up nine inches) or get out on Sims? Perhaps she'll be asked to lock up on either Williams or Pope, two outstanding offensive rebounders. There will be some intriguing individual matchups going on during the course of the game. It should be a fun one, I am looking forward to it.

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Mosqueda-Lewis wins Big East Freshman of the Week once again

UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has been named the Big East Freshman of the Week for the fourth straight time, one shy of the conference record set by West Virginia's Meg Bulger from Jan. 19-Feb. 16, 2004. It should be noted that Bulger was a co-winner of the award twice during that span. The only other player in Big East history to earn the award by themselves for four consecutive weeks is Maya Moore from Jan. 14-Feb. 4, 2008.

Mosqueda-Lewis, who averaged 14.5 points in wins over Texas A&M and Seton Hall, became the first player in Big East history to open her career with four straight Freshman/Rookie of the Week honors. Angie Clark of St. John's owned the mark with three straight honors in the 2003-04 season.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stewart opens season with a double-double

UConn incoming freshman Breanna Stewart began her senior campaign with Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) with 18 points and 11 rebounds (including the 1,000th of her career) in a season-opening 61-19 win over Liverpool in the Tip-Off Classic at the Carrier Dome on Sunday.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was among those in attendance at the game.

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Trip to New York not soon to be forgotten by Baylor

When Baylor agreed to take part in the Maggie Dixon Classic, little did the school known what a special weekend it would be for the athletic department.

The headlining event was Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III becoming the school's first Heisman Trophy winner. Adding to the festive occasion was that the Baylor women's basketball team was in New York at the time and was taking in the Spider Man play when they received text messages informing them of the good news.

I'll let Baylor junior center Brittney Griner take it from here.

"We got the text that he won and it was perfect timing because the people were cheering for Spiderman and they were yelling so I yelled out 'RGIII,'" Griner said after Sunday's 73-59 win over St. John's.

Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey had plenty to say about Griffin's magical moment and used the forum to serve as the defender of the Baylor athletic department's run of success.

"He is everywhwere on campus," Mulkey said. "Don't be surprised if he comes back. That is the kind of kid that he is. It would not surprise me if he said 'I don't care how much money you throw at me, I don't care when I go in the draft, I am living the time of my life.' He would have been here today if he didn't have obligations. He would have been sitting here right behind the bench like he does at home. He's been bugging me to have a dunking contest with Griner for three years. I might have to relent on that in the offseason. He is everything you see. He is articulate, his parents raised him well. I am so happy for Baylor University.

"I am going to say this and take it the right way guys, the so-called experts are talking about 'it can't be done at Baylor.' I listened for a month about the so-called experts saying Robert Griffin can't win the Heisman. He won it. We've got the Heisman Trophy winner at Baylor, we have the player of the year in women's basketball at Baylor, we have two top draft picks on the men's team at Baylor, we have the best pitcher in the  country in softball at Baylor. Every NCAA tournament across the board at Baylor. This is not the Baylor of old, this is a commitment by the administration to go hire the best coaches to bring a team or teams to that university to compete and compete at the highest level. I really wish that the little digs, the little things that were said stop. Stop it. It is unnecessary. We have a good thing going at Baylor and that's the truth."

Mulkey wasn't called out on her premature crowning of Griner as the national player of the year but was asked if she really felt that Baylor was being disrespected.

"You didn't hear them?" Mulkey said. "I don't have to call out names. 'He can't win it at Baylor, know your place at Baylor.' I am getting tired of it. What else do we have to do? We have to do it on a consistent basis and that is our job as coaches to do that now. Baylor is a little more than an insignificant part of the Big 12 and the national scene."

On a day when Tennessee coach Pat Summitt received the Maggie Dixon Courage Award, Mulkey was rather emotional when talking about the Lady Vols' Hall of Fame coach.

"We got out of our huddle quickly (during the TV timeout when Summitt received the award) and gave her a standing ovation because Pat Summitt is our John Wooden," Mulkey said. "I am going to go out there and watch her team play because you never know how many games she has left. Just her presence on the floor and what she means to all of us, I don't know if any will ever have that presence. I've said this before, there may be coaches who win more championships than her but they won't be Pat Summitt."

Mulkey was asked to recall the day when she heard the news that Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia.
"My cell phone was one and you kept getting the ding, ding, ding, ding and the first thought is that it's your children," Mulkey said. "After about the fourth ding, which is a text message, I look at it and it said what it said. I picked it up and dismissed my staff and kind of gathered my composure. I thought to myself  'I am in here stressing over a basketball game and a staff meeting and practice?' I just called her assistants Mickie (DeMoss) and I talked to Holly (Warlick) because you knew people were going to call and ask questions.  I didn't want to give an uneducated opinion or statement because that is a personal thing. I wanted to talk to them first and get a little more information. When I read the article and how Tyler was with her, I don't mind telling you and I am not too proud to say it got kind of emotional because my son is still at home with me and no son should have to stand there at his age and take care of his mom and listen to that diagnosis. My thoughts just went to Tyler. I called her about two weeks later after everything kind of died down and we just talked. I didn't go into great detail on anything, I didn't think those things were necessary.

"I guess the special that Robin Roberts did hit me really, really hard because there was a doctor that kind of gave a description of what we are dealing with and I didn't want to hear that.  I started hugging her then. There is not an opportunity that goes by. If I see her, I am going to hug her and that is what I did and told her I loved her."

No renewal of Baylor/UConn series is in the works

When UConn travels to Baylor a week today for a much-anticipated showdown between the nation's No. 1 and 2 ranked teams it will mark the third straight season the Huskies and Lady Bears have met. It looks like it could be the last one for a while.

After playing in the 2009 national semifinals, the teams agreed to play a home and home series. UConn edged Baylor 65-64 on Nov. 16, 2010 at the XL Center and now comes the rematch in Waco.

Following Baylor's 73-59 win over St. John's in the first game of Sunday's Maggie Dixon, I asked Mulkey for an update on whether the teams will be renewing the contract.

