Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, December 04, 2015

UConn expecting the best shot from shorthanded Notre Dame squad

The UConn coaches and players heard the news that Notre Dame sophomore star Brianna Turner will not play in tomorrow's Jimmy V Women's Classic game due to a shoulder injury that could sideline her for a couple more weeks or perhaps put her season at risk. Perhaps junior forward Taya Reimer will also miss the game, although she is considered to be a game-time decision. Still, the Huskies are expected to get a serious test when the third-ranked Fighting Irish come to town.

"I don't really know who is playing, who is not playing,' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Not having Brianna Turner in terms of not playing doesn't make (Notre Dame) more dangerous or less dangerous. What is does is make them different. There is a better chance of a four-guard lineup more often which makes the game a little different."

Auriemma's players expressed similar sentiments.

"They know how we play. they are not one of those teams that 'oh, it's UConn,'" UConn redshirt junior forward Morgan Tuck said. "They are used to that so I think it is good for us because it is early on in the season, it is going to be a really good game.

"We are going to prepare as if both of them playing. It (stinks) that they are banged up, Bri Turner is not going to be in and they don't know about Reimer. You want them to play because you want to play them at full strength with their whole team but at the same time, we are going to play either way. We are going to play our game and do the same things."

If anybody wondered just how highly Auriemma thinks of the coaching ability of Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw, I'll give you this nugget from today.

"I think they are one of the best teams in the country at utilizing the talent that they have," Auriemma said. "I really enjoy watching them play, I watch them play even when I am not scouting them for us, I like that way they play. She is as good of a coach in the country as we will face, nobody's better.

"I am never surprised as how well Notre Dame plays, who is in their lineup and who they have. People were having heart attacks when Notre Dame beat us a couple of times (actually the Fighting Irish are responsible for seven of the Huskies' last 12 losses). Of course they did, they had four first-round draft picks. Now they have rejuvenated themselves because they don't have Jewell Loyd and Achonwa and Skylar Diggins and Kayla McBride, those guys aren't there anymore but they have redesigned their team. When you get to the level they are at right now, you are not surprised. You are not surprised that (Madison) Cable is doing what she is doing, she has had a chance to see a lot of players in the last couple of years do exactly what she is doing right now and the kids that they have added are good, solid players. Mabrey, both of them (Michaela and Marina), are really tough kids and Lindsay Allen has become one of the best point guards in the country."

There was no sign of freshman De'Janae Boykin at today's practice and she won't be playing tomorrow.

"She's got a lot of work to do physically and academically," Auriemma said. "She has yet to be at a practice full (speed). She has been there for a third of it, a half of it but never a full (practice)."

The good news is that Natalie Butler did get some practice time today. Her surgically-repaired left thumb only had tape on it and not a splint or cast.

Auriemma said "the doctors cleared you but I haven't," Auriemma said.

He said perhaps Butler could play against Notre Dame although in my opinion, the game would probably have to get out of hand for that to happen. It is more likely that she makes her UConn debut on Wednesday against Colgate.

"She looked OK today," Auriemma said. "I think every day she is getting a little closer."


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