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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stokes looks to build on strong showing

                                                                                                                                                                  (Photo by Melanie Stengel)
UConn sophomore forward/center Kiah Stokes has responded since 

being benched for the regular-season finale.
A year ago Geno Auriemma thought so much of the potential of sophomore forward/center Kiah Stokes that he said she could be the wild card on whether UConn could win another national title.

Twelve months later he became perturbed at a question regarding Stokes' possible impact in the preseason, a sign of his annoyance in how Stokes was practicing.

Auriemma's mood when it comes to Stokes has increased dramatically since the end of the regular season. She had her second career double-double in Saturday's NCAA first-round win over Idaho and with some nagging issues with Stefanie Dolson's leg limiting some of her practice time, Stokes has been seeing more practice time with the starters.

It hasn't been the easiest of seasons for Stokes. The UConn coaches look at her and see the makings of a star. Then they watch her grab one offensive rebound in a two-hour practice and want to scream.

The frustration boiled over when Stokes was a healthy scratch in the regular-season finale against Notre Dame. Although it didn't result in gaudy stats (five points, eight rebounds, three blocks) during the Big East tournament, her teammates could see a more aggressive Stokes during practices. Finally it translated to a game as Stokes had 14 points (on 6 of 7 shooting), 11 rebounds and three blocks against Idaho.


"When I don't play it is a message that I have to do something different and something better to help the team," Stokes said. "Everything that Coach has done has helped me, I have had my ups and downs but keep working and keep getting better



"It has been gradual, you can't change overnight but every day try to give more and help the team as much as I can. As long as I keep in the direction I am going, this is going to end better than it did last year for me personally and as a team so we are all just focused on staying focused at practice and doing all we can so this season ends the way we want it to."

Last year Stokes also made an impact in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament as she averaged 9.5 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in the first two rounds. She barely played in the regional final against Kentucky and had a quiet four points and four rebounds in 16 minutes in the Final Four loss to Notre Dame.

Her teammates have confidence that this year things could be different for Stokes as the Huskies progress deeper into the tournament.

"She has been doing a great job of practice, working hard, pushing herself, finishing around the basket and not second-guessing what she is doing," Dolson said.

Fellow sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis echoed Dolson's sentiment.


"She has been working really hard, she has been in the gym extra working on her jump shot, working on her post ups and she has been doing a lot better," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "I am really happy to see her come out and have a lot of positive things come out. Whenever I know she is behind me I feel a lot more confident. I know I can put a lot of pressure on this person because she has my back."





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1 Comments:

Anonymous Joe said...

when it comes to Baylor and Notre Dame, we really miss Breanna Banks' quickness on defense.

Teams that have a quick aggressive point guard that can drive the basket and then dish to the big "man" or hit the "man" for the open three have given UConn fits for the past several years.

1:07 PM 

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