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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Thoughts from UConn's spirited practice

I always find it rather intriguing to watch the UConn women's basketball team in between the fall and spring semesters since many of the male practice players don't live close enough to take part in the practices. So you have what happened today when starters Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson suit up for the White team (or second team) so they can provide a challenge during the defensive drills run by Geno Auriemma and his staff.

There was one play in particular when Tuck moved over to play offense with the starters but Jefferson remained with the second team. Tuck threw an ill-advised cross court pass that was intercepted by Jefferson. Auriemma's initial reaction was to nod his approval at Jefferson's play but he quick shot a look Tuck's way for making a silly play.

The best part of the practice came when the normal starting five worked on half-court offense and moved around the court with a tremendous sense of purpose. It was during this time when Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis began dropping 3-pointers from all over the court. It also was at this time when the UConn reserves got to try to defend perhaps the best starting five in the country.

After the practice was over the limited time given to the non starters was a popular topic in the question and answer session with Auriemma.

"I get so tired of answering questions of when so and so is playing well because what that means is we can't count on them, somebody is playing really well or they aren't playing really well," Auriemma said. "One of the issues that we have with a couple of guys is that we have to try to figure out when they are playing really well and that is not a great position to be in if you are a kid coming off the bench. If you are not playing well, if you are a starter and you are averaging 30 minutes a game and you are struggling a little bit, that is one thing but when you are one thing when you are coming off the bench and you are being asked to do certain things and provide certain things and you just don't have it on a regular basis, that is a difficult position to be in if you are a coach.

"The key, there are some games when we need some more defensive help with foul trouble or there is a certain player or certain kind of athlete out there so you need some defense out there so what is the substitution routine and there are other games when you need people who can put points on the board, you need some help on the offensive end so what you would like to do is have some options and right now the only options I know we can count on is Kiah Stokes is going to come off the bench, she is going to block shots and play defense and offensive rebound so we know that and that is why her minutes have been somewhat consistent, they other guys right now it is not a sure thing, it has to get better if they want to play more. I tell them that is not what this is all about, our ability to win right now, it is about you becoming a better player and you developing so our role can get bigger. If you want your role to get bigger it can get bigger, if you want your role to stay the same, it can stay the same, if you want your role to diminish, it can diminish. I heard that 'Coach Auriemma likes six players, Coach Auriemma only likes seven players.' No, Coach Auriemma likes good players, he likes players who play hard all the time, he likes guys who contribute all the time, he likes guys that bust their butt all the time, that are dependable and if Coach Auriemma had 10 of those guys like I did a couple of years ago, he would play all 10 of them but when he has five he only plays five. I hate to disappoint people out there that just because I recruit cute kids who are good students that they should all play 25 minutes, that (stuff) ain't going to happen."


Anonymous Joe said...

Jim, did Geno really have a 10-player rotation several years ago? In your years covering the team, which teams come to mind as having the most consistent depth of players coming off the bench repeatedly?


3:10 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

During 2012-13 season 10 of the 11 players averaged at least 10 minutes a game including nine playing at least 16 minutes per game. Of course some of those minutes/game totals would have dropped had Banks been healthy for the entire season.

3:40 PM 
Anonymous JR said...

I was disappointed that Gabby Williams was given little to no time against Duke and then St. John's. She had been coming off a terrific streak of quality performances and she plays extremely hard. Her stats per minute played are about as good as anyone of the team and she is not a bad defender, so I don't get it. She's an X-factor who could give Geno the 7-player rotation I'm sure he's like to have. She's not going to develop if she's not given the chance though.

6:55 PM 

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