Sophomore center Kiah Stokes has struggled with consistency throughout her career with the Huskies. A stress reaction in her right shin, an ailment that has forced her to miss six games this season, certainly has not aided her progress.
Suddenly, though, the 6-foot-3 Stokes has assembled a modest three-game run that has turned some heads. Maybe she has reached the point where she can be relied on steady production off the bench, averaging 5.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 16.7 minutes in this current stretch.
“Kiah’s definitely made a huge change,’’ junior Stefanie Dolson said. “She’s just physical in practice. She works extremely hard and kind of demands the ball more in the post and has done a great job rebounding and playing defense, blocking shots. So I’m definitely really, really happy with how she’s been playing lately.’’
UConn coach Geno Auriemma believes that Stokes turned the proverbial corner during the second half at St. John’s Feb. 2 when she generated four points and three rebounds in nine minutes. She finished the day with seven points, four rebounds and three blocks in 15 minutes.
Stokes then produced two points, seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks in a season-high 20 minutes against Marquette Feb. 5. And Sunday she had season-highs of eight points (3-of-3 FG) and eight rebounds in 15 minutes.
It is the first time this season, and the second time in her career, that Stokes has played at least 15 minutes in three straight games.
“I think that some of the success that she had in the St. John’s game at the end of the game I think has carried over a little bit,’’ Auriemma said. “She’s making progress, and I’m hopeful that she can continue to make progress. I think she’s a little bit healthier which is good. You get a little bit healthier. You feel better. Now all of a sudden you get a different perspective, and that’s kind of where she is right now.’’