NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 09: Geno Auriemma, head coach of the Connecticut Huskies, cuts down the net following a victory over the Louisville Cardinals in the National Final game of the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship at New Orleans Arena on April 9, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
With Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Morgan Tuck sidelined with injuries, the Huskies are down to seven scholarship players as they head into Friday's game against Maryland and Sunday's contest with Penn State. Coach Geno Auriemma hasn't said publicly who will start but with Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson, Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart already penciled into the lineup, that leaves Kiah Stokes, Brianna Banks and freshman Saniya Chong.
"I think it might be just situational," Auriemma said, via the Hartford Courant. "Let's see who we're playing. Let's see what the matchups could be like. There's no advantage or disadvantage no matter which way we go. It's not like we're putting in somebody who was a starter and played great. Or somebody that's just automatic like Kaleena was as a freshman.
"So no matter what we do, it'll be a huge adjustment for us. But we'll be a better team for this down the road."
Stokes is an obvious choice, particularly following her 10-point, 13-rebound effort against Stanford, and her eight blocks on the season.
"Kiah played the best game she has played since she has been at Connecticut," Auriemma said Monday night. "She was unbelievably good in just about every area. I hope that is the beginning of something because that changes our team dramatically. Stewart and [Bria] Harley both got the quick fouls. I don’t know that we would’ve won the game without Kiah.”
By Thursday, Auriemma sounded more like, well, Auriemma. He was asked if Stokes could get the starting nod, especially given that Maryland has 6-2 All-American Alyssa Thomas in the paint.
"I will talk to her about it and ask her, 'Where are you going from here?'" the coach said. "Is she going to do what she did Monday or let the opportunity pass? If she adds to it, well, it changes everything for us and we will be able to withstand this. I would think by the time you are a junior, you can handle this."
The implication: Auriemma wants more consistency from Stokes.
"In the past, when things didn't go well, I would become easily frustrated," Stokes said. "Now I am trying to step out of my comfort zone, be more confident in what I am trying to accomplish."
The Huskies will need her to be while they wait for Mosqueda-Lewis and Tuck to get healthy.