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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

UConn's Dangerfield learning on the job

Geno Auriemma must fight the urge to burst out laughing when he hears the comparisons between UConn freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield and two-time All-American Moriah Jefferson.

Yes, they are both undersize, athletic true point guards so some of the skill sets that Jefferson has he can see in Dangerfield. But when it comes to personality traits, he believes the two couldn't be more different.

Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff remarked about how impressed he is with Dangerfield's poise. Auriemma's response to Dangerfield's poise was yet another "did he actually just say that" moment.

"I would say she is comatosed out there at times so I guess she is poised," Auriemma deadpanned.  "She has a personaliy type, a demeanor that is very (even keel). There are no spikes. Moriah would be like you let the air out of a balloon, Crystal is more like .... She doesn't get the highs and the lows so so I think that helps her."

With Saniya Chong missing her second straight game as she is still going through the concussion protocol steps, Dangerfield got the start again against a talented and deep Ohio State team. Perhaps the greatest tribute to her talent is that McGuff seemed reluctant to utilize a full-court press or even a three-quarter court one while Dangerfield was on the floor.

Dangerfield had eight points, three rebounds, five assists, one steal and two turnovers in 34 minutes. While her numbers paled in comparison to what she did against Baylor (19 points, five assists, two steals and one turnover) even the hard to please Auriemma had to admit it was a solid showing.

"Pretty decent," Auriemma said. :She is way better than that. Slowly but surely we are getting there with her. She will make some tough shots and she loves these little runners, throwing them off the glass. She does some stuff where you go 'wow, I didn't know that she could do that.' She tied her career high for steals, she got one (actually she has three games this season with two steals), Gabby (Williams) got six and she got one. Somebody that quick and that athletic, you are thinking come on, get involved a little bit. We are trying to get her be way more involved. The more she gets involved as time goes on, she is going to be really good."

The number that bothered Dangerfield the most were the two turnovers.

"The two turnovers I did have were unforced," Dangerfield said. "I feel like so I am not really happy about it."

So what was she happy about?

"Just being able to play the game that I did and stay poised in that kind of a game," Dangerfield said. "There were times when I did get rattled but being able to look at (her teammates), they calmed me down, help us make runs and stay in the game."

There were a couple of those runners that she banked off the glass that she has shown a knack for pulling out of her bag of tricks but the one play that stands out the most to me was an amazing pass on the fast break to Gabby Williams. When she threw the pass, I thought it was going to land out of bounds but she led Williams perfectly so she could catch the ball without breaking stride. Had Williams finished the layup, it would have been a highlight shown nation wide. Still, Williams did get a trip to the foul line out of it.

"I saw an opening for her," Dangerfield said. "We made eye contact and just being able to trust that she was going to be able to outrun whoever that was and go get the ball, go make a play."

With each passing game Dangerfield is getting a better understanding where her teammates like to receive the ball which should only help her and her team play at a higher level moving forward.

"She is that person on our team to lead the offense, hit a shot when we need it but also make the right passes," Katie Lou Samuelson said. "I think she showed that today and she is showing that more in practice slowly, it is big for her as a freshman to be that solid player and do something different on the court every day. Even if she isn't going to be that one to lead in scoring, she is going to be somebody who is going to impact the game in a different way."


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