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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

UConn's Stewart can be unstoppable

If Geno Auriemma had his way there would be more performances from reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart like the one she had in the first half of Saturday's win at Tulsa.

It was during her remarkable sophomore season when Auriemma said he'd be fine with Stewart taking 20 shots a game. Well, 27 games into her junior season she is still waiting for her first 20-shot effort. It certainly looked like she was going to get there against the Hurricanes when she took 15 shots.

Playing just nine minutes in the second half because the Huskies were running away with things, Stewart finished 13 of 18 from the field en route to scoring a season-high 28 points.

"The thing with Stewie is she is not selfish enough to come out here and say 'I am going to prove to everybody on every night that I am the best player in the country,'" Auriemma said. "I wish she was but she is not. I wish she would get 25 every single game but she doesn't, that is not who she is."

The 18 field goal attempts are the second most she has attempted this season as she had 19 in a Jan. 14 win over Temple. That happened to be a similar set of circumstances as Tulsa like Temple started four guards which resulted in some matchup issues with a 5-9 or 5-10 player being asked to defend the 6-4 Stewart.

While Stewart understands there is a lot on her shoulder this season, she also recalls what happened in the second game of the season when some of her supporting cast struggled resulting in an overtime loss to Stanford. It is important to Stewart that she not simply be the only offensive option.

"It is a team game," Stewart said. "Yes, you want to have individual success but going into March, I need this whole team to be playing well, to be playing confident and aggressive. I am going to be aggressive in what I am doing but at the same, it is not 1 on 5, I have teammates out there for a reason."

After the game Auriemma was asked if Stewart was having as good of a season as she did as a sophomore.
"I don't know how you determine whether she is or whether she isn't," Auriemma said. "That is a very subjective evaluation especially when you look at what she did last year and she was player of the year, she is doing the exact same thing.

"When you've done what she has done in her freshman and sophomore year, what is she going to do to get people to say 'she is way better?' All Stewie can do is just help us win every game and whatever happens after that happens. She has gotten better, no question. Maya Moore was maybe the best player in the country as a freshmen, she didn't change much in the four years except the natural progression of getting older, getting more mature, be a better player. It is little things that you see that are better. When we watch her in practice, there are little things that she does that are way better but they may not always show up in the box score."

Her offensive performance in the first half was something special even with the high standard she set during her first two seasons.

"She is one of those rare great 3-point shooters who is 6-4, you see that last shot of the first half and that was an NBA 3, she is bringing the ball up the floor and starting our break,"Auriemma said. "There really are so many things that are a part of her game that people watching, people who watch Stewie play every day they see it all the time but if you only watch Stewie play one time, you don't see it. "

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