Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Auriemma has no concerns about 11-player roster

A year ago the thought was that the 2012-13 could be one of the deepest UConn women's basketball teams in a while with only Tiffany Hayes moving on and three prized recruits coming into the program.

However, with the offseason departures of Michala Johnson and Lauren Engeln, the Huskies will have an 11-player roster as they did last season. That is fine with UConn coach Geno Auriemma who said having a smaller roster is not an issue at practice because of the use of male practice players.

"We need a lot of guys to get a lot of minutes," Auriemma said. "Unfortunately or fortunately, for Michala and Lauren not to be here is kind of a blessing for them and blessing for us because they weren't going to play. Now we have 11 players who for the most part are going to play and in some way, shape or form are going to be deserving to play. I think that makes practices even better and even more competitive. I am looking forward to that. We haven't had that in a while.

"You take a chance on kids when you are recruiting them. They are not all Jamelle Elliotts or Meghan Pattysons or Jessica Moores. Some kids who take a chance on and they get here and it doesn't work out. While they are here and it is not working out, it is a drain. I know everybody loves to see them in the last two minutes 'oh aren't they cute and why aren't they playing more?' They don't realize it is a drain because they can't keep up with everybody at practice and it make it difficult so going into the season feeling like it is going to be more competitive than ever."

As for this UConn team Auriemma said the players should start returning to campus as early as this weekend and he is excited about the potential of the group. He went as far as saying that he doesn't see himself as a candidate to coach the U.S. Olympic team in 2016 because he wants to devote all of his energy on coaching UConn for the next four years and that the next couple of seasons could be "special."

Auriemma was asked if any of his current UConn players could be in the mix for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. First, he expressed hope that three-time Olympians Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi will be around to play on that team but if that is not the case any players with previous USA Basketball experience could find themselves in the equation.

"Four years in a long time, a lot can happen between now and then," Auriemma said. "I think the beauty of USA Basketball is  you start paying it at age 15 or 16, thwey don't do that just because they don't know what to do. They try to identify the best 16 year olds and say 'OK, how many Olympians do you think we can develop?' If you see kids moving through the system and they are still key players then that is what USA's goal is to bring kids through the system so when the Olympics come around they have a pool of players that they know are going to fill the bill. As long as our guys keep playing USA Basketball, keep being effective and keep bringing home gold medals then they've got a chance. Anybody who has ever won a gold medal at any level like Morgan (Tuck) has, like Breanna (Stewart) has, like Kaleena (Mosqueda-Lewis) has as Stefanie (Dolson) and Bria (Hartley) have obviously is in the mix but what happens over the next four years is anybody's guess."

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