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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Former teammates to square off in UConn/Baylor game

There are no lack of story angles for tomorrow's UConn/Baylor game.

The obvious one is an undersized UConn team facing a Baylor squad with six players standing 6-foot-2 or taller highlighted by 6-7 Kalani Brown.

I also found it worthy to explore the connections between the two teams courtesy of the U.S. team that played in the FIBA Americas U16 Championships in 2013 as UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson and Crystal Dangerfield were members of that team as were Baylor's Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox.

"I think when you travel with other people in other countries, it is a whole different experience so you bond quicker," said Samuelson, the team's second-leading scorer with an average of 11.6 points per game. "It was definitely a lot of fun going out there with them experiencing new places so it will be fun to see them again even though we haven't talked but whenever you play somebody from the USA teams, there is that bond."

Samuelson and Brown (averaging 24.5 points and 14 rebounds in just 21.5 minutes per game while shooting 80 percent from the field and 90 percent from the foul line) figure to play starring roles for their respective teams.

"She is playing awesome but come game time we have to do the best we can to play our best against them," Samuelson said.

Baylor leads the country in rebounding margin (31 per game) and is third with an average of 11 blocked shots per game so it is going to be interesting to see how UConn will zig and zag to compensate for its lack of height. Those numbers are with Cox, the top-ranked player among the current freshman class, playing just 19 minutes in Baylor's first two games.

Dangerfield's connection to the Baylor team doesn't stop with her USA Basketball stint. She played in the same Tennessee Flight AAU program as Baylor star forward Nina Davis who is just 14 points shy of 2,000 at Baylor.

"It's not just them, we went to Spain, Russia and we played against (Baylor's Kristy) Wallace and I grew up playing with Nina Davis," Dangerfield. "It is kind of a homecoming in a way for me, coming back and playing against all of these players that we have been with for years."

As for Davis, "I kind of look at her as a big sister in a way, we talk from time to time. I am proud of her and she is proud of me so there is that background.

"She is somebody you can rely on. She is an undersized post so she works hard, she is a presence and you have to know where she is on the court."

UCONN SIGNEES ON NAISMITH LIST
Future UConn teammates Mikayla Coombs, Lexi Gordon and Megan Walker are among 50 players named to the watch list for the Naismith girls' national player of the year award.

UConn recruiting targets Samantha Brunelle, Charli Collier and Christyn Williams are also on the list.

PERFECT GSR SCORE
The women's basketball program was one of six from UConn to receive 100 percent marks in Graduation Success Rates.

The field hockey, men's tennis, women's tennis, softball and volleyball join the women's basketball team in graduating every scholarship athlete within six years of first enrolling. The 2016 GSR rates include student-athletes first enrolling from 2006-2009. It's the fourth straight time the women's basketball program earned a perfect score.

Also the football team improved its GSR score for the third straight year going from 65 to 71, 71 to 72 and finally 72 to 76.

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