Kelly Faris: Shooting For The Stars

by Categorized: Big East women's basketball, Caroline Doty, ESPN2, Geno Auriemma, Kelly Faris, UConn women's basketball, WNBA, XL Center Date:

When Kelly Faris was about four years old, or so her mother Connie remembers, she would stand on the tallest stool or box or bench she could find at basketball games in order to tell exactly what was going on and why.

“Even then you could tell [about her],” Connie Faris said. “She was interested in learning about the game.”

And now that she’s a senior captain at No. 2 UConn, a member of three Final Four teams and one national champion, Faris is quite able to tell when her opponent believes she is not capable of doing something.

And that makes her very, very angry.

“If you work as hard as she does, and the defense sticks someone in the lane [that should be guarding her] and you know it’s because they don’t respect her shooting, its gets in your head, makes you mad,” UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph said.

“It ate right at her.”

It bothered Faris, but she also knew the reason. She came into this season a career 42 percent shooter, just 30 percent from the three-point line.

On a team with tremendous perimeter players like Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and earlier in her career, Maya Moore, it was smart for defenses to gamble Faris was not the one to guard.

“Did I look at it like I want to make them pay?” Faris said. “I don’t know. But it is something you should take personally, if it happens to you, and it happened to me quite a bit last season. I need to keep defenses honest, give them a reason to guard me.”

But she was going to need to figure it out by herself.

“I’m not one to tell people things,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I want them to figure it out for themselves. Kelly is a very reliable kid. She knew that being able to handle and shoot the ball are things that good perimeter players do. She spent a lot of time on it.”

So Faris just worked harder, pumping up at least 500 shots a day in the gym in order to perfect the fundamentals of her shooting motion in hopes more would go in then roll out.

“Practice makes perfect,” Caroline Doty said. “It’s just like if you wanted to play the guitar. When you shoot, the idea is to become like a machine. If it goes in, you want to make sure you repeat the motion every time.”

Now look at Faris. As UConn prepares for Monday’s game against Maryland at the XL Center, the little girl standing on the box has begun to put defenders inside them with her shooting touch.

Faris, shoulders squared to the target, has made 21 of 28 shots from the floor in UConn’s first six games. Even more impressively, she is 9 of 14 from three and 9 of 11 from the free throw line.

“Check that shooting percentage out,” Doty said. “She takes a lot of things very personally. She wants to be the best and she leads through her actions. She’s one of the smartest players on the floor.

“She is making some very smart shot selection. She may not get 10 to 12 shots, but the shots she gets she may make because they are smart shots. She took it as a personal challenge. She’s spent a lot of time of the floor shooting threes so when she gets her chance she can nail it.”

Faris says her problems were mechanical, akin to a pitcher looking to perfect and repeat his release point.

“I’d been doing some little things, by habit, that were causing me to miss,” Faris said. “So I’ve been working on getting that resolved. I’m pleased with the results, but not satisfied. I still have a lot of work to do.”

Faris understands how differently opponents look at UConn’s offense when she is making shots. The Huskies offense, already blessed with diverse and talented scorers, will just become tougher if defenders come outside to watch her, as opposed to doubling-down on others.

“I guess it’s taken me a little too long, unfortunately, to buckle down and put my mind to it,” Faris said. “There is way more confidence than last year and each year I’ve picked up a little more. Right now I feel very good about it.”

If this continues, and even if it doesn’t, Faris projects as a very valuable player in the WNBA. She’s often been referred to as a “glue” player because of her strong fundamentals, defense and rebounding.

But she might be something much more by the time April rolls around. She could be a “core” player by then.

“I didn’t think I was WNBA-ready coming into the season. I knew I had a lot to work on and I still think that know. If I want to play at the next level, and I do, there are things I need to perfect.

“I’m human and I want to keep playing as long as possible. But that’s not why I am doing this. This is not about looking ahead. This is about helping this team right now. We have such a great opportunity here right now.”

 

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11 thoughts on “Kelly Faris: Shooting For The Stars

  1. Mike McManus

    Great article about a wonderful athlete John. I’m from IN and was thrilled when UCONN signed a promising young recruit from Hoosier-land where B-ball is the king of sports. The state schools+Notre Dame don’t lose too many good B-ball players [ie Diggins] to outside schools so it was a real coupe to get Kelly. She has not disappointed and has improved her game every year. All of the complimentary things that Geno has said about her are true and it’s obvious that her team mates feel the same way about her. It’s just great to see her scoring more and becoming yet another threat as a 3-point shooter. Kelly is inspirational and I’m sure that all UCONN fans wish her the very best.

  2. Village Idiot

    I’m an Idiot, but not when it comes to Kelly Faris. From Day one I could see this was an exceptional BB player.
    Mike-Mc–Indiana, Basketball isn’t just an obsession, its close to a religion. I love that about Indiana. You speak basketball, you speak Indiana’s language.
    Kelly was a Geno favorite from the start. When she was a Freshman he said: Kelly may have a bad play, but never a bad game.Time has proven Geno correct. In the last 2 years teams DID–play off of Kelly on Offense. Daring her to shoot the three. That hurt Dolson and Uconn. Now, come on Notre Dame I dare YOU to lay OFF Kelly, you are going to pay and pay big.!!!!

  3. Andy Panda

    If K Faris never scored a point, she would still be my favorite player to watch.

  4. V. I.

    Andy Panda–Kudo’s to you for hitting the right words. There has been something about Kelly Faris since the first time I saw her in a Uconn Uniform. She looks, acts and plays like a basketball player. Since she started she has been the player who makes the needed plays. Love that Girl..

    1. Bud Revet

      I’m preaching to the preachers but agree 100%, Kelly makes one feel good to be a BB fan of UCONN. When Ms Moore was at UCONN, Kelly still stood out and has advanced her game each year. I and obviously many others will miss her when she moves on. She will always be exceptional at whatever she does.

      1. Alan McCann-Sayles

        I won’t be missing her because I will be watching her WHEREVER she plays in the WNBA. They have a great package for watching the teams so I have watched UCONN alumni and other great players continue on. It may not have the particular excitement of college competition, but the women get even better as players and the talent pool is amazing. Go Women’s Basketball!

  5. Erik

    John,

    Always enjoy your articles (and SOH). And Kelly certainly is one of the best overall all-around players that has ever played for Geno.
    But I think your jumping the gun a bit. In the article, you said:
    “And now that she’s a senior captain at No. 2 UConn, a member of four Final Four teams and two national champions, Faris is quite able to tell when her opponent believes she is not capable of doing something.”

    I think there is a good chance that come April, that will be true, but for now, shouldn’t it be THREE Final Fours, and ONE national championship? Or am I missing something? (:-)

  6. Naji

    John, I would like to know when ESPN not ESPN2 is going to man up in their support for the womens game. How about a little media pressure to have games like UCONN vs Baylor televised on ESPN? We have the support Kay Yow initiative but the games are relegated to ESPN2! Its sad and needs to be addressed.

Comments are closed.