"I don't think so," Mulkey said. "We've had talks. We couldn't and they couldn't and just never got anywhere. This is the tail end of a two-year deal. That doesn't mean it won't happen. That depends on television, that depends on what we get invited to. Both programs are going to be outstanding. It is not because we don't both want to but he may want to do it on this date and I may want to do it on another date, things like that you have to work out in the future."

I asked Mulkey if the addition of Southern Methodist and Houston to the Big East, which gives the Huskies a minimum of two games in the state of Texas every two years beginning in the 2013-14 season might impact Connecticut's desire to sign up for a trip to Baylor. She actually thought my question about Geno Auriemma perhaps not needing any additional games in the state of Texas was actually an inquiry about keeping him from recruiting the best players in the state of Texas.

"I don't want him in Texas," Mulkey said with a laugh. "I would imagine he would come to Texas. He got his first one (Moriah Jefferson) so I would imagine he would try to get back in the area."

POTENTIALLY COSTLY LOSS FOR ST. JOHN'S
A day start started in such impressive fashion for the St. John's women's basketball team turned sour in a hurry when junior guard Nadirah McKenith suffered a knee injury in the second half of the loss to No. 1 Baylor.

After the game St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico was hoping for the best but bracing for the worst.

"She hurt her knee and is going to have an MRI tomorrow but don't know too many details," Barnes Arico said. "She seems pretty hurt but I don't know (how seriously). I would say it is a significant loss for us, she runs our team.

"She was in a lot of pain. I just feel bad for the kid, you don't even think of wins and losses. She is just a great kid. She is one of the best kids we have in our program, she's so full of personality and when she was down it had to be tough for her. She was playing her butt off. She was going against a top point guard in the country (Odyssey Sims) and I thought she looked great in the first half. I thought she looked as good if not better. It was devastating but maybe tomorrow we get some good news."

If the injury keeps McKenith (who had had nine points, four rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots) out for an extended period of time, former Lauralton Hall star Keylantra Langley could become the Red Storm's starting point guard. I caught up with Langley after the game and look for more on her emergence as a sophomore for St. John's as well as an update on senior forward and former Trinity Catholic star Da'Shena Stevens who missed her 10th straight game with a knee injury but has been cleared to practice on a limited basis.

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Jefferson is Catclaw Classic MVP

UConn signee Moriah Jefferson had 23 points as the THESA Riders defeated Wall 46-44 in the championship game of the Catclaw Classic on Saturday.

Jefferson's strong performance, highlighted by her 32 points and six 3-pointers in a win over Early on Friday, earned her MVP honors.

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Friday, December 09, 2011

UConn rolls by Seton Hall in a weird one

The stretch in the first half when UConn looked absolutely unstoppable en route to racing out to leads of 20-0 and 30-2 was countered by a span of more than 9 minutes in the second half when UConn failed to score a point in a 70-37 victory over Seton Hall.

Naturally UConn coach Geno Auriemma was somewhat perturbed at what he saw from his team after they raced out to the big early lead going as far as saying that the scoreless stretch was unacceptable for a team with as many gifted offensive players as the Huskies possess.

"A little bit of everything, that is an understatement," Auriemma said with a laugh. "It was really weird. The first 10 minutes was kind of productive, we got some things done. The first five or six minutes of the second half, maybe the first 10 minutes, we got a bunch of stuff done. Everything else was a struggle. The fouls in the first half, I think we were called for more fouls in the first half than we had in the entire (Texas A&M) game so the game had no rhythm to it, no flow to it. There were a lot of missed shots. Maybe it is this gym. There are a lot of times when we come down here and not exactly played stellar basketball."

Auriemma was happy to see Caroline Doty drain five 3-pointers and also play a solid floor game with five assists and no turnovers and was also happy with Heather Buck, who had four points and nine rebounds in relief of a foul-prone and ineffective Stefanie Dolson.

Doty, Tiffany Hayes and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 15 points each as UConn beat Seton Hall for the 28th straight time. Hayes added nine rebounds and six assists. Speaking of assists, the Huskies assisted on their first 16 baskets and had 20 assists on 23 field goals.

"I thought in the first half we really got into our stuff and the pressure really helped us," Doty said. "I wasn't sure what it was in the second half. We weren't rebounding when we should of. I don't know if we kind of
got lackadaisical with the way we played but we are hoping to kind of working on in practice in the coming week."

UConn won't play again until Dec. 18 when the Huskies play at Baylor. Final exams start next week so much of the focus will be on taking care of business in the classroom while making time for practice.

"The good thing about exam week is you only have four or five classes so it is only two hours of exams so preparation is the best thing for the actual exam," Doty said. "We had study hall (on Friday) and getting ready for exams that way. When we are on the court, we get away from it that way, reading books, studying and getting all the stuff in your head is draining so it will be nice to just forget about that and just play ball."

While Doty should be well versed in balancing basketball and academics, next week could be challenging for the three UConn freshmen.

"It is all about time management," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "When I have a little break I am doing a little bit of homework. I am not taking as many naps, as much free time as you have is as much time as you need to spend studying."

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Future UConn teammates Stewart, Tuck to square off in Arizona

The schedule of the Nike Tournament of Champions was released today and of particular interest to UConn fans might be the first-round game in the Joe Smith Division as a pair of UConn's incoming freshmen will be going head to head when Breanna Stewart leads her Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) squad against Morgan Tuck and Bolingbrook (Ill.) at Hamilton High School on Dec. 19 at 4:30 (6:30 p.m. Eastern time).

For those interested in the full schedule, here you go

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Another big game for Tuck

You know somebody's pretty good when a 38-point effort results in being the second player mentioned in a game story.

That was the case with UConn signee Morgan Tuck who followed up her 40-point outburst in her last game by putting up 38 in a 77-22 win over Lincoln-Way Central on Thursday.

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Huskies, Pirates playing for a cause

Both the UConn and Seton Hall teams will be wearing neon gold shoelaces in tomorrow night's game in support of Go 4 the Goal Foundation to raise awareness for Pediatric Cancer. Shoelaces can be purchased
at the game for $1 with all proceeds helping with the cause. For more information, visit http://www.go4thegoal.org/

The 7 p.m. game at Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, N.J. will be the Big East opener for both teams.

