The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce

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Halfway thru the season – We’re 15 games into the season for the Huskies and not once has the entire roster been available to play even one game this season as a group. And now, two major players in Bria Hartley and Brianna Stewart are questionable for the Louisville Game Tuesday Night. One nagging injury to the next, it’s been a grind for this talented group. But the difference between 14-1 and 15-0 is one point..one made FG, one stop. However you’d like it to describe it.

And with Big East play, it doesn’t seem teams are going to give the Huskies any kind of break. All will be physical, grind it out type affairs. And Duke is a week away in Storrs. Some thoughts on what we’ve seen thus far. Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis has been UConn’s best offensive player by far. When she’s on the floor, there just seems to be more fluidity in the offense. She shoots 51% from three and is well on her way to becoming  the 4th sophomore at UConn to get to 1,000pts. But this year, she has shown the ability to become a better post player and just better all around player. If she can stay out of foul trouble and healthy, the Huskies will be fine. KML’s work ethic I think is a product of hanging around Kelly Faris. As Terri Mitchell of Marquette told the media in postgame comments yesterday, “She’s the Glue.” Stats don’t matter to her, just wins. She took the loss to Notre Dame last Saturday very hard to the point she took most of the blame in not being able to contain Kayla McBride. But rest assured, it wasn’t just Faris who shoulders the blame. Win as a team, lose as a team. Plenty of blame to go around in that defeat. And to think, they had plenty of chances to win it late..Oh yeah, you are aware Kelly is shooting 49% from 3 and 52% over the last 6 games right ?

Stephanie Dolson will get to the 1,000pt mark this week. She needs 24 and the way she’s playing now it should happen. After being outside quite a bit in the loss to the Irish, she’s been back down low and producing inside. Dolson has become a much better shooter, but for UConn to be really good, they’ve got to get it inside to Stef which will indeed be a much needed compliment to an already good perimeter game. Her fellow Junior Bria Hartley not only has been dealing with ankle injuries this season, but a lack of confidence. As low as it’s been since arriving here in the fall of 2010. And after a good 2nd half at Georgetown, to re-injure the ankle won’t help.

Easily the most improved player is Sophomore Guard Brianna Banks. A complete 180 degree turn form when last season ended. Seven double figure scoring games off the bench. She’s already made 11 more 3′s than all of last season. As important, she’s been a solid defender. With her quickness, an asset, yet still plenty of room to improve.

The freshmen ? Well, Brianna Stewart has been good, but still has to learn to deal with the physical play in the college game. But very good offensively. Moriah Jefferson has logged the most minutes of her first year in the last two games and showing signs of improving offensively. 11 steals in the last two games and pretty good “D” on Georgetown’s Sugar Rodgers will earn her more playing time. Morgan Tuck is dealing with the knee bruise, but put in good minutes at Marquette with season highs in rebounds with 9 and had 5 assists. She’ll go as far as the knee will allow her.

Overall, it’s been a solid season that came in with high expectations. And at the midway point, there is plenty to work on, with big games coming up. Louisville could be a grinder. To me, they’re just like Rutgers used to be. They’ve played 2 ranked teams and both have been in the 40′s. Shoni Schimmel shoots a ton of threes and the Cards will be very physical. 56-46 at the KFC Yum Center last February. Pregame Tuesday Night at 8:30 from the XL Center. Yes, 8:30..Congrats to KO and the Men on the win at ND Saturday. The XL could be a bit looney tomorrow night as the guys could be playing the nation’s new #1 in Louisville. Be loud fans !! See you on the radio !!

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