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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Freshmen getting crash course on life at UConn

While many of their former classmates and teammates might be kicking back and enjoy life this summer, De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson have plans over these next few months that are anything but relaxing.

The UConn freshmen have been on campus for three weeks and when they aren't taking summer classes, they are hitting the court with the returning members from a squad that has won three consecutive national titles.

At UConn even informal basketball games are "very intense" according to Collier.

The trio has wasted little time in making strong opening impressions on the UConn coaches and players.

"They always have a jump coming in but I think they are doing really well," Morgan Tuck said. "When they come in, they don't know what to expect. They have never had to do some of the things we are going. I think the summer is kind of a good buffer where it kind of gets you in a little. you see what we are about, how hard we work and how we are supposed to conduct ourselves. I think the summer is a good way to dip your foot in and I think they are handling it well."

Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma,was available to the media along with Boykin, Collier, Samuelson, Tuck, Gabby Williams and Moriah Jefferson during Auriemma's annual charity golf tournament at the Hartford Golf Club. He did not hold back with his praise for the three newcomers.

"They came to UConn because they want to be like Stewie (Breanna Stewart), they want to be like Dee (Diana Taurasi) or Maya (Moore) or whatever the case may be, that is all well and good until your (butt) is buried on the bench because you are struggling, now reality hits you in the face," Auriemma said. "They have it and they understand it, they know they have to earn it. These three as a group and as individuals, they are pretty impressive."

Collier and Samuelson will leave in a couple of weeks to join the other members of the U.S. team competing in the FIBA U19 World Championships. In the meantime, they are trying to absorb as much as they can in the pick-up games.

"We've been in the weight room and scrimmaging," Collier said. "Definitely showing what I can work on and how people older than me are playing, It is so different from high school.
It is really hard but I knew it was going to be."

Boykin lost most of her senior season of high school after injuring her wrist. This summer will give her a chance to get all her timing back.

"It's been fun to get back on the court and have time to play, continue to get stronger," Boykin said. "Going against Stewie, going against Tuck it is great. They are competing against us and they are trying to get better in order to get ready for the season. They are telling us to stay focused, getting our minds right and get stronger.

"I didn't have my senior year so this is pretty much my senior year. It is great, it gives me the feeling of getting back on the court."

Auriemma addressed plenty of subjects including a rundown of nearly every player who will be on the 2015-16 team, the rules changes and incredible number of high-profile transfers. There will be more on what he had to say as well as more from Tuck, Williams and Jefferson in the next couple of days.

Here's more from Auriemma on his three freshmen.

"In the end it is on them, how bad do they want to be great, how much time are they willing to put into the game, how coachable are they? What kind of competitive spirit do they have? You don't know these things until you get them. You watch this 21-year-old kid (Jordan Spieth) play golf and he reminds you of the same motivation that drove Tiger (Woods) to be the best. If you have a high school kid, you find that they have those qualities and they have the game to back it up anything is possible. Katie Lou has a lot of advantages that a lot of kids don't have, she is a great shooter, she is 6-3 and has a quick release and she is a smart player. She has a huge advantage of being really well coached in high school. A lot of kids who come to college who were really well coached in high school like Napheesa Collier was, like Katie Lou was, those guys can compete immediately at the college level. They kids who didn't have really good coaching in high school, they are on the ones who struggled the most. Tina, Sue Bird had great coaching in high school. You see some of these kids and they come out, they have the right background, the right makeup, the talent and the heart anything is possible.

"(Boykin) is still not 100 percent yet. She is completely different from the other two guys in some of skills that she has and some of the things that she does are just very subtle. Sometimes with Napheesa and Katie Lou, they are right out there and if you watch De'Janae closely you see some of the subtle things she does that makes her a really good player and contribute to winning. I am excited for all three of them.

"(Collier) competes really hard every possession and has skills, when I watch her now she does things that I didn't even know she could do. These guys are coming into college with the right mix of stuff you need to be really good."

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Blogger craig johnson said...

Now add in Butler who has practiced with them for a year ( averaged 13 rebounds a game at Georgetown) and we will not lose a step with these FOUR on board. I think we are actually a better team now. The AAC will be a slam dunk, the rest of the schedule will be a better workout.

2:34 PM 

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