UConn's Samuelson views herself as more than a shooter
A total of 26 Mater Dei players have made the jump to collegiate basketball. Other than Samuelson and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis thriving at UConn, Mater Dei players have found success at Stanford, UCLA, USC and many other major-college programs. Yet, when you glance at the single-season record book and look under the free throws made and attempted categories, there is Samuelson's name.
Just out of curiosity I wonder how many high school programs there are where the same player set the single-season marks for free throws and 3-pointers made as Samuelson did during her spectacular senior season.
During Samuelson's freshman season, however, she didn't always display the many facets to her offensive game. Her 78 3-pointers are the second most for the UConn freshman trailing only Mosqueda-Lewis but she only attempted more than two free throws in three games a season ago. Taking it a step further, in games when she attempted more than one shot she did not have more shots from inside the 3-point line than she did outside of it until accomplishing that feat three times in five NCAA tournament games.
Already in practice and in the two exhibition games Samuelson has been aggressive driving to the basket and finishing around the rim. She knows that the days of standing at the 3-point line and waiting for Moriah Jefferson to feed her the ball while opposing teams were more concerned about dealing with the post tandem of Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck are over. She will certainly be asked to fire away early and often from 3-point range this season but the expectations are also there to be a more complete offensive player. That is just fine for Samuelson.
"It was one of the reasons I came here," Samuelson said. "I knew he (UConn coach Geno Auriemma) would get everything out of me, I knew Coach would be able to get the best of me in everything that I did and I wanted to be pushed. It was definitely a main reason why I wanted to come here, I didn't just want to be put in the corner and told 'you are our shooter on this team.' I want to be known as somebody who can play and do a lot of different things. I think I have expanded my game so much from last year and every throughout last season being here really helped push me farther. I am trying to learn every single day because I know I have a lot of things to improve on and there is so much outside that I can keep working on so I am really excited to keep working on it."
UConn has plenty of players in the 6-foot range on this year's team but other than reserve center Natalie Butler and freshman forward Kyla Irwin, the Huskies don't have the height of teams past. that is where the 6-foot-3 Samuelson can also help out.
"I think it will be really helpful if I can do more things that just stand on the 3-point line this year," Samuelson said. :We lost a really good post presence last year, Napheesa (Collier) and Gabby (Williams) have been doing a great job and have that versatility to play outside. If I can go inside, it is going to be tough how to guard us so I think adding that to my game is going to be helpful to this team."
Auriemma has seen Samuelson doing just that during the preseason.
"If you came to our practices and watch Lou at practice, you would not come away from there going 'wow, that kid is am amazing shooter and that is it,'" Auriemma said. "She has put herself on spots on the floor she has never been in our offense. She loves it: she is having fun with it."
Samuelson scored at least 20 points five times in her freshman season with two of them coming in the NCAA tournament but she suffered a foot injury in the national semifinal which forced her to sit and watch the game she most wanted to play in. I was curious how she dealt with the elation of watching her team win another national title but being unable to play.
"When we won I was thrilled because it is everything we worked for all season but clearly I would have liked to have been in the game, have a different ending personally for myself," Samuelson said. "Knowing that, when I went into my rehab, I tried to heal up. I think once I finally got out of the boot and felt better to go getting back to where I was. It just motivated me to go as hard as I can and change my perspective of how I went about things.
"I think I am just more confident in everything I do, mentally I grew a lot because of that, I couldn't feel sorry for myself, I had to forget about the fact that I didn't play in it. I had to learn really quickly that whatever is coming up ahead of me is what is important so that it what I really focused on."
Labels: Katie Lou Samuelson