Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Dangerfield is select company; UConn finds its range

I would imagine the pressure of playing point guard at UConn would be similar to being the next great linebacker when Penn State was known as "Linebacker U" or being the quarterback to come to Miami after the Hurricanes had a run of Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde (along with Kyle Vandeweghe for a run after Kelly was injured).

All the current UConn point guard Crystal Dangerfield has to do is look around at the banners hanging for the All-Americans inside the on-campus practice facility to be reminded of the great guards who preceded her. There are six players who saw time at point guard who are among those in the Huskies of Honor and looking back, Dangerfield's numbers through the first 10 games of her sophomore season compare favorably with those put up by Sue Bird, Bria Hartley, Moriah Jefferson, Renee Montgomery, Jen Rizzotti and Diana Taurasi.

Dangerfield has the best assist/turnover ratio and only Taurasi has more 3-pointers and a better 3-point shooting percentage through the first 10 games of her sophomore season.

                                TOTALS                                                       PCT.
Player             G MIN FG    3PT       FT   PTS R A   S  B (TO) FG   3PT FT   A/TO   
Bird               10 295 35-81  20-42 15-16 105-44-55-14-0 (25) 43.2 47.6 93.8 2.20
Dangerfield   10 329 46-97  25-49   9-13 126-28-52-17-0 (21) 47.4 51.0 69.2 2.48Hartley          10 302 59-111 18-43 13-17 149-32-39-15-1 (29) 53.2 41.9 76.5 1.34
Jefferson       10 278 47-80   6-21  12-16 112-26-46-26-1 (19) 58.8 28.6 75.0 2.42
Montgomery 10 286 55-112  8-33 27-33 145-24-47-26-2 (28) 49.1 24.2 81.8 1.68
Rizzotti         10 277 32-59  13-30 16-20  93-40-43-17-1 (24) 54.2 43.3 80.0 1.79
Taurasi          10 281 54-96  33-59  7-10 148-46-54-7-17 (23) 56.3 55.9 70.0 2.34

UConn has made at least 10 3-pointers in each of its last three games. I went back to the 1994-95 season and couldn't find a run with more than three games with 10 or more 3-pointers. Also, if the Huskies do make 10 treys, they would have 45 over the last four games. Once again dating back to the 1994-95 season, it would be tied for the fourth most in program history.

Here's the breakdown
50: South Florida (16), Albany (13), Syracuse (12), UCLA (9) 3-6-2016 to 3-25-2016
48: UCF (7), South Florida (16), Albany (13), Syracuse (12) 3-5-2016 to 3-20-2016
47: UC Davis (18), Stanford (11), Creighton (11), College of Charleston (7) 11-14-2014 to 11-28-2014
45: South Florida (14), Temple (7), Cincinnati (12), SMU (12) 1-26-2014 to 2-4-2014
45: Oakland (12), Hartford (12), Stanford (6), Oakland (15) 12-19-2012 to 12-31-2012
44: Syracuse (18), North Carolina (6), Cincinnati (8), Louisville (12) 1-17-09 to 1-26-2009
43: Notre Dame (8), DePaul (11), Oklahoma (11), Duquesne (13) 12-3-2017 to 12-22-2017


Saturday, December 16, 2017

A closer look at some numbers as UConn's Auriemma goes after win No. 1,000

There are so many numbers associated with Geno Auriemma's and Chris Dailey's time at UConn that simply boggle the mind.

On Tuesday they go after their 1,000th career win. Before I get to a chart that will run with my lengthy story in tomorrow's paper, here's something to consider - when Auriemma won his 200th game back in 1995, he had 81 losses. He currently sits at 135 meaning that if UConn beats Oklahoma on Tuesday at Mohegan Sun Arena, UConn will be 800-54 since reaching win No. 200. Here's the breakdown 100 wins at a time

100-53 (Win No. 100 came on Dec. 31, 1990 against Iowa State)
100-28 (Win No. 200 came on Jan. 2, 1995 against Pittsburgh)
100-5 (Win No. 300 came on Nov. 29, 1997 against Rhode Island)
100-9 (Win No. 400 came on Dec. 10, 2000 against Illinois)
100-4 (Win No. 500 came on Apr. 6, 2003 against Texas)
100-17 (Win No. 600 came on Dec. 31, 2006 against Sacred Heart)
100-6 (Win No. 700 came on Nov. 27, 2009 against Hofstra)
100-7 (Win No. 800 came on Mar. 6, 2012 against Notre Dame)
100-5 (Win No. 900 came on Feb. 3, 2015 against Cincinnati)

As impressive as those numbers are, a win on Tuesday would mean Auriemma needed 101 games to go from 900 to 1,000 wins.

It was all part of his master plan, right? After the win at DePaul, I asked Auriemma what he viewed as attainable milestones when he got the job at UConn.

