It's rarely the case that a Geno Auriemma-coached team would find itself struggling this time of year. And midway through the 2012-13 season, that remains the case. In fact, right on schedule, things are coming together for the Huskies as they make their annual run at another national title.
Currently 15-1 and ranked third in the country, Auriemma likes a lot of what he sees.
“Our defense was as good as it’s been all year,” he said recently according to the Hartford Courant. “We’ve become a pretty good defensive team. We’ve been good all year, but there are things about our defense that are getting better.”
In general, though, Auriemma has seen this before; his teams take the first two months to gel, and then are a finely tuned machine in February and March.
“It’s that time now when the [upperclassmen] know what’s at stake,” he said. “They understand what’s going on and it’s their turn now to make sure it gets done. That’s the way it is supposed to be.”
So who are these savvy veterans Auriemma is referring to? It doesn't take Encyclopedia Brown to figure out he's talking about Kelly Faris, Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson, who also happen to be three of UConn's most consistent players.
“(Kelly needs to understand) that if that pass isn’t going to work the first time, it’s not going to work the second or third time, either,” Auriemma explained. “What that does is prevent you from getting a quality shot every time down the floor. … (UConn assistant) Shea Ralph made a good point. She said, ‘(The players) are doing what they want to happen, instead of what actually is going on.’
“Here’s how I explain it to the players: We had 64 shots (Tuesday vs. Louisville). If we cut our 18 turnovers in half, or even down to 10, that means eight other times we didn’t get a shot. If during those eight possessions, we make three three-pointers, well that’s nine more points, a huge difference in a game. And that’s one of those things that catches up to you later on.”
We've said it before, but these are good problems to have. We're guessing just about every other program in the nation would love to be burdened with such issues.