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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Former UConn star Faris glad to give back

Somehow it seemed fitting that with some spare time on her hands that former UConn standout Kelly Faris would be in a gym in Cheshire working up a sweat along side kids who paid $60 to take part in a strength and conditioning clinic at the 3E CrossFit Gym on Wednesday night.

Faris recently had a conversation with former UConn women's basketball manager Matt Gade who was helping to put together Wednesday's event.

"We were taking one day about family stuff, school stuff, workouts and we kind of talked about that at a young age you don't really get introduced to as much strength and conditioning as maybe you should if you want to play at a higher level so he asked me to come down here and help him out with the clinic," Faris said. "To be honest, I learned some stuff too. It was a good turnout and we had fun."

The clinic was not about bench pressing or typical type of workouts but ability training similar to what NFL prospects go through leading up to the draft. So does Faris train like she did on Wednesday?

"At a younger age not so much but in high school we did have a pretty good strength and conditioning  coach who would help us out a lot and once I got to college obviously I did a bunch of stuff so it is good for me to see a lot of that again," Faris said. "A lot of it I didn't necessarily do and some I did do so it is good to kind of be reminded of different things.

"It was a lot of fun. It took them a little while to kind of get energized but once they got going and competing, competing always brings it out of you and makes it more fun. I loved interacting with them and I loved seeing the ones that asked questions because they want to learn and want to make sure they are doing it right. I see that in a lot of them, all of them so it was good."

Faris earned a reputation as a tireless worker during her days at UConn. It is a part of personality that hasn't changed because invariably when I head down to Mohegan Sun Arena for a Connecticut Sun game Faris is among the first player on the court working with an assistant coach. She was thrilled to provide some inspiration for the local kids who came out to take part in the clinic.

"For me, when I was younger I got to go to camps and I got to learn from people who were older and better than me," Faris said. "Now I am kind of in this position where I have this platform and I want to give people opportunities that I had so I am looking to get out there and give back to them and provide a good example."

Switching gears, it has not been the easiest of seasons for Faris. Not only is the Connecticut Sun 2 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with four games left but she has seen her playing time cut in half from 14 minutes per game as a rookie to just seven minutes in the 21 games she has appeared in. Faris hasn't made field goals in consecutive games this season so she has lost time to more offensive-minded players.

She has fought through the difficult season the only way she knows how and that is by working even harder in practice and during her free time.

"It is a different situation for me but it is a challenge and I have to do what I can to help the team whether it is in a game or it is in a practice," Faris said. "If I am on the scout team I want to play the best scout team I possibly can and get my teammates better. It is not something I can dwell about, pout or blame anybody it is something that I have to look at it for what it is, work on what I can work on and control what I can control. It is OK, it is a challenge and it makes me work harder."

Since I have noticed that the Sun locker room is a better place - at least from the outside looking in - I asked Faris if she felt like the chemistry of the team is better than it was a season ago.

"I didn't have issues with anybody last year," Faris said. "I never have issues with people for the most part but does the chemistry work a little better than last year? I would say a little bit. We flow a little bit better, it is a little bit of a different group but is there still a lot that we need to work on? For sure. We have seen this season how up and down it is been. I get that is kind of how it is but it shouldn't be so up and down. If you want to be at the top like Minnesota and whoever than you have to be the team that isn't so up and down. It sounds so simple but there is so much that we need to work on mentally and physically and with x's and o's."

So what is next for Faris? That's a good question. With two first-round picks both likely being in the top five in next year's draft and the addition of former Duke point guard Chelsea Gray, who missed this season with a knee injury, there's no guarantee that Faris will be a part of next year's Sun squad. There is also some uncertainty in terms of her next basketball stop as she is currently not signed up to play overseas.

"As of right now I am just kind of waiting it out," Faris said. "I am going to be heading home whenever the season is over and kind of play it by ear and see if something will pop up."

USA BASKETBALL ANNOUNCES NATIONAL TEAM TRAINING PLANS
USA Basketball officially announced that the the U.S. women's national team, coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma, will hold an intrasquad scrimmage on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the University of Delaware and the scrimmage along with the exhibition game against Canada on Sept. 15 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport will air live on ESPN2.

U.S. will begin preparations with a training camp in Annapolis, Maryland from Sept. 7-10.


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