The 2013-14 season could be an interesting one

I took part in yesterday's conference call with Big East Commissioner John Marinatto as well as the presidents from South Florida, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, San Diego State and Southern Methodist.

While the impact on women's basketball is not a consideration in the changing landscape of Division I athletics, the portion of the question and answer session which had the most relevance to women's basketball was when the makeup of the 2013-14 Big East was brought up.

Unless Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia are able to pry themselves free from the Big East umbrella a season early there will be 19 teams in the conference with Central Florida, Houston and Southern Methodist joining the conference in all sports in 2013. Marinatto said that so much focus has been spent on trying to add teams to the conference that there have not been official discussions about the conference scheduling format. However, I'd have to think that the conference would have to go to an 18-game format for at least the 2013-14 season.

Marinatto was asked whether the Big East would have each team face the other once if there is a 19-team league in the 2013-14 season.

"I think if that is the case, that would probably be a model that we would employ where everybody would play each other once," Marinatto said. "But we haven't gotten into the specifics of that. I'm just looking at the numbers as you've outlined them and that would make sense.  We haven't had any discussions in regard to what the tournament might look like under that scenario.  That would be another discussion I'm sure that would have to follow."

The Big East has not played an 18-game schedule since the 1998-99 season and I'd have to think the conference will need to decide whether it intends on going back to 18 games sooner rather than later so the conference schools know how many non-conference slots need to be filled in the schedule. Another aspect I'm curious about is whether the conference will opt to utilize a travel partner concept. In other words, if Houston or SMU has to come East to play UConn and Providence in the same season, wouldn't it make sense to have the games come during the same trip? Conversely, wouldn't it make sense to have UConn make one trip to Florida and play Central Florida and South Florida a couple days apart. It's something the conference has not utilized nearly enough, in my opinion, in past years but as the Big East broadens its borders in order to survive, I would think there has to come a time when concessions are made to cut down on travel as much as humanly possible.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Central Florida, Houston and SMU joining new-look Big East Conference

As trades go, replacing the Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia women's basketball programs with Central Florida, Houston and South Methodist is right up there for the infamous Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell deal swung by the Boston Red Sox a couple decades ago. But desperate times results in desperate moves.

The ever changing conference landscape has nothing to do with women's basketball as football is the cash cow running the show. With the conference running the risk of losing its BCS automatic qualifying status, the Big East needed to move forward.

The Big East will be replacing three perennial NCAA women's basketball tournament teams with three conference USA teams. Central Florida is the defending Conference USA tournament champion while Houston was the conference's regular season title. This season the three teams are a combined 8-16.

Central Florida, Houston and Southern Methodist will join the Big East in all sports beginning in 2013 while Boise State and San Diego State will join as football-only programs.

On the conference call currently going on, Big East commissioner John Marinatto said he would comment on rumors of other universities (Temple, East Carolina come to mind) who could be added to the Big East in the future.

In a statement, UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma said "I am thrilled about the additions the BIG EAST has made.  I give a lot of credit to the conference office for putting this together.  I am really happy for our football schools and I love Dallas, Houston and Orlando so I look forward to making those trips.  The BIG EAST is the best women’s basketball conference in the country and it just got better."

On the call, Marinatto said that they would try to facilitate talks in setting up non-conference basketball games with Big East schools.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

UConn forces the issue

Texas A&M has long been considered one of the nation's best pressing teams, beating more talented teams simply by flustering them with full-court pressure.

However, in Tuesday night's Jimmy V Classic it was UConn's pressure defense and ability to handle the A&M press which keyed UConn's 81-51 demolition of the defending national champions.

"We kept our compsure and we stayed within (ourselves)," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "We let the offense just kind of flow. We weren't in a hurry to make a play. We weren't anxious to create something out of nothing and we just kind of let it happen for us. The kids did a great job of finding the guy that was open because we got a lot of layups, we got open jump shots. They were doing some things defensively I thought we could score on and luckily we took advantage of it

"Beating Texas A&M by 30 tonight, that is not realistic. I think what happens is when you are willing to go at that pace for 40 minutes, I think the other team gets to the point where they go 'I just can't keep this up.' You can see it in their faces some times and in their body language. We just keep that pace and it is one of the things I am proudest of that we are able to do that."

UConn not only won the turnover battle 20-11 but scored 27 points off the Aggies 22 turnovers while A&M managed just seven points off the 11 UConn miscues.

"You win games because of talent and intensity level and that is something that he gets on us every single day in practice and it is something that we work on every day," UConn junior forward Kelly Faris said. "The second we take a play off, he is in our ear and we know that. Especially the older guys we have been around long enough to know that the second you take a play off, he is not going to be happy with you."

The Huskies were surprised by the final margin, never expecting to beat a team returning three senior starters off last season's national championship team by 30.

"I don't think by 30," Faris said. "They are still a very good team. We came out from the very beginning. It is something we try to do every single game, come out and be the first one to take that punch and set that intensity level and keep that the whole game."

A&M coach Gary Blair admitted that he felt powerless at times to stop UConn, which had six players score in double figures.

"They had 18 points in the first four minutes of the game and they only scored 18 in the next 16," Blair said. "We went to zone and we were in HTM. Do you know what that is? You 'hope they miss.' That was all it was instead of making them miss. Normally we can make people miss but today we looked lost in the matchup, they were overloading in the corner and the other side wasn't coming over.

"We were not able to consistently get the ball inside. I think that was the difference in the ball game
to not get it inside and the open looks that they had. They shot 7 out of 20 were wide open. You can not give those, you can not give that many good looks."

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UConn, Maryland agree to home and home series


Jimmy V Classic still a big deal for Geno

Nine years have passed since UConn took part in the inaugural women's basketball Jimmy V Classic but the time has done little to diminish UConn coach Geno Auriemma's sense of honor in being involved in the event.

