It won't be long before Geno Auriemma and his 2014-15 squad begin the process of defending their national title. Given the strength of this roster -- starting with junior Breanna Stewart -- and it's incoming freshman class, it's reasonable to expect a third straight championship, which would be Auriemma's 10th.
The scary news, at least for everybody else, is that the 2015-16 Huskies could be better than this year's version. Stewart will be a senior, and UConn will welcome -- on paper, anyway -- an even better freshman class. Three of those players -- De’Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson -- just wrapped up a gold-medal-winning effort in the 3×3 competition at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan was asked about Boykin, Collier and Samuelson:
“What’s interesting is this was Napheesa’s first summer, but De’Janae and Lou have been with us for several summers,’’ Callan said, according to the Connecticut News' Rich Elliott. “So to call them veterans is with a smile on my face. But, yet, that’s what it feels like. To talk a little bit further on what Geno talks about in terms of culture, De’Janae and Lou were on a team last year as well as this year and sometimes we beat teams by a lot and we start to get a little full of ourselves. And yet at the World U-17 Championships this summer we only won the gold medal by two points (77-75 vs. Spain). So that all of sudden makes a player grow up quite a bit.
“And what’s interesting about all of them, and Napheesa as well, they’ve played now multiple years on 3-on-3. So they’ve expanded their game not only from 5-on-5 but to 3-on-3 and the growth is amazing and they all still have a year of high school remaining in front of them. So I think there’s a maturity. And I think maybe what the maturity does more than anything is under pressure there’s a calm that I’ve noticed in them that when we’re in a game where we’re down in the fourth quarter and we only win by two there was a calmness to Lou and D that was very apparent and I think it’s because they have so much experience with us. Napheesa has a motor that just doesn’t stop. She’s not content to just shoot the ball. She then wants to get the rebound. And so I think Connecticut fans will have a lot to be happy here in a couple years when they get on campus.’’ The 2015 recruiting class includes the nation's best player in Samuelson, and Collier and Boykin are both top-10 players. There's also Kia Nurse, a member of the Canadian national team, and Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.