Huskymania

By Ken Best

Tracking Huskymania on and off the field.

Men’s Basketball Rebounds to Win Over DePaul

For weeks, men’s basketball head coach Kevin Ollie ’95 (CLAS) has been emphasizing the need for the Huskies to be more aggressive on the backboard to get rebounds, as opposing teams have out-rebounded UConn all season.  In winning its first Big East game of the season 99 to 78 against DePaul on Tuesday, the Huskies were ferocious on the glass.

In the first half, the Huskies (11-3, 1-1 Big East) out-rebounded the Blue Demons (10-6, 1-2) by 30 to 11, going on to finish with a 49 to 29 margin for the game, led by DeAndre Daniels ’15 (CLAS), who had 8 rebounds to go with his career high 26 points.

Shabazz Napier ’14 (CLAS) had another all-around game with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Ryan Boatright ’15 (CLAS) scored 22 points and had 4 rebounds. Tyler Olander ’13 (CLAS) and Enosch Wolf ’14 (CLAS) combined for 12 rebounds and 18 points at the center position.

“We came out aggressively and responded to their pressure,” Ollie said. “There were too many turnovers in the first half but we corrected that.  We played like a team. We concentrated on hitting first. DeAndre played like the way I expect him to play. They all did the dirty work [of rebounding].

The Huskies started the game with a 9-0 run and never trailed, twice posting a 22-point lead in the opening period and finishing the half with a 54-34 lead. DePaul opened the second half with an 11-5 run to get within a dozen points, but UConn pushed back and twice had a 24-point margin.

“I was really disappointed the way we played tonight,” said DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell, whose team had four road wins coming into Storrs. “We’ve been playing tough and with a hard edge on the road. We didn’t have that tonight. Evidence is the rebounding stat.  UConn rebounded 10 of the first 16 shots. We kind of really didn’t recover from that.  They were getting second and third shots. Scoring 78 [points] is not bad. It should be a close game.”

“I think we came out with a lot of intensity. We came out focused and ready to play the game of basketball considering we had a seven-day break,” Boatright said.  “It felt good to get back on a winning track. It felt good to get the first Big East win.”

Daniels said: “I just wanted to be more aggressive, stop shooting so many threes and take it to the rack and get easy layups and dunks. Sometimes I tend not to be aggressive…but I was aggressive tonight.”

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Napier ’14 was named to this week’s Big East Honor Roll for his effort in the team’s win against Washington, when he scored 13 points and had 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.

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Following their first loss of the season to Notre Dame last weekend in their first Big East Conference game, the women’s basketball (12-1, 0-1 Big East) team moves on with a two-game road trip, starting tonight at 7:30 p.m. against Georgetown (10-4, 1-0), and then Saturday at 4 p.m. to Marquette (8-6, 0-1).  Both games will be broadcast on SNY and the UConn IMG Radio Sports Network (WTIC 1080).

Early on head coach Geno Auriemma looked forward to having a variety of options to consider, given the skills and size of return players and the talented trio of freshmen on this year’s squad. However, nagging injuries to Bria Hartley ’14 (CLAS), Morgan Tuck ’16 (CLAS), Kiah Stokes ’15 (CLAS), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis ‘15 (CLAS) and a brief illness to Moriah Jefferson ’16 (CLAS) have restricted participation in practices and availability for games.

“We haven’t played a game I don’t think with our whole team yet this year,” Auriemma said “And we haven’t really noticed it. But I’m anxious to get our whole team back. We’re really good when we’ve got our whole team. As good as we played in the Stanford game, when we’ve got our whole team we’re really good because we’ve got a lot of different scenarios that we can put out there.’’

Stokes said on Monday that she expects to return to action following treatment for her leg injury over the past two weeks.

“We haven’t had a full roster for practice since the second day of the season,” she said after the team had lifted weights but otherwise had a day off from full practice. “To get everyone healthy again is our number one thing now.”

Twice during the Notre Dame game, Mosqueda-Lewis came up limping after rolling her ankle, the latest in a series of small injuries she has experienced this season, including a concussion and a banged up elbow and shin. Each time, she insisted on staying on the floor.

“I want my teammates to know that regardless of whether I’m 100 percent or I’m a little under, I’m going to be there for them and play through as much pain as I can,” she said, noting that she decided before the season that part of her growth as a basketball player and leader means staying on the floor and playing through pain.

“It’s something I decided at the beginning of the season. I want to play as much as I can. Coach said there’s a difference between being hurt and being injured. If you’re hurt, you can still play. If you’re injured like Caroline [Doty, who suffered a torn ACL] you can’t go physically. If I’m just hurt, I’m going to still keep playing. I’ve never been hurt this much in my entire basketball career. I feel like I can look at as a good way; I’m not going to get hut anymore, since I got it all out of the way or I can work through it. There’s not really any time to be hurt right now.  People say it’s only January, you have time to be good in March. I need to be good now so I CAN be good in March.”

Asked about missing two three-point shots late in the game that might have given the Huskies a victory over Notre Dame, she said that it may take some time to put what happened behind her. Part of her response to missing the shots was to return to the court and take the same shot from the same location over and over again yesterday, estimating that she took about 200 shots.

“I’ve thought about it a lot since it happened and I’ll probably still think about it until the end of the season,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “But I’m a shooter. You’re not going to make them all. And I wanted to make that one, but unfortunately it didn’t fall for me. I’m going to keep practicing my shot. I went out there and shot that shot for a long time today and made the majority of them.’’

Mosqueda-Lewis was named to the Big East’s weekly Honor Roll on Monday for her performances in the Huskies’ win over Oregon, where she had 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, and in the loss to Notre Dame, where she scored 19 points and 8 rebounds. She shot 57 percent for the week.

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Rebecca Lobo ’95 (CLAS) is among those on the ballot for consideration for induction into the 2013 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Lobo was the first former Husky player from the 1995 NCAA Championship team to be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2010), which already includes Geno Auriemma and in June will also include Jennifer Rizzotti ’96 (CLAS). If she is among those voted for enshrinement in Springfield, Mass., she would join Auriemma and former men’s head coach Jim Calhoun as inductees.