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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Geno: Kelly Faris has performance for "the ages"

Kelly Faris' 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists line in the boxscore simply does not do justice to the way the UConn senior played in Monday night's 79-49 win over Duke.

She simply outhustle every other player on the court and played with such energy and determination that you have to wonder if members of the Duke team stole the last piece of pizza from under her nose or insulted her entire family.

When Faris checked out of the game for the final time with 1:36 remaining, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was waiting with an emotional bear hug and the UConn student section let loose with chants of “Kel-ly Far-is, Kel-ly Far-is.”After the game Auriemma but Faris’ performance in the class of some of the best he has ever witnessed during his 28 years at the helm of the Huskies.

“What happened in the second half was indescribable,” Auriemma said. “That is one of those occasions when you are watching it in the stands, you were on the bench, if you were part of what Kelly did tonight, you just saw a performance that people are going to be talking about for a long time. There have been some great players playing in this building, there have been some legends playing in this building but I don't think there has anybody who represented that uniform, herself and her family like that kid did tonight. That was one for the ages right there.”

Admitting to an empty feeling when UConn failed to close out Notre Dame, Faris was flying through the air grabbing rebounds, tipping away passes, making clutch shots all while shutting down Duke junior point guard Chelsea Gray.

“I think it was a lot of built up frustration from the last couple of games and practices,” Faris said. “We have seen what we can do as a team when we all come together like that. Coach was pretty mad at halftime and I think it might have been as mad as he has been in a while. We were mad; we knew we were better than that. When we came out in the second half, when we bring the energy, we feed off of each other."

It was the scrappy fashion with which the Huskies won the game which delighted Faris.

“That makes it a lot of fun when it is more about the hustle plays, who is going to come up with the ball and who is going to do that?” Faris said. “When you do that and you are lying on the ground with the ball and you have four teammates come over and pick you up and they are all excited, you are like 'OK, let's go do it again.' That happened on almost every play no matter who was on the court, who dove for the ball, who got a tip on the ball, one of our players was constantly there to get the ball.”

Following the game, Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie used the word "soft" to describe her team's play but that word was never uttered when I asked her about Faris' performance.

"She plays like a senior. She is a good example to a lot of young kids. You don't have to have awesome size in order to get the job done. I think she is 5-11. maybe 5-10,  but the reality of it is that she gets it done. She plays very, very hard and she plays unaffected and I thought she was just great for her team."

Auriemma said that Faris' subpar performance against Duke last season would be something that wouldn't sit well with his senior leader but Faris seemed to draw more inspiration from some recent efforts that were not up to her normal standards.

"I have been rally frustrated with how I've played, especially offensively with the turnovers, it is ridiculous," Faris said. "I tihnk I had three tonight which is still too many, I shouldn't be getting that many. I am motivated to get back to how I know I can play, slow down, stop trying to fix everything and trying to do too much. I think the second half we all did that."

On my drive home I tried to figure out what Faris' relentless pursuit of every loose ball reminded me of and about all I could come up with was when John Lynch was in his prime as the starting strong safety with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lynch's teammate Warren Sapp gave Lynch the nickname "friendly fire" due to the way that Lynch hit anything that moved which occasionally included his own teammates. There was more than once that Faris wrestled a loose ball away from her own teammates.

"I was a little scared, she actually did steal a couple of rebounds from me," UConn sophomore forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said with a laugh. "When Kelly is going full speed like that you kind of feel like 'all right, Kelly's doing her thing tonight and we have to do our part.' We have to make sure we are matching her energy.

"Kelly kept coming out of nowhere. One of the rebounds, it literally bounced between two Duke players and I thought they were going to grab it. They came out of nowhere, zipped in and grabbed the ball." 

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Anonymous Selective Memory said...

Geno, let me refresh your memory about performances for the ages. Diana, her entire junior season and especially March Madness, carried the freshmen and sophomores to an NCAA title.

Maya single handedly kept UConn in the game against Notre Dame in the Final Four semi final. She scored 36 while he deer-in-the-headlights team watched helplessly.

Tina scored 25 points and grabbed 19 rebounds against Louisville in the National Championship.

5:19 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geno and Shea should be ASHAMED of throwing the UConn reserves under the bus at halftime. UConn's big 6 committed 90% of the turnovers. Jefferson, Stokes, Tuck, and Buck had 0 combined turnovers. Geno will do anything to prevent his reserves from playing. Every notice that his reserves always allegedly practice poorly the week of big games? Just an excuse to keep KML and Hartley happy with minutes.

8:28 AM 

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