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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

UConn wins sloppy Gulf Coast Showcase opener

The way last night's game against the College of Charleston got started it seemed as if the members of the UConn women's basketball team thought they were still basking in the hot Florida sun.

After spending three days at a gorgeous resort in the Naples area, it was time to get to work for the Huskies. Then, on the first three possessions of the game UConn turned it over. By halftime UConn has matched its season high with 13 turnovers and the 23 committed by the Huskies were the most in a non-overtime game since the 26 turnovers in a Feb. 26, 2011 win over Georgetown.

"I think we were really anxious and it came across as us going way too fast," said sophomore forward Morgan Tuck, one of three Huskies with four turnovers in the 85-24 win. "I think that happens some times when you have time between games and we want to go out there and prove ourselves as a team. I think we got little caught up in that but I think we will settle down."

Seven different players had multiple turnovers and the only players not to commit one were walk-ons Tierney Lawlor and Briana Pulido.

"I don't like turnovers and I don't like dumb turnovers like we had today," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "When you play quickly like we were trying to play today, sometimes that happens. I can't explain it. I am not a big fan of good turnovers much less bad turnovers and we had a bunch of those today. Maybe it was the weather (referencing the frigid conditions inside Germain Arena), we haven't been in the Great Alaska Shootout in a long time so maybe it was the weather."

Auriemma will certainly address the carelessness with his team but he won't harp it so much that they are afraid to make plays n an attempt to cut down on turnovers.

"Talking about turnovers with their team, it is a fine line," Auriemma said. "If you are afraid to turn the ball over then you are afraid to take chances on making a pass that is wide open because you don't want to turn over. It has been my experience that early in the season is when turnovers are a problem especially the fact that Kia (Nurse) is a freshman, Tuck didn't play a lot last year so you've got two guys handling the ball a lot. I don't think we are going to turn it over 23 times tomorrow. It is a little bit of both, a teaching moment and sometimes you just have to move on."

The competition level will go up when the Huskies face Vanderbilt, a team just missing being ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll.

"I have seen them play a lot, not this year, but over the years and I think Melanie Balcomb the head coach does as good a job as anybody we play against," Auriemma said. "Her teams look the same every year. They are very disciplined, they run their stuff, they are big, they know exactly what they want to do . They are very methodical in that way. Minnesota had a chance, they had the ball, they cut it to five and Vanderbilt got it back to 15. She has done a great job with this group. They lost two really good players from last year's team. We know one of them, she (Jasmine Lister) is on our staff as a graduate assistant. She is playing a lot of young guys so they are going to get a lot better. I hope they don't get better in the next 24 hours. It is not going to be as easy as it was today."

One thing to look for tonight is more than 10 shots from reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart.

"I want her to get a lot of shots," Auriemma said. "I am not happy when she goes long stretches without touching the ball. It seemed like there were stretched when she didn't touch the ball for whatever reason.  We have to do a better job of getting her more touches, I am not saying she has to touch it every single possession but I thought there were times when she could have got it and wasn't really where she wanted to be to get it and there were times when she was open and we didn't get her the ball. It wasn't well coordinated today between her and some of our younger guys.

"It is always good when you win, you score a lot of points and your leading scorer doesn't have a lot of points. Hopefully that is a good sign for our other guys, that is what good teams are made of."

No player seems to have responded in a more positive fashion since the Stanford game than Tuck.

"In the Stanford game that was problem, we wee relying on Stewie to score all the points and for her to save us," Tuck said. "I think everybody realizes we have to step up, we have to help. Stewie is going to get her points. It is good for the team to build confidence that if they are double or triple teaming Stewie we can start hitting shots as well."

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