Opportunity knocks for Molly Bent with Crystal Dangerfield sidelined
Well, the number of options has been cut with the news that Dangerfield will miss the next couple of weeks to rest her foot. Dangerfield has been diagnosed with a stress reaction in her left foot. She will not practice or play in the next two weeks and will be reevaluated at that time.
Dangerfield leads all reserves with 322 minutes played and 86 points scored. UConn is not in danger of losing as the Huskies continue play in the American Athletic Conference but these next couple of weeks could have been valuable for Dangerfield as she continues to adapt to the college game and expectations placed on her by the UConn coaching staff.
I spoke to Dangerfield after Monday's practice mostly because she was squaring off against her former high school teammate Jazz Bond in last night's game but she also addressed what she was hoping to get accomplished moving forward.
"Right now it is not the physical part, it is about being able to come into practice and pay attention to the scout then going into the games and executing," Dangerfield said.
Time will tell if the time away sets Dangerfield back when she gets back on the court. At Monday's practice fellow freshman Molly Bent was seeing more time with the starters than at any practice I have attended. Now she's going to have a larger role moving forward.
Bent competes really hard but UConn coach Geno Auriemma said her issue comes when she tries to play too fast.
"(Bent) makes just enough shots to make you think she can help you and just enough plays and then she is 100 miles an hour and completely self destructs when she is out there," Auriemma said after Monday's practice. "Somewhere we have to find that middle ground where she can make a little bit of an impact and not get into that self destruct mode where and she is struggling to get anything done. If we can get her to slow down, that would help us a lot."
Bent has played in 13 of the 15 games and in a limited amount of work (9.8 minutes per game) she leads the team by making 60 percent of her 3-pointers and has a positive assist/turnover ratio.
Beginning on Saturday when UConn plays at SMU with a chance to set a new NCAA all-division basketball record with its 91st win in a row, Bent's minutes figure to increase.
"Things like this can happen at any time in the season so it is good that we are preparing for it," UConn junior forward Gabby Williams said.
The thing I noticed at Monday's practice is that Bent was reluctant to look at the basket. She is hardly the first freshman to have this issue but it is something she is going to have to work through because if she is out there with the starters, she will definitely be left open from the perimeter.
"Molly, she can do a lot," UConn senior guard Saniya Chong said. "She can put the ball in the basket, her shot is pretty good. She is very hesitant. Hey, I've been there and still go through that sometimes but she is learning. She has us and the coaches to help her out."
LIGHTING IT UP
Just as I did as UConn prepared to play its 10th game, I looked at how the offensive starts of Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier stack up heading into last night's game, the 15th of the season.
I have a binder that former UConn sports information director Randy Press put together that has every box score beginning in the 1997-98 season and going to the 2007-08 campaign. The game by game stats since 2008 are easy to locate on UConn's official site but occasionally you will see stats referring to the last 20 seasons and this is why. I hope that I have time to go through the box scores during the Kerry Bascom and Rebecca Lobo eras at UConn to provide more comprehensive updates as UConn plays its 20th game but in the meantime, here's some interesting stuff about Collier and Samuelson.
Dating back to the aforementioned 1997-98 season, here's a list of the most points scored by a UConn player through the first 15 games of a season.
359 Maya Moore 2010-11
304 Nykesha Sales 1997-98
301 Katie Lou Samuelson 2016-17
289 Napheesa Collier 2016-17 288 Diana Taurasi 2003-04
285 Maya Moore 2009-10
275 Maya Moore 2008-09
271 Breanna Stewart 2013-14
Here are the highest scoring tandems. Note: A duo would need to combine for 33 points per game to make this list and the only ones who did that from Auriemma's first season in 1985-86 to the 1996-97 campaign are Kerry Bascom/Wendy Davis in '88-89, Bascom/Davis in '90-91, Kara Wolters/Nykesha Sales in '95-96 and Wolters/Sales in '96-97
593 Maya Moore (359)/Tiffany Hayes (234) 2010-11
590 Katie Lou Samuelson (301)/Napheesa Collier (289) 2016-17
562 Maya Moore (359)/Bria Hartley (203)
549 Maya Moore (285)/Tina Charles (264) 2009-10
532 Maya Moore (275)/Tina Charles (257) 2008-09
512 Svetlana Abrosimova (269)/Shea Ralph (243) 1998-99
508 Nykesha Sales (304)/Svetlana Abrosimova (204) 1997-98
505 Katie Lou Samuelson (301)/Kia Nurse (204) 2016-17
Finally, the most 3-pointers during that span
50 Katie Lou Samuelson 2016-1745 Diana Taurasi 2001-02
43 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis 2014-15
42 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis 2012-13
42 Diana Taurasi 2003-04
41 Ann Strother 2005-06
40 Ann Strother 2004-05
39 Mel Thomas 2005-06
38 Renee Montgomery 2008-09
37 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis 2011-12
36 Mel Thomas 2006-07
32 Bria Hartley 32 2010-11
32 Mel Thomas 32 2007-08
32 Kia Nurse 2016-17
3 HUSKIES ON WOODEN AWARD WATCH LIST
UConn's Collier, Samuelson and Kia Nurse were among 25 players named to Wooden Award midseason watch list.
It's a pretty strong list of players but still, not seeing Gabby Williams listed among the top 25 players is definitely questionable. For the sake of full disclosure, I'm on Wooden Award panel that came up with the top 25 players and I did put four UConn players on my ballot including Williams.