The 2011 Jimmy V Classic will take place tonight at 7 p.m. when defending national champion Texas A&M faces UConn at the XL Center. While there is not nearly as much buzz around the event as there was in 2002 when UConn met North Carolina State and Duke faced Tennessee in a doubleheader at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. But in Auriemma's eyes, each time the Huskies are able to take part in the Classic, it is a special occasion.

"We said this down at the dinner and I think Connecticut always has a special place in the Jimmy V Classic because of the time he spent here as a coach and the relationships he had with Dee Rowe (when Valvano was an assistant on Rowe's UConn squad) and the relationship Dee Rowe had with Jimmy, his family, his wife, his children," Auriemma said. "I think there is always going to be a special bond between Coach Valvano and Connecticut and for us to be a part of it is a huge thrill for me. I grew up a lot as a coach in the ACC when he was coaching (at North Carolina State) and I am a big, big fan of what he did and how he did it. At the same time, the cause I don't know that anybody has done more for the awareness, raising money (for cancer research) and what they have contributed more than the Jimmy V Foundation. How many people in their lives that did as many as he did for people when he was alive and now actually has done maybe even more for people since he passed away?  I think he has left a great legacy and I am happy to be a part of it."
For those scoring at home, this will be the fourth time UConn will play in the Jimmy V Classic tying Duke and Rutgers for the most appearances.

People who want to help out with the cause can click here

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Doty benefits from time off

Suffering a mild concussion in the first half of Wednesday's game against Towson forced junior guard Caroline Doty to take some time off from basketball. Doty, who looked out of sorts in the Towson game and at times during the World Vision Classic, seemed to have returned with a much better frame of mind.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma raved about Doty since she returned to practice on Sunday and her teammates also spoke about how much better she had been playing since returning to the court.

"I think she just needed a couple of days off," Auriemma said. "I think having Thursday, Friday, Saturday off did her a world of good. It is not easy being her when you think about it she hasn't caught a break in a long time and I don't care how tough you are and what everybody says about you, there is only so much somebody can take before they say 'why do I have to go through this.' Most kids come here for two hours, they go to practice, they go to the training room get a bag of ice and they go eat. She has to do 17 things, she has so much she has to do to get ready for practice, after practice ... After a while I can imagine it just gets to her so every little thing that happens is one more thing and 'why, why, why.' So I think those three days away did her a world of good."

Doty has tried to maintain a positive attitude through it all but in recent games it was evident that she was putting a lot of pressure on herself leading to uncharacteristic sloppy plays from her.

"Taking the two days off was kind of an eye opener," Doty said. "It was like 'listen, calm down you have five more months of this. I came back to practice and I felt pretty good and I am very excited for tomorrow.  I think I was putting a little too much pressure on myself to try to do too much."

Auriemma recently had a heart to heart with Doty about the way she was going about her business and he even went as far as suggesting that Doty's concussion was the result of bad karma.

"When you get frustrated, you are not thinking clearly and everything else is going wrong," Auriemma said. "I told her 'the reason you fell on your head is because you are in a bad mood, you have a bad attitude right now. You have bad vibes, bad mojo.' Otherwise you would have just fell down, got up, make your free throw. Right now there is a bad moon rising over you and you need a couple days off. In her mind she is like I don't want to go through this anymore so just take three days off. It is like the guy who can't play golf, take two weeks off and quit, go play tennis. I told her take three days off and quit, she had fun with it and knew that once she got her head cleared, she'd be all right and she is. Playing bad for her, it just kills her. When you have been waiting so long to play and then you can't do some of the things that you used to be able to do, it is just eating her alive.

"She has had two great days the last two days. Her mind is different, you can tell by the look in her eyes and because of that the ball is going where it is supposed to go, shots are going in, defensively she knows where she is going, her mouth is saying the right things at the right time to the right guys. It's like a quarterback in the huddle. She has control of the situation now for about a week or so."

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Geno not look at Texas A&M as the defending champions

Having guided his UConn team to seven national titles, Geno Auriemma knows a thing or two about the pressure that comes the following season after winning it all.

Naturally, after Monday's practice he was asked about playing Texas A&M, the defending national champions on Tuesday. His take was an interesting one.

"I always say that this Texas A&M did not win the national championship, that was last year's team and I always tried to keep that in mind when we were in that situation," Auriemma said. "If they brought back Danielle Adams and Sydney Colson and we played them, they I would say we are playing the defending national champions but they are not. That is kind of how I approached it. When you lose certain key players, you are not the same team although everybody is going to treat them that way and be sky high for them, I would like to think that is not who we are playing. We are playing a really good Texas A&M team in 2011-12. If you come to Connecticut, you come to play in these games. I would like to think something good is going to happen tomorrow either way."

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Mosqueda-Lewis is Big East's top rookie - again

UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis made it a perfect 3 for 3 in the Big East Freshman of the Week award department.

Mosqueda-Lewis was 5 of 8 from 3-point range en route to 21 points in a Nov. 30 win over Towson in UConn's only game.

Bria Hartley was named to the Big East honor roll with 25 points, five assists and four steals against Towson.

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Friday, December 02, 2011

Seton Hall, Syracuse games to be carried on CPTV

All the loose ends have been tied up as CPTV will be televising UConn's road opener a week from today against Seton Hall as well as the Jan. 25 contest at Syracuse.

Getting the details ironed out for road games can be a bit challenging at times which is why those games were not previously listed as being aired on CPTV (and available on CPTV's Hoop Streams) but according to the schedule on CPTV's website, those games will be shown on CPTV bringing the number of regular-season games shown by CPTV this season to 21.

Texas A&M looking to build off last season

The always quotable Texas A&M coach Gary Blair was asked four questions by the Connecticut media in a Friday morning teleconference and managed to talk for about 35 minutes. In the next few days you'll likely be seeing snippets of Blair's interview appearing in newspapers and blogs through the state of Connecticut.

