Geno Auriemma took a break today from his new approach of pretending that everything is just fine and dandy with third-ranked UConn. Everything was not fine and dandy at the end of practice at Gampel Pavilion. And Auriemma hardly let the Huskies slide.
There were eight straight empty possessions at one point. Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley, Kelly Faris, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart were the final five on the floor for UConn. Mosqueda-Lewis made a 3-pointer, and then Auriemma told the players to come over to a corner of the court in front where the team bench is at 4:11 p.m., 19 minutes earlier than the scheduled time of finish.
The Huskies were once tied with the white team (27-27). They were losing 62-40 when Auriemma called it.
Auriemma, at times loudly, voiced his displeasure for several minutes. In particular, he questioned whether or not the players felt that this was going to fix itself without putting in the necessary work to fix it.
“It’s February and we’re still trying to gauge when we make substitutions where our team is,’’ Auriemma said. “And as we get closer to March you want to make sure that when you make substitutions, when we get people in and out of the lineup, that the productivity doesn’t change that much. And we’re still not there yet. We still have a core group of guys that when they’re on the floor things happen with a certain sense of precision and we get the shot we want and we get the screen set the way we want it. Things happen. But we’re not quite there yet that it can continue like that regardless of what the substitution pattern is. So we’ve got to keep working on that and we’ve got to get better at that as the season winds down.’’
The Huskies, who have averaged 96.7 points in rolling over Marquette, DePaul and Providence by an average of 53.3 points in the last three games, got the message. Again. In a nutshell, he was driving home the point that there is still plenty of work to be done and the quest to improve never ends.
“You always have to take kind of what Coach says and, obviously, listen to it, embrace it and then respond,’’ Dolson said. “We might not have had a great practice today. But tomorrow we’re going to come in and practice just as hard if not harder to prove to him and to respond to what happened today. Today was a tough practice. The (practice) guys came out strong and defended us really well and we turned the ball over. So we’ve just got to do a good job tomorrow of making sure at practice we’re taking care of the ball, kind of slowing down our offense and just responding to what challenge Coach gives us.’’
Said freshman Moriah Jefferson: “He definitely opened our eyes a little bit. Basically, we just have to be more consistent. You can’t keep falling off and start practice good and at the end of practice go bad. So you have to be consistent.’’
Said Hartley: “Coaches just reminds us that we always have things to work on. I think Coach goes with the mindset and he tries to show us that you can never be satisfied. You always have to strive to get better. Even if you figure something out you have to keep working to see what other things you can improve on.’’
“I think that’s the mentality you have to have. You’ve just got to know that you have to keep working. If you figure something out find something else that you need to work on. There’s always you could improve on.’’