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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Samuelson ssves her best for last in UConn win

There was part of Geno Auriemma who strongly considered letting Katie Lou Samuelson watch the entire second half from the bench after an uneventful showing in limited first-half action.

However, with some of his assistant coaches suggesting he give the reigning national high school player of the year another chance to show what she could do, Auriemma summoned Samuelson off the bench.
What followed might have been the most important eight-minute stretch of Samuelson's brief tenure with the Huskies.
Yes, Samuelson did drain a pair of 3-pointers including a crucial one just 25 seconds after a hard-charging DePaul team pulled within five points. But more importantly to Auriemma and the other coaches, Samuelson did more than display her outside shooting touch. She helped the Huskies break DePaul's press, played solid defense and also had a rebound and steal as the Huskies finished strong for an 86-70 victory on Wednesday night.

"It is cool to know he had that trust in me. He told me after the game that 'I wanted to put you in there and see how you responded.' He said when I play hard like that then that is exactly what will happen. It is really good knowing that he has that trust. I am going to keep playing hard and hopefully he will continue to have that trust in me.

"It is important for me to try to contribute and help the team in any way that I can whether it is trying to break the press like that, passing the ball, getting rebounds, getting the ball to the right person but overall in that game it was doing whatever the team needed to get that win."

In the first three quarters Samuelson played four minutes, missed her only shot and had one assist. Then she scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter.

"That burst in the third quarter gave us some room," Auriemma said. "I turned around at one point and said 'what am I going to do with Lou.' The consensus was 'let's give her another shot, let's see what she does.' This might have been her best game since she has been at Connecticut. She is a tough kid and she has been down a little bit because her shot doesn't go in as much as she is used to seeing it go in but that is not why we are upset with her. We are upset with her because she doesn't do all the other things she is capable of doing. You are not in California anymore, you are allowed to get in a
stance in this part of the country.

"You won't get arrested if you get into a defensive stance, you can put your hand up too, nobody will say a bad thing about you and you are allowed to go after rebounds. You will actually get rewarded, even if you don't get the rebound, try. There are so many things that she does well but when you are a good shooter and you don't see the ball go in as much, you start to pout and feel sorry for yourself and you forget all the other things you are really good at. That is kind of where she has been so hopefully these last couple of games have helped her along."
Part of the deal of playing at UConn is that resident superstars like Breanna Stewart often times spend long stretches of games sitting on the bench. It has nothing to do with the quality of her play or maybe it does as her brilliance has resulted in a string of lopsided games.

So when last night's game came to an end and I was given a final box score, one of the first numbers to jump out at me was the 40 minutes Stewart played. Before the DePaul game she had played the entire game just once in a regular season game and that came against Notre Dame when she was a freshman.

"I just couldn't see myself taking her out," Auriemma said. "There was just too much chaos going on out there, we needed somebody who could help us everywhere on the floor. She inbounded the ball, dribbled the ball up the floor, scored down low, hit a 3, made a good pass to somebody. When you have Stewie in the game, it is like having three players on the floor because she can do so many things. By taking her out I was scared that we would lose a little bit of that cohesiveness that she gives us."

Stewart finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds. She also had a pair of assist giving her 296 in her career. If she hands out four assists in Saturday's game, she will become the first Division I women's basketball player with 300 blocked shots and assists.

"Before the game we were talking about these kinds of games are the reasons why we came to Connecticut, especially the big moments and somebody has to make a big play late in the game," Stewart said. "We are all players who can do that and with the crowd cheering for us and against us, it made it really exciting."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim -

If Breanna Stewart does not win all the national player of the year awards in a landslide, the voters should no longer be allowed to vote.

Right now, she is the *only* UConn player deserving of an All American award. The fact that Geno Auriemma did not take her out of the game speaks volumes about his present trust in Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck, and Kia Nurse.

10:55 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

agreed ... Moriah has been erratic , Morgan just seems slow on defense., and kiah no consistency ...

9:42 AM 

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