Auriemma, Huskies Ready For Regular Season To Begin

The top-ranked Huskies did exactly what they were supposed to do in exhibition games against Division II opponents Gannon and Philadelphia. They outscored them by a combined 194-63 in a 66- and 65-points wins, respectively.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma, for one, has seen enough of this. He is ready for the regular season to begin. He is ready to gain a true gauge on just how talented this group is, and he should gain some perspective in the first four games.

The Huskies will open against Hartford Saturday at the XL Center. They will face No. 3 Stanford at Gampel Pavilion Monday before embarking a two-game road trip to No. 8 Maryland Nov. 15 and No. 13 Penn State Nov. 17.

“I don’t want to play any more of these (exhibition) games,’’ Auriemma said. “I don’t think anybody … I’m not crazy about when the NCAA changed the rules about who you can play and who you can’t play. So I’m anxious. The players are anxious. I think everybody’s anxious for Saturday and everybody’s anxious for Monday and then next Friday and Sunday. Everybody wants those games to come and everybody wants those games to happen quickly.’’

Said sophomore Morgan Tuck: “I’m really excited. I think everybody is excited for the beginning of the season, and I’m really excited, because we have a lot of big games coming up early in the season.’’

The Huskies, who shot 53.7 percent from the field, had five players average double figures in scoring in the preseason. Seven players averaged at least 3.0 rebounds. Six averaged at least 2.0 assists. And all nine full-scholarship players averaged at least 17.0 minutes.

For what it’s worth, here are some of the individual numbers …

Breanna Stewart: 17.5p, 12.0r, 5.0a, 3.5b, 2.5s
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis: 15.0p, 3.0r, 4.0a
Morgan Tuck: 13.0p, 2.5r, 2.0a, 2.0s
Moriah Jefferson (one game): 13.0p, 3.0r, 6.0a, 4.0s
Bria Hartley: 12.0p, 2.0r, 3.5a, 2.0s
Kiah Stokes: 9.0p, 10.0r, 4.5b
Saniya Chong: 8.0p, 3.0r, 2.0s
Stefanie Dolson: 8.0p, 6.0r, 3.0a, 2.0b
Brianna Banks: 6.0p, 4.5r

“I think after the practices we’ve had and being able to figure out our offense and make sure everyone knows it I think that everyone feels comfortable with what they’re doing,’’ Stewart said. “And I think these two exhibition games have helped increase comfort level.’’

The Huskies are prohibitive favorites to win an NCAA record ninth national championship this season. But, of course, Auriemma is still looking for some answers at this point.

“I’d like to see what happens if we struggle a little bit in the backcourt,’’ Auriemma said. “I don’t think I’m worried about what Stefanie’s going to do or even Bria and Stewie, Kaleena. I’m not worried about those guys. You get a little bit concerned … people want to know like last year why Caroline Doty played so many minutes. She had been here five years. Why Kelly (Faris) played as many minutes as she played. Now you’ve got Moriah out there running around doing what she does. I’d like to see her struggle. I’d like to see her get in a big game and really, really struggle. And now you put Saniya in there and now Bria Hartley’s really under the gun, because you’ve got Brianna Banks who hasn’t played in a year, a freshman coming off the bench. I’m anxious to see how those guys handle some of the adversity that I hope we have. That would tell me a lot.’’