Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

UConn's getting closer to full strength

With Morgan Tuck out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis currently sidelined due to a bout with mononucleosis, it's kind of surreal to be writing about UConn getting some good news in the health department but that is exactly what I am about to do.

One of the most surprising aspects of Sunday's win at South Florida was that Brianna Banks was healthy enough to play but yet she only got mop-up minutes late in the second half.

Due to the latest batch of snow to hit the area, we did a conference call rather than have media availability after watching the end of practice and UConn coach Geno Auriemma said "hopefully we will get more minutes out of her tomorrow night. It was just a decision that I made, I can't put my finger on any (reason)."

The good news is it sounds like Banks has put together back to back strong practices.

"She did a really good job of making sure she is communicating," UConn senior center Stefanie Dolson said. "A big thing when you get injured or you are out a little bit you feel like it is hard to really come back and feel like you are a part of (things) but she did a really good job today and yesterday of really talking being a part of the team out there, making good decisions on the court offensively and defensively, I saw a lot of aggressiveness that she had and I am definitely impressed with where she is."

With Banks playing just two minutes, freshman Saniya Chong played 37 minutes while making her first career start.

Nobody had to remind Chong, who averaged 34.4 points a game as a high school senior, that she has not scored since late in the first half against SMU. But the media on the call did just that, asking Chong, teammates Bria Hartley and Dolson and Auriemma about Chong's recent offensive struggles.

"It was the whole mindset and I have to make sure I come out aggressive and try to get to the basket as much as I can," Chong said. "It is all a mindset of me not trying to make mistakes. That is something I have to get out of my head, stop thinking that way, be aggressive and just give it my all."

Chong is not the first freshman to have struggles and certainly won't  be the last. The good news is that Chong's practice habits have remained rock solid all season long so it should be just a matter of time before that translates into more production during games.

"She looked real good for that whole week that we had off (between games)," Auriemma said. "She has to get over this mental block that she has developed a little bit about being tentative and little by little she is going to get over that. I know that she has confidence in herself. She knows she is a good player and I know she knows she is a good offensive player. I want her to trust her instincts and go play. We are going to try to get her back to that point sooner rather than later."

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