It’s Been Good, But It Could Be Better For UConn

by Categorized: Big East women's basketball, Geno Auriemma, St. John's women's basketball, Stefanie Dolson, UConn women's basketball Date:

Generally speaking, UConn’s season is off to a pleasing start. The Huskies are 19-1 overall, 6-1 in the Big East. That’s excellent, even compared to the program’s lofty standards.

The only thing separating them from perfection and the top spot in the national polls is their one-point loss to Notre Dame on Jan. 5.

On Saturday, the last third of the regular-season begins with the first of UConn’s 10 remaining games – St. John’s (10-9, 6-3) at the Carneseca Arena in Queens, N.Y.

“I think things are going well for us right now,” Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. “We’re still trying to find our flow, in terms of getting the substitutes in with no drop-off in play. I think we’re getting there.

“It’s getting into February, and when February comes you want to be a different team than you were in December or January. We need to make sure we’re taking steps forward.”

The Huskies travel to St. John’s already the Big East’s most statistically superior team. They lead the conference in 10 categories and are second in two others.

They lead the nation in five categories, including scoring (82.5) and defense (46.5). They have the nation’s top percentage shooter, Stefanie Dolson (61.2) and its second-best three-point shooter, Mosqueda-Lewis (50.8).

But according to Geno Auriemma and his players there are a number of aspects that need to be improved before the Big East tournament begins in March at the XL Center.

“There are a lot of different types of teams still on the schedule,” Auriemma said.

Heading that list will be battles against No. 1 Baylor (Feb. 18 at the XL Center) and No. 2 Notre Dame (March 4 in South Bend, Ind.)

Should both UConn and Notre Dame reach that point as is, the Huskies will have to win that game, on Skylar Diggins’ senior night, to earn a share of the Big East regular-season championship. A coin flip would them determine the first seed for the conference tournament.

Auriemma is growing more confident in his starting five; Dolson, Bria Hartley, Caroline Doty, Kelly Faris and Mosqueda-Lewis.

“We are at a good point now,” said Faris. “We’ve been building from the Duke game [UConn’s 30-point win on Jan. 21]. There are little things, little habits we are working to break before the season ends.

“Those kind of things do not get solved in a day. Sometimes that’s hard to wrap our minds around that. We just want to fix things quickly and coach gets mad at us at times.”

Mostly, Auriemma wants to see more consistency from his second five so he can feel better about dipping into the bench.

“The rest of it depends on [freshman] Breanna Stewart becoming more aggressive. And we need [freshman] Morgan Tuck to improve. Our bench needs to develop more reliability offensively so they can give us something. They [the reserves] need to be more productive. We need to know exactly what we are going to get from them and they need to bring it every night.”

Stewart, already a three-time Big East Freshman of the Week, is averaging 14.5 points and leading the team in rebounding (7.0) and blocks (32).

“We’re all pretty comfortable in what is expected from us,” Stewart said.

Tuck (knee) and sophomore center Kiah Stokes (stress reaction in left shin) have been in and out of the lineup this season. Tuck is averaging only 14.4 minutes in 17 games; Stokes has played 12.4 in 14 games.

Auriemma has also been concerned about turnovers. Before picking up only nine in Tuesday’s win over Villanova, the Huskies had been averaging 14.8 in the eight previous games.

Still, UConn’s point production has been so good, Auriemma says he’s willing to overlook some of the mistakes made in the chase.

“When you score 85 points a game, like we do, 14 turnovers a game is not a lot,” Auriemma said. “It’s not a lot at all, depending on how many shots you get. Against Villanova, we had 60 shots and nine turnovers and that’s really good.

“It’s [14 turnovers] maybe one or two too many, but it’s still not bad. What’s more important to me is when they come and how important they are [to the outcome]. The number is not important, as long as we are scoring. If we averaging 60 points and 14 turnovers, then I would say we’d have a lot of problems.

“It’s not as bad as I make it sound, at times.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “It’s Been Good, But It Could Be Better For UConn

  1. Mercy Me

    Take Geno at his word. Turnovers may be bad, maybe good. Megan Culmo (?) is constantly saying–this was a good turnover—this was a bad turnover. We all now know what she means.
    Turnovers to Villanova or St Johns are good. Turnovers against ND or Baylor are bad. Simple!!

    If you win turnovers really don’t matter.
    If you lose too many turnovers –that’s why we lost.

    Truth is Geno made more of Turnovers then was necessary–to make a point to his team.

    You cannot guage how your team will handle certain teams in terms of turnovers, until you play them. Then you need a team you can make mid game corrections to.

    1. Misty

      To: Mercy Me

      Geno uses the press sometimes to coach his team. He used to do that regularly on his CP/TV show. A sort a “point of emphasis” thing.

      In the case of “turn-overs” he is doing that again. He addresses the turn-overs, even joking about averaging 3 in warm-ups, while getting the team to “collectively” place emphasis there.

      Everyone misinterpreted his answers about first half turnovers and inferring that first-half turnovers influenced his lineup in the second half against Duke. Here’s what happened: there were 12 turnovers in that first half. The only problem with that influencing the second half line-up was that Hartley (4) and Faris (3) accounted for most of those. And yet, they played major minutes in the second half.

      You see MM, you have to pay attention as to whether Geno is commenting or coaching.

      And despite all the accolades showered on Faris (she is NOT underrated) UCONN can get along quite nicely without her. NOT so, if we were to lose Dolson or Lewis.

      1. Mercy Me

        From 20 or more years coaching on the court may I suggest the inferences you imply are fact isn’t coaching it may be just smoke and noise for the public.

