A year ago, Stefanie Dolson hadn't played a game for the UConn Huskies. The first few months into her college career were understandably rocky; even the best high school players endure growing pains when competing at college basketball's highest level.
In writing about the Huskies' annually tough schedule, we noted that it ultimately benefited Dolson during her freshman season.
"A year ago, the Huskies played Baylor, a game in which then-freshman center Stefanie Dolson appeared over-matched. That wasn't totally unexpected; Dolson was going up against Brittney Griner, one of the best centers in the country. But the experience made Dolson a better, more confident player down the stretch, when the Huskies needed her production because Maya Moore faced constant double-teams or Tiffany Hayes couldn't find her jumper."
The point: Auriemma isn't afraid of a little tough love to get the most out of his players, and that's especially true of freshmen. Which means that the incoming class, which includes the country's best player, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, should know what to expect.
The Hartford Courant's John Altavilla spoke with Dolson recently on a variety of topics, including her stint on the Under-19 US National Team, where her teammates include Bria Hartley, Mosqueda-Lewis and Huskies recruits and commitments Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Diamond DeShields.
Dolson's offered this on Mosqueda-Lewis, who will wear Maya Moore's No. 23 next year in Storrs:
"She has improved defensively very much and is in much better shape than I remember with still the remainder of the summer [to improve]," she told the Courant. Her shooting is crazy.
"When we played Brazil on Sunday [in an exhibition in Orlando]. Coach Rizzotti told us we needed to spread our lead out a little. Kaleena came in and made three three-pointers in a row."
"She's been playing a lot of pickup here [at UConn] and doing extremely well. I am very proud of her; plus, she a good rebounder for a big guard, which I did not know about her."
If it's one thing the women lacked last season it was a consistent perimeter scoring threat. Tiffany Hayes was streaky, Moore often drew double-teams, and Caroline Doty was sidelined with a knee injury. Hayes and Doty return, and if Mosqueda-Lewis is as good as advertised, it will open things up inside for Dolson.
Maybe there's a reason Auriemma seemed so unconcerned about moving the three-point line back another foot.