Among the highlights were Blair repeating what he said to me at the Final Four and that is Tuesday's game against UConn at the XL Center is part of a home and home with Texas A&M hosting UConn in either January or February of next year as part of a Big Monday game on ESPN. He said he'd have no problem seeing the series extended after next year. Blair said that seniors Sydney Carter and Adaora Elonu have emerged into key players as seniors to complement Kelsey Bone and last year's Final Four hero Tyra White. He also said he put in a stipulation that the game will feature the starting fives going head to head for all 40 minutes because that's the only way he knows how to slow down UConn freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

Naturally Blair was being his good-natured walking sound bite self on the last item but he was serious when talking about the responsibility of carrying the banner as the reigning national champions.

"I hope we handle it as well as Geno has handled it and Pat (Summitt) has handled it over the years," Blair said. "I realize the importance of being a champion and knowing how to act like a champion the following year. I have been around long enough, I have studied coaches, I have studied programs and really have admired how Geno has been able to handle all the fanfare that goes with what happens in Connecticut and being right there under ESPN and everything. He has done an amazing job. He deserves everything he has gotten, our Olympic coach, our President of the WBCA, he has done it all. The same thing with Coach Summitt, she has done it all with her thing. I am just a little dot on the horizon right now. I am a doggone old dot but I am a dot.

"I think to be recognized in this game, you need to do this more than once. That is what our goal is, not to win a national championship right now, that is not our goal. Our goal is to go out there, win and compete in every ball game and get better and to hold onto that national championship but not live off it. We want to be able to sell it, we want to able to be able to recruit with it. We want to get better and it is making us better coaches. The opportunities we've had over the summer, the speaking engagements, the ESPYs, the Winged Foot Award, taking my grandson and family to Disney World, the White House... Geno's done that seven times and that is pretty special. Our team is pretty grounded. We do not allow them to get too high and too low. Today at the practice court at 1 o'clock, we'll act like we are 0-6 by the time we get through with them because we have to get a lot better in a lot of areas. They can not take away from us what we have accomplished. We were not Cinderella last year and Notre Dame would not have been Cinderella if they would  won it. We were two very good programs that played great when it counted. We just happened to play a little greater when it counted in the second half but part of that team is gone and I have a new team in here."

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Doty held out of practice with mild concussion

UConn junior guard Caroline Doty did not practice with the team today after suffering a mild concussion in Wednesday's win over Towson. According to a release put out by UConn, she is not showing symptoms of being impacted by the concussion and was inside Gampel Pavilion during the practice. She is expected to participate fully in practice by Sunday and should play in UConn's next game against defending national champion Texas A&M on Tuesday.

Doty was fouled on a drive to the basket during the first half against Towson. After missing the free throw and seeming out of sorts on the ensuing defensive possession, Doty was taken out of the game with 4:19 left in the first half and did not return to the game.

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Huskies set to go back to work

Five games in a 10-day span is a player's dream but for the UConn coaching staff, the hectic recent schedule has limited the amount of time they can work with their squad.

Without a game until Tuesday when defending national champion Texas A&M comes to the XL Center, look for the UConn coaches to get back to what they were hired to do - teach.

"When you have a lot of games it is not bad because you are actually getting some game stuff on but you really don't get the opportunity to put some practice time in," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Little by little between now and exams we want to get a little bit better at everything - obviously. We just want to figure out ways we can maximize what we have. How many different ways can use our full-court pressure? How many ways can be play our half-court defense? Offensively, how many ways can me move people around so we are not easy to defend? These are all things that you go to practice and work on and because we have such a young group, there is a lot of fundamental stuff that we have to do every day that gets lost when you have games. If you are constantly preparing for games, I know the players like that but for us you get worried about the other teams sometimes and you are not doing enough individual work for yourself. Friday and Saturday  are going to be great because we'll get the opportunity to do that before we start preparing for Texas A&M."

Auriemma is pretty happy where his team is at the current time. Other than the Stanford game, the other contests were against such overmatched opponents that it is probably hard for Auriemma and his staff to get too much of a read of how far along the Huskies are at this point.

"I think when the season began, you aren't quite sure what to expect," Auriemma said. "It kind of reminded me of a couple of years after Diana graduated and you are trying to figure out what is the new dynamic on the team when you lose somebody like that. A game like Stanford came along and it surprised me a little bit that we were able to do some of the things that we did. Tuesday night in the Texas A&M game, I will be anxious to see whether we will be able to respond to some of the things that Texas A&M is going to do to us that is way different from what Stanford did. I think we learned a little after the Stanford game about what who we are, we will learn a little more next Tuesday. That is why you play these games, find out how we are adapting to life without Maya."

TOY DRIVE FOR TUESDAY'S GAME
The UConn Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is running a toy drive at Tuesday's Texas A&M game at the XL Center. The drive benefits the Cornerstone Foundation in Rockville and fans are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy with them to the game.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Geno Auriemma's unique take on Pledge of Allegiance

One thing about Geno Auriemma's post-game press conferences is that you are never quite sure what topic will lead to one of his wildly entertaining tangents.

Pat Eaton-Robb of the Associated Press asked a harmless question seeking Auriemma's opinion on the practice of having the crowd at UConn football and basketball games recite the Pledge of Allegiance right before the national anthem. His answer was a classic case of Geno being Geno.

"I am old enough to know when we said it in school," Auriemma said. "I think we said it right before we hid under our wooden desks in case a nuclear attack came. I always thought that was pretty cool that if the bomb is going to drop on St. Francis of Assisi grade school that I definitely want to be under a wooden desk. I know I had to say it when I became a citizen in Hartford in 1994 but after that, I am not sure the last time I had an opportunity or occasion to say it. What did I think of it? It kind of caught me by surprise. I didn't know we were doing it and I guess it is like anything else, you are going to have people who are going to complain about it and you are going to have people who love it.

"You know what I would rather see? I would rather see nobody sing the national anthem. This idea of somebody sings the national anthem, I think that is bogus. I think the band ought to play the national anthem and everybody in the audience should sing it. When I go to Europe and play with the U.S. national team, you can't hear anything other than every single voice in the building singing their country's national anthem. They don't have somebody sing it. Maybe you do have somebody come and sing it but that would be way more meaningful to me as an American to have everybody in the building sing the national anthem at the top of their lungs like they really truly believe in what it stands for. I think the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes becomes kind of rote, yeah let me just repeat what everybody is saying but do I really understand it. Then you have wackos who say 'we shouldn't bring God into this.' You have to say 'one nation under God' so Thomas Jefferson was a (jerk) for writing that so blame him, don't blame anybody else. It actually does go pretty well, one nation under God."

