UConn women ready to roll
UConn women ready to roll
A new season in a new league with some new faces. There is much that is different with the UConn women’s basketball team this year. But for all that is different, there is a familiar constant – expectations.
The Huskies open the season this afternoon (Saturday) against an old friend – coach Jen Rizzotti and the Hartford Hawks. It is the beginning of what many think will be a familiar ending – a national championship.
Just about eight months removed from an eighth national title, the Huskies are primed for a repeat. And why not? The preseason No. 1 in all the polls, you can put them in any league and it won’t change the obvious. Maybe not invincible but somebody is going to have to knock the country’s best program off the pedestal because it won’t fall on its own.
Where do you want to start with the Huskies? Most opponents will tell you nowhere and head the other way and you can’t blame them. But you have to begin somewhere so how about with 6-foot-4 sophomore forward Breanna Stewart, the Most Outstanding Player in 2013 Final Four.
Ah, if only you concentrate on one. Can’t happen. There’s maybe the country’s best shooter in junior All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (17.6)
and 6-foot-5 senior center Stephanie Dolson and you have quartet of candidates for national Player of the Year honors.
But it doesn’t end there. It never does with UConn. Brea Hartley returns for her senior year healthy after recovering from an injured ankle last season following an All-American sophomore campaign.
Junior guard Brianna Banks and sophomore guard Moriah Jefferson along with junior center Kiah Stokes and sophomore Morgan Tuck, all with experience, officially put the Huskies into the `loaded category.”
The newcomer is 5-foot-9 freshman Saniya Chong from Ossining High School in New York where she averaged 34 points a game.
It is a talented, mature group that has the potential to repeat. To do so it will be against a different schedule. The Big East is now a nice memory. In its place is the American Athletic Conference.
Gone are many of the familiar foes like Georgetown and Syracuse and most painfully Notre Dame which has forged a heated rivalry and even had the upper hand in the rivalry until the NCAA Tournament last March.
Now the opponents carry names like Southern Methodist, Houston, Central Florida and Memphis. It is not all new territory. NCAA championship game foe Louisville, old time nemesis Rutgers and Cincinnati are still around.
But it will be different and the Huskies, a heavy favorite to win the AAC, went out scheduled a formidable list of opponents out of conference. Stanford (Gampel Pavilion), Ohio State (Springfield), California (New York), Duke (Durham, N.C.) and Baylor (Waco) are all on the list, making any trip to a hoped for national championship a harrowing one.
There are a lot of ingredients in place for at the very least another run. But as usual there are plenty of opponents, including old time rival Tennessee, that want nothing better than to defang the Husky.
Nothing is ever automatic but as the season opens up with so much of the new, the old expectations are still there and achievable. As much as it all changes, it stays the same. Expect the Huskies to be around deep into March.