The first impactful decision made by Geno Auriemma this season took place before Sunday’s opener against the College of Charleston at Gampel Pavilion.
Without injured Bria Hartley, his returning WBCA All-American, Auriemma needed to configure a starting lineup and wasn’t sure on Friday who would fill the last two spots after Kaleena Mosqqueda-Lewis, Stefanie Dolson and Kelly Faris.
On Sunday, he filled things out by inserting freshman Breanna Stewart and fifth-year senior Caroline Doty.
“Caroline is a huge key to this [team] right now,” Auriemma said.
Doty scored 10 points in 16 minutes and Stewart tied Maya Moore’s record for most points in a debut with 21 in 23 minutes as UConn romped, 103-39.
Auriemma said he wasn’t as concerned about who would start as much as what impact it might have on those that didn’t.
“I thought we needed somebody really steady in the backcourt and that’s been Caroline, who has been practicing exactly how she played [Sunday],’ Auriemma said. “And Breanna, right now, kind of like Maya Moore did, is able to impact the game as its being played. She’s the one player on the floor that no one has an answer for.”
Class Of One
Saturday night’s announcement that high school senior Erica McCall, of Bakersfield, Calif, will attend Stanford likely ends UConn’s recruiting process for the freshman class of 2013.
There will be just one member Saniya Chong, a 5-9 guard from Ossining, N.Y., and the Huskies will have just nine scholarship players next season unless something develops before the end of the early signing period Nov. 21.
McCall played for the USA Basketball’s 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Champions and averaged 3.8 points last summer at the FIBA U17 World Championship.
Road to New Orleans
Another decision likely to impact UConn was the one made by the NCAA awarding Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport the 2013 women’s basketball regional taken away from Trenton, N.J.
What this means is UConn’s path to what would be a sixth straight Final Four would go from Hartford (Big East tournament), Storrs (first- and second-round games) and Bridgeport (third- and fourth-round).
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) was originally scheduled to host the regional in Trenton, N.J. But the NCAA announced Oct. 15 it was withdrawing from the commitment due to a new state law permits gambling on both college and professional games.
It will be the second straight year Fairfield will host the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in Bridgeport. The Stags hosted a regional in Bridgeport in 2006. It also had first- and second-rounds of in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Last season, UConn won its first two games there before moving ahead to Kingston (R.I.) The Bridgeport regional games are scheduled for March 30 at noon and 2:30 p.m. The regional final will held April 1 at 7:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Final Four in New Orleans April 7 and 9.
“I think when Trenton lost it, through no fault of their own, I’m sure the NCAA was probably hopeful that somebody would step up,’’ Auriemma said. “And Bridgeport being a place that’s had regionals and done it successfully, and they’ve had great crowds down there in past years, I’m not surprised.
“I think it makes all the sense in the world. I think once a conference is going to step out and want to host it I think it’s the right thing to do to give them the opportunity to do that.’’ …. Auriemma and Chris Dailey, UConn’s associate coach, were honored before the game for winning their 800th career game last March. … UConn men’s coach Kevin Ollie was at the game watching from the baseline. … All 10 players scored at least two points and played nine minutes