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The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce

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The Mid Season Report Card 1/12/12 – 13-2 at the midway point of the season. Surprised ? When the season began, you’d figure the Huskies might lose at Baylor and Notre Dame. Sure, they had a chance to win both games. But look inside those losses. The UConn defense kept Baylor to 66 and the Irish to 63 in regulation. That can’t be overlooked. They let two leads get away on the road where turnovers we’re an issue, but it’s January where there is time to build on consistency. After all, the Huskies didn’t lose the Big East Title Saturday in South Bend. Feb 27th will decide that. And kudos to  Geno Auriemma for the way he handled the loss Saturday and put things into perspective.

UConn is going to lose games on occasion. And the world isn’t going to end when they do. The run they have been on over the last 5 years is ridiculous ! Six losses since the start of the 07-08 season..That’s it. And the expectations outside the program are unattainable every year. Not that internally they’re not high. The program  pursues perfection and catches excellence. Every night on the dry erase board, the coaches write “play hard, play smart, HAVE FUN !”  It’s the fun part that gets lost sadly. Yes, I’m guilty of that too once in a while.

As far as the report card…B+ as this team looks to become more consistent. Especially on the road. Obviously they played much better against Baylor & Notre Dame then they did at Seton Hall and Charleston. Perhaps exams and Christmas were on the Huskies minds for the later two. Bria Hartley has become the go to girl offensively. And her dribble penetration/double pumps in the lane have become quite pretty to watch. Remember, she is NOT a point guard by trade. Part of the reason she leads the team in turnovers. But it’s fixable, and she has a great upside. Kelly Faris has done it all, except score consistently. But with everything else she does, including her trademark defense, she’s certainly brings the toughness factor. Caroline Doty’s knee surgeries have caught up to her as she’s lost a step. But she’ll get after it as hard as she can for as long as she can. Stephanie Dolson is in a tough spot this season w/o help in the post. Trying to find the right mix of high post/low post has weighed on her. But she’s determined to figure it out. Tiffany Hayes has played hard all year..among the top rebounders and certainly leads in charges taken. But the offensive numbers in the high profile games continue to be poor. The team needs her to become more of a contributor offensively to get UConn a Big East Title and to Denver.

The bench as been, interesting. Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis is not Maya Moore like some believed she would be…Totally not fair. As well as she’s shot the ball and done other things at times. She also can make freshmen mistakes…where nerves did her in Saturday. But she’s determined not to let it happen again. Kia Stokes got the message when she was benched against Fairfield. She’s beginning to understand the work ethic is so much higher at UConn than it was in High School in Iowa. It’ll be a plus if she can become a solid #2 option in the post. As for Heater Buck, no breaks..now the wrist problem. Spot minutes to fill a role will become the norm (defense, rebounding)…Brianna Banks was a different player upon returning from beak. We’ve seen some flashes and it’ll be huge if she can consistently contribute. Great speed and FT shooter too.

Two winnable road games against the two best teams in wcbb has us thinking Geno and his team can get to the Final Four in Denver. Is it going to be easy ? NO ! But it’s certainly very possible. Keeping the Huskies healthy and confident will be a key. Road tests ? maybe Duke ? Maybe Oklahoma ? Maybe Louisville or DePaul ? Depends which UConnn teams shows up that  night. And other than ND part 2 at the XL Feb 27th, Home games should be fine…maybe RU or G’Town…I’d expect the Big East crown to be decided that night.

Bottom line, this team is headed in the right direction. They may have their short comings, but their work ethic will keep them in the mix right to the end…We’ll see how it plays out. Saturday DH begins at 10:30am w Joe & Wayne from Snowy South Bend..then Kara & I from Villanova at 1:30 before our NFL Divisional Playoff coverage gets underway…Go Giants !

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