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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Current UConn squad keeps Geno guessing

In a perfect world UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma would have a restful night's sleep.

With two seniors and two juniors among his core of key players, Auriemma should have a pretty good idea what he will get from his players heading into tomorrow's regular-season finale.

However, that simply is not the case. Auriemma can count on sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis making an offensive impact on the game as she is enjoying one of the best shooting years of any player he has ever coached. He knows Dolson will hit a few foul-line jumpers and battle Notre Dame's Natalie Achonwa inside and he is fairly certain that Kelly Faris will fill up the stat sheet in every category while looking to atone for a difficult defensive game against Kayla McBride the last time UConn and Notre Dame squared off.

But that's pretty much all that he is certain of.

Bria Hartley is coming off a nightmarish game. She not only missed all 11 of her field-goal attempts but wasn't particularly close on nearly all of them and she made some decisions with the ball that if they are repeated tomorrow will likely result in a Notre Dame layup at the other end. The freshmen (Moriah Jeffers0n, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck) showed their age in the South Florida game while senior guard Caroline Doty again struggled to make an impact.

"This is kind of an unusual year, everything has been so unsettled. I don't remember a year as unsettled as this one where right from Oct. 15 nothing has been quote right and maybe that is just the way it is going to be," Auriemma said.

"If you are an outsider and you are objectively looking at our team and you would say who have been the three healthiest guys on our team that haven't missed a beat, Kaleena, Stefanie and Kelly. Everybody else has struggled to maintain some kind of consistency and throw in the fact that three of them are so young and we only had to play one of those three young guys, they would be much better today. The fact that you play all three of them in big games, it has been really tough, I have seen anything like this in all of my years where so many things have been so up in the air and have been so uncertain."

With all that being said, Mosqueda-Lewis (who is on pace to shatter UConn's single-season record for 3-pointers made) had a pair of clean looks from behind the arc in the final seconds of the first game against the Fighting Irish. If either one had gone in, UConn would be undefeated in the Big East. The Huskies also seemed to be in control of the game against No. 1 Baylor last month before it slipped from their grasps.

While two losses in one regular season might be enough to send some UConn fans over the edge, the Huskies have some special moments this season even with all the uncertainty and with a win today UConn will earn a share of its 17th Big East regular-season title.

"Nobody is feeling sorry for us but this year has been such an unusual year that we have an opportunity to be in the same exact same situation we were in a year ago except we are on the road this time," Auriemma said. "One of the reasons for that is Stefanie has gotten a lot better, Kaleena has gotten a lot better and Kelly has gotten a lot better and everybody else has struggled.

"Obviously we've got two guys (Mosqueda-Lewis and Dolson) who for the most part have been right there with everything we have done. If you had a chart with their season, if this is 10 and this is 1 it wouldn't go straight across at 10 but the dips wouldn't  be much below eight. They have been so incredible consistent, those two, at this point in the season you have to go with it and everybody else has to fill in with it whatever that is. Bria Hartley maybe goes 7 for 11 and that is the difference, Breanna Stewart makes six shots and maybe that's the difference."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, do you think there would be less angst and criticism if Geno stopped over hyping players and over hyping expectations at the start of each season? This present team was put at a disadvantage by Geno's expectations. While last season was still in progress, Geno said teams better get UConn because the Huskies might not lose a game for 3 seasons.

It's no secret that UConn recruits to win national championships. Only 3 to 5 teams legitimately have that luxury each season. Many teams recruit just to be competitive in their conference. And many teams have no support from their schools and thus have no chance to at winning their conference.

Jim, you see up close and personal the huge discrepency in talent between UConn and most of their opponents. So winning 20+ games each season is not a surprise for a team recruited and built to win a national championship.

The angst and criticism occurs when UConn has difficult defeating teams with equal talent. 4-6 against Top 5 teams, 1-5 against Notre Dame, 1-2 against Baylor. Despite Maya, KML, and Stewart, these are UConn's records since Tina left.

Not sure what expectations Geno has for his 9 scholarship team next season and for his 8 scholarship team (to date) the following season. Hopefully Geno will learn that putting added pressure on 18 and 19 year olds is not a good thing.

Jim, I look forward to your responses.

1:18 PM 

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