Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Syracuse's Alexander the center of attention

It's a pretty safe assumption that it didn't take long for the UConn coaching staff to address the task of matching up with Syracuse senior center Kayla Alexander when putting together a scouting report.

Alexander needs just 13 points to hit the 2,000-point mark and depending on how far the Orange go in the NCAA tournament, she could also leave with more than 1,000 career rebounds as she is currently 44 shy of that plateau. She would become the first Syracuse women's player to reach either one of those milestones.

Obviously, Alexander has a special place in the heart of Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman.

"When you have a player this talented, you have to find a way to make her better," Hillsman said. "I always tell her she is my life line. She really is and when you have a player this talented. You have to find a way to make her better. I think she developed over summer, and I had to find a way to develop as a coach to make sure we gave her the ball inside. My challenge this summer, I told her to go get better and be able to play in the mid-post and in the elbow and I'm going to get better and find a way to get you the ball every possession.

"I think if she didn't do her job my job didn't matter.  So she did her job really well and I did my job okay but she make me look good, so I got to give her credit as we're getting better."

Alexander has done more than just put up gaudy individual statistics. She has led Syracuse to a program-record 24 wins this season and just the third trip to the Big East semifinals since 1988.

"I think it started in the preseason, we had four freshmen competing and contributing from the start and we were going to keep each other accountable and take no short cuts," Alexander said. "We were going to get things done. I think that held us accountable and it helped us throughout the season.  Now we're starting to enjoy what we have accomplished right now, trying to go out there and play hard and have fun playing basketball and doing what we all love and compete as hard as we can."

The key for Alexander is to stay out of foul trouble. She played just 11 minutes in the regular-season meeting won by UConn by 25 points.

"We can't foul ourselves out of the game and Connecticut pushes every possession and they pretty much pound you into submission, grabbing the fouls and we got to make sure we get back in transition, see the floor, get matched up and guard them," Hillsman said.

"It's a great, great team and we know that.  This is the best conference in the country when you look at Notre Dame and Connecticut, they're going to be there. We have a great opportunity to play against one of the best teams in the country, two of the top three teams are in our conference so we get to play them every year and obviously we're playing UConn twice this year so it's a great opportunity for us."


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