Geno Auriemma’s decision to start freshman Moriah Jefferson at the point for the first time in her career on Sunday was based on need.
“At some point, she is going to have to play and she is going to have to play well,” Auriemma said. “And it’s been getting more difficult to get her into situations that are comfortable for her. If you put her in off the bench when we are winning that’s easy. If you bring her in off the bench and we are struggling, that’s difficult for a freshman and that’s what happened at Notre Dame [four minutes].
“The best way to make sure [that it’s a productive appearance] is to make sure she is in the game when it means something. I wanted to start her and see what happened.”
Jefferson scored 12 points in 23 minutes, shooting 5-of-9 from the field [2-of-3 from three] with three rebounds and three assists.
Still, Auriemma doesn’t think Jefferson is ready to handle the pressure to taking care of the ball when pressed. But he says she is not alone.
“I don’t know any point guard in America who does [have the ability to stabilize an offense under siege],” Auriemma said. “That’s why none of them are worth anything. There is not one team playing for a national championship that has a freshman point guard because it is hard.
“But having said that, I want her to response against pressure to be attack the basket, like she did today. Pulling the ball out and trying to get us into our offense is not going to happen. As long as she stays aggressive, I am good. I will live with anything else she does as long as she plays defense, gets ball pressure and attack the basket when she feels pressure.
“Right now, that’s what we can expect. And that’s exactly what she did today.”