Huskymania

By Ken Best

Tracking Huskymania on and off the field.

Women’s Basketball Turn Back Louisville 72-58

Although the No. 3 women’s basketball team disposed of No. 13 Louisville by a score of 72 to 58 at the XL Center on Tuesday night, the physical play and 34 turnovers in a Big East Conference game in mid-January was a reminder that it is the time of year when the Huskies’ team leaders must show the way toward victory, no matter the final score.

“We knew going in it that it was going to be one of those games where you need to make plays against pressure, every time you cut, every time you want to pass the ball. They play hard and they play physical. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that,” Auriemma said. “It’s that time of the year when the players that have been there before know what’s at stake and what is going on and now it’s their turn to make sure it gets done.”

Auriemma noted the 16 points and 9 rebounds turned in by junior center Stefanie Dolson ’14 (CLAS), 16 points and 7 rebounds from junior guard Bria Hartley ’14 (CLAS) and 13 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists from senior Kelly Faris ’13 (CLAS) in particular.

Dolson said the upperclassmen understand their responsibility to keep their younger teammates moving forward and push through the fatigue they may be experiencing as part of their adjustment to the long college season.

“We’ve all been here so we all know it’s a grind right now and it’s mid-season,” Dolson said. “The freshmen get tired this time of year. We have to do a good job of keep the freshmen and sophomores upbeat and excited to play every time we step out on the court and to practice. That is definitely our responsibility.”

Still, the turnovers, including an uncharacteristic 7 givebacks by Faris, who was leading the nation in assist to turnover ratio with a 3.88 ratio as of last week, a concern for Auriemma.

“I worry about it every day,” he said. “We get playing quickly, that we get ahead of ourselves, that we get anxious, whatever you want to call it. As good as our defense is, it’s a shame to come down the floor and not get a shot.”

The Huskies, who improve to 15-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big East, will face Syracuse at the XL Center on Saturday at 4 p.m.

***

The boisterous crowd at the XL Center in Hartford enjoyed 30 minutes of a hard-fought basketball game on Monday, when the newly minted No. 1 Louisville men’s team and the Huskies battled. The last 10 minutes were not so enjoyable.

After Louisville’s floor leader, senior guard Peyton Siva, went to the bench with his second foul just four minutes into the game, the Huskies built a 10-point lead in the first half and led by six points at halftime, 34-28. With just over 16 minutes left, Louisville tied the game at 39. Over the next 13 minutes, the Huskies could not handle Louisville’s pressure defense and the Cardinal went on a 28-10 run that extended their lead to 18 points.

The Huskies shot 53.8 percent from the field, holding Louisville to 40 percent shooting during the first half of the game. The second half was decidedly different, with the Cardinals hitting just over 60 percent from the floor, holding UConn to 26 percent shooting, and giving Louisville a 73-68 win.

“I don’t know what [Rick] Pitino said to them [at halftime],” said Huskies head coach Kevin Ollie ’95 (CLAS). “They took it to us very hard. There were a lot of layups.  We didn’t get back on defense.  We didn’t play with the force that we were playing with in the first half, with the intensity we were playing with on the defensive end.  They did a really good job. They pressed us, we gave up the basketball – we had 10 turnovers in the second half.  We didn’t handle their pressure.”

Pitino said his game plan was to limit guards Ryan Boatright ’15 (CLAS) and Shabazz Napier ’14 (CLAS) to one shot at a time, with no chance for a follow-up. Napier scored only one basket and Boatright scored two in the second half.

“We have to go back as a coaching staff and reassess this and come back and get ready to play, going down to Pittsburgh,” Ollie said, looking ahead to the team’s next Big East game on Saturday. “That’s going to be another tough team.”

The Huskies now stand at 12-4, 2-2 in the Big East, and Louisville is 16-1 and 4-0 in conference play.

***

John Dorsey ’83 (CLAS), an All-American linebacker for the Huskies’ football team, was named the general manager of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs on Monday.

Dorsey played five seasons (1984-88) as a linebacker and on special teams for the Green Bay Packers before spending a final year on injured reserve in 1989. During his playing days, he also oversaw the college portion of Green Bay’s scouting operations and was also actively involved in the area of pro personnel, the start of his 23 years working in NFL player personnel.

He left the Packers when former Packers coach Mike Holmgren moved to the Seattle Seahawks as director of player personnel in 1999 and returned to Green Bay a year later.

In Kanas City, Dorsey will serve as an NFL general manager for the first time, responsible for overseeing all player personnel matters.

A four-year starter at UConn Dorsey was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Yankee Conference during each of his final two collegiate seasons and is the all-time leading tackler in the conference’s history. He also earned Division I-AA All-America recognition as a senior and in 1998 was selected to the Huskies’ 100th Anniversary All-Time Football Team. In 2002, Dorsey was inducted into the Anne Arundel (Md.) County Sports Hall of Fame.