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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, November 16, 2012

UConn has had mixed results with small recruiting classes

In a perfect world the UConn women's basketball program would bring in three or four recruits every season.

However, history has shown that simply is not a realistic expectation. There has been a trend of UConn coach Geno Auriemma and his staff securing a sensational group of recruits one season followed by a class of one the following year.

That is what happened after Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams highlighted perhaps the best recruiting class in women's basketball history as the following season Kennitra Johnson was the only UConn signee.

Fast forward to 2008 and a trio of high-proflile recruits (Elena Delle Donne, Tiffany Hayes and Caroline Doty) were the big names in another much ballyhooed recruiting class. Once again getting recruits to sign on the dotted line was not easy chore. When the signing period came and went, Kelly Faris was the lone member of the Huskies' recruiting class.

In a case of it being like deju vu all over again, a year after the terrific trio of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck there will be only one scholarship freshman coming into the program for the third time in the last 15 years.

After her signing party on Wednesday, Ossining (N.Y.) guard Saniya Chong talked about her feelings being the only freshman (barring walkons) joining the Huskies next season.

"I would say I am a little nervous because I am basically go out there by myself," Chong said. "I have to find my own way as a freshman, I have to do my own things but it is going to be a challenge and I am looking forward to it."

Things did not end well when Johnson was the lone recruit. Johnson was a valuable reserve as a freshman on the 1999-2000 national championship team but she transferred following her sophomore season.

The situation couldn't be more different with Faris who has been an underrated and underappreciated member of three straight Final Four squads.

Auriemma could easily pass as the president of the Kelly Faris fan club.

"You talk about missing people, she is going to hard to replace," Auriemma said.."I don't think you find players like that every day. If I said 'look we are only going to recruit Kelly Faris types every year' we'd have a recruiting class of one every year because there just aren't that many (like her).

"She (Faris) is somebody that everybody can emulate. All of your offense is pretty much God given. You just have an ability to score points and do certain things. The stuff that Kelly does, that is just hard work. That is just a commitment that he has made to herself and to her teammates. More people should emulate her and more people should aspire to be like Kelly Faris. The game would be better and  coaching would be a lot more fun."

Her teammates also have an incredibly high opinion of the 5-foot-11 senior from Plainfield, Ind.

"Kelly, I would say that she is our best player," said UConn sophomore forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who like Faris was named to the Naismith preseason watch list. "She doesn't score the most points but Kelly does all the intangible things.I personally think if anybody were to want to play on a Connecticut  basketball team, you need to play like Kelly Faris. If you can't score, you are going to play hard and do all the things that Coach (Auriemma) wants you to do.I am always going to remember Kelly Faris for how hard she plays, she may not have all the awards but it is nice to see people recognize (that).

"I try to live up to those standards, Kelly is my lifting partner so we are pretty close so I try to emulate her. I think that is the best person I could try to emulate here."

Auriemma said that Faris, who has spent her career as an even-keel player, has been playing a little fast in practice this season.

Faris admits that the reality that his is her final season is starting to hit home.

"It is weird, it is different but at the same time it is exciting," Faris said. "You think about how fast ... I was just a freshman myself and all of a sudden I am here. You just to have to go with it, take on your role and have fun with it because it is your last go round for everything. A lot is expected of me and I am going to try to fulfill that."

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Blogger Genosguy said...

KJ Johnson was one of my favorites. She was an outstanding guard and 3 point shooter. I felt sorry for her sitting alone in the stands waiting for game time. The team was all together with KJ off and alone. She transferred to Purdue and then dropped out of sight.
Kelly Faris was much more welcomed and accepted. Chong has already been welcomed and accepted that's big.
This big class / small class thing happens to all the really good schools--Last two years ND basked in the light of their recruits from years prior. This year not so much. I'm not sure playing time is important as some think. I think it's confidence in YOUR own ability and how well you'll fit in with all those talented Huskies. It takes a good ego.

7:24 PM 

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