January losses can be beneficial
When UConn won the 2000 national title, the only blemish on the Huskies' record came in a Feb. 2 loss to Tennessee at home. There are more than a few people who believe that UConn would not have won the 2003 national title if not for the chance to refocus after a loss to Villanova in the Big East tournament.
The Huskies had today off and will return to practice tomorrow. Something tells me that when the UConn coaching staff harp on things the Huskies aren't doing particularly well they might be a bit more receptive to cleaning up their flaws.
“There are things that we have to do that we have to get better at,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after Saturday’s 73-72 loss to the Fighting Irish. “In that respect I don't think we are different than any other team in the country. There are things that we need to improve on and I think on January 5 every team that is playing feels like there are a lot of things they have to improve on. The question is in two months who improves the most of all the teams that feel like they have a chance to win a national championship.
“You play games like this in your league because they expose some things you are not good at and we exposed some things they are not good at. If that last shot by Kaleena goes in, they are not going home feeling like they aren't any good and we don't go back to the locker room thinking we've got everything covered. A game like this probably does some guys on our team more good than a win would do. Unfortunately you hate to say that but that is what games at this time of the year are for.”
Maybe if the Huskies brought their very best and still came up short against Notre Dame these would be trying times at UConn. However, there is not one Connecticut player who can say they played at the highest level possible.
“We have to do a better job of really taking control of this team, bringing them along with us and leading them and they have to be willing to follow,” UConn junior center Stefanie Dolson said. “They have done a great job of it and I think we are all going to get better from here
“(Notre Dame) came out and did a great job of just being tough offensively and defensively. It is something I am extremely angry about. I repeat it myself a few times that it is only January. We have a lot of games and a lot of practices left and we are going to get better from here. We are going to take a day off to rest our minds and then be ready. Everybody has to come in, step up and practice the hardest they have ever practiced. That always has to be one of your best practices against a loss.”