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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

3 future Huskies impress in McDonald's game

One of the highlights in my eyes of yesterday's McDonald's All-American game was seeing UConn signees Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson exchanging some playful banter as the players waited for the game to begin.

After the game Wednesday night I asked the two about the "conversation."

"Just some noise talking," Jefferson said with a laugh, "I told her I was going to dunk over her and I could have dunked but I just wanted to save her the embarrassment."
Stewart responded with "yeah, yeah, yeah. I told her I was going to block her shot."

Jefferson, Stewart and fellow UConn incoming freshman Morgan Tuck all started the game but even more importantly they all finished it as well. Stewart scored seven of her nine points in the final 3:39 to help the East to a 79-78 win over the West. Tuck had 12 of her 18 points in the second half as the West team rallied fro 16 down to tie the game late before Tennessee recruit Bashaara Graves won it with a free throw with .3 seconds to play.

The affable Jefferson walked over to the TV camera and put both thumbs up, the signal for jump ball, after Katie Collier was called for the foul trying to block Graves' final attempt.
Early in the game the players acted like it was an all-star game but with the game on the line, the competitive fire in the players began to take over.

"At the end of the day you want to win the game," Stewart said. "It is a very fun event but you are still trying to win the game."

I enjoyed watching Stewart and Tuck, two skilled and refined offensive players going head to head when they were on the court together. I was not alone.

"It was definitely fun guarding (Bre), talking on the floor, have fun with each other," Tuck said. "We knew we were going to guarding each other and it was a great challenge because you don't see a Breanna Stewart every day. I definitely didn't want her to score, I tried to elevate over her but she is hard to elevate over. It is fun that in college we are going to have that (friendly competition), I am very excited to see how it is next year."

I asked each of the three to say what impressed them about the other two
Moriah Jefferson: "They play hard, they are playing as hard as I am so I know I can shake and pop or pick and roll and I know they are going to go (hard) especially Breanna with the long arms or Tuck with being able to roll from up top. It will be a great situation."
Breanna Stewart: "Just that they are always trying to win. They are very competitive and they are looking pass first and that is going to be great."

Morgan Tuck: "I like the way Moriah gets after it, she is one of the best defenders I have seen, she is quick, she is vocal, she is a leader. Breanna, she can elevate over people, she can handle and she can shoot. She is very versatile and both of them are great players."

Both Jefferson and Stewart authored the perfect ending to their glorious high school careers. Jefferson led the THESA Riders to a sixth straight National Christian HomeSchool Basketball title while Stewart led Cicero-North Syracuse to the New York Federation Class AA title, setting tournament records for both points and rebounds.

"That was the perfect way to go out in your senior year on a win, that is best," Stewart said.

Jefferson said: "It was amazing. When it happened it was like I didn't actually know, it didn't really it me until I got here that 'wow all four years of high school I was there and I was a part of something that will probably never be done again.' Everything was blank, I went into the locker room and started crying. After that I thought wow high school is over with."

Naturally I asked Tuck about winning the girls' 3-point shooting contest and she said "I am pretty versatile but I was just glad to have the opportunity to be a part of it." I also got Stewart's take on the two dunks she made during the dunking competition.

"The place went nuts," Stewart said. "I wanted to try it. I didn't know if I was going to complete them but to do the two of them, it was really nice."

Finally I asked them about their reaction to UConn reaching yet another Final Four despite losing Maya Moore, the program's all-time leading scorer, off last year's team.

"I have seen the dominance," Tuck said. "The last game was a blowout game, I am really honored to be a part of it next year."

Since they will all be playing in the WBCA All-American game, all three will be at the Final Four and be able to see the national semifinal game against Notre Dame in person.

"I can't wait for the game," Jefferson said. "I love to watch their game so I will get to see them play."

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Anonymous Lorena Wood said...

Jim -

Breanna Stewart is pigeon-toed, as you might have noticed.

Pigeon-toed athletes have allegedly been considered to be somewhat faster or more explosive than other athletes.

However, pigeon-toed athletes are allegedly at a higher risk of injury to the ankles and knees.

If you have time, would you please ask the UConn physical therapists or trainers or strength & conditioning coaches to comment on those alleged pigeon-toed theories?

I am certainly not requesting you ask any direct medical questions about Breanna.

Thanks. Enjoy the air up there.

5:41 PM 

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