UConn Readies For The Main Course To Come

by Categorized: Baylor women's basketball, Big East women's basketball, Breanna Stewart, Geno Auriemma, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Stanford women's basketball, UConn women's basketball Date:

There is a lot you can tell about a basketball team after eight games, especially if its 0-8. After all, if you can’t finish the salad, what’s to be expected when steak is served?

Winning eight games does not a championship make. And No. 2 UConn still has heavy lifting ahead, beginning with a real load, No. 1 Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., on December 29.

That game – and those that follow against Notre Dame and Baylor  – will peel away the epidermis and show what’s inside the Huskies.

But there are a few things that already seem clear:

Talent takes time

This applies to UConn’s three freshmen – Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson – and the adaptation of the work ethic Geno Auriemma wants his entire team to make second-nature.

For instance, here is Auriemma’s philosophy on the offensive rebound and why his team may not perform the task very well:

“It’s not a mystery that teams which make a lot of outside shots tend to think that everything is going in, and they don’t work as hard as they need to on offensive rebounding. Sometimes that happens to us.

“Teams that struggle from the outside, work their butts off on offensive rebounding because they understand it can give them another opportunity [to score].”

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis

The sophomore is a supremely gifted offensive player, capable of breaking open a game in four blinks.

“She come down the floor four times, score 12 points [on four threes] and boom, the game is over,” Auriemma says.

But Mosqueda-Lewis has been working extremely hard on other aspects of her game that don’t come as easily. And as she does this, she has become acutely aware that her teammates are watching her, looking for signs that she is as committed as she says she is.

“I have been working hard all year to earn everyone’s trust, not only his [Auriemma],” she said. “I’ve tried to change as a player, change as a teammate. And I think I’ve done an all right job to this point. I am still trying.

“I didn’t have a good practice the other day and I said, ‘I don’t want you guys to stop believing in me. I wasn’t very good today. It’s not going to be like this anymore. I will come back, I will talk … it won’t happen again.’”

Toughness

UConn’s opponents seem to believe they can beat the Huskies by beating them up. Maryland said it and tried it and so did Penn State. Why shouldn’t the Huskies think Notre Dame, Stanford and Baylor will put up their dukes? Maybe even Duke will.

Auriemma wants his players to engage along the front lines, which he made clear when talking about how Stewart needs to learn the facts of strife.

“Breanna does have a tendency to float. She has the talent to do that, until people start knocking her around,” Auriemma said. “Then she needs to respond. .. There comes a point that you need to respond. We just need to teach her what the right response is.

“When Rebecca [Lobo] was a freshman, she would sneak out to the three-point line and launch one,. But that’s not responding like a tough guy. When you are getting beat up, you go into the lane and foul them out. Then you don’t have to worry about getting beat up anymore.”

Independent Power

The Huskies have something UConn’s football and men’s basketball team don’t have; the national swag to operate successfully no matter what conference the university lands.

It is clear, now that it has SNY by its side, that the UConn women could operate successfully as an independent, much like Notre Dame football does. The program does not need a conference affiliation to attract recruits, garner attention or win national championships. All they would need is a hall pass from the Big East, should it live that long.

This is not the reality, however. Even Auriemma admits that scheduling 30 games would be a monumental task without the fallback of a conference to complement the non-conference games. But wouldn’t it be fun to watch him try.

Rotation In Motion

Auriemma does not share the opinion that among his Top 10 players are two teams of five that can compete, individually, for a national championship.

“My players 5 thru 9 couldn’t beat a good intramural team,” Auriemma joked.

Truth is, his 5 to 9 can beat two-thirds of the Big East’s 1 to 5 and give them six points to boot.

“If you don’t have eight, you have to zig-and-zag [for success],” Auriemma said. “Some of our younger players are good, but they are even better when they are out there with our older players.

“But on this year’s team, if you get a chance to play, and you play well, you are going to have a chance to keep playing.”

Perhaps thru the first week of April, as usual.

 

The Courant is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on courant.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.

21 thoughts on “UConn Readies For The Main Course To Come

  1. Village Idiot

    Surprise!! Surprise (as Gomer Pyle said)!! UConn’s new Freshmen won’t be playing like Seniors until their Senior year??? Wow, Stop the presses.
    Tuck Thinks too much?? That’s Geno’s comment on a 70 percent (from the field) shooter, Tamika Williams. Banks, Jefferson, Stewart look over to the bench for approval, THEY ARE FRESHMEN on the Nations 2nd ranked team and after getting knocked on their Kiesters with Marist, Maryland, Penn state (much like state pen) they now know they don’t know everything. Let them look and nod approval. In the huddles, even with simple mistakes pat them for a great job–fix the real errors in practice.
    Uconn has a fantastically talented team–without heavy experience. They shall succeed, maybe an NCAA final 4 this year, maybe championship–but just maybe and elite 8 team–I’ll love them then too because they will have been better than 366 other NCAA Div 1 teams. You don’t dump on kids who are working this hard for you (fans).

