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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, January 11, 2016

UConn found its offensive rhythm at perfect time

Part of the monster that Geno Auriemma has created is that after his UConn women's basketball team goes on the road and beats a ranked team by 16 points, invariably he has to answer questions about what went wrong.

I am certainly guilty as charged and my first question to Auriemma after Sunday's 75-59 win over South Florida was about how much better offensive flow and shot selection there was after South Florida had pulled within a point with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter.

UConn had seven stretches when it missed at least two shots in a row including six straight misses to allow USF to come roaring back.

When Breanna Stewart misfired on a 3-point attempt, UConn was just 15 for 41 from the field which is 36.6 percent. As a point of reference, UConn's season low for field-goal percentage in a game is 46.3 percent against LSU. As if the players realized that it was there time to settle down and play the way they know they can, the Huskies were 14 for 22 (63.6 percent) until missing the final two shots of the game. Even more impressive was the fact that the Huskies were 8 of 11 from 3-point range during that stretch,

"We are always in a Catch-22 situation," Auriemma said. "If we run up and down the floor, take the first open shot we get and they all go in, they all go 'man, this offense is unstoppable, you guys are unbelievable.' Then we come out, we don't make them and you go 'man, these guys are rushing. Why are they shooting the ball so early in the possession?'

"I kind of let some of it go but there were times where I thought we didn't keep them on defense long enough, not because we might get an open layup because the way they played tonight they had four guys in the lane so there is no throwing the ball in the lane but I wanted us to keep them on defense because they are not easy to play against so why should we run back and play defense if we are only spending five seconds on offense. Once we got control of that, I thought the game kind of settled into a pace that was good for us."

Perhaps most astonishing of all is that during that stretch reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart did not attempt a shot. Of course, Stewart did sit for nearly 3 1/2 minutes in the fourth quarter after picking up her fourth foul.

"In those moments we know we need to score right there, we need to execute and when that happens, it makes it a little more of a pressure  situation that is when we play pretty well," Morgan Tuck said. "It took us a little bit to get there in the first quarter (UConn missed nine of its first 11 shots) but we definitely got there."

Kia Nurse led the way going 4 for 6 including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. Tuck and Moriah Jefferson were both 3 of 5, Katie Lou Samuelson was 2 of 3, Gabby Williams 1 of 2 and Napheesa Collier made her only attempted shot.

Nurse, who came into the game shooting 31 percent from 3-point range and was 1 of 9 on 3s in the last two games was rather pleased to see those three treys find the mark.

"It was good to see a couple of them go in. I definitely haven't been shooting as consistently as I would have liked to," Nurse said. "But to see a couple of them go in and just step into it with confidence, it is the best way to go out."

Nurse has tried not to let her inconsistent perimeter shooting impact the other areas of her game.

"I think it is more about trying to impact that game in other ways other than scoring," Nurse said. "I usually focus a lot defensively because I usually have a defensive matchup I have to deal with and not being afraid to shoot the next open 3, staying with it and try to make sure I knock down the next one."

It hasn't been the easiest of tasks getting results of how UConn Class of 2017 commit Andra Espinoza-Hunter has been playing in her junior season at Blair Academy.

However, I can report that Espinoza-Hunter had three 3-pointers and 23 points in Blair Academy's 46-40 win over Paterson Kennedy at the New Jersey Sparks tournament on Sunday.


Blogger dtank77 said...

As the streak continues the pressure grows.Might be a good thing for them to lose a game in the regular season.Teams are playing above their heads to take Connecticut down.As far as Espinoza goes she has no real quickness or foot speed,streaky shooter and a shoot first point guard.Doesn't pressure on defense and doesn't inspire her teammates.Dangerfield is the exact opposite.She can be better than Moriah.

1:55 PM 

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