Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, November 27, 2015

UConn freshmen getting acquainted to the Geno way

One of the best parts of covering the UConn women's basketball program is getting to see how Geno Auriemma conducts his practices.

It is not the drills he has his team fight through although it is entertaining watch the 4 on 5, 5 on 6 or 5 on 7 drills where even the best starting five in the country has no chance for success but just when he chooses which buttons to push.

Case in point was the practice before the Kansas State game where the return of Saniya Chong and De'Janae Boykin to practice enabled him to throw out five players on the court without any of the starters being out there. As Chong, Courtney Ekmark and freshmen De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson went up against the male practice players with either Tierney Lawlor and Briana Pulido mixed in, he let them attempt to run the out of bounds plays that the starting five managed to do and score at will. Possession after possession ended in failure and little by little Auriemma's irritation boiled over until he finally told them "the five of you will never be out there together (in a game), you know that, right?'

"It serves two purposes, those guys out there by themselves are really clueless and that is good because they then start to pay attention and say I can't just depend on them (the starters)," Auriemma said. "I can't depend on our upperclassmen to bail us out all the time so that is good. It is good for our upperclassmen to sit out there, watch those young guys fall apart and now that 'hey, if you don't help these guys out, this is what is going to happen.' It works well on both ends. The more they do that, somebody like Saniya who is going to have to do more or somebody like Gabby (Williams, who works with the starters now but went through similar struggles as a reserve last season(, she has to do more so it serves a lot of purposes. We don't do it often because otherwise practice would deteriorate."

If there was a silver lining it was that Collier stepped up to make a few baskets to salvage something for the reserves.

"She is just one of those guys that if you keep moving something good is bound to happen and she never stands still, she is always moving," Auriemma said of Collier. "So a shot goes up, it doesn't matter where she is on the floor, she will be around the ball when it comes off the rim. Because she does it all the time, 'x' number of times the ball is going to fall into her hands. Other guys, they only go in there once in a while and they only get it once in a while but she just has a knack."

I actually interviewed Collier after the practice but for some unknown reason I neglected to ask her about that portion of practice. I did, however, ask Morgan Tuck about it.

"We have all been in that position at some point," Tuck said. "They are only doing it to make you better, they are saying something to you  it is because they care and they want you to get better.

"It is good to play with the people you are play with the most time while you are here. It sucks that he is always on you, saying those things but at the end of the day you do that to be productive and effective with whatever group you are with. It can't be with me, Stewie and Mo out there 'oh, we are doing great' but when we are not out there it is different. I think by him setting the expectations only makes them better and it pays off in the end."


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