    1. dude in New Britain

      VI — Not sure what you are using as the springboard for your opinions here. Banks is not a freshman. And there’s nothing in Altavilla’s blog about “Tuck thinks too much” or the freshmen “won’t be playing like seniors until senior year.”

      1. Village Idiot

        DUDE–John wrote two articles one on the front page and this one. Commented to both here.
        Never said Banks was a Freshman. Said that she and the Freshmen (by Geno’s admonition) looked over to the bench (Genos says Banks as a frosh kept an eye on the bench in the front page article).
        John knows about both articles–he wrote them. Sorry you were confused not reading the front page of the on line Courant.
        I love the play of the Freshmen, Banks, KML, Stokes (needs to score more) and all the upper classmen. Doty and Hartley are hurting.

      2. MaryAnne Hartley

        With the A.Jones, Swin, Sue, DT, Tamika Williams –(after viewing the team yea these many years) Geno has made the “thinks too much” comment about a number of players and especially Tamika Williams–who shot 70 percent from the Floor. Geno said–who couldn’t when shooting from 2 feet away.

        That was a bit much the comment on “won’t play like seniors until they are seniors” but of course, logically true, isn’t it??
        Can’t find that comment in either article.

  2. Barn Burner

    Independent UConn Women?? Won’t work! You need a conference championship to be highly NCAA rated. You need a conference to get 20 plus games to give you a rating at Championship time.

    KML will have a bad game, even Diana T. had/has bad games. Try for perfection, but know you’ll never achieve it.
    Banks will have off nights, Maya had more than her share of them–everyone remembers the 30 point games–not the 7 point games.

    Marist showed the world how to slow down the UConn fast breaks. Fast breaks work well when you CAN rebound, Marist, Md, PS took that away effectively.

    Never complain about refs calling too many fouls–they calls em as they see’s them. Who would want it any other way?? Volume fouling only works when all the calls are not made–or the Refs start feeling sorry for the lowly under dog (Penn St).

    1. Steve Gee

      BB,
      My problem with the PS game officiating was the utter absence of consistency by the crew. A body-slam would go uncalled, then there would be a whistle for a phantom foul. It was an embarrassment. If the refs had simply called a tight game the players would have adjusted or fouled-out, and nobody could have griped.
      I recall looking up early in the 2nd half and noticing there were NINE fouls called in < 3 minutes of play. The majority of those shouldn't have even been called. The refs didn't lose control of the game by calling too few or too many fouls. They ruined the game by changing WHAT they would call, from moment to moment.

  3. Steve Gee

    All fouls are not seen by the camera. Megan is a terrible source for calls (not that you used her). I’ve ref’d some, thought I’d be among the greats. It’s terrible–you are always wrong. People don’t see what you see. You make an instantaneous millisecond call and you are right 70 percent-but you Do miss them.
    Point was — I doubt those refs were “paid off” or made “bad calls” or made bad call deliberately. There is little money to be made “throwing a Penn St game. When player foul often, it is just wrong not to call them. What appear as a ticky tack foul to those in the cheap seats–doe not always appear that way to the one calling them.
    I enjoy second guessing Refs. I have a pretty good average on those (on TV) that I call with the Refs.

    Part of enjoying any game is razzing or condemning the Refs. But always ask yourself–what does a Ref gain by making bad calls??

    The point of your’s with which I agree most is–consistency is important to the players, Coaches and Refs.

    1. FREDDYKOOL

      FREDDYKOOL: SPEAKING OF MEGHAN, SHE MADE A COMMENT THAT “GENO DOESN’T KNOW THE SCORE HALF THE TIME”, BABY DOLL I DON’T KNOW WHAT UR SMOKING THESE DAYS BUT GENO KNOWS THE SCORE U COULD BET UR SWEET BIPPY ON IT!!!!!!

  4. Keith

    Steve gee- u hit the nail on the head re the consistency of the officiating- horrendous. Our post players were grabbed held and mugged every possession. Alyssa Thomas and Maryland are dirty cheap shot artists. I went back to DVD and slow motioned a hundred knees and intentional tripping during every rebound. Maryland is good- but there was some dangerous stuff going on under the radar. We are going to beat Stanford I believe- close but comfortably I think- even away with long travel! We are really talented and only going to get better I think!

    1. Billy Bob from Bolton

      Keith–One did not need slow mo DVD views–on the TV during game time when Banks drove or KML drove there was always a knee in their mid sections. But the Ref’s called those fouls. The ones that were not called were those under the basket and against Uconn’s bigs. The fouls against Dolson were so obvious even I with bad eyes could see them.

