Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 25, 2013

UConn turns up the defensive heat

Defensive stinginess is nothing new for Geno Auriemma's UConn women's basketball team.

In the last four years UConn posted four of the top 13 marks in NCAA Division I history in scoring defense and have the top two marks in field-goal percentage defense during the 2009-2010 and 2011-12 seasons so when Auriemma starts throwing around words of lavish praise on UConn's defensive effort, it is wise to take note.

After the Huskies pulled away for a 77-44 victory over a game Vanderbilt squad in the NCAA second-round game on Monday night, Auriemma was thrilled about the team's defensive effort which was able to buy time until UConn got rolling offensively.

"I thought Vanderbilt did a really good job taking us our of some things and most of the time we couldn't find our footing but our defense was so good that it never felt like we were struggling to keep the lead," Auriemma said. "I thought our defense was as good as it has been at any time this year and it is exactly what you need at this time of the year."

One thing I noticed defensively was how aggressive the Huskies were in jumping into the passing lanes going for steals and deflections. It paid off as the Huskies had 34 points off 23 Vanderbilt turnovers which is the highest total since a Feb. 12 game against Providence. With 31 points off turnovers, it is the first time UConn hit 30 in that category in consecutive games since contests against Oakland and Hartford in December.

"We are at the end of the season, we have to take chances and Coach (Auriemma) wants us to get back to run and gun defense whenever we get a steal," Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said.

Among those in attendance was highly-touted junior guard Gabby Williams out of Reed High in Sparks, Nev. who has been on an unofficial visit. When last I saw her, she was leaving the locker room with the UConn players and seemed to be having the time of her life.

It is pretty clear that UConn is very high on Williams. Assistant coach Shea Ralph went to see her play in January but unfortunately she suffered a season-ending torn ACL in a game the following day.

She has a long road back before she can get back on the court and on in the high jump pit as Williams is one of the nation's best high jumpers who finished fifth in the event at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials.


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