The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce
Here We Go !! – Hi everyone and welcome to another season of UConn Women’s Basketball ! The 2012-13 campaign promises to be a special one with a team that has really good chemistry, a lot of talent and plenty of versatility. The first AP poll is out and to the surprise of no one, UConn is #2 behind the favorite to repeat as Champs, the Baylor Lady Bears who received all 40 first place votes. And they should be the favorite with virtually everyone back from a 40-0 team last season. Most feel that Baylor and UConn are the two best teams in the country and would shock no one to see them play for the National Championship next April in New Orleans.
As for the Huskies, I watched practice Thursday in Storrs. Here are my initial thoughts on the team. Versatile is an appropriate word to describe this team. And yes, the freshmen are really, really good. The seniors, especially guards Caroline Doty and Kelly Faris will be the glue that keeps this unit together. We know what Faris will bring night in and night out with her Blue Collar style of play. And she’s become a very effective leader with this group. Not overly vocal, but when she speaks, her teammates will indeed pay attention. As for Doty, a fifth year senior just looks more relaxed and steady as ever. Caroline isn’t going to be the number one, two or three option from a scoring standpoint. But she’ll be there to run the offense, make good decisions and yes, hit a perimeter shot when needed. I’d expect a very good final year from Doty.
The Juniors are ready to step up from a leadership standpoint. Bria Hartley had a great summer, is trying to get the perimeter game more consistent after last season’s struggles and is most importantly resting that left ankle she hurt in the 3 on 3 World’s in August. Better to rest now than make this a season long, nagging injury. Stefanie Dolson went with the “Insanity” workout program this off season and has changed her body. Down 12 pounds, more lean muscle and no longer winded. And it will only help her game. She’s ready to have a great year and Geno has already thrown down the gauntlet to the officials not to gang up on Dolson with fouls..I’ll be interested to see how that plays out.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is back and looks stronger than last year. If you may recall, she started to post people up last last season. Expect to see more of that, along with a nice little baby hook in the lane. After the second highest point total for a freshman last season, she’ll be ready to add to her game. Brianna Banks from everything I heard had a great offseason and has changed her attitude. How that plays out on the floor is another story. She struggled at the practice I saw. But it’s one day, who is to say she hasn’t put together 2 good days since. If she can play defense and take care of the ball, she’ll find minutes.
Then there are the Freshman trio of Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson. I’m impressed. When I first met Brianna Stewart in street clothes, I said THIS is the great player ?? Well, after watching her play, I now know why she’s the National HS POW. With the 71″ wing span, she not only is smooth in the post, but can take you out on the perimeter and knock down a three. When she’s in with Dolson, this will open the post up greatly after Stef got the crap beat out of her last year. And Morgan Tuck reminds me of Asjha Jones. I’ve heard other comparisons too. But yes, she too could be a handful in the post or take you outside as well. Then there is Moriah Jefferson. This guard can flat out fly, not afraid to go inside. And will be a nice change of pace off the bench as she learns the ways of running the point at UConn behind Doty and Hartley.
The first exhibition is Friday against IUP in Storrs. I’m looking forward to seeing this group on the floor for the first time. It has the makings of a special year..Time will tell !