Dolson dominates; Hartley close to return
It didn't take long to figure out what UConn's offensive game plan was in Sunday's win over Texas A&M as the Huskies threw the ball into the low post early and often.
Stefanie Dolson made the strategy look like a stroke of genius with 20 first-half points. She ended up matching her career high with 24 points.
“Being a center, people don't think you can be a leader it always has to be a guard but being a center I am kind of seeing everything I can help people know where they have to be,” said Dolson, who was 11 of 15 from the field to net 24 points for the third time in her collegiate career.
“I am there to help my team when they need me and the guards can spread the floor it just makes it easier for me in the paint.”
Dolson admitted that it did seem easy at time to score at will against the Aggies, who are perennially one of the nation’s best defensive squads. She was not alone in that opinion.
“What we wanted to do is stop the layups which we didn't do,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. “They didn't miss anything. They share the ball tremendously. When you play as poor of a defensive game, it is easy to make your offense look good.
“Their key to their team is not (Bria) Hartley, not (Kaleena Mosqueda)-Lewis, the key to their team is Dolson. When Dolson goes out and plays like Bill Laimbeer and does her job … She is not going to score 20 something in every ball game but she was All-American tonight and made our kids look like all-district.”
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he considers Dolson to be "the personality of the team" and he didn't stop there.
“The thing that we tried to fix at yesterday's practice was we are a really good outside shooting team and the danger of that is sometimes you just come down, pass the ball once and start jacking up jump shots,” Auriemma said. “We really made a concerted effort to get the ball in the lane. With her (Dolson’s) footwork and her mobility, where she is right now mentally if we throw it to her something good is going to happen. We are either going to get a bucket, she is going to get fouled, she is going to get an assist, something good is going to happen. We felt if we keep doing that it is going to put their big guys under a lot of pressure.”
UConn junior guard Bria Hartley missed her second straight game with a sprained ankle but has a chance to return to the court when UConn plays in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands beginning Thursday. Auriemma said that Hartley took part in practice on a limited basis in the last couple of days and he will see how she looks on Tuesday and feels after that practice before determining whether she can make her season debut in the Paradise Jam later this week.
Auriemma was also complimentary of the effort by sophomore post Kiah Stokes, who had seven rebounds and three blocked shots in what he considers her best effort since the first day of official practice on Oct. 13.
"Kiah Stokes was great today, golly, there are miracles," Auriemma said. "There are things that Kiah can do that if she does those things every day she has a huge impact on our team. You see how long she is so it is hard to shoot over her. You have a defender who is a little different from Stefanie but a little more experienced than Breanna Stewart. She is long enough that she can get the rebounds that some people can't get to if she puts her mind to it."
Dolson echoed Auriemma's sentiments.
"She was doing well in practice and it showed in tonight's game because I think she has a different mindset," Dolson said.
This is the end of a home and home series between the schools and Blair said he was approached about playing UConn as part of a doubleheader in New York on Dec. 22, 2013 but declined.
“I want to keep playing but we have to grow up because it is not good for television, 30-point games,” Blair said. “We've had two straight.”
Blair said he will be playing St. John’s at Madison Square Garden that day and the hope is to have UConn play a team yet to be announced as part of the doubleheader.