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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

UConn's Stokes delivers from long range

All of her teammates had long since finished with their media responsibilities following Wednesday's opening practice when reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart was fielding her final few inquiries.

There was a sense of glee in Stewart's voice when she spoke about the offensive potential of the player most likely to be the Huskies' starting center this season.

"I don't think any of you have ever seen her (make a 3-pointer)," Stewart said.

Well, that is no longer the case.

Of the seven field goals made by the women's players in last night's First Night scrimmage, four of them were 3-pointers. It was hardly a shocker to see Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, perhaps the best 3-point shooter in the country, hit one. Morgan Tuck made seven in the eight games she played a season ago and eight of the 12 shots Tierney Lawlor as a freshmen came from behind the 3-point line so it was not a stunning revelation that they also made one. However, Stokes confidently attempted a pair of 3-pointers last night, one went in and one was off the target.

In 107 career games Stokes has attempted 276 shots, all of them from inside the 3-point line. However, during shooting drills at Wednesday's practice Stokes was hitting from downtown with as much regularity as any other player.

She doesn't plan on challenging Mosqueda-Lewis for the team lead in 3-pointers this season but said don't be stunned when you see her firing away from the perimeter.

"I always shoot 3s but consistency is the next step," Stokes said. "It is just another thing to add. I want to be a post player first but I want to have more options and I don't want to be limited to being just scoring inside."

There were five recruits at First Night. De'Janae Boykin was the only one already committed but don't look for any quick commitments from the other four (juniors Crystal Dangerfield and Jocelyn Willoughby and sophomores Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Megan Walker). They did make it onto the court for some quick dancing before the event started but were sitting too far from me to get a sense of how much they enjoyed themselves, However, I couldn't imagine any recruit not having the time of their lives at an event like last night's.

One last recruiting item, don't look for a future Husky to play in the HoopHall Classic held each January in Springfield. Event organizers try to have one game featuring a potential UConn recruit but I reached out Greg Procino, the Director of Events and Awards at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and he said attempts to set up a game with a UConn recruit did not work out and the only game featuring teams outside the Springfield area is one with Maryland commit Kiah Gillespie's Capital Prep team squaring off with Oregon powerhouse South Medford High, Capital Prep also features junior guard Desiree Elmore, who committed to Syracuse earlier this week while South Medford's top players include senior Keyari Sleezer and junior Julissa Tago.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'am a huge UConn fan, and a Kiah Stokes fan. I've seen everyone of Kiah's games since she joined the program. I saw her take that three and make it. It was a good thing I was sitting down. As you stated, that was the first 3 she's taken in a game, even though it was only a scrimmage. This past April, she said she was going to work on various aspects of her game over the summer, especially on the offensive end. If she can become a threat from mid-range, that will boost her confidence, increase her scoring average as well as force other teams to take her seriously and guard her more closely (and not sag off) which will open up one of the more prolific shooters. Kiah's time has come. The starting post position is hers. Don't be surprised to see a Kiah Stokes you've never seen before. Remember, she averaged 26 points a game as a senior at LINN-MARR High School, and was named Miss Iowa, so scoring is not new to her. She was never asked to be a scorer the past 3 years. Geno had plenty of pistols, he needed someone to block shots and get rebounds, and spell Dolson from time to time. Dolson averaged 12.6 points and 7 rebounds a game last year. Kiah can easily match those numbers. It will probably take Stokes several games to get used to being a starter,and really get comfortable blending into the flow of the game. Because her role has changed a slight adjustment is needed. Once she does, she'll be fine. She'll produce on BOTH ends of the court. She runs the floor very well. Don't be surprised if Kiah becomes a 15/13 player for the Huskies. I love the smell of UConn women's basketball in the morning. Go Huskies.

1:08 PM 

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