The numbers say that freshman Saniya Chong had her least productive game of the season Tuesday at No. 2 Duke. The reaction of UConn coach Geno Auriemma said otherwise.
Auriemma was not irate about her performance. He did not publicly chastise her. Instead, his reaction was very diplomatic.
“I didn’t think it’s anything Saniya didn’t do,’’ Auriemma said. “The average person out there just doesn’t get it sometimes when you think about how difficult it is in a 40-miute game to try to get nine players significant minutes. It’s just not going to happen. And teams that try to play nine a lot in games like that end up hurting themselves. So it wasn’t anything that Saniya did or didn’t do. Although she didn’t really seem to be as she was earlier. It gets to you. The exams affect people differently. If it’s her first time you’re going through it, you don’t react as well as you do when you’re a senior, an upperclassmen. There’s guys I worry about sometimes, but I don’t worry about Saniya Chong. I don’t worry about her.’’
Chong played a season-low five minutes – all in the second half – against the Blue Devils and did not register a single statistic in the game for the first time all season. It was also the first game this season that she played fewer than 10 minutes.
Chong had been averaging 23.0 minutes through the first 10 games.
When asked about her performance she was blatantly honest.
“I think that just going out there my mindset wasn’t there,’’ Chong said. “I didn’t get as many minutes. But once I got out there I already had a quick (miscue) right from the start. So I think that I just wasn’t focused and I think that for the next game (Sunday vs. No.1 California) I’m going to be more determined and more focused.
“It was a (learning experience) because except for the like the Stanford game I think that the Duke game was one of the toughest that we’ve played already. And I think that it was just a learning experience for me and I know that I’m just going to get better as time goes on.’’