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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

High praise for UConn's Moriah Jefferson

Ex UConn star Kalana Greene raves about  Moriah Jefferson
Watching Moriah Jefferson make the jump from timid freshman to dynamic sophomore led to debates of whether she improved more from her first to second season than any other UConn player in recent memory.

The only player I could even think about being in this discussion was Kalana Greene.

However, when I sat down the Greene at yesterday's Connecticut Sun media day, she was having none of that comparison.

"I wouldn't even put me at that level," Greene said. "Mo, she is pesky, she is a pest. The energy she brings, everything she does I would have to work 15 times harder just to get her results. She is the leader, she doesn't back down from anything or any challenge and she is fun to watch. She is probably one of the most exciting players I have ever seen play college basketball."

Greene is amazed at what Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck have accomplished since their arrival at UConn.

"The thing that is so crazy for me is that a lot of those guys are just sophomores," Greene said. "I remember me and the people I came in with, we didn't have it then and we lost, quite often. To do what they have done in freshman year and again as sophomores, for those guys, they get it that early and it is impressive."

Greene opted not to play overseas which gave her a chance to spend a couple of weeks in Connecticut where she got to see the team practice. She was also at the Final Four when the Huskies finished off a 40-0 season with impressive wins over Stanford and Notre Dame.

"Nashville was amazing, it was my third one (Final Four) since I came back," Greene said. "Last year I don't think anybody expected them to win and now it is even harder because the target is on your back and you are expected to win. I had an opportunity to watch them practice for a couple of weeks, see the lulls because in practice you get to see everything."

While Greene missed out on making some money by not playing overseas, she felt like she needed a break after a difficult season.

"It was a fun offseason," Greene said. "There was a bit of normalcy, I've never really had that, I was able to do things that normal people do. I think it was good for me to bring back a lot of energy, a lot of hunger and to miss the game. I miss it now, before it was like I am going over here, I am going overseas and then back here. Now I had a real chance to miss the game and I missed it.

"I did a bit of traveling. I stayed in South Carolina, went to places for a couple of weeks, I came to Connecticut for a couple of weeks, I was in Philadelphia with Tonya (Cardoza) and Temple for a couple of weeks. I wen t to Oklahoma, Charlotte, just spent time with people I don't get to see and I just enjoyed my time off.

"I did a lot of individual stuff, a lot of 1 on 1 stuff. Not as much 5 of 5 stuff as I would like. I could play more but you don't want to play too much 5 on 5 with the guys because you start showing them what you can do and they get a little offended. I got to work on my game and I think the big thing was rest, mental and physical rest, and I was able to take some time to shut down before I started back up."

Finally, I asked Greene what advice she would give to incoming freshmen Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams.

"I think there is only a certain type of person, not a caliber of player, but type of person that can come and play there," Greene said. "I think they have a great group of upperclassmen especially that junior class and just work hard, know that your time will come. They are going to depend on their freshmen initially. There won't be any breaking in period. Coach (Geno Auriemma) knows what he is doing, take the message he is giving you and don't take the tone because of a lot of time you can be shell shocked by that. They have more than enough people to help them get acquainted and comfortable. I think having good upperclassmen is essential to having a good freshman class."

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