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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, March 06, 2015

More awards for UConn; reunion with familiar face on tap

If there was any surprise from what happened at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday, it certainly did not take place during the press conference honoring the American Athletic Conference's top player, coach and freshman.

It was hardly a stunning revelation that those awards went to UConn's Breanna Stewart, Geno Auriemma and Kia Nurse respectively. That came after Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson were unanimous All-AAC picks and they were joined on the first team by Morgan Tuck. Jefferson (Most Improved Player), Gabby Williams (co-Sixth Man of Year) and Kiah Stokes (Defensive Player of the Year) added individual honors. Considering that UConn rolled through the AAC portion of their schedule winning by nearly 50 points a game,  it was appropriate that the Huskies cleaned up in the awards department.

The only real drama, if you want to call it that, is whether No. 8 Central Florida or No. 9 Cincinnati would draw the assignment of facing the Huskies in Saturday's quarterfinals.

Cincinnati, coached by former UConn forward and assistant coach Jamelle Elliott, emerged with the 10-point win in the opening game in the AAC tournament.

Elliott chose to look at a matchup with UConn in a positive manner.

"It is not secret, we knew this was going to happen," Elliott said. "As a college athlete, especially as a freshman, what better to potentially end your season than playing No. 1 team in the country."

As for the No. 1 team in the country, the Huskies have had some pretty strong practices since the end of the regular season. By all accounts Nurse has been practicing at a higher level than she has been in a month or so. Nurse hit the proverbial freshman wall when she played without the same amount of

"At the end of the South Florida game there was a little bit of a spike when she took off a little bit," Auriemma said. "I think she was being overly cerebral about the game, a little too much of 'should I, shouldn't I?' It is a lot to throw on a kid coming in as a freshman but watching her in practice the last couple of days she has been more like her old self."

Nurse had a strong game in the regular-season finale at USF and now she prepares for her first postseason game with the Huskies.

"Now more than ever I have gotten past over thinking," Nurse said. "When I play and don't think too much about what I am doing next, that is when I am playing my best. I've had two pretty good practices, gotten to the rim and am being more aggressive and it feels more natural."

UConn, which became the second NCAA Division I women's team to win 40 games in a season during the 2013-14 campaign, won't be getting there next season. UConn will not be playing in an exempt tournament and as a result will play in only 29 regular-season games. The result is that the Huskies will play a maximum of 38 games. Also, for the first time since the 2008-09 season the Huskies won't play Stanford in the regular season. The home and home contract has been deferred for a year at Stanford's request so the Cardinal will play at UConn during the 2016-17 season with the return game in California coming the following season.

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