Texas A&M's Karla Gilbert (34), Connecticut's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (23) and Connecticut's Stefanie Dolson, center rear, go for a rebound during the first half of a regional final game in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Lincoln, Neb., Monday, March 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
It's been a long season for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and almost all of it has to do with her inability to get on the court. An elbow injury and later mononucleosis forced her to miss 12 games, an eternity for the junior guard/forward considered one of the nation's best shooters.
But after returning to the lineup for good on March 1, Mosqueda-Lewis has looked like her old self. So much so, in fact, that she was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Lincoln Regional, which is exactly what you want to hear if you're Geno Auriemma preparing his team for the Final Four.
“(She) has had a very difficult year," Auriemma said, via the Hartford Courant. "For players that have never been seriously hurt, when you do get hurt, you’re never really quite sure how to handle it. I think that first injury really set her back. And she couldn’t wait to get back and when she got back, she hurt her other elbow. And then when she was clear to play with that, she got a case of mono."
But in typical Auriemma fashion, there was no time to wallow in self-pity.
“I am honest with these guys," he said. "I told her to stop feeling sorry for herself and that nobody was going to feel sorry for her. There’s kids who have torn ACLs. There’s kids who lose the season. She’s fortunate that she’s still playing. And I think she was just kind of down in the dumps the whole time. That’s not going to help you get any better.
"And then we had a really serious talk right before the NCAA Tournament started and I think she got a lot off her chest," he continued. "We put a lot of things out there, she and I. As she said, these three weekends can make you forget all the trials and tribulations you went through during the previous four months. I was ecstatic for her that she was MVP of this tournament how well she played. I’m really thrilled for her.”
The Huskies will face Stanford this Sunday for the right to play in the national title game.