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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

With assist from Stewart, UConn's Samuelson is playing pressure free

Coming to UConn as the reigning national high school player of the year is not as easy as it may seem.

Breanna Stewart learned that the hard way during her freshman season and when she saw the pressure starting to get to current freshman Katie Lou Samuelson, she decided it was time to act.

"When somebody is kind of getting in a little rut, you can tell," Stewart said. "They are not talking as much, being alone more than they were with the group. I was in that situation my freshman year. When I noticed that happening, I texted Lou and we talked about it and went out for dinner. I made
her feel better, made her feel like she is not the only one to go through this."

While Samuelson's impressive perimeter shooting was on display in the 104-49 win over Temple as she was 5 of 8 from 3-point range, it is her willingness to be a more physical and versatile player that is paying dividends as she not only set a career best with 21 points but also with six assists.

"She is 6-3 and she should be playing as much on the perimeter as she is inside," Stewart said. "She is starting to embrace the physicality because at this level it is obviously physical more than it was in high school. It is a change and she is getting used to that. A lot of the pressures that she is having, I had. We came out of high school and we were in similar situations and I think I am the only one who is able to relate to that."

Samuelson came to UConn with a reputation of being an incredible skilled offensive player but with the Huskies returning four starters from a national championship team, she was quick to defer to her older teammates. In the last couple of weeks she has been starting to look for her own shots at the proper time while contributing in other ways.

"Stewie's been a great help for me and I really appreciate how much she has helped me out," said Samuelson, who made her second start of the season but first when all of UConn's regular starters were available to play. "It keeps my confidence that she doesn't let me get down.

"I watch Stewie a lot and try to learn from her. She is a great player and has come out of her way to help me so I am going to do whatever I can to learn from her and appreciate this year I have for her because people can't get that opportunity. Seeing in practice, seeing how versatile she is, I am definitely going to try to be able to score in different ways and score in different ways."

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