Archive for 2010
Stanford junior All-American Nneka Ogwumike did not bite when she was asked about The Streak today. Remember what happened to Ohio State after Jantel Lavender said she wanted to stand in the way of a potential 88-game winning streak and did not want to be part of a trivia question? UConn 81, Ohio State 50.
Ogwumike said the Cardinal do think about The Streak a bit, but only from the standpoint of what it has meant to women’s basketball.
“In the sense that it’s a great accomplishment for women’s basketball, yeah,’’ Ogwumike said. “But I wouldn’t say that we are saying `we wish that was us’ or `we need to stop it.’ We’re just focusing more on ourselves. Obviously, that’s something great. Especially for women’s basketball, to be able to achieve something like that given the lack of I guess attention that women’s sports get. I guess we just kind of saw that … That was a great accomplishment.
“Obviously, a lot of people want to beat UConn because they’re a great team. But I wouldn’t say that our focus is, `Oh, let’s stop the streak.’ I guess we’re more so focused on playing our best and getting better as a team.’’
Ogwumike is the best player on a team that is talented enough to win the national championship. With five players 6-foot-2 or taller in their primary rotation, UConn coach Geno Auriemma called the ninth-ranked Cardinal the biggest team in the country. They are certainly the biggest team the Huskies – and freshmen post players Stefanie Dolson and Samarie Walker – will face this season.
Ogwumike, who is averaging 14.7 points and 10.3 rebounds with two double-doubles in three career games against UConn, said this Stanford team is the most talented she has been a part of in her career. It is one that is playing with confidence and one she said that is looking to make a point against UConn.
“I think that would be safe to say, yes,’’ Ogwumike said. “Obviously, UConn is a great team. I do feel like we are forgotten. People underestimate us, which can also be really helpful in the sense that we can come out and just come out and play as hard as we do. But I must say that there are a lot of good teams out here on the West Coast that go unrecognized.’’
This will be the first meeting between the teams since UConn’s 53-47 win in the NCAA tournament final last April in San Antonio. Stanford led 20-12 at halftime before Maya Moore powered a 17-2 run to start the second half.
The game is not something that Ogwumike admits she and her teammates spend a lot of time thinking about.
“I’m not a muller,’’ Ogwumike said. “I don’t mull over things. That was the last time we played them so we look back and see what we can do better. But at the same time we’re also focusing on we’re doing at this moment to really get on top.’’
Here’s what Ogwumike had to say about the way Stanford regrouped after suffering back-to-back losses on the road to DePaul Dec. 16 and Tennessee Dec. 19 …
“We don’t usually lose,’’ Ogwumike said. “It was not fun, obviously. At the same time we just kind of focused on figuring out who we are and we knew that those two games weren’t like us. The second one (an 82-72 loss to Tennessee in OT) was better than the first (a 91-71 loss to DePaul). But, obviously, we didn’t win either. We just kind of sat back and relaxed and tried to just figure things out. We weren’t trying to pounce on it and just be real erratic with things. I think (Coach) Tara (VanDerveer) did a really good job of keeping us real relaxed and just figuring out who we are as a team. So I guess just kind of picking ourselves up from that was something that we needed to experience and I think we did a really good job of kind of helping each other out.’’
Moore is averaging 20.9 points and 9.2 rebounds in 31 games against ranked opponents during The Streak. She is averaging 21.8 and 9.8, respectively, in five career games against Stanford.
“If Maya struggles a lot against a good team, we’re going to struggle,’’ Auriemma said. “If Maya struggles tomorrow night and can’t play to the level that we’re used to seeing her play we’re going to lose. Everybody knows that. But she’s been remarkably consistent. And I think there’s a confidence level that our players have because we’ve got someone like Maya who can take a lot of the pressure off of them offensively. I think they play with a little more confidence than if we didn’t have her.’’
Auriemma’s comment after watching tape of Stanford’s 89-52 rout of No. 4 Xavier Tuesday: “If they’re as good as they looked yesterday I don’t think anybody’s going to beat them the rest of the year.’’
Huskies’ coach Geno Auriemma said during a conference call today that Lorin Dixon will not play against No. 9 Stanford Thursday due to a sprained left foot. She will miss her second straight game after sustaining the injury landing on the foot of a teammate after driving to the basket in practice Monday.
“She’s not going to play,’’ Auriemma said. “She didn’t workout with us today.’’
Dixon underwent X-rays on her foot today at Stanford. Auriemma did say that her health is improving.
“She looks better today than she did yesterday,’’ Auriemma said. “So that’s a good thing. She’s walking on it rather easily. So that’s good. You can’t predict these things, obviously. And that’s why I say all the time this is a fragile thing. An injury here, an injury there. Something happens. Every team goes through it. And it’s disappointing for Lorin because here she’s missing two games for sure that I know she really wanted to play in. And she’s been playing the best basketball of her career in some ways. But these are the things you deal with as a coach and as a team.’’
Maples Pavilion, which seats 7,329, is sold out. Stanford, who is the last team to beat UConn (April 6, 2008) has won 51 straight games at home. It is the second longest streak in team history.
The Cardinal won 59 straight from Nov. 25, 1994 to March 14, 1998.
Tonight’s game at Pacific can be seen solely on CPTV at 10 p.m. Due to an editing error in today’s Connecticut Post, it was stated that the game could also be seen on ESPNU. That is incorrect. I apologize for any confusion.
CPTV will also re-air UConn’s 82-71 victory over Georgia Tech at Gampel Pavilion Nov. 16, 2008 at 8 p.m. That was Win No. 1 during this record-breaking winning streak that currently stands at 89.
