Junior Lorin Dixon spent the summer working out with assistant coach Shea Ralph on campus and she attended Pont Guard College in Maryland in August. She said earlier this week that she fully believes that she has finally put everything together both mentally and physically after two unfulfilling seasons.
With the Huskies’ most glaring hole existing at point guard with the graduation of All-American Renee Montgomery, Dixon will challenge sophomores Caroline Doty and Tiffany Hayes for the starting role this season.
“This year I just feel like over the summer I prepared myself for what’s to come,’’ Dixon said. “Mentally, I’m not trying to convince myself right now. I know rather than I’m trying to figure it out. For one I feel like I am older. Then just based on this summer. …When you know you are doing good and when you know you’ve been working on things, then you feel like you’re more prepared for what is coming. This summer I was up here. I went to that point guard college. I feel like I’m better prepared and with Renee not here you have to step up because you don’t have somebody there to do it for you.’’
Coach Geno Auriemma equated Dixon’s current situation to that of Rita Williams when she began her career sitting behind All-American Jennifer Rizzotti in 1995-96 before starting all 34 games in 1996-97 and all 37 in 1997-98. She led the Huskies to a 67-4 record as a starter, two trips to the NCAA regional final and evolved as one of the nation’s top point guards in the process.
“I remember when Rita was a sophomore and Jen was a senior,’’ Auriemma said. “And Rita I think generally, like Lorin did (last) year, came to every game hoping that Jen didn’t get hurt or get in foul trouble, especially the big games because there’s no way she wanted to be in that situation. I think Lorin was the same way. I think every big game there was a part of Lorin saying, `Don’t foul out, Renee, please. Or don’t get hurt. Because I’m not sure I can be in that situation right now at this point in time.’ And then the following year Rita was the point guard and we were undefeated and we were the best team in the country by a hundred miles. And Rita was unbelievable. Because now the expectation isn’t, `I’m just somebody’s backup.’ I’m here to make an impact. I’m hoping that Lorin reacts the exact same way. I’m hoping Lorin says to herself, `Hey, I’ve spent two years here watching Renee do this, this, this and this, and now it’s time for me to have an impact.’’’
Dixon averaged 2.3 points, and 1.8 assists in 15.5 minutes in 39 games (four starts) last season. But she showed the type of player she can be when she had career-highs of 14 points and eight rebounds and season-highs of six assists and 34 minutes in her first start of the season in an 88-58 rout at North before a team-record crowd of 12,722 at the Dean Smith Center and a national television audience.
“I think there are some things that she definitely just from being here for two years having great guards like Ketia (Swanier) and Renee to come up under, she has definitely learned the value of the fact that the point (guard) has to be in tune and ready to go all the time,’’ All-American Maya Moore said. “That is something everybody has to learn to a certain extent coming from high school to college. You can never take a play off. I think she has gained confidence. She is seeing that she can compete. She is working on her shot. Mentally, I think just coming to UConn you transform as a player. You have no choice being around a great coach and great players. Because of the combination of all that, she is feeling more confident.’’
Check out tomorrow’s Post for an extensive look at how Dixon has viewed her first two years with the Huskies and how beneficial it was for her to attend Point Guard College this summer.
A recruiting source has confirmed that Samarie Walker, a 6-1 swingman from Dayton, Ohio, Stefanie Dolson, a 6-5 center from Port Jervis, N.Y., Michala Johnson, a 6-3 forward from Lombard, Ill., Lauren Engeln, a 5-11 guard from Laguna Hills, Calif., and Bria Hartley, a 5-10 point guard from North Babylon, N.Y, will be making official visits during the weekend of Oct. 16-17, which coincides with the Supershow and the first official practice of the season. Chiney Ogwumike, a 6-3 post player from Cypress, Texas, is also likely to be on campus that weekend, while Cassie Harberts a 6-2 post player from San Clemente, Calif., is not due to a scheduling conflict.
Daisha Simmons, a 5-9 point guard from Jersey City, N.J., is not expected to make an official visit. She made an unofficial visit earlier this month.
The game at Louisville Feb. 7, which is also Super Bowl Sunday, will start at noon. Nice job by the Big East to schedule it early so that everyone will have a fighting chance to watch the Big Game in Miami.