In her first six games at UConn, freshman Saniya Chong has played 121 minutes and committed just four turnovers. That is a remarkable ratio for any player, let alone a freshman who came to the program with a reputation as a big scorer.
But Chong has already proven to be much more for No. 1 UConn. And Geno Auriemma simply can’t say enough nice things about her.
“The thing that’s unique about Soniya is she knows exactly what she is good at,” Auriemma said. “She knows exactly what she should do and she does it. She is not out there trying to reinvent the wheel every time she is on the floor. She knows when she is open she will make most of her 3’s. She knows when she drives it she will finish somewhere around the basket. She knows when somebody steps on her, she knows which pass to throw. Not always, but most of the time.
“Not all of those things are taught .,. those are instinctive. She has great instincts. She has a great feel for the game. One that is more advanced for her age.”
It’s not as if everything has worked out well for her. At Maryland on Nov. 15, Auriemma did not use her in the second half just a few days after making two three-pointers in just 53 seconds against Stanford, then ranked No. 3.
“That was only game that she has struggled,” Auriemma said. “And that wasn’t even physical, it was more mental.”
But two days later at Penn State, again coming off the bench, things were much different. She scored 16 points with six rebounds in 27 minutes of a 19-point win.
“We have a pretty good player on our hands and I just want her to keep getting better,” Auriemma said.
“Coach told me to be aggressive,” Chong said. “I know the role I play for my team. I had to go out there and create. I needed to understand better exactly what I am out there to do.’’
Chong is averaging 8.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and and has 12 assists. She is shooting 53.1 percent from the field (10-for-23 from three). She scored 15 points in 24 minutes Friday against Boston University making 4 of 6 from three.
“It’s not all about scoring when you come to play like UConn,” Chong said.