REIMER, HAMILTON SOUTHEASTERN WIN A BIG ONE
Although none of the UConn coaches were in attendance to watch Connecticut recruiting targets Taya Reimer and Stephanie Mavunga go head to head, it sounds like the two talented juniors put on quite a show on Wednesday night.

Reimer had 18 points and 12 rebounds as Hamilton Southeastern of Fishers, Ind. defeated Brownsburg (Ind.) 67-47 despite 26 points from Mavunga.

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Geno: Doty is fine after hard fall

Caroline Doty crashed to the court with 4:41 left in the first half as she drove in for a layup. With 4:19 left in the half, the UConn coaching staff didn't like what they saw from Doty so they pulled her from the game. Doty never returned to the bench in the second half but UConn coach Geno Auriemma said it was merely a precautionary move.

"She is fine," Auriemma said after UConn's 92-31 win over Towson. "I just talked to Doc (Tom Trojian) and said she landed on her hip, then her shoulder and her head and by the end of the game she was fine. They just didn't want to put her out there with all that noise and lights as a precaution."

UConn will not practice on Thursday so we'll have to see if Doty takes part in Friday's practice.

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Plenty of tickets left for Jimmy V Classic

An official from UConn said that approximately 5,000 tickets are left for Tuesday's game against defending national champion Texas A&M at the XL Center. It will the first time the Huskies will play the reigning national champions since hosting Notre Dame on Jan. 21, 2002. UConn won that game 80-53 but it is just 2-4 against the national champs.

Staying on the subject of tickets, Big East tournament tickets go on sale tomorrow. Go to http://www.bigeast.org/ for information on purchasing tickets. The Big East tournament will be played from Mar. 2-6 at the XL Center.

Three Huskies on Naismith watch list

The Atlanta Tipoff Club just released the players on the Naismith early season watch list and the list includes the UConn trio of senior guard Tiffany Hayes, sophomore center Stefanie Dolson and sophomore guard Bria Hartley.

UConn joins Notre Dame (Skylar Diggins, Natalie Novosel, Devereaux Peters) and Tennessee (Shekinna Stricklen, Glory Johnson and Meighan Simmons) as the only schools with three candidates. Da'Shena Stevens, a senior forward at St. John's and former Trinity Catholic star, is the only Connecticut native on the list.

The list will be cut to 30 by late February and in March the four finalists will be placed on the final ballot. The winner of the Naismith Trophy will be announced during the Final Four.

Here is the list
Barrett LaSondra LSU Sr F
Bentley Alex Penn State Jr G
Bravard Cierra FSU Sr F
Carter Brittany Memphis Sr G
Carter Sydney Texas A&M Sr G
Davis Carolyn Kansas Jr F
Delle Donne Elena Delaware Jr F/G
Diggins Skylar Notre Dame Jr G
Dolson Stefanie UConn So C
Ellenberg Aaryn Oklahoma So G
Evans Shante Hofstra Jr F
Garrison Casey Missouri State Sr G
Gemelos Jacki USC GS G
Gilbreath Briana USC Sr G
Gray Chelsea Duke So G
Griner Brittney Baylor Jr P
Hampton Keisha DePaul Sr F
Hand Whitney Oklahoma Jr G
Hartley Bria UConn So G
Hayes Tiffany UConn Sr G
Hurt Courtney Va. Commonwealth Sr F
James Jasmine UGA So G
Johnson Shenise Miami Sr F
Johnson Lykendra Michigan State Sr F
Johnson Glory Tennessee GS F
Kizer Lynetta Maryland Sr C
Lucas Maggie Penn State So G
Luper Kevi Oral Roberts Jr G
Mathies A'dia Kentucky Jr G
Novosel Natalie Notre Dame Sr G
Ogwumike Chiney Stanford So F
Ogwumike Nnemkadi Stanford Sr F
Peddy Shey Temple Sr G
Peters Devereaux Notre Dame Sr F
Prahalis Samantha Ohio State Sr G
Printy Jaime Iowa Jr G
Raterman Justine Dayton Sr F
Reid Monique Louisville Sr F
Rodgers Sugar Georgetown Jr G
Rushdan Khadijah Rutgers Sr G
Schimmel Shoni Louisville So G
Shafir Naama Toledo Sr G
Simmons Meighan Tennessee So G
Sims Odyssey Baylor So G
Standish Kayla Gonzaga Sr F
Stevens Da'Shena St. John's Sr F
Stricklen Shekinna Tennessee Sr G
Sykes April Rutgers Sr G
Thomas Alyssa Maryland So F
White Tyra Texas A&M Sr G
Williams Riquna Miami Sr G

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Two UConn recruiting targets squaring off tonight

Highly-touted juniors Taya Reimer and Stephanie Mavunga will be the centers of attention when their teams meet today.

Reimer has led Hamilton Southeastern of Fishers, Ind. to a 5-0 start but the toughest test to date will come tonight at 7:30 p.m. when they travel to meet the Mavunga-led Brownsburg (Ind.) team.

While I was unable to locate season stats for Reimer, Mavunga is averaging 21.8 points (on 63 percent shooting), 10.2 rebounds and 3.6 blocked shots.

They were teammates on the U.S. U-16 national team as Mavunga averaged 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds with Reimer contributing 4.8 and 5 rebounds as the United States squad swept through five games to win the FIBA Americas 16 title in June.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

A high basketball IQ is part of Mosqueda-Lewis' skill set

It is easy to look at the way freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis plays and focus on the near perfect shooting form and incredibly quick release. But there were two plays she made during the recently-completed World Vision Classic which impressed me more than any of the 3-pointers she drained over the weekend.

The first one happened in Saturday's game against Buffalo. Mosqueda-Lewis was on the left wing when one of her teammates put up a shot just a few feet away from where she was standing. As the ball was about to carom off the rim, Mosqueda-Lewis instinctively sprinted across the lane and was in perfect position to corral the offensive rebound.

