Only eight games remain in the regular season after No. 1 UConn’s win over the Cincinnati on Saturday. But even though the Huskies are now 23-0, some things about heading down the stretch will never change.
“If we did everything right exactly the way we wanted to get it done right now going into February, maybe we wouldn’t be able to sustain it,” Geno Auriemma said prior to the game. “There’s a lot we have to fix during the month of February. But during the month of February is when the great teams separate themselves from all the other teams. Anybody can play good in November, December and January. But when February comes around that’s when you start to find out who’s going to be serious in March and who’s not.
Even though UConn has already defeated seven teams in the Top 25, Auriemma won’t allow complacency to set it, especially with two games remaining against No. 5 Louisville. The first is Feb. 9 at Gampel Pavilion, a game that is already sold out.
“Teams are better than they were in November and December. They’ve had a chance to play together more often. So you’ve got to be better. Are we better? I think we’re better in some things.
“There are some things that we’ve got to kind of button down a little bit better. But that’s just me, just a function of starting to think ahead about the areas that could get us in trouble and how do we get better in those areas.”
Auriemma said he wants to see vast improvement in both freshman Saniya Chong and junior Brianna Banks.
“I don’t think Saniya has gotten a lot better, which I had hoped she would. I think she’s hit a plateau a bit, which is kind of natural [for a freshman],” Auriemma said,
“I don’t think Brianna Banks has gotten better and she is going to have to take a major step forwards. We need both of them to get good and to get good fast.”
After the Temple win Tuesday night, Auriemma said how impressed he was with the play of Chong, even though she did not take a shot or score a point in 17 minutes.
.”Just goes to show you how bad she was playing, that I was happy about how she played at Temple,” Auriemma said. “She didn’t take a shot and didn’t score. But she looked more involved. For someone as talented as she is offensively, she gets a bit overwhelmed with how hard you need to go every day [in practice] and how hard you have to play every game.”
Chong responded with 12 points (4 of 6 from three) in 23 minutes with four assists and no turnovers. It was her first double-digit game since UC Davis on Dec. 5.
Banks, who has been dealing with a tender right ankle, had four points, three assists and three steals in 22 minutes.