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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Stokes delivers for undermanned UConn again

It's not very often that Kiah Stokes is the first player mentioned at one of Geno Auriemma's post-game press conferences but considering the impact the reserve junior forward/center had during Saturday's win over Temple, had the assembled media not inquired about her 18-rebound game Auriemma would have been sure to bring her name up sooner rather than later.

Stokes's career-high 18 rebounds were the most for a Husky since Stefanie Dolson hauled in 18 against South Florida on Jan. 27, 2012. The last time a player from UConn had more than 18 came on Feb. 2, 2010 when Maya Moore had 20 boards against Syracuse.

"We know two things about Kiah, she rebounds the ball and she blocks shots," Auriemma said. "When she does those things it never surprises me because she is really good at those things, she wants to be good at those things and she works hard to those things. If we could get her to be a little more assertive on the offensive, we could really have something going. For her to do what she did today, especially with those guys (Stefanie Dolson and Breanna Stewart)  in foul trouble, for her to do what she did today, she did what people coming off the bench are supposed to do."

UConn was already without Morgan Tuck, who missed the game due to a swelling in her surgically repaired right knee. Then Breanna Stewart picked up her second foul with 11:18 left in the first half. Dolson was whistled for foul No. 2 with 8:45 left in the half and her third foul 69 seconds later. So it was now or never for Stokes, a player who performed so admirably when Tuck and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis missed eight straight games

"When a player goes down everybody has to step up," Stokes said. "If I get a chance, I have to make an impact

"I know coach wants more, he is (pushing) me every day at practice and in games so I am going to give him what he wants I guess. When Stef and Stewie get into foul trouble I have to be the one to step up. It is tough, we had a little shaky first half a bit but when we picked it up we got going."

Even with Stokes' monster effort, UConn was outrebounded for the first time this season and gave up a season-high 22 offensive rebounds.

"I don't think we worked really hard today," Auriemma said. "I don't think we necessarily did a great job on the boards. I always tell my team that teams that miss a lot of shots, they are great rebounders. As soon as the ball leaves their hands, they have four guys running (to the offensive glass) because this is not going in. Our guys are completely the opposite, if somebody shoots it they are running back on defense because this is going in. I am not surprised they got that many offensive rebounds. I don't like it but I am not surprised."

Auriemma said that Tuck's knee issue was not as serious as the one which required surgery back in November but the decision was made to hold her out. He said a decision on whether Tuck will play on Monday against Baylor will be made based on whether she is able to take part in drills either tomorrow or Monday.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does missing 1 reserve make UConn undermanned? They did not miss her yesterday.

Auriemma does not want a deep bench. Even if UConn had 11 scholarship players, Auriemma sticks to 6 or 7 in the biggest games. He has a short leash on players 8 thru X. One mistake in a big game and they get yanked.

Stokes is easily UConn's best rebounder. And she is slowly becoming more comfortable on offense.

Hartley is even trying to feed Stokes the ball down low. That indicates Stokes teammates are beginning to trust her.

I do not understand why Tuck gets more playing time than Stokes. UConn has enough players willing to jack up 3s. UConn needs more players crashing the boards. Many rebounds are coming off the floor.

12:28 PM 

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