Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Kelly Faris still in holding pattern

There was a certain sense of irony to see Kelly Faris, who was known as Miss Dependability during her UConn career, reduced to the role of reluctant spectator during the early stages of her professional career.

However, there she was wearing a protective boot on the left foot she injured just before halftime in the regular-season finale during her senior season at UConn. Not wanting to have the injury be a lingering issue, the Connecticut Sun coaching and medical staffs decided to hold the team's first-round pick out for the first week and a half of training camp.


"Right now I am just waiting to get back and trust that is the right thing for me to be doing and other than that, I am paying attention," said Faris, who is targeting May 16 at the date when she can hit the practice court. "I am watching and I am trying to learn as much as I can even though I am not out on the court knowing that once I get into it and do what I've always done.


"It is a little frustrating but Coach (Anne Donovan) wants me to trust that it is the right thing to do."

Faris never missed a game during her collegiate career and until suffering the foot injury, she could have counted on one hand the number of practices she missed during her four seasons at Connecticut.

"I was definitely very fortunate to - knock on wood - not have injuries that keep me off the court," Faris said.

Even with a sore foot to contend with, these are special times for Faris. The elation following UConn's run to an eighth national title is still fresh in her mind, she is on the verge of living a dream by playing professional basketball and on Sunday she will graduate from UConn. It's safe to say these last several weeks are ones Faris won't soon forget.



"It was very stressful, it was a good stress to have but at the same time it was a major whirlwind," Faris said. "We won the championship and I got right back and then I was excited to get drafted and everything has kind of fell in at the same time, It was good, it was fun and I don't think it has sunk in yet. Hopefully once I finish my finals and graduate that will be out of the way and I will have my focus (on basketball). It might be 10 years down the road until I really think 'OK, wow look at what I accomplished.'

Faris was the unquestioned leader of the UConn squad as a senior. She took the three losses to Notre Dame and one to Baylor perhaps harder than any other member of the squad but she might have felt more joy than anybody else when the Huskies put it all together at the perfect time.

"It was the right way to go out," Faris said.

While it is hard to pinpoint one defining moment when all the stars aligned for the magical run at a national title, Faris considers the marathon heart to heart talk that UConn coach Geno Auriemma had with the guards before the start of the  NCAA moment as the point when it all began to change for the better. It was at that meeting when junior guard Bria Hartley, who had started since arriving at UConn, volunteered to come off the bench so UConn would have an offensive-minded guard to bring into the game. 



"That was huge," Faris said. "I think that was a big turning point for us, I think it showed her maturity level and I think at that point she kind of grew up and to have a freshman (Moriah Jefferson) sitting there at that meeting she is probably thinking 'wow, Bria Hartley just offered to come off the bench' but Bria understood that is what we needed at that time and once you get to that level I think you've got it. When you get to that level when you put your full trust into coach and you know he is right and you have to understand what he is doing and be willing to go along with it whether or not you think it is right or wrong so that was huge for her and I was extremely proud of her to get to that point.

"I am so proud of her for that because everybody has their ups and downs and for a player who was an All-American one year and it was hard for me. At the beginning she was injured so it was a slow start. It is not always easy, you sit out a month and feel like you are behind and things aren't going right and the media hypes it up and continue to ask about it. For her I know it was frustrating, it was a struggle for her but she turned it up when she needed to and she turned it up when it counted. There are a lot of players when they get to that point, they shut down so I think more than anything shows what kind of player she is and what kind of player she can be."

With Hartley, who was an All-American as a sophomore, returning along with 2012-13 All-Americans Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Stefanie Dolson while Breanna Stewart is destined for multiple All-American honors, Faris knows the future is rather bright at UConn.
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"They have so much talent on that team that it is unbelievable," Faris said. "I am glad that the season worked out the way it did because for the younger guys they got to see how hard (it was) and how badly we wanted to get that national championship and we really had to put everything into it, the mentality, the focus so it was good for the young guys to see that so they will know right off the bat what it takes."

When Faris came in, UConn was looking to defend its national title and she was the only incoming freshman. Now Saniya Chong finds herself in the same situation. So what advice would Faris give to the high-scoring guard out of Ossining, N.Y.?

"Just kind of take it all in, don't get too overanxious about anything or in over your head on anything," Faris said.

"They are a good group and they will take her under their wing and help her out and she will need to pick things up quickly but don't get too nervous about it because in the end they are there, they will help you out, they want to win and it is that kind of program."


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