While the 2012-13 women’s basketball season takes its brief Christmas break, No. 2 UConn has already offered a substantive gift for its fans.
The Huskies are off to a wonderful start, one whose bow has been affixed by its dazzling freshman, Breanna Stewart, already the team’s leading scorer (16.9) and rebounder (7.2).
Here are 10 things about the team worth noting as it prepares for its first annual game of the century Saturday at No. 1 Stanford.
A programming note: Annual game of the century II comes Feb. 18 at the XL Center against Baylor.
Stewart’s career-high 27 points against Hartford last Saturday enabled her to pass Maya Moore, the program’s all-time scoring leader, for most points in the first 10 games of a career. Moore scored 165 over the same time frame on her way to 3,036. Tina Charles had 98. Diana Taurasi had only 93. So it is fair to ask this follow-up question: In Stewart, is UConn already looking at its next Big East Player of the Year and All-American?
The Huskies are off to a great start, but these things do not grow on trees. UConn was 9-0 last year when it lost at Baylor and such a break from the gate has happened only six times since 2003-04.
If there has been troublesome trend thus far, it has been from the free throw line, unusual considering how many fine shooters they possess. It you take Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (87.5) and Stewart (83.8) out of the equation, the team is shooting just 67.8 percent. Who knows how that may eventually play into the national championship chase. But do not despair; the Huskies have never shot higher than 76.5 percent (2010-11) in their history.
Let’s not confuse UConn with Villanova, which takes so many three-pointers it appears contractually obligated to do so. But the Huskies have been hoisting them at a nice rate, including a single-game record 40 against Oakland. This does not bother Geno Auriemma who believes an open shot is a good shot. And UConn has made 40.7 percent, far above its pace last season (35.0) …
… which brings us to the remarkable performance of Mosqueda-Lewis. When the sophomore came to UConn in 2011, Auriemma said she might be the best pure shooter the Huskies ever had. It’s hard to argue with him after noting the blistering pace she has been on this season (26 of 48) in just nine games.
4 (almost 5)
If there is one thing UConn has in abundance it is offensive options. When future opponents ponder how to defense the Huskies, they will notice that four of them are already averaging double-figures despite comparatively low minutes. Stewart (16.9), Mosqueda-Lewis (16.4), Stefanie Dolson (11.7) and Bria Hartley (10.1) give defenses a lot to consider. And Brianna Banks (9.9) is not far behind. No player averages more minutes than KML’s 27.6. Good luck, Providence.
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a trillion times: senior Kelly Faris, pound for pound, inch for inch, is the most fundamentally sound player in the Big East conference. This point of fact is best reflected in her assist/turnover ratio, which leads the nation. Not only that, she is still shooting 61.4 percent from the field, 44.0 from the field.
Let’s count the ways UConn has already destroyed some opponents: 64 (Charleston), 61 (Wake Forest), 42 (Marist), 70 (Colgate), 72 (Oakland) and 57 (Hartford). The result is a margin of victory almost 10 points greater than the program record (35.4 in 2001-02) which is the current NCAA Division I record.
Let’s count the way UConn has already suffocated the field goal percentages of some opponents: 25.4 (Charleston), 21.8 (Wake Forest), 25.6 (Marist), 29.8 (Colgate) and 14.9 (Oakland). The result is a percentage almost one point below the program record (30.0 in 2009-10) which is also the current NCAA Division I record.
This is the total amount of time the Huskies have trailed in the 400 minutes they have played this season. Consider the first 17 came in Game 1 when Charleston opened the scoring this with a basket that made it 2-0. UConn scored 103 of the last 140 points. The other 31 were against Penn State on Dec. 6. The Huskies have not trailed in the last 108 minutes, 3 seconds.