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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Samuelson rewrites record book as UConn wins another AAC title

There are some thing that defy explanation and what I witnessed in the last two Mondays would certainly qualify of something that would have made for a perfect episode for "Ripley's Believe it or Not" or perhaps the "Twilight Zone."

UConn has had more than its share of remarkable individual performances but in Geno Auriemma's 32 seasons there had been five games when one of his players scored at least 39 points until last Monday night when Napheesa Collier struck for 39 against South Florida. Exactly a week later fellow sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson went on better with 40 points while setting an NCAA Division I women's basketball record by making 10 3-pointers without a miss.

Even as I was in attendance for both of those games, I really have a hard time believing that is actually happened and against a South Florida very likely to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.

"I think that shows something about this team, so many different threats and players who can step up
on any given night and be that go-to person," Samuelson said. "It shows why we had so much success so far and how we can always rely on each other because one of us is going to be able to pick the other up. If somebody is not doing well, we have so many people to go to."

Samuelson finished 12 of 14 from the field and made all six of her foul shots en route to the 40-point effort. Nykesha Sales' program record of 46 set against Stanford on Dec. 21m 1997 likely would have been toast had Samuelson not checked out of the game for the final time with 2:19 left in the third quarter. She also had five assists (leaving her two shy of joining Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis as the only Huskies with 100 3-pointers and assists in the same season).

Collier was 15 for 19 (2 of 3 on 3-pointers) and 7 of 8 from the foul line en route to her 39-point outburst. She added 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.

The fact that UConn doesn't have an abundance of players who will be firing up shots has aided in Samuelson and Collier having a chance to become the first set of UConn teammates to average 20 points per game in the same season.

Collier has 18 games with at least 20 points and the only UConn players with more in a season are Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Nykesha Sales. Samuelson has nine games with at least 25 points which trails only Moore's 16 and Sales' 10 in UConn history.

"Both Lou and Pheesa have unique skills, they are not necessarily just good basketball players, they
have a unique ability to score points so the number of points that they score, the number of shots
that they make  it really never surprises me," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "That segment there where we were going with Lou and Pheesa on pick and rolls, if we did that every game the
whole game, they would get 30 every night, that generally is not how we play. Both of them are
benefiting from we don't have a lot of depth so we are not making a lot of substitutions over the
course of the game. This is probably one of the thinnest years that we've had in those 30 years
because normally players know they are going to get 30 minutes every night. They are doing to get
their minutes and they are going to play and they are very efficient, both of them. They generally
don't need a lot of shots to score a lot of points.

"I talked to Lou the other day about that mythical 180 club if you shoot 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from the 3-point line and 90 percent from the free throw line it adds up to 180. I think the last player we had to do that was Sue (Bird), it is not easy to do. Today she was 90, 90, 90. She missed two shots and when you talk to players about what they can do, the first words out of her mouth was I need to be a better free throw shooter so there are always things that we are trying to help them with but some of the stuff, her and Pheesa, they kind of brought it with them. They came here with that stuff and we put them in spots where we can use stuff that they have and get a little better."

3-POINTERS WITHOUT A MISS: Samuelson 10 (NCAA and UConn record)
3-POINTERS IN A GAME: Samuelson 10 (tied with Moore and Mosqueda-Lewis)

Next up is the NCAA tournament. The pairing will be announced a week from tonight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Observations and Comment based on TV coverage:

Ironically, UConn started off the game focusing on getting the ball inside, instead of taking quick 3-point shots. It was obvious based on UConn’s initial plays. Piccozi and Lobo confirmed that is what Geno wanted UConn to do. But the game suddenly turned into a 3-point fest. He understands the law of averages. And he knows what could happen if UConn continues to shoot quick 3-point shots during a poor shooting game.

Geno looked displeased that KLS aggressively shot and made her 7th 3-point shot of the first half, with the game already won. From that point on, his facial expression and body language did not look like a coach enjoying his players dominance. Geno took out Collier with 39 points and Nurse with 34 points this season, in games where they both could have scored over 40. Geno took out Stewart and did not let her score 40, even though she could have. So I wonder why he let Samuelson score 40 during a blowout win over his friend’s team.

Once again, Gabby’s athleticism, defense, offense, and work rate quickly kick started UConn into high gear. Gabby played a monster first half, especially in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the refs had an agenda at the start of the 3rd quarter and called quick fouls on UConn, two on Gabby. I will never understand why refs allow teams to be physical with UConn, but then call touch fouls on Gabby and Collier. Despite knowing he would not play his starters in the 4th quarter of the blowout, Geno took Gabby out. She only played 21 minutes, but based on the effort she gave, Gabby deserved better. Unfortunately, when the NCCA tournament starts, no ESPN commentator will remember how great Gabby played in this game, because KLS set an NCAA record.

Geno continues to get softer as he gets older. Old school Geno would have yanked Dangerfield out of the game for showboating during a blowout win. UConn players do not showboat, which is one of the reasons fans outside of CT are attracted to UConn. Dangerfield continues her bad habits of trying to make Magic Johnson passes, Stef Curry depth 3-point shots, and passing the ball at Butlers ankles. Piccozi and Lobo talked about Dangerfield as a future Olympian. To me, Dangerfield is a shoot first PG, quite the opposite of Sue Bird, who is the ultimate team PG. Let us not write off Moriah Jefferson as a potential Olympic PG. How soon people forget that Moriah is great PG and a shutdown defender.

ESPN once again allowed their agenda to interfere with a UConn game. Andy Landers spent 10 minutes and a 1000 words gushing over Tara VanDerveer, at the halftime of a game where UConn put on a defensive and offensive clinic. 1 minute and 50 words would have been enough to get the point across.

I wonder if KLS and Collier would be willing to shoot less next season, even when open. With the addition of 6'6" player who can score from anywhere and the high school player of the year, how will Geno keep everyone happy? Not just with playing minutes, but also with shot attempts. Geno is lucky to have a player like Gabby, who could clearly score more than her average, but understands UConn needs her to pass the ball and set screens first.

2001-02 team is typically regarded as 1 of the 5 best WCBB teams ever, along with 39-0 Tennessee, 40-0 Baylor, 39-0 team with Maya and Tina, and the 40-0 UConn team with 7 WNBA players. 2001-02 team had 4 players averaging between 14 and 15 points and the 5th starter averaging almost 10 points.

Lastly, West Virginia has the athletes to deal with UConn. As their Big East battles proved, West Virginia will run the shot clock down, shorten the game, and play physical with UConn. Stanford is the UConn streak buster. ESPN bracket predicts both will be in UConn's region.

7:00 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geno should have left Katie Lu in the game until she missed a 3 pointer after all how many chances will anyone have to set that kind of record, and records do mean something to players especially when their playing days are over.

12:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wtf do you want she scored 40 on only 14 shots. Plus she added 5 assists SMH��

2:37 PM 

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