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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Versatility to be hallmark of this UConn team

Last season Geno Auriemma would look down his bench to make a substitute and at least in his eyes, his options were rather limited.

Following Morgan Tuck's season-ending knee surgery during last year's 40-0 season, Auriemma found himself content with using a six-player rotation. It was certainly a case of quality winning over quantity as Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley were WNBA first-round draft picks, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Kiah Stokes, Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson could all very well be selected in the first round over the next two years.

However, with the dramatic improvement of Saniya Chong, return of Tuck and arrival of freshmen Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams the Huskies have the potential of a 10-player rotation.

It seems like a lifetime but it was just two seasons ago when UConn had nine players average at least 15 minutes per game, tied for the most during Auriemma's time at the helm of the Huskies.

In my opinion, the most intriguing aspect of yesterday's exhibition game against Division II West Chester was the different lineups he was able to roll out there. There were times when 6-foot-2 Morgan Tuck was the tallest player on the court and he ended the first half with Tuck joined by the four freshmen.

You might have to go back to the 2000-01 season when the Huskies had as many offensive options to call upon (before the season-ending injuries suffered by Svetlana Abrosimova and Shea Ralph).

For Auriemma, who loved the on-court chemistry formed by his top six players a season ago, it is going to be a whole new world.

"Sometimes the less options you have the less you want to use them," Auriemma said. "When you have a lot of options, if you are not careful it's ,one minute for this guy if it doesn't work, another minute for this guy ... When you have less options you tend to go with people longer, you give them more time so it is going to take some getting used to for our players too. Stewie, Moriah and Kaleena are used to playing 35 minutes every night last year, they kind of got accustomed to that and they like it. Now they are going to have to get used to, maybe, not quite that many minutes. There is a reason why our offense ran as smoothly as it did last year, there weren't a whole lot of guys coming off the bench to screw it up."

Chong got the start at shooting guard and scored nine of her 11 points in the opening 4:28 while Ekmark, Nurse and Williams combined for 29 points.

The versatility of this team could be staggering. UConn has already started to have Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Gabby Williams go work with the post players when the Huskies work with their position coaches and Tuck seemingly could thrive at any spot on the floor.

It's going to be pretty interesting to see how this team develops between now and April.

CLASSY MOVE BY UCONN CHEERLEADERS
This didn't get much attention yesterday but I thought it was extremely classy of the UConn cheerleading squad to wear pink ribbons during yesterday's game in honor of the passing of Seymour's Nina Poeta, who died at the age of 17 after waging a valiant fight against cancer.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all of the choices Geno is going to have this year, he's going to feel like a kid in a candy store. This will be the deepest bench he's had in years. Now we know why he been reluctant to have the max number of players on his roster as some coaches do.

7:27 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on his choices and Kia's performance Sunday, I'm predicting that Kia Nurse will not only be his starting 2 guard the remainder of the season. She'll be his starting 2 guard the next 4 years. The scary thing is, she's only going to get better as time goes on. Once her and Jefferson gel, Geno can forget about his backcourt, and will be able to focus on other areas of concern.

9:56 AM 

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