Senior Caroline Doty has started 118 of 125 career games at UConn. She was the starting point guard on the 39-0 team that won the national championship in San Antonio during her sophomore season in 2009-10.
But with the top-seeded Huskies set to open the NCAA tournament Saturday against Saturday at Gampel Pavilion, Doty finds herself mired in uncertainty in the final stage of her career. She played just four minutes against Syracuse in the Big East tournament semifinals March 11 and did not play at all against Notre Dame in the tournament final against Notre Dame March 12.
“Every person on this team has a role,’’ Doty said. “I can’t let myself get frustrated. It’s March Madness. You have to be excited. You have to be happy. You have to play well. I’m going to try my best every single day from practice to games to make sure that everything rolls smoothly. And I’ll be there for my teammates when they need me.’’
Doty is averaging 3.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 17.2 minutes this season. She has reached double figures in scoring in just three of the 32 games that she has played, and she is shooting 36.8 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from 3-point range.
Doty said right now that she has to be “the communicator’’ for the Huskies.
“I’ve been letting my emotions get the best of me the past few days just because I want it so bad that I’m getting frustrated with certain things that I can’t do,’’ Doty said. “I just have to be there for my teammates. I have to communicate and just use my knowledge to help the team the best that I can.
“It’s all about staying positive. I’ve been here for so long that I think I have an understanding where people need to be and what plays to run for certain people. I think I do a decent job of communicating with my teammates. I know Stef (Dolson) is very reliable. Kaleena (Mosqueda-Lewis) is going to hit big shots. Bria (Hartley) is going to be as physical as she can getting into the lane. We have Kelly (Faris) who works her butt off every single day. So we have unbelievable tools on our team. So I just want to be there to help people fit in at the right places at the right time.’’
Doty has started all 11 NCAA tournament games over the two seasons that she was healthy enough to participate. She is averaging 4.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 24.5 minutes in the tournament.
Doty’s role change has not diminished her confidence. She still believes she can be a threat from the perimeter for the Huskies over what could be six more games.
“Confidence comes with practice,’’ Doty said. “I’ve been trying to get into the gym as much as I can to get up extra shots and know that if I have an opportunity to be on the floor and hit an open shot, I’m going to sink it in.’’
Whether or not Doty draws the start against Idaho is still in question. UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Monday that the starting lineup is still yet to be finalized.
“I am going to trust him and whatever he decides,’’ Doty said. “We’ve been communicating with Coach the past week just kind of staying on the same page and seeing what’s best for this team. He’s the smartest coach in the NCAA, and I think he’s going to figure it out, and he’s going to do what’s best for the team and do what’s best to help us win. I know we’re all going to trust him with it, and we’re just going to go with it.
“So I’m going to do whatever Coach wants me to do and whatever the team needs me to do to help win the national championship.’’
Here are Dolson’s thoughts regarding the contribution Doty has made this season …
“She’s done a great job of still being that leader and no matter how many minutes she plays and whether she starts or not she knows that … She’s been here for five years. She knows how to conduct herself and how to carry herself when things like the happen,’’ Dolson said. “And she’s done a great job of still being that emotional and energy leader and really keeping us fired up. In practice making sure we know what we’re doing. She’s done a great job. It’s still no matter how many minutes she plays is an extremely important part to this team.