Then on Sunday Mosqueda-Lewis was at the front of the Huskies' 2-2-1 press. She was supposed to pressure the player in the corner which she was doing. Then she quickly peeled off her responsibility and curled back into the path of the Dayton player who had just inbounded the ball. Mosqueda-Lewis stole the ball and hit an uncontested layup as part of her 23 points against the Flyers.

After the game I asked Mosqueda-Lewis about that play because it is not one every player would make.

"I just noticed that when we trapped in the corner, they passed it right back to the inbounder," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "I saw her eyes and I knew she wasn't going to pass it to my man so I was going to see if she was going to pass it to the inbounder. I got lucky that she did."

There wasn't much luck involved. Since preseason UConn coach Geno Auriemma had stated that people who talk about Mosqueda-Lewis as simply being a great shooter are selling her short. I tend to agree as she clearly can think the game.

"You have to be able to anticipate things," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "Great players are able to see things before they happen, the older you get, the better you get at it. I have a lot to learn but it is slowly coming.'

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Mosqueda-Lewis honored by Big East - again

UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was named the Big East Freshman of the Week for the second week in a row.

Mosqueda-Lewis averaged 15.3 points with 11 assists, eight steals and no turnovers in a 4-0 week for the Huskies. Mosqueda-Lewis scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the victory over Stanford.   Mosqueda-Lewis scored 11 points and was just one rebound shy of a double-double against Fairleigh Dickinson and had a 23-point, six-rebound effort against Dayton, going 7-of-13 from the floor, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range.

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2 future Huskies make ESPN's national player of the year watch list

ESPN picked six players as candidates for national high school player of the year honors and making the cut are UConn signees Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck as well as UConn recruiting target Diamond DeShields.

Stewart, a 6-foot-4 senior forward at Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.), was the top choice and there is no surprise there. If the hype surrounding current UConn freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has been intense enough that Geno Auriemma has taken to referring to Mosqueda-Lewis to "Baby Jesus" to the media, one can only imagine what nickname he will come up with for the multi-faceted Stewart.  Next on the list is Duke incoming freshman Alexis Jones followed by Tuck, a 6-foot-2 forward at Bolingbrook (Ill.) High and DeShields, a 6-foot-2 junior wing at Norcross (Ga.) High. Former UConn recruiting target and University of Southern California commit Jordan Adams (a former high school teammate of Mosqueda-Lewis) and Nazareth sophomore Bianca Cuevas round out the list of candidates.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Putting World Vision Classic into focus

Just a few thoughts from the past three days of action from the World Vision Classic. First, the results were pretty much status quo for tournament of this type. UConn won its three games by a total of 142 points. Geno Auriemma was asked about why this field was so weak but a quick look back to the last two regular-season tournaments hosted by the Huskies shows that UConn won by a total of 134 points against Howard, Lehigh and Louisiana State in 2010 and by 138 against Hofstra, Richmond and Clemson. The only real difference is that none of the other three teams came from a BCS conference.

With Tennessee leading Baylor in the second half, UConn was extremely close from ascending to No. 1 in the national polls. Probably nobody was happier to see that top-ranked Baylor rallied for a 76-67 win than Auriemma. With a team where two sophomores start and three freshmen play key roles off the bench, the last thing Auriemma wants is the added pressure of being the No. 1 team in the country this early in the season.

"The last time I checked, you had to have some All-Americans on your team to be No. 1, don't those two things go together?" Auriemma said. "I don't think it would be fair for us to be No. 1 in the country."

Auriemma did say he'd like to have more games like the one against Stanford than the three blowouts against overmatched teams like what transpired over the weekend.

"I'd like to do more of that," Auriemma said. "I think the whole month of November and early December, there should be a tremendous amount of non-conference games against really good opponents because I do think it creates excitement for the rest of the season. Unfortunately TV wants some in January, some in February and they want to spread them around I think all those November, early December game, I know I would rather play more of them. Trying to balance how many home games you have to play, how many top 25, top 30 teams you have to play. It is not an easy juggling act but I know I would like to do more of it and look into that for the next two or three years and see how many we could put together. You can't always get people to agree. You'd be surprised how many teams who don't want to do it, There are five, six, seven, eight schools who want to do it but we already play them but then there are a bunch of schools who don't want to do it. Carol Stiff (of ESPN) has a hard time putting games together because some schools say 'I don't want to do it' which I find hard to believe."

As for the action, UConn's average margin of victory was the second most in program history for a regular-season tournament. The Huskies beat Morgan State and Rhode Island by an average of 56.5 points in the 1994 Connecticut Classic, Still, Auriemma did not come away completely pleased with what he saw from his team.

"When we are good, we are pretty good," Auriemma said. "When we are not, we are something less than good. I don't know what that is. Sometimes when you are not good, you are awful or you just kind of bad or sloppy. When we are good, we are really good but when we are not playing well and we are not in sync we throw the ball around too much, we throw it away too much. That is my biggest complaint over the last three days that we either score or throw the ball away. I don't think that is going to get it against really good teams."

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Another record streak for the Huskies

Just when UConn coach Geno Auriemma thought he had run out of streaks to talk about, he was asked about the Huskies' NCAA women's basketball record home winning streak after Sunday's game against Dayton.

UConn set the NCAA Division I record of 69 consecutive home games last year but the NCAA women's basketball record for all divisions was 88 set by Division III Rust  from Jan. 23, 1982-Feb. 21, 1989. UConn's 78-38 win was No. 89 in a row for the Huskies.

"I don't keep track of that stuff. People were talking the other day. I guess Maya Moore didn't lose a home game, her and Lorin (Dixon) in the four years they were here," Auriemma said. "That is pretty incredible to go home after every game and it is a 'W.' I don't think that happens at very many places. I love the consistency of our program, I love how we approach things every year. We kind of give you the same thing day in and day out for the most part. We are hard to play against I would hope, home or away.

