The loss of All-American Maya Moore left the Huskies with plenty of questions to answer this season. At this point, some of the answers have arrived while others are still to come.
But in the wake of defeating Fairleigh Dickinson, Buffalo and Dayton by an average of 47.3 points to win the World Vision Classic over the weekend, Stefanie Dolson feels that the Huskies have made definitive progress.
“I think we are coming together little by little … being one team and just really talking to each other all the time, always being on the same page with each other and just playing together,’’ Dolson said. “So after our past couple of games I think that there’s definitely a big jump that we’ve made (toward) being a team and playing together.’’
The Huskies, who remain No. 2 in the national polls after six games, have been up and down to this point. They have had four games with at least 15 turnovers. Their field goal shooting percentage (.479) is down when it comes to their standards. Starters Tiffany Hayes (.462), Caroline Doty (.364) and Kelly Faris (.303) are all below 50 percent. Hayes, however, is averaging 14.2 points per game.
UConn has covered up its subpar shooting nicely with its high energy effort defensively. Opponents are averaging 41.3 points and 21.8 turnovers and are shooting 27.9 percent from the field.
The Huskies also have a plus-16.2 rebounding advantage, with seven players averaging at least 3.2 rebounds.
Here is the Coach Geno Auriemma’s assessment following the conclusion of the World Vision Classic:
“When we’re good we’re pretty good and when we’re not we’re something less than good and I don’t know what that is,’’ Auriemma said. “Like sometimes when you’re not good you’re awful or you’re just kind of bad or sloppy or whatever. When we’re good we’re really good and when we’re not playing well or we’re not sync it just looks … We throw the ball around too much. We throw it away too much. I would think that’s my biggest complaint over the last three days is that we either score or we throw the ball away. And I don’t think that’s going to get it done against the really good teams. Maybe we should do what we did in the Stanford game, just shoot 30, 35 3s every game and then we won’t have any turnovers. But this weekend we tried to work on some things that I think we’re going to need and we got it done really well. And then our old selves kind of slipped in there too. I think we’ve played six games. There’s a lot of work to do.’’
The Huskies rotation is a strong six right now with Bria Hartley, Hayes, Doty, Faris, Dolson and freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. Mosqueda-Lewis has proven to be much more than just a shooter. Not only does she lead the team in scoring (15.5) and made 3-pointers (16), but she is also second in rebounding (6.7) and in steals (1.7). She is averaging 2.0 assists. And she has committed just four turnovers in 158 minutes, including none in the last 106 minutes.
Fellow freshmen Kiah Stokes (4.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.7 bpg) and Brianna Banks (6.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.7 bpg) and junior Heather Buck (5.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) could possibly stretch the rotation to nine at some point this season.
“It depends on what day,’’ Auriemma said referring to the number of players in his rotation. “Comfortably, like really, really comfortably, like if we had to play a huge game again, 6 1/2 probably right now. It could go seven, eight down the road. Nine. I don’t know. But it would take a while for that to happen. But I think players are starting to I hope figure some things out. But after the first five and Kaleena is six one of those other guys usually plays pretty well. You just don’t know who it is. Heather Buck goes in the game and rebounds. So you know that she’s going to do that. The other stuff you don’t know. Brianna Banks … She gets the ball and drives it to the basket. And Kiah Stokes … Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes. So what we know is something about the six and we know that we don’t know a lot about the other guys. Hopefully, we’ll find out more as we go along.’’
The Huskies will have one more game against an overmatched foe (vs. Towson Wednesday at the XL Center, 7 p.m.) before facing No. 4 Texas A&M Dec. 6 in the Jimmy V Classic.
Here is a leftover note from the win over Dayton … Flyers’ coach Jim Jabir dropped to 0-9 against UConn all-time, losing by an average of 45.2 points. He was 0-8 as the head coach at Providence from 1996-2002.