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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

UConn frontcourt duo hopes to learn from past Baylor games

Brittney Griner’s days as the centerpiece of everything the Baylor women’s basketball team does on offense and defense might have come to an end with the stunning loss to Louisville in the Elite Eight of the 2013 NCAA tournament. However, the arduous task of trying to get stuff done against one of the most dominant players in women’s basketball history is still sticking with UConn’s best inside players.

In Stefanie Dolson’s second career game she was on the court for just 12 minutes before fouling out and Baylor and in three previous games against the Lady Bears Dolson has more fouls committed than baskets made.

Breanna Stewart’s track record is even more sketchy. It took seven minutes of playing time for UConn coach Geno Auriemma to decide he has seen enough. Stewart missed both shots she attempted in last season’s loss to Baylor and was held scoreless for the only time during her collegiate career.

“I think Stewie helped Baylor a lot so it wasn't all bad,” Auriemma said. “I think (Baylor coach) Kim (Mulkey) and Brooklyn Pope, I think those two guys appreciated Baylor's efforts last year in the Baylor game, us not so much but it wasn't a total loss. I think those kinds of games really test you, it is who you are. When you play on national television and you are that bad, everybody in America saw it, you have some soul searching to do so I don't think it is all bad.”

Dolson ranks fourth on UConn’s career list for field-goal percentage hitting 59.5 percent Just imagine what her numbers would be if you threw out the three games against Baylor when Dolson is 8 of 26 from the field.

“I think I have always prided myself on being able to learn quickly and learn from my mistakes and not make them again,” Dolson said. “Looking back at my freshman games, my sophomore games, those are really made me what change so much as a junior and a senior. I think I have changed a lot and I don't look back at it at all.”

Auriemma has seen Dolson develop from a foul-prone freshman into perhaps the best collegiate center in the country and he figures those struggles against Griner have helped Dolson in so many ways.
“What is did is it tested her character a little bit,” Auriemma said. “’Do I really want to be good at this game? Is that game going to stun me for the rest of the year or I am going to get better at it.’ I think if you saw her play in that game and then saw her play in Madison Square Garden against Jantel Lavender you saw two completely different people. Stefanie is a quick learner and I think she did take that game and said this is what I have to do and I know how I have to do it.”

The Baylor game was clearly a wake-up call for Stewart. She failed to score in double digits in three of the first games heading into the Baylor contest. Following that game she averaged 16 points per game and ended the season by making more shots than she missed in the final eight games of the season.

“Really I changed my mindset, Stewart said. “After the game I was really frustrated. I want to be a person that can a person that can help affect the team and to do that I tried to refocus myself and focus on the games ahead and not really look back.”

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