Perhaps the only way that the Stefanie Dolson appreciation society could have grown any larger on Saturday would have been if UConn's junior center scored 35 points and pulled down 20 rebounds against St. John's.
However, the sense of just how important Dolson is to everything the third-ranked Huskies do on court was driven home in a significant way thanks to a stomach bug forcing her to miss a game for the first time in 2 1/2 collegiate seasons.
Seeing her team struggle to get anything going in the half-court offense was both frustrating and comforting to Dolson.
"I never missed a game so it was kind of weird for me to be on the bench," Dolson said. "They struggled but I think they were able to fight through and realized what they had to do to win the game.
"It kind of makes you feel good that my team thinks so highly of me and me being out there on the court and it just kind of makes me realize that when I was playing, I need to do a really good job of keeping me in the game which means not making dumb fouls or doing whatever else."
Dolson said the issue was likely from something she ate and her stomach was so queasy that she was unsteady on her feet and there was no way she could have played.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said she was a little bit off her game when the team practiced on Sunday but looked like her old self in Monday's practice.
Auriemma probably felt a little under the weather watching the sluggish manner in which the Huskies played against an unranked St. John's team.
"I think it stemmed from when you watch us play our rotations are really, really, really good and it is difficult for people to get an advantage on us," Auriemma said. "The thing that strikes you the most when you watch that, we gambled a lot and when we gambled they took advantage of it because we didn't respond defensively. We talked an awful lot that we have to be a better offensive rebounding team for that purpose that when teams are holding the ball and holding the ball and we come down, we shoot and we miss we have to be a better offensive rebounding team so we can rebound, score, get fouled and still get into our pressure. If we are shooting, missing and running back it is hard for us to create the tempo we want to create."
Despite the Huskies facing Marquette for the second time in less than a month, Dolson said it will be business as usual.
"It is going to be like every other game," Dolson said. "We are not going to approach it any differently, we know we have to come out and be ready for a fight from them."
Labels: Geno Auriemma, Stefanie Dolson