"Beating Providence and Villanova over the course of the season and maybe finish in the top four in the conference, go from ninth to fourth," Auriemma said. "I thought if we could get to that point that given with what we had to work with that would be a lot of success. I used to check sometimes every team's record against us or Big East record and I said, OK we just need to win more games than Boston College and if we could do that, it would be great. Where we are sitting right now was not a part of the plan by any stretch  of the imagination."

As promised, here's the By The Numbers chart

 1 Winning seasons before Auriemma's arrival
 2 Programs with winning record against Auriemma (LaSalle is 3-0, U.S. International is 1-0)
 2 UConn players to win WNBA Finals MVP Award
 3 UConn players to win WNBA MVP Award
 4 Consecutive national titles won by UConn from 2013-16
 5 UConn's longest winning streak before Auriemma's arrival
 5 UConn players taken with first overall pick in WNBA Draft
 5 UConn players among top 30 scorers in WNBA history
 6 Undefeated seasons
 6 Seasons UConn has been first in Associated Press poll from start to finish
 7 National players of the year
 8 Olympic gold medalists
10 Consecutive Final Four appearance (NCAA women's Division I record)
11 National titles by UConn in 11 championship game appearances
13 UConn products to win WNBA titles
16 Seasons when UConn has been ranked first in Associated Press poll
18 Final Four appearances
20 UConn players taken in 1st round of WNBA Draft
20 Wins in No. 1 vs. No. 2 games, most in NCAA women's basketball history
22 30-win seasons
32 UConn players taken in WNBA Draft
35 States UConn has won games in since Auriemma's arrival
41 UConn NCAA record road winning streak (still active)
45 Regular season and conference titles
46 Victories against Seton Hall, more than any other program
54 Victories by Auriemma's predecessor Jean Balthaser, a program record at the time
84 Games with at least 100 points
99 UConn's NCAA Division I women's record home winning streak
100 Graduation rate of four-year players since Auriemma's arrival
111 UConn's NCAA record winning streak (snapped at 2017 Final Four)
135 Losses since Auriemma's arrival
170 Teams Auriemma has played as UConn's coach
223 Weeks UConn has been ranked first in Associated Press poll, a women's Division I record
231 Consecutive weeks UConn has been ranked in top 10 in Associated Press poll
246 Wins against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll
435 Wins when UConn is playing at No. 1 team in Associated Press poll
894 Games since UConn has lost consecutive contests

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Collier, Samuelson among 10 UConn products on U.S. national team player pool

Current UConn stars Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson are among 29 players named to the 2017-20 USA Basketball Women's National Team pool.

Collier and Samuelson are among 10 current and former UConn products in the player pool including Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi in addition to Stefanie Dolson, Tiffany Hayes and Morgan Tuck.

The national team will hold a training camp from Feb. 9-11 at the Carolina Coliseum, the second camp run by new national team coach Dawn Staley although the five active college players (Collier, Samuelson, Louisville's Asia Durr, Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell and A'ja Wilson of South Carolina and the professional players with overseas commitments won't take part in the camp).

Chiney Ogwumike and Courtney Williams of the Connecticut Sun were also named to the player poll to join Morgan Tuck to give the Sun three representatives.

“This is a very talented group, from four-time Olympians Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, to the younger players who are hoping to compete in their first USA National Team competition,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team director and chair of the USA Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee. “As we looked toward the future, the committee first had to look at the past. We acknowledged that what has made the USA National Team program such a resounding success over the past two decades was the way our teams have seamlessly blended youth with veteran leadership. And because of that, we wanted to make sure we continued with that recipe in building a team. We can’t say enough about the veterans. We win simply because our best players want to play over and over again."

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Dangerfield steals the show, Camara finally gets her chance as UConn rolls past DePaul

Having been covering the UConn women's basketball team for 20 years now, I've seen plenty of Huskies light it up from 3-point range and other times seen a player dish out assists at a fast and furious pace. However, how many times has the same player done it in the same game?

All sophomore guard Crystal Dangerfield did was go 6 for 7 from 3-point range while handing out nine assists.

After the game, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, "there may not be anyone more critical to what we are trying to do than Crystal."

There will be much more on Dangerfield in Sunday's paper.

This was just the second time all season that Katie Lou Samuelson was able to be checked out of the game for the final time because of the score and not due to any injury she suffered.

"I was definitely excited to get out there and it was fun to be part of," Samuelson said after scoring a game-high 20 points.

Gabby Williams pulled down her 800th career rebounds meaning that she joins Kelly Faris (who was in attendance), Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart as the only Huskies with 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals.

Also, Batouly Camara made her UConn debut when she checked into the game in the fourth quarter. Camara had to sit out last season after transferring from Kentucky and then suffered a knee injury in the preseason that kept her out of action - until Friday night.

