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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Stef Dolson comes up big in win over Stanford

In her typical self-effacing manner, UConn junior center Stefanie Dolson put the emphasis on the word "little" when comparing Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike speed and athleticism to her own. Without missing a beat, UConn coach Geno Auriemma leaned over towards Dolson in the post-game press conference and held his thumb and forefinger a fraction of an inch apart.

Yet, here was Dolson not only being assigned to cover the dynamic Ogwumike but playing a starring role in holding Ogwumike to 6 of 22 shooting in UConn's victory over No. 1 Stanford.

Two years ago foul trouble limited Dolson to play 17 minutes in a loss in UConn's last trip to Maples Pavilion. However, Dolson stood strong in the lane against Ogwumike and managed to play physical defense without being so physical that she was dealing with foul trouble once again.

"There is no way she would be able to accomplish today what she accomplished two years ago," Auriemma said. "It is 180 degree difference between two years ago here and to today. It is a credit to Stefanie, how much time she has put in and it means to her to be able to do what she did today.

"You are thrilled that she could stay in the game and the whole time she is in the game she is effective. Two years ago when she wasn't in the game we weren't as good of a team. When she was getting into foul trouble we were never as good as we thought we could do but her conditioning is so much better, her knowledge of the game is so much better, she doesn't get herself into bad spots and she makes so many good plays for us that people don't see because they don't show up in the box score all the time. To play against Chiney and to come out here and play the way she did and handle herself the way she did in that many minutes I think that say a lot about her. I hope everybody noticed the impact that she had on the game."

Dolson finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds, which is one more than Ogwumike managed to secure.

Marisa Moseley, who is Dolson's position coach, drew the assignment of scouting Stanford and shortly after the team landed in Calfornia after being given a few days off to go home for the holidays, the plan was put into place to have Dolson get the first crack at slowing down Ogwumike. Dolson was thrilled that her coaches had enough confidence in her to draw the task of shadowing the Stanford star.

"We knew coming into the game that they are a great offensive team and Chiney is an All-American for a reason so we knew we were going to have to tighten up our defense, play our best defensive game," Dolson said. "I think we all came out with a great defensive mentality of buckling down and keeping girls in front of us, not letting them get a lot of 3's and not letting them getting a lot of shots. I think we did a pretty good job with.

"CD (associate head coach Chris Dailey) and Ris (Moseley) definitely emphasized what Chiney is good at and what she is going to do on the court so I just had a lot of information going into the game. I was able to execute on defense, keep her in front of me. She is definitely a little quicker than me but I was able to read what she was going to do."

Dolson put in extra time in the offseason working out harder than she ever has before and also refined her diet all in the name of being in the best shape possible so she could become the reliable force in the middle on both offense and defense for the Huskies.

"Two years ago I don't know if I could have done what I did out there and the team, it feels good to know what I did paid off and I was able to help my team individually which was able to help our team," Dolson said.

Dolson was an emotional wreck after the loss to Stanford two years ago as she felt her inability to stay on the court was too much for her teammates to overcome. Her emotions were significantly more upbeat following Saturday's game.

"It was completely opposite," Dolson said. "Obviously two years ago we lost, it ended our streak and it was a horrible loss. For us to come out here and play as well as we did and play Connecticut basketball, play hard and out work them and it was a great feeling."

The greatest compliment given to Dolson probably came from teammate Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

"There is a huge change in her. I played with her when she was 16 and she was Big Stef. Now she is littlier Stef," Mosqueda-Lewis said with a laugh. "She has progressed a lot and turned into the best post in the country I think. She is setting a higher standard for herself and she has put our team on our back."

Now the people down in Baylor might beg to differ with Mosqueda-Lewis on who is the nation's top post player but there was no doubting the role Dolson played in helping Stanford set program lows for field goals and field-goal percentage in a game.

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Anonymous Dave Butler said...

Jim, how does Stef compare to Tina in career totals at this stage in their careers? Is Stef on pace to surpass Tina's career totals at the end of next season? Thanks.

12:13 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

If Stefanie keeps up her current pace she would end up in the 1,700-1,800 mark for points and have a chance at 1,000 rebounds. Charles had 2,346 points and 1,367 rebounds so Dolson won't approach those numbers.

Geno compares her more to Kara Wolters who was more of a true center as if Dolson. Charles was more of a power forward who thrived as a center for UConn.

7:33 PM 
Anonymous Dave Butler said...

Thanks for the detailed information and comparisons. Great work to support your readers. Enjoy tomorrow's game. I cannot as I have DirecTV. I chose that provider for NFL Sunday Ticket to watch the Giants and Packers every week.

9:38 PM 

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