Imagine UConn Without Stefanie Dolson? No Thanks

by Categorized: Geno Auriemma, Kelly Faris, Stefanie Dolson, UConn women's basketball Date:

Just as with life, basketball has a way of making its point about things we all occasionally take for granted.

Junior center Stefanie Dolson has been one of UConn’s best players this season, a focal point in both the low and high post through which the ball moves and often is scored.

Entering Saturday’s game at St. John’s, Dolson was averaging 13.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in just under 27 minutes.

So when she woke up Saturday morning not feeling well, Huskies coach Geno Auriemma knew he had a potential problem brewing for that afternoon’s game against St. John’s.

“After our walkthrough and pregame, she was just shaking like she had a fever,” Auriemma said. “We thought, `OK, we’ve still got four hours before we play. So maybe [she might feel better].’

“Then we showed up [for the game] and I asked her what she thought [about how she was feeling]. She said she couldn’t even stand up. And this was right after we had put the starting lineups in. … She comes in [the locker room] all wobbly and she’s like, `I can’t do this.’

“So then, it was like roll the dice.’’

The dice came up 4-1 meaning the first career start for sophomore Kiah Stokes.

Stokes, who has been in and out of the lineup often with a stress reaction to her right shin, said she was nervous in the first half. She was subbed out for freshman Breanna Stewart after four minutes and returned for just two more before the half ended.

By that time, it was obvious to Auriemma how much the offense missed Dolson, also the nation’s leading field goal percentage shooter. But not only was UConn struggling offensively against a keyed-up Red Storm defense, it was allowing St. John’s players to get to the rim for easy baskets.

“It just goes to show you how much Stefanie means to our offense,’’ Auriemma said. “Playing without her, we’re not the same team.

“A huge portion of our offense runs through Stefanie. I keep hearing that we don’t have a true point guard, such as St. John’s has [Nadirah McKenith]. And we don’t have anybody like [McKenith] right now. So that’s why we use Stefanie like she was our point guard. A lot of stuff goes through her. And it was a major struggle because they’re a good defensive team.”

Using a number of different player combinations, Auriemma continued to experiement in the second half until finally settling on using Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis in the low post in the effort to get her more shots.

She made a jumper with 10:38 to play in the game, giving UConn a 51-48 lead, but little else until there was less than five minutes remaining and the game tied at 57.

But over the last 4:19, Mosqueda-Lewis scored seven of UConn’s final 14 points to help the Huskies to a 71-65 win.

“[Dolson] has become a huge part of what we do offensively and defensively,’’ said Kelly Faris, who had 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. “A lot of our offense runs through her., whether she’s getting somebody open or we’re passing her the ball and driving. Some way or another, the offense stems a lot off of what she does.

“So if there’s going to be instances where she may not be in the game, for whatever reason, we’re going to have to really buckle down and work and figure out who’s going to step up.’’

Dolson is expected to be ready for Tuesday’s game against Marquette at Gampel Pavilion. But at least now Auriemma has some idea of how best to compensate should be again be without one of his core players.

“It would be different if we had practiced with her not playing,” Auriemma said. “We would have spent a lot of time going over what happens when Stefanie’s not in the game.

“That’s a credit to her, and how much she’s made herself a big part of what we’re doing and how invaluable she is. You saw that [Saturday]. There’s no better example of how important she is to our team.”

 

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23 thoughts on “Imagine UConn Without Stefanie Dolson? No Thanks

  1. Hair Ball Bowl

    What we witnessed against St. Johns yesterday is still much better than what we will witness in 2014-15. No Faris. No Dolson. And no Hartley or Doty.

    1. Steve

      Is UConn not recruiting and bringing in new players to replace these people? This argument is like arguing 1996 would be a bust with Lobo gone, or 2005 being a bust with Taurasi and Bird gone, this team doesn’t rebuild, they reload. True, with all those players gone they may be a little younger and less experienced, but losing more than three games a season is not something to fear, I know for most spoiled UConn fans that is a disappointing season, but to fans of 350 other programs that would be a historical season.

      1. Tractor Troller

        Auriemma raised the expectations gushing about Stewart, KML, and this team.

        During last season, Auriemma said teams better get them now, because UConn might not lose in the next 3 years.

        UConn won 4 out of 5 national championships. Then, in between Diana and Maya, UConn had “down” years for them. Their best recruit Charde Houston did not enjoy Auriemma’s methods and system.