  5. HarryH

    Independent – even ND realized you can’t be except in FB.
    John, other than being an employee of SNY I don’t know why you think they are the salvation to anything. Are they doing a good job, yes? Are they doing a better job than CPTV- other than they cover wider geography and have ads vs. begging – I think their actual coverage isn’t as good. Wider coverage is great if people in those areas want to see your games.
    SNY provides a wider audience for those who want to watch. ESPN, etc. provides the national attention that provides the desire. If UCONN is playing no one exciting then ESPN won’t want to cover games.
    You need rivalries and tournaments to generate interest. Yes the women are currently in better shape than the men or football, but with no real league and thus no real interest and no money things won’t continue as they are even for the women.
    I obviously don’t have an answer. UCONN is obviously not of any real interest to other leagues and hasn’t for a while.

    1. ding dong the witch is dead

      HarryH–SNY is better in many (not all) areas. I believe the Pre game show isn’t needed nor is much of the half time talk.
      After living my first 40 something years in Ct I now live in a less congested, less taxed, lower cost of living state.. But I do miss Uconn Womens and Men’s basketball. The Men get on MASN,ESPN,CBS often, the women not so much. Now with SNY I get the Women without streaming break ups slowdowns and I can record and review the games. With the loss of WTIC audio (you pay as much for audio as streaming TV and my test of it was terrible) we’ve lost that. CPTV was great when it was the only game in town, but SNY is superb for us out in the sticks (but not taxed to death), more free to live life–without all the do gooder knee jerk laws of CT. It once was a great place to live, not so much now.

    2. FREDDYKOOL

      FREDDYKOOL: I DO: LIKE BYU GET YOUR OWN CHANNEL AND YOU WILL GO ALL OVER THE WORLD…..I CHALLENGE ALL U TECH STUDENTS GET UR BUNS OUTTA UR SEATS, ESP NETWORK WAS ORIGINALLY GONNA DO JUST UCONN SPORTS TO THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT AND FOR $18@MONTH I KNOW I WAS THERE. AT THAT TIME I COULD NOT SELL THE CELTIC GAMES FOR $10.00 @MONTH, NOT UNTIL THEY GOT THE NCAA CONTRACT AND MONEY FROM (CUT UR EAR OFF OIL COMPANY) DID THEY BECOME ESPN, AND THEY HAD THE LAST OPENING ON THE SATCOM III SATELLITE WHICH AT THE TIME THEY COULD HAVE SOLD TO PTL FOR $600,000 AND THE ORIGINAL 3 FOUNDERS OF THE ESPN WOULD HAVE SPLIT $500,000 AND THERE WOULD BE NO ESPN. BY THE WAY THE VERY FIRST ANNOUNCER THEY EVER HIRED WAS LOU PALMER THE GREAT ANNOUNCER FROM THE OLD WTIC DAYS. GO UCONN….ME LOVES U ME THINKS

  6. hjoerring

    Independent! Stop. You are joking and at a time when we should be serious. It’s o’k to think of US and THEM/the rest, if we are not being serious. Yes, we are and have been a top team. Yes, we are, in reality, one of a couple of top teams out there. In a few years there won’t be a Big E; we will be playing Tulane, Houston, Temple, etc. Wow! Yes, we might be playing the usual power houses out of conf. Just take a look at where the next 3 classes of recruits are headed- not Uconn. We will get the overlooked blue chip players (Kelly), etc, and the occasional top 10, but we will not get them all. We are now in a dogfight. And if the coach should go (hope he will not for sometime- at least not until the dust have settled in this conf. merry-go-round) we are cooked. The one name that pops up all the time might be good for where she is today- and might, if she goes somewhere else and do a good job, be someone to look at. But, this is about recruits and what they are thinking. It is also the reason why Tenn is still a top player– far from being dead, as so many have pronounced. Let us stay on the ground. Another neg. with Indep. is that teams in the ACC, for example, are so good and compet. that they have no need to play a top team as Uconn. Why risk losing to us when they might loose 2 or even 3 conf. games. Indeed, couch A has mentioned that far too many time, indicating that he is worried about the flexibility that schools have outside conf. play.

  7. Keith

    Hey Ding dong- what state are you in now? My wife and I will probably head to So Carolina. The Sny pkg makes it easier to leave. Will miss season tickets though. I hope the land in acc so I can see them at many away games!

    1. D.D. The witch is dead

      Keith–Any state south of Maryland will do. We once called Mass. Taxachoosits. But before we left, Connecticut out did them in what, how often and how much they taxes–and some taxes weren’t listed as taxes, just “fees”. Worked for the Government and lived in many places and these East Coast Southern State are among the best, But Okla is very fine and Sheri Coale coaches the Sooners. You can get a (Ct price) 500,000 home for under 300k and with land, just out side OKC. New Schools, new malls, new stores, new university buildings–just clean.

  8. kenny

    Ican’t understand why nobody Wants the uconn women in there conference. I know all about the football thing the money talks, it’s all about the money. Maybe these teams don’t want the women is there sick of getting there butts kicked. Uconn is good enough for any conference.

Comments are closed.