"It is a long time, for sure, to not lose a game. After a while you don't even think about it. Obviously we had the best teams in the country for the past five years when you think about who we've had, whose graduated so in that respect home and away, we win a lot of games at home and a lot of games on the road. I am sure that streak will end soon, like everything else does."

Many of those wins were similar to the this weekend's games when UConn defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, Buffalo and Dayton by an average of 47.3 points but there have also been wins against national powers like Stanford, Baylor and Notre Dame.

If Auriemma had his way there would be more of those types of game earlier in the season. He loves the fact the UConn faced Stanford on Monday, Notre Dame and Duke battled down to the wire on Saturday and today Baylor squared off with Tennessee.

"I'd like to do more of that. I think the whole month of November and early December, there should be a tremendous amount of non-conference games against really good opponents because I do think it creates excitement for the rest of the season, Auriemma said. "Unfortunately TV wants some in January, some in February and they want to spread them around. I think all those November, early December game, I know I would rather play more of them. You're trying to balance how many home games you have to play, how many top 25, top 30 teams you have to play. It is not an easy juggling act but I know I would like to do more of it and look into that for the next two or three years and see how many we could put together. You can't always get people to agree. You'd be surprised how many teams who don't want to do it, There are five, six, seven, eight schools who want to do it but we already play them but then there are a bunch of schools who don't want to do it. Carol Stiff (of ESPN) has a hard time putting games together because some schools say 'I don't want to do it' which I find hard to believe."

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Tuck leads Bolingbrook to victory

UConn signee Morgan Tuck had 26 points as Bolingbrook (Ill.) defeat Twinsburg (Ohio) 50-47 Saturday on day two of the Turkey Jamm in Memphis, Tenn. Former UConn recruiting target Malina Howard, who is headed to Maryland, had 10 for Twinsburg.

Tuck opened her senior season by scoring 40 points in a 72-68 win over Riverdale of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

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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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Oklahoma State wins first game following tragedy

There are no lack of big games on the women's basketball schedule today including a showdown between Duke and Notre Dame but to me, THE game of the day had to be Oklahoma State beating Coppin State 59-35 in the first game since Cowgirls head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were among four people killed in a plane crash.

Budke's widow was among those in attendance in what must have been an incredibly emotional atmosphere. Here's a link to the write up from the Associated Press

Friday, November 25, 2011

Geno not happy despite 46-point win

Friday's game will look pretty impressive in the UConn record books with the Huskies setting a single-game record by holding Fairleigh Dickinson to five first-half points and pulling down 63 rebounds, the most since a Nov. 15, 2001 game against North Carolina.

But after letting the Huskies know now disappointed he was with how they played in the first game of the three-day World Vision Classic, Auriemma didn't pull any punches in expressing his disgust with the level of basketball he saw from his team.

"I thought it was the worst exhibition of basketball I have seen by two teams in the 27 years I have been at Connecticut," Auriemma said. "We should give everybody a refund, it was embarrassment I don't know what that was but it wasn't anything I am used to seeing. It was just two bad teams playing bad basketball.

"Regardless of the score, we ought to complete that pass, that pass or that pass, get this shot if we want that shot or that shot if we want that shot. We ought to be able to make a free throw (UConn was 8 of 19 from the foul line). We ought to be able to do some things that you go and work really hard on practice every day. You aren't really looking at what the score is. You just want your team to play some semblance of good basketball and I didn't see any of that today."

Wait, he was just warming up.

"We are a very immature bunch. We probably came out of the game Monday (when UConn beat No. 3 Stanford) and thought that was really hard and this would be real easy. It is just immature. We have too many players who aren't quite ready yet to put together the kind of consistent (effort)  you would like to see.

"You are playing to make yourself feel better. You aren't really concerned about who the opponent is or say 'oh it is only natural.' Maybe it is when you are playing somebody who is struggling as much as (FDU) is that your concentration would go away or your intensity level would drop. I tell my players all the time that we just won by (46) and you can't sit there and say 'we feel really good, we got a lot accomplished.' After tomorrow's game you want to be able to sit there and say we got a lot done Maybe it was something they ate. Maybe when you eat too much turkey, you play like a turkey."

After the game the players said they understood why they drew Auriemma's ire.

"It's just a matter of if you want to play great for all 40 minutes or not," said UConn senior guard Tiffany Hayes said. "I think some of the times we took possessions off and that is what happens.That is one of the first things we said when we got to the locker room is that it is today and we still two games to redeem
ourselves."

The good news is that UConn will be playing games in the next two days rather than suffer the wrath of an irate Auriemma.

"We definitely would rather play a game than go to practice tomorrow," Hayes said. "We are thankful for that, Thanksgiving just passed and we are thankful for that."

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UConn closing in on another record

The day before UConn played Stanford, Huskies coach Geno Auriemma was asked about the possibility to Stanford ending another of Connecticut's record streaks.

While Auriemma was fully aware of his team's NCAA basketball record winning streak which reached 90 before it was snapped by Stanford last year, he claimed he was unaware of where the Huskies home winning streak stood in the history of the sport. He was informed that it was at 85 (now at 86) which is the NCAA Division I record. Auriemma shrugged off the accomplishment as he tends to do with all streaks and records other than the ones involving the Final Four or national championships.

"It's going to end," Auriemma said. "It's not going to last forever. (UConn is) not going to win every game for the rest of my coaching career. Will there be a huge media contingent there tomorrow night to see us (extend) the record? Who gives a ..., that is so bad all of that stuff."
I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the Hall of Fame coach, but barring a major and I do mean major upset this week, UConn's home streak will reach another milestone on Sunday.

UConn's 86 straight home wins currently ranks third among all three NCAA divisions. Division II Nebraska-Kearney won 87 in a row from Jan. 31, 1995 to Nov. 24, 2001 while Division III Rust won 88 straight home games from Jan. 23, 1982-Feb. 21, 1989. With wins tonight against Fairleigh Dickinson and Saturday against Buffalo, UConn would go for its record 89th straight home win on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. against Dayton. For anybody wondered about the men's basketball NCAA record for consecutive home wins, the Huskies have some serious work to do to catch Kentucky's run of 129 straight wins at home from 1943-55.

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