Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

More than one missed shot doomed Huskies

While many will point to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' final wayward 3-pointer as the cause of Huskies' latest loss to Notre Dame (and it was the focus of the game story I just filed) the fact is that many factors put the Huskies in position to need a late shot just to escape with a win.

"It is not like one play lost the game for us, we just have to try to not make as many mistakes," UConn freshman forward Breanna Stewart said.

I could sense by the intensity in Geno Auriemma's voice at yesterday's practice that he wanted to win Saturday's game probably as much as any regular-season game in recent memory. Perhaps those vibes rubbed off on his team in a negative way because it was clear that the Huskies were as tense as could be especially in the first half.

This was never more evident than over a stretch of 2:20 when UConn missed four straight shots and committed two turnovers to allow the Fighting Irish to break a 20-20 game with a 9-0 run. The Huskies were playing from behind for the rest of the first half. The Huskies were fortunate to only be within two by halftime.

"We might have been a little overanxious," Auriemma said.

It also didn't help that the Huskies were perimeter happy in the first half as 14 of the 39 shots in the opening 20 minutes were from 3-point range. UConn had a little better ratio in the second half with nine of the 32 shots coming from 3-point range.

Another issue is that the double-post offense is still a work in progress. Ideally with the way the Stefanie Dolson can finish around the basket, she would be the best option to stay in the low post with Breanna Stewart working in the high post. The only problem is that passing wise, Stewart has still some work to do. This was the third straight game she failed to record an assist and seventh time that happened in the first 13 games.

Stewart very much played like a freshman as evidenced by her 5 of 17 shooting performance and four turnovers. She admitted after the game that she was playing too fast and wants to learn from this game. I think people forget that every great UConn player has endured growing pains early in their careers and Stewart is not immume to that.

Bria Hartley also struggled for most of the game and Caroline Doty was not an offensive presence. Adding to the issues was that UConn relied almost exclusively on six players in the second half. Brianna Banks played just two minutes in the second half, Moriah Jefferson played just a minute and that was more than Morgan Tuck played. Between now and the next time the Huskies play Notre Dame, Auriemma needs to have more faith in those players. In particular I thought this was at least the second game that Banks played pretty well in the first half and barely got off the bench in the second half.

Despite all of this the Huskies came one jump shot away from remaining undefeated. Another positive sign is that UConn has solid leadership with Kelly Faris and Dolson among those players who have taken ownership of the team. Both players vowed to use this game and loss as a chance to move forward.

"It is frustrating, it is embarrassing," Faris said. "They beat us five out of the last six games so when that happens it is embarrassing, it really is. They came here on our home court in front of a sold-out crowd and beat us. They did a lot more things good than we did. We came out in the second half with a better mentality, better focus but it was way too late.

"It is the same stuff. We come down to the end, we have the game in our hands and we come down and lose it. It is frustrating for me because that is my responsibility I am an upperclassman, I am a leader of the team, I am supposed to know what to do, I am supposed to figure out a way to win the game from start to finish. I didn't come out defensively setting the tone or offensively. This one is pretty frustrating because this one is on me."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a die-hard UCONN fan I'm upset by this loss but at the same time , a tough loss like this fuels the fire in each and every player on the team.. This team just needs to trust one another and play smarter, harder the next time around.. Obviously, we the fans out there would want this team to still be ranked #1 but we all know it's not gonna happen.. It's only January so there's still plenty of time for this team to improve on things needed to be tougher next time and hopefully be on the better end of the game unlike today.. Talent alone does not win games.. Hardwork, perseverance are ingredients needed toile this happen.. UCONN will rebound for sure..

10:48 PM 
Anonymous UConn Husky Fan (UHF) said...

It's not rocket science.

Every year, CT media and UConn fans buy into the ridiculous over hyped rankings of HoopGurlz, Peach State Basketball, Blue Star, etc.

Be objective. Watch tapes of UConn games without sound and without prejudice. You will see the obvious.

Doty's box score is empty against top teams. Stop blaming her knee injuries. Doty was never going to be something special. She is a role player.

Tuck is the most overrated big in UConn history. Where is all this toughness that UConn fans bragged about? Where is all the talent?

I have said it many times and I will say it again. Jefferson is an overhyped Dixon. Terrible outside shooter who gets lost amongst the trees when she drives to the hoop. She built her high school stats playing against players her own size.

Stewart falls down because she is severely pigeon-toed, inhibiting her balance. Stewart also has foot-drop, drags one foot without contact. If the UConn trainers are not working to correct this, they should be fired.

Even before this UConn game, the word was out that UConn hates physical play. Why is that? Really. UConn has male practice players. So why is UConn not tougher?

Geno is a 6 or 7 player rotation coach, regardless of how many over hyped freshmen or sophomores on his team. Geno gives the press all sorts of excuses about players not earning playing time in practice. Players never get better unless they play in real games.

Geno won 7 NC with 7 POY. There is no one on UConn capable of being in the Top 5 voting for POY this year. UConn will not play in the NC game this season.

11:31 AM 
Blogger JC said...

Great points Jim. I agree with much of what you say. Here are my thoughts:

Will the real Bria Hartley please stand up? I'm not sure if its rust or she's still healing but Bria is not the Bria we've watched for 2 years.

Stewart needs to relax and just play. But it would help if she knew the offense. She doesn't and because of that she just shoots when she gets her hands on the ball. Her teammates are beginning to be frustrated with her play (look at Kelly's comments in Jacobs column, and Dolson calling her out in the locker room during/after the PSU game).

Geno needs to trust Banks and let her play. We all love Doty but the truth is she does not impact the game against good teams. She just doesn't. Geno seems dug in on playing her (e.g., his comments after the Oregon game) but it's hurting the team.

12:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are all off base.If Stef is calling out Breanna, which I don't think she is doing, she is the last person to talk. Look at how poorly she played last year as a sophomore. Breanna is a freshman and still learning. They do need to decide how the two post offense is going to work. Breanna has no experience with that type of offense. It didn't work for the Knicks with Willis Reed and Walt Bellamy, and it didn't work for the Houston Rockets with Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. Is it surprising that there is still a lot of work to do with an eighteen and twenty year old trying to find their way. Give it time. Also, wasn't Kelly one of the ones who missed an open layup and didn't McBride torch her for twenty-one points. There should be no finger pointing. They are all at fault. They all need to get better.

9:11 PM 

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