Over the next three days more than a few eyes will be focused on a showdown in the low blocks as UConn's Stefanie Dolson squares off with two of the best centers in college basketball.
First comes the matchup with Syracuse senior Kayla Alexander who needs 20 points to become her program's all-time leading scorer.
I doubt there are too many players who have made bigger strides from their freshmen to senior seasons than Alexander who comes into the game second in the Big East in scoring, third in rebounding and first in blocked shots.
"She has gotten so much better from freshman year and it is not like she gets a little bit better from freshman year to sophomore year she got a lot better," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Then from sophomore to junior year she got a lot better from sophomore year, not from freshman year. I watch her play now and maybe some of that is she has so many good shooters around her now that they have so many players who can score points that it has given her more opportunities to play 1 on 1 in the post. I do know that between her shooting percentage, she is a good free-throw shooter, a good shot blocker, it allows them to play four guards like they do. That has been pretty impressive to watch them play especially with three of them being freshmen. They are a really good team."
Alexander has struggled against the Huskies in the past. In the last two games against the Huskies Alexander has a total of 14 points and two rebounds. In four career games against UConn she has scored in double figures just once and her 11-point, 7-rebound performance in the 2010 Big East tournament quarterfinals was overshadowed by Tina Charles' 34-point masterpiece.
"She knows how to get down low and score in the lane, she uses her left shoulder and right shoulder really well in the lane," Dolson said. "She will be a tough post to go against but I have to come out ready, Stewie (Breanna Stewart), Kiah (Stokes) have to be ready to play in the post."
One interesting note is that this is UConn's fifth Big East game but the third time the Huskies will have to deal with a talented prospect from Canada all standing at least 6-3.
Natalie Achonwa had 10 points and 11 rebounds in Notre Dame's 73-72 win on Jan. 5, Marquette's Katherine Plouffe was held without a point or rebound in UConn's 85-51 victory a week ago and now Dolson tries her luck against Alexander.
"Canada breeds good posts apparently," Dolson said.
Once the Huskies are finished with Syracuse, there isn't much time to shift gears and get ready for Duke and the Blue Devils' talented center Elizabeth Williams. Dolson is eager to step up to the challenge.
"I think any team we play we should all take pride in who we are guarding make it a point of making sure they don't score any points," Dolson said. "When we are going against a team that has a good post both (today) and Monday it is definitely something I take personally and take it as a challenge to make sure they don't score."
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MILESTONE FOR CHONG
UConn signee became the 14th girls' high school player from New York to score 2,500 points when she had 28 points in last night's win over Norland out of Miami.
Chong, who also had four rebounds, five assists, five steals and three blocks in the 62-54 victory. She is averaging 35.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 9.6 assists and 4.2 steals per game as a senior.
Labels: Jordin Canada, Saniya Chong, Stefanie Dolson