All-American Maya Moore was named the Big East Player of the Week for the third time this season today. She scored a career-high 41 points and added 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks against then-No. 22 Florida State Dec. 19 as the Huskies set the Division I record with their 89th straight win.
According to John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant, who is with the Huskies on their two-game swing in California, senior point guard Lorin Dixon will not play tonight against Pacific due to a sprained left foot. She sustained the injury during practice Monday.
UConn women’s basketball assistant coach Shea Ralph has been a straight shooter when it has come to assessing a player’s level of performance. She does not waste time trying to sugarcoat her comments in an effort to create of positive picture publicly.
Senior point guard Lorin Dixon is well aware of Ralph’s tact. And just in case she needed a refresher, she received one in the days preceding UConn’s game at South Florida Dec. 2.
Dixon was not acting like a senior or as a leader. She was pouting like she has done at times in the past. She was without focus. It took one conversation with Ralph, though, to snap Dixon out of her funk.
“It kind of shook me up a little bit,’’ Dixon said. “I really take in what Shea says to heart. We had a 1-on-1 talk and it kind of just snapped me back into reality. She might not have been as nice about it, but she basically was just telling me what I need to do. It woke me up. One thing she said, `You don’t want to look back and regret anything. This is your last year. You don’t have another go-around.’ That is something that I was just like, `You know, that is true.’ This being my last go-around I had to actually just make it the best one yet.’’
Dixon does not have to be a major contributor for the top-ranked Huskies, who begin a two-game road trip at Pacific Tuesday (10 p.m.; CPTV) riding a Division I record 89-game winning streak. She only has to come off the bench and provide UConn with valuable minutes.
Dixon heeded Ralph’s message, recording four points and three assists in 25 minutes against South Florida. It was the most playing time she had seen since logging 27 minutes in the season opener against Holy Cross Nov. 14.
“I just came out and was like, `if you’re going to make a change you have to make it now,’’’ Dixon said.
The performance against the Bulls triggered Dixon’s best stretch of the season. She is averaging 4.0 points (8-of-13 FG), 2.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 22.8 minutes over the last five games.
Dixon, who has at least five assists in three of the last four games, has played at least 21 minutes in four games during this stretch and has not played less than 18.
“She’s been really good,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Ever since that South Florida game, she’s been really, really consistent. I think going into that game she had started practicing well, and I think the fact that she played so well in that game has just stayed with her. I think she kind of found her… Like, `OK, I can go two ways here my senior year. I can either just sit around here and be a bit player in this story or I can have a bigger impact.’ And that’s just the decision I think that she’s made and is comfortable with. And we’re certainly the beneficiary of it because she’s playing great.’’
Dixon averaged 2.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 17.8 minutes through the first six games, twice playing as many as 20 minutes. Only All-American Maya Moore (4.4) and Tiffany Hayes (4.2) are averaging more assists than Dixon in this current stretch.
“Now I’m at the point where I realize I only have one semester left in college,’’ Dixon said. “I feel like I’m focused. I know what I have to do. I know what my teammates need from me and I don’t have time to worry about myself. We don’t have Kalana (Greene) and Tina (Charles) to fall back on so everybody has to carry their weight, plus a little more. I don’t have the luxury of pouting like I used to. That’s something Shea brought up, and I think it’s something that has passed behind me.’’
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing right now. I feel like I’m getting a lot done. I’m accomplishing what Coach needs me and wants me to. And I feel like I’m doing everything … You can always improve. You can always do better. But I feel like I am pretty satisfied with the way I’m playing right now.’’
Dixon is averaging 3.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in a career-high 20.1 minutes through the first 11 games for the Huskies, who will meet No. 9 Stanford Thursday. She is also shooting 50 percent from the field (15-of-30) and has a team-leading 2.5 assist to turnover ratio.
Dixon is again providing leadership, aiming to be “Coach’s General’’ on the floor. Freshman point guard Bria Hartley continues to rely on her for assistance.
Auriemma said that he is hopeful that Dixon will have a big impact as the season progresses. So, too, is Moore.
“That’s my roommate for four years,’’ Moore said. “I don’t want her to end this year feeling disappointed, that she could’ve done more. I want her to take advantage of this last year and benefit from all the work that we’ve both put in these last four years. She has to play well. We’re a different team. It’s so obvious that we’re a different team. And we can’t afford for her not to play well and to contribute at this point. And I think she’s starting to accept that and realize that. But even just being a senior, that sense of urgency that she plays with when she plays well. So I hope it continues and every day the more she does it the more confident she’ll get to sustain that.’’
There is a possibility that former UConn All-American Diana Taurasi’s eligibility for the 2012 Olympics in London could be in jeopardy following a positive test for a banned substance in Turkey.
Here is a statement from Craig Miller, USA Basketball Chief Media/Communications Officer:
“At this point we’re aware of the situation and we’re monitoring things and letting the process take its course. Until that happens we can’t comment.”
Merry Christmas everyone!!
The Turkish Federation told The Associated Press today that former UConn All-American Diana Taurasi tested positive for modafinil. The stimulant drug is prescribed to treat sleep disorders that interfere with wakefulness during daylight hours, according to a website with information on the drug. Some of the disorders include narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder and sleep apnea.
The drug is also be used to treat depression and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder.
Taurasi has been suspended from her team in Turkey, Fenerbahce, until her “B’’ blood sample is tested early next month.
Howard Jacobs, Taurasi’s attorney, and Fenerbahce have not confirmed that Taurasi tested positive for modafinil.
Neither UConn officials nor Huskies’ coach Geno Auriemma are expected to comment today on the matter. However, Fenerbahce does have a statement on its website.
“She is extremely disturbed that her right to confidentially has been breached and doping claims have been made even before the results of her test are out,’’ Fenerbahce said.