"She has been doing most of the stuff in practice so I was hoping there would be an opportunity soon to get her out there and do some things," Auriemma said. "We will try to get her to do more after the exam break."

Freshman Mikayla Coombs and Lexi Gordon stayed in Connecticut as final exams are about the begin and the UConn coaches thought it would be in their best interest to get ready for those exams.

DePaul came into the game leading all Division I women's basketball teams in 3-pointers made and attempted per game. DePaul jacked up 43 3-pointers which is the most for any team against UConn topping the mark of 39 set by Villanova on Feb. 24, 2007.

Oh by the way, it was win No. 999 for not only Auriemma but associate head coach Chris Dailey so look for more on that subject sooner rather than later.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Defending DePaul presents a unique challenge for UConn

Perhaps the most intriguing part of tonight's game against DePaul to me is how the UConn coaching staff opts to handle things defensively when Azura' Stevens and Megan Walker are in the game together.

Typically UConn goes to zone immediately once Walker enters the game especially if Stevens is already on the floor because UConn coach Geno Auriemma doesn't have a ton of confidence in the ability of either Stevens or Walker to guard people in man to man defense or woman to woman defense if you prefer.

However, playing a zone against a DePaul team leading all Division I women's basketball teams with an average of 13.6 made 3-pointers per game and 37.4 3-pointers attempted could be a dangerous way to proceed.

"We have to go out and make sure we manage the game the way we want the game to go and not get caught up in the craziness that is going to happen," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "We have been out there where we handle them easily, we have been out there when we struggled. We have taken care of it easily at home sometimes like last year, some years not. They are going to play the way they are going to play and all you can do is make sure you don't get caught up in the craziness of it. They can go from up 20 to down 20 and vice versa in no time."

There have been 13 women's Division I games this season when a team attempted at least 42 3-pointers and DePaul has three of them including the single-game high of 53 against Delaware State on Nov. 17.

In last season's game against UConn, DePaul attempted 40 3-pointers (making just seven of them) so the returning UConn players know what they are getting into tonight.

"Their ability to pull out your defense," UConn senior guard Kia Nurse said. "You think in terms of their defensive pressure, sometimes they wreak havoc. For us it is a matter of maintaining our composure and finding the open man and getting up the floor in the most quick way."

Gabby Williams also weighed in on the unique way that DePaul plays.

"As you are playing defense, you are like, 'oh no, they aren't going to shoot that' but they do," Williams said. "The pace they play at, they are a really competitive team especially when they are home so they are a tough team to play against. You don't really believe it until you see it and then you understand what kind of team they are."

Auriemma said Stevens has made impressive strides defensively since she arrived and this will certainly be a different challenge since the top six players on the DePaul roster in terms of minutes played all have at least 10 made 3-pointers this season. Stevens knows that she will need to be alert and when the player she is assigned to floats out to the perimeter, she needs to follow.

"Some post players can shoot 3s so I think it will be a different look but we want to use our length to make sure we contest their shots," Stevens said.

It will be interesting to see how Walker responds to the defensive challenge awaiting her and the rest of the Huskies tonight.

"They beat Oklahoma and it was a 100-point game so they are putting up points so we have to get out on their shooters," Walker said.  and

Walker admitted that her experience playing zone defense in high school or AAU is somewhat limited so she has some catching up to do.

"I feel like I am improving a lot, just from practices knowing the right footwork, when to take two steps, when to be in the right position rebounding, boxing out and things I really didn't do in high school but now I don't have a choice," Walker said.

DePaul's current average of made 3-pointers per game would set the NCAA Division I women's basketball single-season record so it is not just a case of taking a lot of 3-pointers but making more than its share.

Speaking of 3-pointers, Nurse is three shy of 200 in her career. If she gets there tonight, she would become the 12th UConn player to hit that milestone (Katie Lou Samuelson became the 11th in Sunday's win over Notre Dame). How rare is it for UConn to have two players with at least 200 3-pointers on one team? Well, it has only happened once as Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Bria Hartley each had surpassed the 200 mark when they were teammates during the 2013-14 season.

After tonight's game, the attention shifts to final exam week as the Huskies don't play again until meeting Oklahoma on Dec. 19 at Mohegan Sun Arena. This will be the eighth game of the season in the sixth different state and seven different course as the Maryland and Notre Dame games were both played at the XL Center.

"We are just trying to get through the DePaul game and we will have a bunch of time between DePaul and Oklahoma, once that happens we will have a long home stand and we actually come in here and practice the same place for 10 days in a row," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. We haven't done that since October and that will help us."

