UConn coach Geno Auriemma admitted that there is a different feel to the team’s two-game West Coast trip this week than there was two years ago. And heading into Saturday’s showdown at No. 1 Stanford, it is a welcomed change.
The Huskies were toting an NCAA-record 89-game winning streak when they landed in Sacramento Dec. 26, 2010. They would play Pacific in Stockton, Calif., two days later before seeing their consecutive game winning streak stopped at 90 by Stanford Dec. 30, 2010.
UConn again arrived in California the day after Christmas this season. But the Huskies have had the luxury of getting settled in Palo Alto. They have practiced every day that they have been out here as they prepare to face the Cardinal.
“I think it always helps (arriving early),’’ Auriemma said. “When we came out here (in 2010) we got here on the 26th and we played the 28th and the 30th. So we really didn’t have the time that you would like. But this gives us a little more time maybe. I don’t know that that makes a big difference or a little difference. I don’t know. But it doesn’t feel as rushed. I think last time when we got here, we got here, we practiced, we played Pacific right away, we came here (to Palo Alto) and we played. And, plus, the streak and all that stuff that we were dealing with it just seemed to be a frenzy about it that I don’t sense at all.’’
Led by star freshman Breanna Stewart (16.9p) and sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (16.4), UConn also has many more weapons offensively in its return trip to Stanford. Seven players are averaging at least 8.0 points on a team that is averaging 88.1 and shooting 54.0 percent from the field.
Unlike two years ago when Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer schemed to shutdown All-American Maya Moore, she said that this particular gameplan will not focus on stopping one player.
“They have great size, athleticism, versatility and they’re very, very well coached,’’ VanDerveer said. “So this is a team that we’re not focused on one player as much as we’re focused on their system.’’
UConn freshman forward Morgan Tuck, who has missed the past two games with a right knee bone bruise, again practiced in full today. She remains questionable for tomorrow.