Freshman point guard and Glenn Heights, Texas resident Moriah Jefferson received a great deal of pressure to stay in Texas to play college basketball. That was not what she wanted to do, and as we all know she is currently a member of the Huskies.
Sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis can relate to what Jefferson experienced during the recruiting process. She experienced much of the same pressures from people living in and around her community in Anaheim Hills, Calif.
“I went to a USC game and I had people telling me when I was walking in the door, `Oh, why are you going to Connecticut? You don’t want to stay here and help your home teams? You’re not going to like it. It’s cold over there. You’re from California. Why do you want to go there,’’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “But Connecticut was the place for me. It’s the place I wanted to go to school. I love my teammates. I don’t mind the cold too much. If I wanted to be a great basketball player this is where I want to be.’’
With Jefferson, Breanna Stewart, and Morgan Tuck bracing for the first road game of their career Sunday at No. 16 Texas A&M, Mosqueda-Lewis proved last season that freshmen can have success on the road for the Huskies.
“Some of it is that you catch people by surprise because they don’t have a scouting report on you,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Freshmen are more apt to get off to a great start when no one’s paying attention to them. That was the case with Kaleena. And then people figure things out and they go through a little lull. Then if you’re any good, you come back late in the season like Kaleena did.’’
Mosqueda-Lewis averaged 15.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 28.1 minutes in 12 road games last season. She was second on the team in scoring behind Tiffany Hayes (15.6) and shot 41.0 percent from 3-point range.
“In the beginning of the game as a freshman you kind of say like, `Oh, I’m not that nervous. I’ll be fine. Let’s just get to the game and we’ll get it over with,’’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “Start off pretty well. You get in, you’re a little nervous. Maybe you hit a couple shots here and there and then afterwards you’re like, `Gosh, there’s a lot of people here and I don’t think any of them are cheering for us.’ It gets a little nerve racking as the game goes on.
“I just tried to forget about everything else and just go out there. And my parents (mother Sundy Ali and stepfather Khairi Ali) were at a lot of our away games. So I think that helped a little bit too. But mainly just my teammates, the way they start off and the energy that they get us going with really is just kind of what I fed off of last year.’’
Mosqueda-Lewis said that her parents will be at Reed Arena today. They will also making other trips this season to see their daughter on the road.
“They’re going to the Oregon game,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “They’re going to the Stanford game. They’re going to New Orleans (laughing).’’
Mosqueda-Lewis hardly lacks confidence as New Orleans is the host city for the Final Four.
UConn 2014 recuiting targets Recee Caldwell and Brianna Turner will be in attendance at tomorrow’s game at Reed Arena.