Sunday, December 03, 2017

UConn fights back to beat rival Notre Dame

Without the services of All-American Gabby Williams for the entire second half and Katie Lou Samuelson for all but a second in the fourth quarter, it looked as if UConn's 68-game home winning streak was toast.

However, the Huskies rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 9 1/2 minutes to pull out an 80-71 victory over a very good Notre Dame team.

"That fourth quarter really came down to collectively that you could see a change," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after he won his 998th career game. "It was partly Kia (Nurse), partly Crystal, Pheesa (Napheesa Collier) looks the same all the time, Z (Stevens) had a different look on her. I think it was a collective thing for us. We don't have that one person who walks around, acts like it and demands that kind of response. You can't manufacture it and it has to be a team thing and that is what happened in the fourth quarter, you could see it, the demeanor of the team changed."

Stevens had 10 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback victory.

"It was something I was looking for in a program," said Stevens, who played at Duke in her first two seasons. "How we came back and how we kind of rallied together, we knew Lou was out, Gabby was out and the way we were feeling, we said we were still going to get this win instead of shrugging our shoulders and thinking we are not going to do it."

The good news is that Samuelson did check into the game briefly at the end, something that wouldn't have happened if her injury was a serious one.

"It was a similar ankle sprain it wasn't stepped on," Samuelson said. "We'll evaluate it again but I was happy I had the opportunity to play again."

Williams has had issues with migraine headaches this season and seeing how much she struggled in the first half, Auriemma chose not to play her in the second half.

"If you are playing lousy than you aren't going to play," Auriemma said. "If there is a reason why you are playing lousy, OK we know what the reason is but you are still playing lousy. Does that mean if she was playing great that I would have left her in there? Of course because that would mean she was able to handle what was happening to her but obviously she couldn't so for our sake and hers it is best that you don't play. She said I could probably give it a go but the look said no so I made an executive decision."

UConn plays at DePaul on Friday but then not again until a game against Oklahoma on Dec. 19 at Mohegan Sun Arena so there should be time for them to get healthy.

Auriemma said he didn't have a date when he expected sophomore forward Batouly Camara to make her UConn debut as she works her way back from a preseason knee injury.

Samuelson had 18 points including the 200th 3-pointer of her career. She got there in 77 games and only UConn players, only Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis got there faster needing only 72 games. Also, Nurse set a UConn program record by making her 12th 3-pointer in a row which is two shy of the NCAA Division I record. She did miss one of her four treys so she won't be going after the 

There were some high-profile recruits at today's game including Paige Bueckers, a Class of 2020 guard from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, top Class of 2021 recruit Azzi Fudd out of the D.C. area and the daughter of former Georgetown star Katie Smrcka-Duffy and Class of 2019 post player Aliyah Boston, who plays at Worcester Academy. All three already have UConn offers.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Samuelson could return to UConn lineup on Sunday

All-American Katie Lou Samuelson could return to the court for the UConn women's basketball team's much-anticipated showdown with rival Notre Dame on Sunday but there's still no definitive timetable for when sophomore forward Batouly Camara will make her season debut.

Samuelson suffered a sprain in her left foot in the first half of a Nov. 17 win over California and hasn't played since. She has missed the last four games including all three games in a recent road trip but returned to practice on Friday. She still has to make it through Saturday's practice and Sunday's shootaround but all signs are pointing towards Samuelson being back in the lineup.

"She's only played 1 1/2 games, she is a little bit rusty," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after Friday's practice. "We have one more practice tomorrow and we'll see how that goes and we have shootaround and see how that goes. She is expecting to play, I am expecting her to play so barring anything unforeseen, that is the plan."

Samuelson had her foot reexamined on Thursday and was given the OK the return to practice.

"I am ready to play," Samuelson said.

Samuelson joked that it feels like she has been out for about a year but when she met with the UConn medical staff, only a week had elapsed since her most recent appointment.

Azura' Stevens has started the last four games in place of Samuelson. She is averaging 14.2 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounds per game.

Auriemma said that Camara isn't that close to returning so it is looking unlikely that she'll be back for Sunday's Jimmy V Classic game or the Dec. 8 game at DePaul but with a week and a half break before the next game, Camara could make her UConn debut against Oklahoma on Dec. 19.

"This is probably her third practice, she hasn't been able to go full and look like her old self so we'll see when that happens," Auriemma said. "For now, I don't anticipate it (Camara playing on Sunday) but you never know, I guess everything is day to day."

Camara, a transfer from Kentucky, suffered a knee injury in the preseason and has yet to play in a game this season.

UConn is playing in the Jimmy V Classic for the seventh season in a row and this is the third time in the last four years that the Huskies and Fighting Irish will play in the Jimmy V Classic. The game, being played at the XL Center in Hartford, is approaching sellout status with more than 14,000 tickets already distributed.