Look, it’s easy for some dopey sportswriter to tell you what he sees when he looks at Breanna Stewart play basketball. It’s pretty interesting stuff, to be sure.
But it’s anohter thing when someone like Tonya Cardoza, Temple’s coach, who spent 14 years by Geno Auriemma’s side watching him – and helping him – develop All-Americans, offers her opinion.
Cardoza says she is absolutely certain that Auriemma said something to Stewart before the start of the NCAA Tournament last year that has resulted in her transformation.
We have alluded in the past to some kind of conversation the two may have had – likely one-sided; Geno talking, Stewie listening. But Tonya says she sees the evidence.
“She is a hell of a player. I voted for her for [preseason conference] player of the year,” Cardoza said. “And I have been watching her closely since the Big East tournament last season. I am certain Coach [Geno Auriemma] had a talk with her, maybe even reamed her out a little, just like he’s done with every other freshman who he’s had to remind what is expected from them. He has always had that conversation with his players and you can tell he had it with her [Stewart].
“You can tell because her game has totally changed. She’s playing now like she is the best player in the country. Prior [to last year’s NCAA Tournament] she was inconsistent, unsure. But now I can tell that he’s put something in her head because it looks like she believes she is “The Player.” She believes it now. She is going out there and showing it. I don’t know exactly what it is he said to her, but she is showing that she thinks and knows she is the best player in college basketball.
“Watching her, you could see that she was taking a lot of jumpers and missing them. But now she is doing a little bit of everything and it’s great to see because she is a talent. She has opened eyes and she could be one of the best who has ever played there.”