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The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce

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The Report Card on 2011-12 – On the eve of another Red Sox season beginning in Detroit tomorrow, one last blog for a while. Perhaps with the Geno led Olympic Team this summer. But here it is, the Report Card on the UConn Women. Back to the Final Four for the 5th straight season and 10th in 13 years. Pretty impressive and the mark of consistency. Shocked they got there ? in all honesty, I’m not. They were good all year, won the Big East Tournament and with some home cooking in Bridgeport and Kingston, played their way to Denver. And they earned their way there. To think, one rebound away, perhaps one shot away….we’ll never know.  Here come the grades.

FRESHMEN:

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis – the second best season a UConn Freshman had scoring (569pts)..averaged 5.5 boards and made 93-3 point FG’s in her 1st year..Not bad, but we also saw signs of her post up game late in the season. Can you imagine when she’s sculpted how tough a matchup she’ll be ? At times she played like a freshman with nerves (see ND Gm 1) with the turnover bug, but the upside is WAY, WAY UP ! Sometime in February of 2013, expect her to become the 4th sophomore to eclipse the thousand point mark. Oh yeah, she was MVP of the Big East Tournament, 6th player of the year and Freshman of the Year too. And to think she’s got three seasons left. (B+)

Kia Stokes – ah the life of a Freshman in the post. All the greats have been through it. And Kia has the tools to be really good..Really Good. Long arms, broad shoulders and good size at 6-3. What’s not to like ? Now that she has a year under her belt on the court, she gave quality minutes in the Final Four with Stephanie Dolson in foul trouble. She has to put a really good summer in…She can become a special player..As we all know, a certain incoming freshman is on her way to Storrs (B-)

Brianna Banks – when the Huskies went eight deep, she was #8. But more times than not, looked lost. Pretty good defender that never really seemed to grasp the offense. With another guard, Moriah Jefferson of Texas coming in as the #2 overall recruit, Banks’ spot in the rotation will be at risk if she doesn’t commit to putting in the time necessary to get better (C-)

SOPHOMORES:

Geno Auriemma said after the loss Sunday his sophomores were great. And have the potential to be really, really good by the time they leave..

Bria Hartley – 1005 pts at the end of her sophomore season, third Husky to accomplish. And she’s still trying to master the point guard spot. Scary good is possible here. Simply consistent with the numbers in Pts w 14 and nearly 4 assists per game. She did hit a 3 pt drought late in the regular season, but found it in the postseason with 13 three’s. To her credit, it didn’t effect the rest of her game as she found other ways to get it done. Likes to drive inside or take the pull-up shot at the line..A WBCA All American, Hartley has to work on decision making this off season with the ball. Right now, as close a home run hitter as the Huskies have right now (A-)

Stephanie Dolson – The “Big Momma” was the player most impacted by Maya Moore’s departure. As she had little help in the post a lot this season. And she saw lots of double and triple teaming. Meaning, she was  prone to the turnovers. But after a long talk with Kara Wolters and some advise before the Febuary 27th game w ND from Rebecca Lobo ,Steph was a different player and person in the postseason. She’s vowed to stay on campus most of the summer, work hard and doesn’t want to get tired anymore. The natural progression of the post player is on (B+).

Lauren Engelin & Michala Johnson – the last two off the bench all season and it doesn’t appear it’s going to get any easier for them. Engelin is facing off season ankle surgery, while Johnson needs to get some bulk IF they are to contribute some way next season. (Incomplete)

RED SHIRT JUNIORS -

Caroline Doty – the fact she only missed one game with a repaired, yet troublesome knee, Caroline showed some glimpses of her old self. But after three knee surgeries, it’s tough. And after her 15 point game against Louisville February 7th, she wasn’t an offensive presence the rest of the season. But of the regulars, she committed the least number of turnovers and her toughness can’t be questioned. An injury free off season for Caroline will be a huge plus. She should be the starting point guard when the season begins..Will it be all season though ?? (C+)

Heather Buck – I know UConn fans love the Stonington native. But reality is that Heather’s time may be passed. She’s as well built and conditioned a player that UConn has, but as we know, it’s all between the ears. Lacks confidence and is shows. Not to mention, the trust of the coaching staff isn’t there. She’s a nursing major who excels in the classroom. And in all honesty, that’s most important. Who knows ? Maybe the final go around will show something different. (C-)

JUNIOR

Kelly Faris – at the end of the regular season, Faris asked everyone to do a little more. She backed up her talk averaging 9pt, 5.5 reb and 5.5 assists in the NCAA’s. And she nearly stole the Final Four game with Notre Dame in the last three minutes of regulation. If Kelly Faris averaged 15-18ppg, she’d be an All American. But she’s a jack of all trades and master of none. Most importantly, she’s never satisfied. She’ll be a captain next season and will settle for nothing less than a National Title in her senior Year. (B)

SENIOR

Tiffany Hayes- across the board, she posted career highs in points, rebounds, field goals , free throws made and steals. 1800 points..Top 10 in games played, points, 3 pointers and assists. She had the most points in school history in back to back games and picked up her only three double-doubles of her career. And finally, she was the MOP of a Regional with 22 against Kentucky in the elite 8. But as we all know, one of the measurements of UConn players is performance in the big games. And Tiff’s track record isn’t exactly great on the large stage. And it’s somewhat appropriate that the end of regulation Sunday, Hayes’ career was defined. She’s wasn’t the go-to girl on a team that lacked the star. The opportunity was there to take the last shot, a chance to send the Irish packing. Hayes opted to pass to Hartley too late. Even if it was an airball or brick, why not take it ? We’ll never know. I compare Hayes to Ann Strother. Great supporting cast player, but never the main cog. And as a senior, out of control way too many times. I’ll be curious to see if a WNBA team takes a chance on her. (B)

STAFF – Really, what other coach would have gotten this team back to the Final Four ? Especially after a lousy performance in the regular season finale ? Geno, CD, Shea and Marissa had plenty of headaches all season, but in the end, they got to Denver. And the upside is great (A)

When the polls come out next November, UConn will be right behind Baylor in the rankings at #2. If everyone stays healthy, the Final Four in New Orleans should be the Lady Bears and Huskies. The missing ingredient is on the way as part of the best recruiting class in America. 6-4 Breanna Stewart is talented and feisty. And when Geno talks about her like he did the season before someone named Maya Moore showed up, well, it gives reason to expect a return trip to the Final Four for a record 6th straight time. There is 12 months to ponder and see what happens. We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride this season. It hasn’t been boring at all. And good luck to Geno, the ex-Huskies and the U.S. Olympic Team in London…No pressure there Geno :)

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