Depending on how she feels after Sunday’s light practice and Monday’s shoot-around, Geno Auriemma will know whether Breanna Stewart is well enough to play against Vanderbilt in the second-round NCAA game tonight at Gampel.
Stewart didn’t play in Saturday’s massive win over Idaho after feeling discomfort in her left calf during Friday’s practice after trying to put a rebound back to the rim.
Stewie said Sunday she was feeling fine and was looking forward to playing. She also reiterated that she could have played Saturday if the coaches had allowed it.
What’s certain is that Auriemma has begun to see vast improvement in both the play and confidence level of last year’s high school player of the year.
“Stewie is a tough kid and this is not the first time she has been hurt,” Auriemma said. “Nor is it the first time she’s tried to fight through something. I’ve seen other players not willing to fight through things. Stewie avoids the training room, like all great players do. She is also knows if she turns and heads into the training room it’s likely going to mean the less time she plays. When Stewie says she’s good to go, she’s good to go. Even yesterday [it was the case].
“I don’t when it happened, but the week leading up the Big East tournament she had a different look and attitude about her. You could see it. It was so evident you didn’t have to look for it. I told coaches if we won the Big East tournament she’d likely be the MVP of it.
“She was doing things she hadn’t done since the preseason. Kids are kind of one their own. Some freshmen are not affected by anything. Some are bothered by everything. You can’t plan for it. You never know why.”