NEWS

UConn women's basketball team's success hard to gauge

Joe Perez

Seven games into the season and the UConn women’s basketball team is making it look easy. Maybe too easy.

As evidenced in the team’s 75-45 win over Virginia at the Hartford Civic Center on Wednesday night, the team is able to weather it’s worst performance of the year, lowlighted by continued free throw misfires and a lackluster second half.

That’s a testament to the talent and depth of the Huskies. But what happens when the calendar changes over and the schedule reads North Carolina, LSU and Rutgers instead of Stony Brook, Holy Cross and BYU? Granted, the Huskies passed their tests with Stanford and Duke, but had UConn performed similarly against those teams there might be a blemish or two on the record.

These days, the Huskies are beating their opposition so handily that opposing coaches are throwing their support behind UConn has the favorite to win the national championship. 

Virginia’s Debbie Ryan said the Huskies are far ahead of any other team in the country and anticipates the gap will narrow significantly come tournament time. But at the present moment, she thinks UConn’s the class of the nation.

“They are deep and every single one of their players understands the system and plays in the system,” she said. “And I don’t know many teams in the country that could match that. As a matter of fact, I don’t think anybody at this point in time could play with them because they are a little further ahead.”

Huskies coach Geno Auriemma doesn’t want all of the talk getting to his players’ heads, especially at such an early juncture in the season.

“I just don’t want them thinking the tickets have already been sold,”  Auriemma said, “the locker room has already been picked out and which TV interviews are they going to do first when they get to the national championship game. If people are telling them that, they’re crazy.”

Outside of freshmen Maya Moore and Lorin Dixon, everyone on the team knows what is expected of them. Senior center Brittany Hunter, who posted her first double-figure scoring game of the season against Virginia, said she and others would step up if there was anyone taking the game or the team’s success for granted.

“If it’s common knowledge, it’s common knowledge, but I don’t think you can ever state that,” she said of the team being substantially better than other teams. “You can never come out and say that’s the case. You’re playing with fire because then you have people loaf off and take breaks. I don’t think anyone should say that if we suck today we’re still going to win by 30.”

The team doesn’t play again for 10 days because of final exams, but the practices scheduled between now and the Dec. 17 game against South Carolina will give the Huskies a chance to iron out some kinks. With less time focused on basketball and more on books, Auriemma tries to overload his team by adding new wrinkles.

Reach Joe Perez at 425-4257 or jperez@norwichbulletin.com