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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

UConn's Auriemma wants Huskies to get more defensive

Geno Auriemma had a busy post-practice schedule on Tuesday. He was supposed to tape an interview with SNY and had to make it to his restaurant in Storrs Center for his radio show which is hosted by WTIC's Bob Joyce. Naturally, one would figure that he would have one eye on the clock as a practice expected to run until 3:30/3:45 stretched past 4 p.m. However, that is not Auriemma's way of doing things. Unhappy with what he has seen from his team on the defensive end of the court in recent games and practices, he put them through defensive drills. Each time a male practice player got an open jumper or drove in for a layup, Auriemma's frustration only increases and practice would be extended.

Other than a 3-point percentage defense which ranks 292nd among 344 Division I teams, the Huskies' defensive numbers aren't terrible. UConn leads the country in scoring margin which is nothing new since that has been the case in each of the last eight seasons including a season ago when UConn set the Division I record with a scoring margin of 40.6 points per game. Some of the other numbers are not up to the Huskies' lofty standards. It is not what the statistics say that have caught Auriemma's attention as much as what has transpired during games. On more than one occasion during Tuesday's practice he let his team know that he was tired of seeing other teams get uncontested layups and open looks.

People wonder how it is that UConn has won a record 10 national titles and become one of the most dominant college programs of all time. Well, Auriemma's heavy-handed approach at Tuesday's practice is a pretty good indication of why the Huskies don't ever rest of their laurels.

"We are not as good of a defensive team as we were last year and the stats (prove) it," Auriemma said. "We took out two seniors (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes) that for whatever their shortcomings were, and every player has them, they knew exactly where to be defensively most of the time. They have been through it all, they could compensate for whatever shortcomings. We are playing a lot more players than we did last year so there are a lot more bodies on the floor, most of them are inexperienced and we make a lot of mistakes and that is where we are right now in the first week of January. If we are still there in the first week of February, I am not going to be too happy, if we are still there in the first week of March, the only thing to do is to cross your fingers and hope we make every shot.

"I talked to them about it today that we have to get better defensively. I am not saying we are a bad defensive team but we are not as good as I want us to be or as good as we've been in the past."

The loss of Stokes, an elite shot blocker, figured to impact UConn's defensive effort and it has done just that.

"It was easy at times because if we would make a mistake, Kiah would block a shot or Stewie would block one," Auriemma said. "We are going to end up with 100 less blocked shots than we had last year. We are forcing more turnovers than we did last year so that is a positive thing but I look at it as the quality of shots the other teams get, I don't look at it as how many points you are giving up or what is the final score. I look at the other team's shooting percentage and it is four points higher than it was last year and I look at the quality of shots the other team is getting and that is kind of how I judge our defense and right now we have to do a better job of that."

In her previous game UConn incoming freshman Kyla Irwin was believed to be the first player in State College High School history to pull down 1,000 career rebounds. Last night she put her name in the record books when she set the school's career scoring record.

Irwin had 17 points in a 45-42 loss to Harrisburg to surpass Katie Glusko's career mark of 1,630 points.

Irwin, who is averaging 23.5 points per game for 8-2 State College HS, has scored at least 20 points in seven of the 10 games this season. She is also 19 for 19 from the foul line in the last three games.

Also, Crystal Dangerfield had 27 points in a 71-55 win over Stewarts Creek last night. It was her 11th 20-point game in the first 14 games of the season at Blackman High School. Playing on a team loaded with future Division I players, Dangerfield had a total of 20 games with at least 20 points in her first three seasons.


Anonymous Joe said...

The opponent is never the other team, the opponent is always the game itself.

11:21 AM 
Blogger Donald J. Porter said...

Geno is doing WHAT is BEST for these UCONN players !

He is to be listened to and commitment is what should emerge from his comments !

1:53 PM 

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