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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Geno Auriemma already getting his point across to this UConn team

Playing an exhibition game against a Division II team coming off a losing season there was never a question whether UConn was going to roll to another convincing victory. However, that didn't stop head coach Geno Auriemma from sending a message to his top returning scorers.

Auriemma had 11 players to call up against Pace and the last one to check into the game was sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson as her first appearance came with 5:20 left in the third quarter.

"When the games are kind of already decided, already out of hand and you never get to go out there with the starting lineup," Auriemma said. "Sometimes players like Lou, they just kind of coast through things in the exhibition season, they wait for big games to come so I just thought it was a good time to get other guys into the game and not worry about Lou."

Samuelson had six points, one rebound and one steal in 12 minutes.

Gabby Williams once again was UConn's best player with 24 points (on 10 of 11 shooting) including a 3-pointer. She has 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Napheesa Collier also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, starters Kia Nurse (11 points, 5 assists, 0 turnovers) and Saniya Chong (10 points) also scored in double figures as did Natalie Butler who had 16 points in the 95-32 win.

Auriemma addressed the heightened expectations for all the UConn players following the departure of All-Americans Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck.

"For all of our players for this season it is going to be a struggle for them at times to fight their nature," Auriemma said. "Their nature is since they have been in college there really hasn't been any great expectations of them. Saniya is a perfect example of that. Saniya just spent three years at Connecticut feeling like there are no expectations of me so what does she deliver, no expectations. This year she is off to a much better start somewhat because she senses that the expectations for her are very high,. I haven't changed my expectations for her, she has changed them for herself. Some players get that very early, some get it late and some never get it.

"For this season whether it is Lou, Pheesa, Gabby, Kia all of these guys that have been in situations where what are the expectations for me? Even if I don't play in the national championship game, we are going to win by 30 so how important am I during the course of the season? Well, that is your nature so if you come out this year because you are the same way because that is how you are, that has to gradually start to change if we are going to grow as a team."

Freshman Crystal Dangerfield started and played a team-high 32 minutes. Classmate Kyla Irwin had eight points, five rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes while Molly Bent two points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocked shots in 25 minutes.

 "If there are 20 things that you would look for in a player to be good at Connecticut there are probably 15 of them that she (Bent) doesn't do very well," Auriemma said. "The five things that she does very well are going to get her a lot of playing time. It that the case for most freshmen? Somewhat. But there is something about the way she carries herself, the way she gets herself involved in a lot of things that make you want to have her on the court at certain times. That says a lot about players that you want them on the court, there may not be times when you can afford to have her on the court but she is someone who you put them in because you feel sorry for them and 'OK, I want to keep them in the mix.' She is very determined to be a very good player. She is a lot better player now than she was last week and will be a lot better player next week than she is today."

An interesting note is the Ossining High School connection. Not only did Chong star at Ossining but so did Pace guard Stefanie Svoboda and assistant coach Alexandra Venuto. Ossining coach Dan Ricci sat directly behind the bench with UConn commit Andra Espinoza-Hunter and UConn recruiting target Aubrey Griffin.


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