The very busy Kara Lawson is involved now in just about every level of women’s basketball as a Connecticut Sun guard, ESPN analyst and USA Basketball committee member.
Last week, she was in Colorado Springs, Colo., in her new capacity as a member of the selection group that picked the 12-member teams that will represent the nation this summer in the FIBA U19 world championship and World University Games.
You will recall that all five UConn players invited to try out made the teams – Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson made the U19 team and Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis made the World University team. And the only thing that prevented All-American Stef Dolson from joining Hartley and KML were the injuries that will sideline her entirely this summer.
Lawson is not allowed to comment directly on what she saw last week in Colorado. But she did have some amazing things to say about Stewie and Mosqueda-Lewis that are guaranteed to raise the eyebrows of Huskies fans in terms of the program’s future.
Here’s what Kara said about Stewie, the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
“By the end of last season, she was playing at a totally different level of confidence. When you are the most skilled player of your team, there’s a way, though the way you carry yourself, the air of confidence that you have, that helps your team jump up to another level.
“Through the course of last season, there were times when Stefanie Dolson was the best player and times when Kaleena was the best player. But it seems that when Stewart finally figured out that she was the best player on the team, no one could beat UConn. I think he has figured that out about herself now. She may know that she is better than everyone else around here [the team] and the process for her was to learn not to just wait around for something to happen.”
As for KML, a first-time All-American last season who set a program record with 118 three-pointers …
“For Kaleena it’s all going to be about what she can add to her game. When you can shoot like she can, it essentially gives you a blank canvas to add to your game. Players that can’t shoot need to be put into certain situations in order to make plays. When you can shoot like Kaleena can, you have essentially created a situation where you can do everything off of the shot.
“What I mean by that is, if she catches the ball on the wing, someone [a defender] is going to get very close to her because she can shoot. And that opens up an ability to play off the dribble, to get easier into the lane because the defender is not sagging off you.
“If you can shoot, defenders are going to be super-aggressive chasing you off screens, which automatically opens up different reads for her. If she curls and they [the defense] switch you can pass. There is so much that will open up to her because she is such a knock-down shooter.
“Now that she has the blank canvas, her game off the dribble, her ability to pass and open up teammates, because of the attention she will get, will be the next step to being a great player.”