Freshman Brianna Banks had scored total of 14 points (5-of-15 FG) in the previous six games she had played. She did not play at No. 1 Baylor Dec. 18.
Banks had been struggling with her confidence, her decision-making and a lack of aggression offensively. All of that changed in Thursday’s 93-40 rout of Fairfield as she finished with 12 points (5-of-5 FG) in 17 minutes.
Banks also added two rebounds and two steals. She did not commit a turnover. Her performance drew praise from Huskies’ coach Geno Auriemma.
“Somebody must have spiked her eggnog or something,’’ Auriemma said. “She actually had the ball up top and yelled at Michala (Johnson) to come to the high post. (She) threw it to her and cut and got a layup. Three weeks ago she couldn’t spell `high post’ and would not call out Michala’s name. She would just grunt. So for her to do all that and finish off the possession, that’s progress. That means she’s starting to get what it is that we’re trying to do. And that’s a great sign. Because she’s another one … She’s got the ability. We generally don’t recruit kids at Connecticut that don’t have the ability to play here. It’s the other things that get in the way. So she has the ability. But it’s just taken a little bit of time. And hopefully she can build on (Thursday).’’
Auriemma did not have the same positive remarks regarding freshman Kiah Stokes, who was the only player on the team that did not play against the Stags. She never even took her warm-up top off in failing to play for the first time this season.
The benching is a sign of the times for Stokes. She averaged 4.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 15.4 minutes in the first seven games. But she has generated a total of 11 points and seven rebounds in just 30 minutes over the last five games. And this includes a 16-minute performance in a 48-point win at the College of Charleston Dec. 21 (8 points, 6 rebounds).
The message from Auriemma can’t get any louder than failing to play her at all in Thursday’s 53-point win over Fairfield. Auriemma has not lost confidence in Stokes. He wants her to fully understand that a change needs to be made.
“I’m sure we’ll get something out of her,’’ Auriemma said. “We’re just not quite sure what that is yet. But we’ll get something out of her. She has too much ability and she’s too nice a kid and too conscientious I think for us not to get anything out of her. So we’ll get something out of her. Right now I’m just trying to impress upon her that what we’re getting out of her is not necessarily what I want or what the team needs. And she’s got to make some changes in the way she approaches things. And once she does that I think she’s going to be fine.’’