Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Brianna Banks stars in win over Holy Family

Opponents knew that UConn would be adding dynamic freshmen Brianna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson and the trio has not disappointed in the two preseason games.

But it can't warm the hearts of those who have to play the Huskies this season to hear of the remarkable transformation of Brianna Banks from seldom-used freshman to being a key role player in her sophomore season.

Banks made her final seven shots and scored 20 points (needing just nine shots) to go with five rebounds and  five assists.

But more than anything, she looked decisive when she had a chance to make a play.


"I am pleased," Banks said. "I still have a lot of work to do but if I feel like if I work hard enough I will get there.

"I know what my role is on the team. I know what it is and I know where to go, what to do, what places everybody needs to be at."

So what is that role?
"To be a ball handler, a potential slasher to be a good defensive player."

Last year the UConn coaches were hoping Banks could come in and immediately provide the Huskies with another guard off the bench. But she clearly wasn't ready for that responsibility so she was merely somebody who helped run the clock out late in games.

Banks headed home to Georgia for a few weeks to clear her head and try to figure out why things didn't go so well in her freshman season. When she got back to campus, the difference in her was noticeable to her teammates and coaches."




"I would Shea (Ralph) is probably Brianna's biggest supporter, biggest fan and works with her every day," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Me, I just complain all the time how I want her to be more confident, more assertive with the ball.

"From where she was last year to where she is now, it is not even close. You watch her with how athletic she is and how explosive she is. if you are making 3's it is really difficult for people to keep (her) in front (of them)."

Breanna Stewart led UConn with 21 points in the 119-50 win over Holy Family. She had a few possessions which made you just shake your head in amazement sort of like when Maya Moore was a freshman at UConn. The possession that stands out to me came on defense when she was at the front of the press, raced to the other side of the court to contest a perimeter jumper and then got to the basket to grab the rebound.

Seven different players scored in double figures while two of those who failed to crack double digits were Kelly Faris and Kiah Stokes who finished with nine assists and six blocked shots respectively. All of this was done without All-American guard Bria Hartley, who missed her second straight preseason game with a sprained left ankle.

Auriemma was not sure if she would play in Sunday's season opener against the College of Charleston. UConn won't practice on Thursday and she will need to return to practice this weekend to have a chance to play. Auriemma said that Hartley has given him no indication how she is feeling in the last day or two. It seems more and more likely that Hartley will be held out of Sunday's game and would return on Nov. 18 when UConn plays at Texas A&M. If Hartley can't play, Auriemma said he wasn't sure if he would start Jefferson (as he did in both preseason games) or senior Caroline Doty. Auriemma said he prefers not to let Doty's surgically repaired left knee get cold by sitting on the bench at the start of games but he was encouraged by how comfortable Doty looked coming off the bench Wednesday.

UConn did have a sluggish start and midway through the first half found themselves down to Holy Family. Auriemma knew that the Division II powerhouse would be raring to go tonight.

"The players didn't know that this team didn't come up from Philadelphia just to see how much they were going to lose by," Auriemma said. "One of their kids sent something out on twitter the day that the game was announced last year saying I've got this date marked on my calendar, I am playing at UConn. When I answered her, she said 'Coach, thanks for talking to me.' This kid, this is like the highlight of her career. They are not coming up her to see how many they can lose by. If our guys are thinking 'it is a snowy night in Hartford, it is an hour to get here from campus and it is a Division II team ...' The frustrating part is they have to understand that teams come to play. That team made seven 3's in the first half. We go a month sometimes without giving up seven 3's so the frustration is that every year you have to go through the same thing.

"Remember the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman", Richard Gere shows up and Louis Gossett starts ripping him from the very first day. There are only two things that come from Oklahoma and he is killing him. He goes through the whole 12 weeks, they have their dress whites on and they are going where they are going. Here comes another bus comes and you see Louis Gossett go 'where you from? Montana. You know only two things come from ...' It is the same thing. It reminds you that every year you have to go through the same procedure with every group. It doesn't matter how much experience they have, ow much talent they have. This is a reminder today that you have to go through the process every single year

"Anybody who says that we just played Holy Family or Indiana (Pa.) and that game is going to determine the look of this team. No. It's just the first week. We could play Sunday against Charleston and look 10 times better than we looked the last two games or we could look like 'man, I thought these guys where going to be really good.' We can go to Texas A&M and get blown out or we could go there and win easy. Every year you have to go through the same things. I've got to tell you as a coach, I'm 58 it is a pain in the (butt)."

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