After what Caroline Doty has been through in her UConn career, there is no way Geno Auriemma will ever to do anything to disrespect or embarrass her.
So that’s why he says it was so hard to take his fifth-year senior out the starting lineup for tonight’s game against Maryland at the XL Center. But he also knows what is foremost in her mind.
“I don’t think Caroline is interested in anything other than winning, and I don’t think anybody else on our team is interested in anything other than winning, and they want to do whatever they have to do to help us win,”Auriemma said Sunday. “And whether you’re a starter or a non-starter I don’t think that means that much. It probably means more to other people than it does to the kids.’’
With the return of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis from her concussion, Auriemma had a decision to make about his starting lineup. And it wasn’t an easy one. But he decided on Kelly Faris and Bria Hartley in the back court with KML, Breanna Stewart and Stef Dolson up front.
“There’s no easy way to come to a decision like that because Caroline hasn’t done anything to warrant not starting,” Geno said. “But I think our players understand that we have six starters. And as you’ve seen, we played a bunch of games without Bria and didn’t miss a beat. And we played a game without Kaleena and didn’t miss a beat. We’ve got six legitimate starters right now.
“It’s not something I want to do. Caroline knows that. We talked this thing through. She knows I don’t want to do it, but it’s something I have to do right now at this time.”
Doty has started all but one of her 99 career games. This season, she is averaging just over 17 minutes, but 5.2 points and 2.5 assists. Auriemma said at the start of the season they he felt starting her was the best thing for her because of the tendency her injured left knee has to stiffen when idle.
Now he will have to figure out how best to use her coming off the bench
“We’re going to have to monitor it, see how she’s doing and see how she handles it,’’ Auriemma said. “In a perfect world you’d be able to just play her and not worry. But I do worry about all that stuff. Ideally, you’d like to get her into the game as soon as possible, but we’re going to have to figure that out as we go along.
“Having Caroline on the floor is really, really, really good for us. She really, really is playing great. This is the best I’ve seen her look since her sophomore year.’’