Dolson makes the game fun
Dolson makes it fun
STORRS – Stephanie Dolson makes you like the game. Even when maybe you appreciate all the talent and brilliance yet are struggling your way through another UConn women yawn fest. Dolson keeps your eyes open and makes you sit up put the phone away and take notice even when you are in wake-me-up-when the-demolition-is-done mode.
She smiles. It is big, bright and never hard to find. In the pressure-cooker world of UConn expectation with the architect of it all standing and watching ready to unload with quips like this one he slung at Bria Hartley recently – “She did a good job defending both rims.”
It all matters and at times it seems like it all doesn’t matter. Dolson revels in UConn excellence. Heck she has been a major part of it for three-plus years. She and Geno – mutual admiration society.
But she likes to play and whatever potential pitfalls performing for UConn and carrying the mantle of the gold standard in women’s college basketball offer, they don’t touch here. It is fun. She has fun. Before the game, after the game, during the game. Okay, winning eight billion games every year helps, but she just likes being out there.
“Being my last year I don’t take any game, moment for granted,” said Dolson with, you guessed it, a smile as she was being surrounded by the paparazzi. “For me it’s just about going out and playing whether I score or don’t score, It’s always going to be fun. Tonight was no exception Tonight we all we played so well, inevitably it was going to be fun. “
And what is more than fun than a triple double? The 6-foot-5 Dolson posted a 26-point, 14 rebound, 11 assist beauty that was also historic. There has only been one other triple-double in UConn women’s history that back in 1989 from Bristol’s Laura Lishness.
Think about that. Diana didn’t do it. Sue Bird didn’t do it. Rebecca Lobo didn’t do it. Nykesha Sales didn’t do it. Maya Moore didn’t do it. Who didn’t do it is as stunning as who did. Even smilin’ Steph was a bit taken back.
‘It’s amazing, I’m honored to be in the talk about being only the second one,’ said Dolson. It’s an honor for me be ahead of them. I was very surprised. I would have thought Diana, Maya….would have done it.”
Heck this was the only drama in a night where the Running’ Ducks got pretty much run out of the XL Center. Late in the game, Dolson needed just one assist to hit double figures and directed a perfect pass to Moriah Jefferson. However Jefferson quickly fed the ball back to Dolson for a layup.
“She didn’t know, that’s okay,” laughed Dolson. “She had two girls on her and fed me a great pass. I don’t blame her that much.” Dolson finally got her 10th assist with a pass to Kiah Stokes for a 10-footer with 1:21 to go. Dolson knew what was going on and Stokes almost paid the price.
“I told (Kiah) I was going to run up to her and give her a big hug and I don’t even care if (Oregon) scores.”
Nobody was happier for Dolson that Auriemma.
“Tonight Stephanie was just fabulous, she did all the things that make her and All-American at both ends of the court,” said Auriemma. “You’ve got to be pretty good to accomplish something like that. Steph is a pretty good example of somebody who has worked hard to get her mind and body in the same spot. There is nothing on the court she can’t do. She pushes herself and that allows her to do things most players can’t do.”
Auriemma pointed out that many of his former players like Sales never achieved the triple double in part because their minutes were always limited. However, it didn’t take away from watching Dolson and her obvious skills particularly passing the ball.
As the night drifted away, Dolson was still talking the last of the reporters waiting for one last word. And she was still smiling. A triple double will make most players smile. But Dolson would smile with a triple single.
She enjoys the game and she makes you enjoy the game. She has fun with a large dose of 6-foot-5 inch grace. You love the game, you love the smile.