Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cincinnati up next

On Thursday night former UConn player and assistant coach Jamelle Elliott will bring her Cincinnati squad into Gampel Pavilion as the Huskies begin a stretch of four straight games against Big East foes.

The process of attempting to build the Cincinnati program has been a slow one for Elliott. This seat the Bearcats are 9-8 but at 0-4 are one of three winless teams in Big East play.

At Big East media day I spoke with Elliott for a few minutes to check on the progress of her team. I know it's been three months but I figured some people might be interested in her take on this year's squad.

"We are putting in the work, we are looking forward to it paying off. We don't have the injuries this year so we actually are able to go down 5 on 5 and practice. I truly believe we are better at this time this year than we were last year. That has to do with the numbers and - knock on wood - we don't have any injuries so far this year. Our mindset is different. Our freshmen last year, they played a lot of minutes, they know now what it takes to compete in a conference like the Big East Conference. I think they approach every practice knowing what is down the line."

I was curious how deep she thought Cincinnati would be this season.

"I think we have a good solid eight that could potentially play a lot of minutes and we are hoping that (grows) as practice goes on," Elliott said.

This season four Cincinnati players, led by sophomore Dayeesha Hollins, rank among the top 10 in the Big East in minutes played.

When Elliott was hired, she said she'd like to have an exciting, aggressive style of play. Points have been hard to come by at times during her stint so I asked her if we could expect more of an uptempo style this season.

"More than last season, yes," Elliott said. "I don't think last year we were able to score a whole lot of points in transition just because our point guard was injured and we couldn't be as mobile and push the ball as much. This year we have a point guard that wants to push it and we have big guys willing to run the floor so I think we definitely will score more in transition this year."

Even after being on the receiving end of the worst loss in program history, North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said she likes to play UConn and would like to continue the series. However, even before the 51-point beat down, the word I was hearing that ESPN had tired of airing the UConn/North Carolina games only to see the game decided by the second television timeout.

With Maryland being added to the UConn schedule for the next two seasons, it's uncertain if North Carolina will be playing UConn in the immediate future. It's just me talking but I doubt Maryland is dying to have a long-term rivalry with UConn so after the two-year agreement with the Terrapins comes to an end, perhaps North Carolina and UConn could resume their series. I look at Oklahoma in a similar light. The North Carolina game becomes sort of irrelevant now that UConn is set to play Duke and Maryland for the next two seasons while regular-season games against Texas A&M and Baylor makes me wonder what the purpose of playing Oklahoma would be. Another thing to ponder is whether the new-look Big East would go to an 18-game schedule. If that's the case, there would be two fewer non-conference slots making the prospects of playing three teams from one conference a bit on the unlikely side.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone know why UConn has not set up games against Penn State? The old coach has been gone a few years, and Penn State has been consistently ranked. Should pose a more interesting challenge than some of the powder-puff teams they play in each fall. Seems a natural regional rival.

10:45 AM 

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