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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Maturation of Kiah Stokes continues at UConn

Kiah Stokes had played 75 games at UConn heading into Sunday's contest against St. Bonaventure and had never led the Huskies in scoring. She accomplished that thanks to hitting 9 of 11 shots from the field en route to a career-high 19 points in an 88-39 win over St. Bonaventure at the XL Center.

In her first two seasons Stokes had never had back to back games with double digits in points. She has now done it in four consecutive games as she has brought more energy to the court in games and in practices than she did as a freshman or a sophomore.

If one stretch of plays typifies Stokes' new approach it came in the final minutes when she made three aggressive hustle plays on the baseline to give the Huskies an additional possession even though UConn was leading by more than 50 points.

I thought that there might not be a better person to get insight into Stokes' improvement as a player and higher rate of effort than her dad Greg, who is one of the best players in the history of the Iowa men's basketball program. After the game he gave me a few minutes to answer my questions about the maturation of his daughter.

"She is playing with a lot more confidence and has spent a lot of time (working) this summer and as a result of that, you can see it on the court," Greg Stokes said. "She is also getting an opportunity to play and I am excited for her.

"The thing with Kiah is she has bring it every day in practice, that is what Geno preaches and what he stresses. As long as she is doing that in practice, she is getting able to play and she is making the most of it. It is really nice to see."

Greg Stokes wanted Kiah to come to UConn to see if a demanding coach like Auriemma could light a fire inside of his daughter.

"One of the reasons she came here is because she wanted to be pushed and he is definitely pushing her," Greg Stokes said. "It is a lot of fun to see her have some success and the main thing now is she has to keep it going, she can't be satisfied, she has to keep working in practice.

"As a parent, I am probably her biggest critic but I am also her biggest fan so just to see her have some success is really nice to see."

When the coaches talk about Stokes, they invariably mention what a sweet kid she is and how well she gets along with her teammates. Greg Stokes said that can be a double-edged sword.

"She grew up in Iowa," Greg Stokes said. "Iowa is nice people, everybody is sweet, in harmony and all of that so she brings that on the court. She needs to be a little meaner. It is fun for her. I think the girls like her and she likes being a part of it."

Kiah Stokes has an added bonus of her mother Julie Saddler doing a fellowship in Massachusetts. She is renting a home for the year which is about 40 minutes from the UConn campus.

"It's kind of nice," Kiah Stokes said. "I get enough space but if I need something she is right there. It is awesome, the first couple of years when they couldn't come to as many it was kind of hard that freshman year I had my ups and downs and I wasn't the best mentally but having her here is great.".


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