Freshman Bent and Dangerfield look to have impact with Huskies. UConn rolls in final exhibition.
HARTFORD: It’s going to be fun to watch how the University of Connecticut woman’s basketball team jells after the loss of the “Big Three”.
The Huskies played their final exhibition on Sunday at the XL Center and while they of course won big over an overwhelmingly overmatched Pace University team by a 95-32 final, there are still more questions than answers as UConn gets set to kick off live action on Monday, November 14 at Florida State.
Fun might not be how head coach Geno Auriemma describes replacing the likes of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck but it’s definitely going to be different.
“We will have a lot to talk about.” Auriemma told reporters afterwards.
With any number of players looking to carve out their own piece of playing time, freshman Molly Bent may have made a case for more time on the hardwood this year by the little things she does.
Bent, a 5’9” guard from Centerville, Massachusetts, is someone who might not jump off the stat sheet at you like she did in high school at this level but is bound and determined to make something of herself.
“I said to the coaches yesterday, as a matter of fact. “Auriemma said. “If there were 20 things that you look for in someone to be a good player at the University of Connecticut, there are probably 15 of them that she doesn’t do very well. The five things that she really does well are going to get her a lot of playing time. Is that the case with most freshman? Somewhat but there’s something about the way she carries herself the way she gets herself involved in a lot of things that make you want to have her on the court at certain times. That says a lot about a player that you want them on the court. Now there may be times in which you cannot afford to have her on the court but she’s not someone that you just put in because you feel sorry for them or you want to keep them in the mix. She’s very determined to be a very good player and she’s a lot better player than she was last week and she’ll be a lot better player next week than she is today.”
On Sunday, Bent played 25 minutes (second most to fellow frosh Crystal Dangerfield at 32), scored but two points but impressively grabbed six rebounds while dishing out six assists in the process.
She simply looked relaxed on the court, like she belonged.
“Molly is extremely hard worker.” sophomore Napheesa Collier said. “So I think she can just get better from here. She’s in the gym all the time so I think she is going to be a great player.”
Dangerfield logged the heavy minutes on Sunday but the head coach is looking for some greater returns next time out when it counts.
“I need to see more than no assists and no steals.” Auriemma said. “Yeah, she played 32 minutes and you saw some good things but we have to see more than that.”
Gabby Williams had a monster game, scoring 12 of the team’s first 13 points and finishing with 24 on 10 of 11 shooting.
Helping her younger teammates get ready for what’s coming on November 14 falls on her shoulders as well as Collier. How does she plan on doing that?
“You just have to keep stressing to them that every little thing matters in practice,” Williams said. “You may not have gotten that steal or that rebound in practice but that could decide who wins or loses the game. So you just have to get them in that mindset that every game matters.”
Natalie Butler, a player that UConn simply needs more than ever this season, started slow on Sunday but found her footing and ended the day with 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting to go with five rebounds, an area the Huskies will need to see more of.
The real deal starts in just eight days with a trip to Florida, followed by their home opener in Storrs on November 17 when they host Baylor, ranked second in pre-season polls.