        You see coaching takes place in the team setting and on the court. Not in the media. Geno knows that (I have been assured of that) and he applies his ditties as need be for YOUR consumption.

        No where did I mention Faris or any other player. Just comments on the turn overs Geno did not imply or infer but spoke adroitly about after the game. When Media types got under his skin, with the omnipresent “what about turnovers??”

        Please clarity when addressing my comments stay on subject don’t wander about with outside issues.

      2. Mercy Me

        With 20 or more years coaching on the court may I suggest the inferences you imply are fact is not coaching but it may be just smoke and noise for the public.

        You see coaching takes place in the team setting and on the court. Not in the media. Geno has for years been wrongly accused of coaching in the press. Geno knows that (I have been assured of that) and he applies his ditties as need be for YOUR consumption.

        No where did I mention Faris or any other player. Just comments on the turn overs. Geno did not imply or infer but spoke adroitly about after the game. When Media types got under his skin, with the omnipresent “what about turnovers??”

        Faris may or may not be over or under rate but Uconn against top tier teams would be in a world of hurt without Faris, they have however been without Dolson for long streaches without detrimental effect. KML they cannot do without.

        Please for clarity when addressing my comments stay on subject don’t wander about with outside issues.

        Listening to Geno, CD had the most effect on turnovers by getting the crowd chant “No More Turnovers” at halftime.

        1. Misty

          To: Mercy Me

          I hate to say this to you MM, but your twenty years must have been with 7th or and 8th graders. What I’m talking about is messaging. He sends messages to the team the way I have described about turn-overs. At other times it has been about the Center getting only a measly few rebounds. Remember the one where he said Tina was getting a lot of her rebound stats from her own misses. What message do you think he was sending? Oh right, you think it was just off the cuff stuff and for your enjoyment.

          You would agree that the team most likely watches these shows together, as a team.

          In the turn-over instance, do you think there just might have been a discussion about the points he makes and a determination (by the team) to address that. You know – peer pressure, etc…

          And your comeback is…

        2. Misty

          To: Mercy Me

          I hate to say this to you MM, but your twenty years must have been with 7th or and 8th graders. What I’m talking about is messaging. He sends messages to the team the way I have described about turn-overs. At other times it has been about the Center getting only a measly few rebounds. Remember the one where he said Tina was getting a lot of her rebound stats from her own misses. What message do you think he was sending? Oh right, you think it was just off the cuff stuff and for your enjoyment.

          You would agree that the team most likely watches these shows together, as a team.

          In the turn-over instance, do you think there just might have been a discussion about the points he makes and a determination (by the team) to address that. You know – peer pressure, etc…

          And, dont be silly MM, we have no chance at a National Championship witout Dolson.

          And your comeback is…

          1. Mercy Me

            Misty–You are stuck in your mind set.
            If you truly knew Geno, you’d know that Geno has one persona for the press and another for the team.
            Secondly he has matured over the years and what worked in 1990 no longer works with todays young adults.
            Peer pressure is good. But within the circle of peers. Media pressure to young adults is sheer ignorance. Put yourself in their position–they are media darlings around the country. So if Geno insults one in the media her family and friends in Calif, Alaska Georgia, NC, timbucktu will hear it.
            If Geno was truly doing what you say, there would be mass exodus.
            His comment about Faris being on Mt Rushmore was more about him then Kelly.
            Ignorance==not knowing what you don’t know. Does it fit???

    1. FREDDY UNKOOL

      FREDDY–VERY ASTUTE OF YOU. GENO WINS 30 GAMES EVERY YEAR–LOSES ONE TO ND AND THE SKY IS FALLING.
      300 DIV ONE TEAMS WOULD LOVE TO HAVE GENO’S PROBLEMS.

  2. Master Mind

    If Stewart can become more assertive (aggressive not) and can handle the big time games. And not fade as she sometimes has–Uconn will be a happy nation.

    Tuck isn’t far enough along in offensive moves, and rushes her shots. But she could be a defensive factor. She will be great NEXT year.

    Banks has tried to become a scoring factor and has tried too hard–if she calms down and does her thing on defense Geno will be happier with her.

    Jefferson–is a good point guard. will become and excellent point guard. She’s amazingly fast. Too fast at times, but Geno can work with that. She just has to lay off the 3’s until she is more consistent. In big games that will be a liability.

    Stokes–is a good defender. Actually can shoot. She needs to get her mind into what is expected of her.

  3. Village Idiot

    Getting Diggins on Senior Night at South Bend may be really good for UConn. Emotions on all ND player will be at their height. Now if the refs don’t jump on the emotional bandwagon, it may be a fair contest. I believe in a fair contest UConn wins.

    I saw a great move by Hartley in the Villanova game–she was attacking the basket and leaning into the opponents and getting the calls. Maybe in the ND game we’ll get some tit for Tat calls. Keep up the great work Bria!!
    Now teach Banks that move and we are home free.

  4. Broadway Bill

    Getting harder and harder to write about these games isn’t it? The hurts are hurting less and the competition isn’t really competing. Turnover are less. Reboundings are more. Geno doesn’t complain about the media or the Refs—so where is your story??
    Forget Diggins or EDD those stories have been written too many times.

  5. Misty

    To: Mercy Me

    Yes, it does fit. You truly don’t know the nuances of how this little dig thing works for Geno. Granted it is subtle; but, being the knowledgeable twenty year mastermind that you profess, you should at least have a faint inkling.

    And, your comeback is…try to use reasoning where possible…

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