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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Early benching gets attention of UConn's Breanna Stewart

It's highly unusual to see sophomore sensation Breanna Stewart be the first of the UConn starters summoned to the bench. But after watching Stewart take and miss three more challenging than necessary shots, UConn coach Geno Auriemma had the quick hook.

The 3 minutes, 7 seconds she spent on the bench seemed to work wonders for Stewart.

“I don’t know what I was thinking," Stewart said. "I kept wanting to do a turnaround jump shot in the post. It is not something that I do a lot. I honestly don’t have a reason for it. I did it, then I did it again and I did it again. Then I came out. Usually when we are around the basket like that we do hook shots.”

Nobody was more surprised to see Stewart's bizarre shot selection than Auriemma.

"It is not easy to clear your head when there is nothing in there, that would be a very difficult thing to do," Auriemma said. "I asked her during the first timeout 'Stewie do we practice those shots you are taking?' She said 'no. I said 'why are you taking them?' She said 'I don't know.' So when people start talking to you like that, you just shake your head. She did it three times in a row so they are kids and you don't know what goes through their heads. It is unlike her, usually she takes the kind of shots that we know she is going to take and we know she is going to make, those first three were just bizarre. She is shooting 90 percent on those jump hooks over the front of the rim  and decided she didn't want to shoot them, they were too easy of something.

"I talk to Stewie all the time about that stuff, all great teams have great players on it so it makes them great teams. I don;'t know if last year we were a great team, we won a national championship but I don't know if we were a great team based on some of teams we've had here in the past. If you have great players on your team, you have a chance to have a great team because every night like when Maya (Moore) was here, Maya played great every night so every night you stepped on the floor you had a chance to play great. Same when Diana (Taurasii) was here, some players they just define what the team is going to do and I talked to Stewie about that. When Stefanie, Stewie, Bria, we don't have Kaleena, but guys who have already done it in the past but have great seasons and great moments and we know they are going to bring that every night we have a great chance to be a great team every night regardless of who we are playing, that is irrelevant who we are playing."

Auriemma is not know to mince words with his players, even the ones he didn't recruit.

So when he watched sophomore walk-on Briana Pulido fire up shot after shot at Thursday's practice, he let her have it.

"Polly (ticked) me off so much yesterday I told her I would buy her a car if she ever gets an assist, that kid refuses to pass the ball to anybody even in practice. This kid high jumped all of last year and comes out here and thinks she is Kobe Bryant so what did she do today? She got an assist and now she wants a car..'"

Although junior guard Brianna Banks started for the second consecutive game, she played the fewest minutes of the full scholarship players and that was by design.

Banks had her foot stepped on in Wednesday's win over Oregon and although it wasn't enough to sideline her, with three games in three days Auriemma said he wanted to limit her minutes.

"Brianna Banks would have played more tonight but somebody stepped on her foot in the Oregon game and it has been bothering her the last couple of days, we had three games in three days otherwise she would have played more minutes," Auriemma said.

UConn signee Kia Nurse led her St. Thomas More team to two more victories and now they are one win away from a third consective Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association Class AAAA title.

St. Thomas Moore defeated Northern S.S. 60-41 in the quarterfinals and then topped Pickering 60-41 behind 25 points from Nurse to advance to Saturday's gold-medal game.

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