Huskymania

By Ken Best

Tracking Huskymania on and off the field.

‘Consistent Kelly’ Gaining National Recognition, Football Names New Offensive Coordinator

Kelly Faris '13 (CLAS), with the ball, was named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 list. (Steve Slade '89 (SFA) for UConn)

Kelly Faris ’13 (CLAS), with the ball, was named to the 2013 Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 list. (Steve Slade ’89 (SFA) for UConn)

Sometimes when Hall of Fame head coach Geno Auriemma looks at the final game statistics for Kelly Faris ’13 (CLAS), he just smiles and shakes his head.

Most basketball players get recognized for scoring a lot of points and, if playing a post position, for getting rebounds or blocking shots. Faris most often does not pile up big numbers in a game, but she does fill the important parts of the stat sheet with the other numbers that count, such as assists, which helps others to score, and steals, which can also lead to scoring. This season she is averaging 10.8 points, 5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3 steals per game.

While fielding questions about Faris last month after the Maryland game, Auriemma was asked about the absence of recognition for the senior from Indiana, especially by coaches in the Big East.

“The Big East coaches never vote her for anything,” he said at the time. “They are stuck with the guys they have and they have the record they have and we have her.”

So, it was fitting that on the day after Faris delivered what Auriemma described as a performance  “for the ages” in the No. 3 Huskies’ 79-49 win over No. 4 Duke at Gampel Pavilion, she is one of three UConn players  — Stefanie Dolson ’14 (CLAS) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis ‘15 (CLAS) are the others — named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 20.

The Wooden Award All American Team consists of the nation’s top five players, and will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament. The Big East had six of the top 20 student-athletes named.

Against Duke, Faris scored the third double-double of her career, with 18 points and 12 rebounds, adding 6 assists and 2 steals. Mosqueda-Lewis led scoring with 21 points and also had 6 rebounds.

She’s really a special player,” said Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie. “She plays like a senior. She plays with good experience and is a great example to a lot of young kids that you don’t have to have awesome size in order to get the job done. A lot of kids probably wonder if they can play at this level. The reality is that she gets the job done. She hustles and she plays very, very hard and she plays unaffected. I thought she was just great for her team.”

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Dolson was named Big East Player of the Week on Monday for the first time after leading the Huskies to wins last week against Louisville and Syracuse, when she averaged 20.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. During the Syracuse game Dolson scored a career-high 25 points while becoming the 36th Husky to join the 1,000-point club. She also was selected by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association as the Ann Meyers Drysdale Women’s National Player of the Week.

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T.J. Weist, the wide receivers coach at Cincinnati for the past two seasons, on Tuesday was named the new offensive coordinator for the Huskies football team.

Weist, who will also work with the UConn wide receivers, has mentored 14 student-athletes moving on to the NFL during his 25-year coaching career. He also served as the Bearcats recruiting coordinator for the past year.

Last season, Cincinnati was ranked second in the Big East in total offense at 440.23 yards per game and was first in the conference in scoring offense at 32.31 points per game while compiling a 10-3 season and a 48-34 win over Duke in the Belk Bowl. During his time in Cincinnati, the team won two Big East Championships.

“T.J. will be a very valuable addition to what is already a very good coaching staff here at UConn,” said head coach Paul Pasqualoni. “He has a tremendous amount of experience at major college football programs, which will be a great asset to us. T.J. has also had recruiting responsibilities in a number of areas of the country which are key areas for us.”

Answering questions during a teleconference last night, Weist said, “We’re going to have a balanced attack. I want to be an aggressive play caller and attack the full field, [using] multiple formations, multiple concepts. We’re going to try to put our players in the best position to make plays, get the ball to our playmakers and spread the ball around. What I can give is more of a fresh approach to this situation.”

Prior to Cincinnati, Weist spent eight years coaching receivers at Western Kentucky. He also was the team’s offensive coordinator from 2003 to 2006 and served as assistant head coach from 2007 to 2009. He was the receivers coach at Tulsa (1996), Southern Illinois (1994-95), Michigan (1990-93) and at his alma mater, Alabama (1988-89), where he was a wide receiver.

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Senior second baseman LJ Mazzilli ’13 (CLAS) is again being recognized as one of the top collegiate baseball players in the nation. For the second consecutive year, he was named to the Perfect Game Preseason All-America First Team, the only Big East student-athlete recognized, and also was selected to the All-America First Team by Collegiate Baseball News and was named Preseason Player of the Year and a member of the All- Preseason Team for the Big East. Last year Mazzilli led the Huskies in almost every major offensive category; including batting average (.339), doubles (19), home runs (9), runs (43) and RBI (38).

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The baseball team has voted redshirt senior outfielder Billy Ferriter as the captain for the 2013 season. Ferriter served last season as one of four captains for the Huskies and was an All-Big East First Team selection.

“Billy has quietly and doggedly emerged as a leader over his four-plus years in our program,” says head coach Jim Penders ’94 (CLAS), ’98 MA.  “His teammates not only respect his work ethic, but they also know how far he has come as a student and athlete during his time here.”