Dangerfield reflects on first start at UConn
Since arriving on campus, the highly-touted freshman guard has been grateful for all the assistance she has received from senior Saniya Chong. However, after being hit in the head in Wednesday's win at Notre Dame, Chong was suffering from concussion-like symptoms resulting in her being left at home when the Huskies made the trip to play at Kansas State on Sunday.
Dangerfield played 37 minutes and six points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals in the 73-58 victory.
"It is my first college (experience)," Dangerfield said after playing 61 combined minutes in wins over Notre Dame and Kansas State. "Mentally for me just trying to pick out the things I need to work on and listen to my coaches, listen to my teammates and just coming out 9-0 is huge for us and I am happy about it.
"Just being able to adjust to certain things, continue to adjust to them, see if things are technical and I need to go into the gym to work on them or if they are mental and just go back to it," Dangerfield said.
Dangerfield, who erupted for 19 points against Baylor in her second collegiate game, is in the midst of growing pains every freshman who has played for UConn coach Geno Auriemma have experienced.
One teaching moment came when Dangerfield was over aggressive in leaving Kansas State's top 3-point shooter Kindred Wesemann to help on defense only to give up a wide-open 3-pointer to the K-State senior.
"The first time we went zone in the game, the kid has the ball and passes it," Auriemma said, "The kid (Dangerfield) runs 30 feet away from her, she makes a 3 and she is like 'oh yeah.' So what we did in the second half is we didn't help off of her as much, as a matter of fact, we didn't help off of her hardly at all so by limiting how many times she touched it, when she did get it, she wasn't kind of (ready to shoot)."
Dangerfield heard it from Auriemma after her defensive lapse and played better defense on Wesemann in the second half.
"Just knowing that I have to stay on her and know where she is," Dangerfield said. "They harp on me about my defense so I just wanted to be able to guard her."
It's been a grueling stretch for UConn with five games at five different arenas and in three different states in a two-week span. Even some of the veteran players showed signs of mental fatigue so it could be an even more daunting task for a young player like Dangerfield.
"At some points it was but now I think I will be used to it, after the finals we are back at it," Dangerfield said.
The team will practice sparingly during final exam week. The hope is that when the Huskies reconvene and begin preparations to host nationally-ranked Ohio State that Chong will be able to return to the court.
"Saniya, she took an inadvertent elbow to just about her eye and I knew she was pretty shook up during the game," Auriemma said, "It didn't really present itself until we got home so our medical stuff felt it would be best if we left her back and hopefully she will be able to play in the Ohio State game on the 19th, more important I hope she is OK because this is finals week starting so it is a big week for our players."
If Dangerfield maintains her current pace and the Huskies were to reach the American Athletic Conference and NCAA tournament title games, she would break Renee Montgomery's program record for assists by a freshman. While Chong figures to return to the starting lineup when she is cleared to return, Dangerfield will have plenty of other opportunities to start during her time at UConn.
"She did well," Napheesa Collier said "It is always kind of scary starting your first game especially as a freshman so I give her props."
COLLIER HONORED AGAIN
Collier was named the American Athletic Conference's Player of the Week for the second straight time.
Collier averaged 21 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 70.8 percent from the floor and 88.9 percent from the foul line in wins over Notre Dame and Kansas State.
ESPINOZA-HUNTER, WALKER EARN WBCA HONORS
UConn signees Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Megan Walker were among nine players to earn WBCA Player of the Week honors.
Espinoza-Hunter is averaging a staggering 43.6 points per game for Ossining (N.Y.) High School after scoring a season-high 51 points in Sunday's win over Our Lady of Lourdes while Walker already had three 30-point games for Monacan (Va.) High School.