        So, yes, recruiting is the key to national championships. And after UConn’s second 1 player recruiting class, the Huskies do not have anyone to replace Dolson.

        Of course I want that to change.

  2. Village Idiot

    When a team relies on one person the opponents know who to focus their defense on. Geno has spoken of this before. He hoped this year he’d have 4 or 5 three point shooters. When the chips are down, he has only two he can really count on. KML and Faris.

    From this point forward it would be really really smart to practice without Dolson, using Tuck and Stokes as much as possible.

    Stewart, is extremely talented, but a very fragile freshman. She has problems dealing with pressures, be they defensive or expectations pressures. It takes her out of big games. She will be great before she leaves Uconn but the hopes were she’d be an impact player this year. We still have time, and we shall see.

      1. The Anti Geno

        you know nothing about basketball and you know nothing about geno if you think buck is the answer

  3. Questions Of My Childhood

    With Baylor coming soon, where do you think Griner ranks all time in WCBB? Does she get “penalized” for being the only 6’8″ player and racking up stats against players who are usually 6’2″ or shorter? (

    Wilt Chamberlain was “penalized” because very early in his career, there were not many athletic players over 6’9″.)

    Griner will easily pass Maya’s 3036 points. Griner will probably have 1200 rebounds and 700 blocks. Top 10? Top 5? Top 2? Another national championship on her resume would equal Maya’s.

    I know many consider Maya as one of the Top 10 and some consider her in the Top 5. What are your thoughts on Griner’s place in history?

    1. Steve Gee

      Griner is simply a beast on the court. She can do things nobody else can. It’s one thing to be tall, and quite another to be that tall, and still move as well as she does. She’s a rarity.
      Perhaps there will be some bias because of her height advantage, but still I can’t deny her skills. She has to be considered top-10.
      Now please just don’t ask me to list my top 10.

      1. Tractor Troller

        Please list your top 10. Come on, man.
        You left that barn door open.

        Agree with your assessment. Will find out in 4 months whether Griner likes to get banged by D-Nasty, Lambeers team, and other WNBA bigs known for bruising.

    2. Merry Lee

      In the past Decade Muffet McGraw took a limited talented Riley a big girl and taught her how to pass. Riley was doubled and trippled and found the open “man”. That ability led to her one and only National Championship.
      Griner, shoots fouls well, passes very well,hits the 10-15 foot shot with ease, anything closer is a given. She is the games leader in blocks. She is mobile. If she has a weakness (and this is just an assumption) it may be her thin build.
      Diana Taurizi (?) will be very hard to dethrone as the fore most WBB player of the last decade.

  4. Arnie of Newtown

    Wilt’s stats on conquests are not backed up by facts to my knowledge.
    Most men with little more than their celebrity status and little, if any, “self-esteem” or confidence in their “manliness” speak of their conquests. Not much of a measure of the man.

  5. HarryH

    Sorry – not that Dolson isn’t valuable but where UCONN failed yesterday was the full court press didn’t stop St. John’s at all and St. John’s was beating UCONN down the floor – neither area in which Dolson would have been any help. UCONN had little problem scoring underneath when Geno played any bigs and when then decided to go underneath.
    She is a valuable player but wouldn’t have helped what was wrong with UCONN yesterday.

    1. Mercy Me

      Harry H—I love Steff. But I agree with you. SJ was a determined team and knew how to easily break the press. And did what good teams do. They attacked the rim often and regularly. Uconn got no help from the refs. But they didn’t win or lose this game either.
      Stokes, Tuck, even Stewart filled in nicely for Dolson. Tuck had a very good game, not great, good.

  6. bridget

    she happens to be my favorite one on the team I like all of the girls but her personality does it for me glad to hear that she is going to be playing on tuesday.

  7. FREDDYKOOL

    FREDDYKOOL: WE STILL GOT THE WIN AND A WIN IS A WIN, GENO (GOD) IS TRYING HIS DARNEDEST TO FIGURE THIS SQUAD OUT AND JUST WHEN HE SEEMS TO GET CLOSE, UP POPS ANOTHER ISSUE. AND GENO KEEPS ON KEEPING ON, THAT IS WHY OUR BELOVED COACH IS IN THE HALL OF FAME AND BEFORE HE IS DONE HE WILL OWN ALL OF ROCKY TOPS RECORDS AND WON’T THAT BE JUST FINE AND DANDY…….UCONN NATION LOVES U GENO BUT, “THE BUCK STOPS HERE” h’mmmmmmmmmmm

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