The first half of last season was an extension of practice and exhibition games for then-freshman Stefanie Dolson. The jump from high school to big-time college athletics is an adjustment for just about everybody (obvious exception: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis), and Dolson was no different. We wrote last year that the Huskies early season trip to Waco to face Baylor and Brittney Griner was a learning experience for Dolson and it served her well in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments, when opponents devoted their energy to stopping Maya Moore which opened things up inside for 6-5 center from Point Jervis, New York.
In that Baylor matchup from November 16, 2010, Dolson played just 12 minutes before fouling out, but managed to grab eight rebounds.
By March, things started to click; over a four-game stretch she led the team in scoring three times, including dropping 24 points on Georgetown and Notre Dame during the conference tournament.
But as the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla writes Thursday, Dolson has struggled with consistency this season, too. Part of it has to do with the lack of depth in the front court (Heather Buck is battling injuries and freshman Kiah Stokes is still learning the ropes), and some of it is just that when Dolson's on she's on and when she's not … well, she's not.
Against the Mountaineers, she managed just three points. Here's what coach Geno Auriemma said after the game:
“The last two or three days in practice she was great,’’ he said via the Courant. “So I don’t know what it is, other than people trying to be really physical with her, which I think affects her a little bit.
"And we miss her sometimes [with passes] when she’s in the lane when we should give it to her. Plus, they’re [opponents] able to double her, which is why some of our guys get wide open shots."
"But we’ve just got to do a better job I think of getting her involved. The kids she was playing against [vs. West Viginia] were big and strong and were running at her. But she could have had as many 15-foot jump shots as she wanted. She’s got to make some.’’
The Huskies are extremely young. Tiffany Hayes is the only senior on the roster. Dolson and Bria Hartley are sophomores, and Kelly Faris and Caroline Doty are juniors. Then there's Mosqueda-Lewis, the freshman phenom. So, yes, there's more talent on this roster than just about anywhere else in the country, but it's short on experience. Auriemma's been here before, however. And like previous seasons, he's uninterested in looking ahead.
WTIC's Scott Gray asked Auriemma Wednesday if this team can get to its fifth straight Final Four without more from Dolson, the coach responded: “To Denver? I don’t know. We’ve got two months to figure that out. But right now it’s a work in progress, as coaches love to say.’’