Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

UConn's youngsters learn on the job during road trip

There have been some challenging road trips before for the UConn women's basketball team.

Back in 2000-01 season UConn went to Louisiana Tech and two games later had a game at Syracuse. Then there were games at Old Dominion and Wright State (in Dayton) on Dec. 29 and 31, 2001. The following season the Huskies played at NC State, five days later played three games in three days in Hawaii before having a game at Holy Cross less than a week later.

However, you would be hard pressed to find a stretch of games in a short amount of time where UConn did as much traveling and stayed in as many different hotels or had as many plane rides as the recently- completed road trip.

By my count, when the team arrives back on campus the UConn travel party would have traveled nearly 4,800 miles in a span of seven days.

"It is about growing up, it is about a certain maturity level that you need to be a good player to keep improving and be a part of a really mature team," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Playing these games all over the place, different styles, different pace, I was happiest that it wasn't all Stewie (Breanna Stewart) all the time. We got a lot of contributions across the board and that really helps us moving forward. If you look at Gabby (Williams') contributions on this trip, it is huge for her confidence going forward. It was huge for Lou (Katie Lou Samuelson) so every time we take the court we have an opportunity to grow up a little bit. Come March, teams that haven't grown up and are still playing girls' basketball instead of women's basketball, they are going to be knocked out."

Seven different UConn players had double-digit scoring games with Stewart the only Husky to score at least 10 points in each of the three games.

"It has been a long trip, we have been gone for a while so we had to stay mentally focused and we did a good job of keeping it in the back of our minds," said senior guard Moriah Jefferson, who led the Huskies with 42 points in the victories against Houston, South Florida and Memphis. "It helps a lot especially for the tournament, a lot of times in the tournament you are gone for a while and you are in different cities so it is good for us to get this experience in these different places. It is good for us to get this experience and for them to see how it is when you are on the road for so long."

There will be more on this tomorrow, but I think these three games may have benefited Samuelson more than any other player. Like so many freshmen before her, she has done more thinking than reacting in the early part of the season but on the road trip and especially in Wednesday's win at Memphis, she did a little bit of everything.

"I think we have definitely grown, having these three games that close everybody's going to be tired, everybody wants to go home and we knew coming into this game that we had to take care of business," Samuelson said. "Just being able to rely on each other knowing that everyone is going through the same thing that you are, you really want to do that and go as hard as you can for your teammates."

It will be another week and a half before UConn goes back on the road. Auriemma believes going home will work wonders for the players and coaches who couldn't help but to be together during trips to Houston, Tampa and Memphis. He joked that he is 61 years old, his players are 20 and he doesn't need to make friends with 20 year olds as much as the 20 year olds don't need to make friends with 61 year olds.

"I played golf Monday and they went to Busch Gardens so back in the day I might have gone with them," Auriemma said.
The news that the Big 12 Conference has reached a compromise so it would not have to add more teams in order to hold a conference championship game in football made plenty of headlines today especially in areas like at UConn where fans were hoping to get an invitation from a Power 5 conference.

Auriemma was asked for his take on things especially since the Huskies will go nearly a month between facing ranked opponents.

"I don't feel any different today than I did yesterday or the day before or I will feel tomorrow," Auriemma said. "That situation is what it is, it is out of my hands. I love the people who comment that it is the AD's responsibility to get into a new conference; it is the president's responsibility to get into a new conference. It is like saying 'why didn't you get invited to the Oscar's what is wrong with you?' Well, how about 'I don't have a ticket and nobody wants me to go there.'

"I have always operated that I want to be really good where I am and what I am going. That is going to take me a lot me a lot of places and so far it has worked. I don't concern my what might happen in the future."


Anonymous John B said...

As usual, good read.
Ms. Samuelson is the real deal. She got game.

10:05 AM 

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