Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

UConn looking for more from its bench

With Morgan Tuck having undergone surgery on her right knee, a procedure which will sideline her for the rest of the season, UConn is now getting used to moving forward with the eight players.

Kiah Stokes is giving the Huskies pretty good minutes as she is tied for the team lead in blocked shots, third on the team in rebounding (7.4 per game) while shooting a team-high 63.9 percent from the field. But UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he wants more from reserve guards Saniya Chong and Brianna Banks.

"Individually, I don't think Saniya hasn't gotten a lot better which I had hoped that she would," Auriemma said. "I think she has kind of plateaued a little bit and that is kind of natural, that happens. I don't think Brianna Banks has gotten better, I think she is going to have to take a major step forward. Her and Saniya, we need both of them to get good fast."

Chong has been dealing with illness which resulted in her missing the South Florida game and Banks also missed the USF game with an ankle injury. Both have been back to practice so perhaps Auriemma will get his wish and start seeing the two of them being more involved.

Chong is hardly the first freshman to hit the wall in late Janaury or early February. A year ago Breanna Stewart's performances fluctuated at this time of the season but she got it figured out at the right time and with Auriemma putting to pressure on Chong to get it going, perhaps she will respond in the same fashion.

Auriemma commented after the Temple game about how well Chong played even though she did not take a shot and finished with one assist, two steals and one turnover in 17 minutes

"It just goes to show you how bad she had been playing, she didn't take a shot, she didn't score but she looked like she was involved," Auriemma said "For somebody who is as good offensively as she is, she gets overwhelmed by how hard you have to go every day and how hard you have to play every game. For the month of February one of the things we have to do is make sure those two are contributors every night."

All you need to do is look at UConn's roster to see how important recruiting in the Stokes is from Iowa and Tuck hails from Illinois.

UConn was involved with Ohio's Kathryn Westbeld, who signed with Notre Dame and in next year's class one of the recruiting targets drawing the most interest from UConn is Napheesa Collier, a star at Incarnate Word in St. Louis.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was at Incarnate Word's 71-55 win over Miller Career on Wednesday as Collier had 22 points (on 10 of 13 shooting), 10 rebounds, three assists. The 6-foot-1 Collier is averaging 23.6 points, 10 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 5 steals and 2.2 blocks per game.

The word is that UConn is working on the details so Collier can visit UConn in April after the season is over.


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