Call if the first “twist” in UConn’s championship defense.
If there has been a connection between the bounce in a player’s step and her dribble it’s safe to say UConn’s Moriah Jefferson’s sophomore season is off to a great start.
But she did not practice Monday after rolling her ankle in Friday’s preseason opener against Gannon. And she will not play Tuesday in the preseason finale against Philadelphia at the XL Center.
Jefferson’s confidence has been rising. And all it took to figure that out was watching the way she comported herself in the First Night scrimmage with the men’s team in October.
The point guard’s ball-handling was as flashy as it was effective, quick-paced, both hands, low to floor, up to her elbow. Whatever tentativeness characterized her debut season seems to be lost in that crossover.
“She’s been pretty good for most of practice, taking advantage of the things she does well,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She didn’t shoot the ball from the perimeter [in Friday’s preseason opener] and she has been shooting the ball well in practice.
“But you can just see the confidence level she has been playing with. That is not something that she was able to do as this point last year.”
Jefferson started at the point in Friday’s 101-35 win over Division II Gannon at Gampel and had 13 points, six assists and four steals in 17 bright-eyed minutes. She also made all seven free throws.
“It’s all about being more confident,” Jefferson said. “This is how I like to play in practice; have fun, be the one who hypes the team when the ball is in my hands. That is exactly how I played in Texas [before arriving at UConn].
“The coaches seem to like the way I am playing right now. I am trying to get my team involved in a lot of things and things are going well so far.”