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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Geno said UConn's Stewart "got an education" playing with national team

Tomorrow when UConn has its first official practice of the 2014-15, it will give Geno Auriemma time to work with the member of the two-time national champions.

However, one player who has received plenty of tutelage from Auriemma this summer has been All-American Breanna Stewart who was a member of the Auriemma-coached U.S. team which won the FIBA World Championship for Women.

"She certainly got an education not just internationally because she has done that, but a lot time she has played up a year or two but she is playing up 10 years and it is a whole different world and she needs a lot of minutes (to get into a rhthym)," Auriemma said. "She is not going to come in and have a huge impact right away, those other teams she played on she played 25-30 minutes and that wasn't going to happen with her this year. Being around those guys, being at practice, seeing how people work and how they prepare, that is something that is going to help her a lot. She knows know that if I want to make the Olympic team that I need to make some strides and that is good for her."

Auriemma returned from the world championship on Monday and came in the next day to get some work done. He hasn't had much time to recover before diving headlong into preparations for the upcoming season.

"Not a lot of down time," Auriemma said before reflecting on winning the gold medal at the FIBA Worlds for the second straight time. "It is not getting any easier. We beat Australia (in the semifinals) and they didn't have Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage, they would have been an entirely different team if they had those two. We are going to have to figure some things out about the Olympics, how we spend our time together, how we do pick our team a little bit earlier. We are late, we are always late picking our team."

As for his UConn players, he said he considers Morgan Tuck "as if she is 100 percent, no issues."

"Morgan has been doing everything everybody else has been doing, Gabby (Williams) has been doing everything but play 5 on 5. She played 2 on 2, 3 on 3 and done a whole lot of stuff. I don't know how much she is going to do starting tomorrow."

Auriemma also said that Moriah Jefferson has been dealing with a hamstring issue keeping her out of individual drills for about a week but "she is back."

As for the newcomers, he had plenty of praise for transfer Natalie Butler.

"She is an intense kid. She is a hard-working kid and she wants to be really good. The basketball part is going to take a little while because it is a whole other level from a basketball standpoint. She has really embraced the conditioning part and that is what we want her to do. She will get better at practice just by going to practice all the time and do things she didn't have a chance to do when she was at Georgetown. You can tell she is going to be a good player."

A season ago Saniya Chong was the only scholarship freshman but this year UConn has Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams as well as Butler, who is a sophomore but will have to sit out this season after transferring from Georgetown.

"That is just the way of the world," Auriemma said. "I think everybody is excited about the freshmen except the coaches and the upperclassmen because all they do is screw up every drill so I would like for them to show us their competitiveness. I don't think they are going to show us that they are ready to win us a national championship for us because that is not feasible, I do't think but it is going to be more about how competitive they are, how do they acclimate themselves to the pace of playing college basketball. I think our coaches have their hands full because we had Saniya and that was just one last year so it was easy to just (work her in). Now you have four plus Natalie who is not playing but a lot of players at practice who don't know anything about what we are doing and it is going to take a lot of time."

Auriemma likes what he has seen from senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

"I think she has built on the success she had in the NCAA tournament," Auriemma said, "I think a lot of people probably overlooked her going into the NCAA tournament with the attention being on everybody else and she had a great NCAA tournament and she has picked up where that left off. It was a long summer, she put a lot of time in, a lot of effort and she is moving better than she has in a long time and she is getting things done that she struggled with a little bit at the beginning of last season. For what I have seen she looks really good."


Anonymous Joe said...

Wow, what a challenge they have set out for themselves!

I hope people appreciate just how special this team is. I am reminded of John Wooden's UCLA teams.

Can we have another back-to-back set of undefeated seasons in store?

That would be fun, eh?

3:02 PM 

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