Geno Auriemma expects big things from freshman Breanna Stewart this year.
Much of the preseason hype has been about freshman Breanna Stewart -- and for good reason. Coach Geno Auriemma, who doesn't offer up compliments willy-nilly, seems incapable of hiding his elation at just how good she could be the for the Huskies.
“I just know Breanna is going to be really good," Auriemma said last month. "How good, I don’t know. But she is going to be really good. If she plays like I believe she is capable, I won’t say I am surprised. She’ll act like a freshman at times, just like Kaleena did. But at times she’ll play like she’s been here two or three years. But I’m not wont to build teams around just one player, to have high expectations for one player. It’s more important to feel like that about your team."
These are good problems to have. But in addition to Stewart, who joins an All-Star cast that includes Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson, Kelly Faris, Caroline Doty and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, there are two other freshmen that make up the incoming class: Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck.
And while Tuck may not get the publicity that Stewart does, that doesn't mean she won't be able to contribute this season. In fact, we'll get our first look at her Friday night in the Huskies' exhibition opener against Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“Morgan’s unbelievable,” Auriemma said earlier this week via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “She makes threes. She makes the right pass all the time. Defensively, she’s always in the right spot. She finishes around the basket or gets fouled. She picks up things so quickly, just like that."
Auriemma ended with a "Now you know me …”, an nod to his hesitance, historically, of lauding freshmen. But that seems to be changing. Either he's getting soft in his old age or this group is really special. Either way, Tuck, 6-2, looks the the real deal.
“I’m trying to show that I can earn some playing time,” she said. “I want to show that I can play with anyone and that I can fit in with my teammates.”
And that shouldn't be a problem. Tuck was teammates with Hartley, Dolson, Mosqueda-Lewis and Stewart in the summer of 2011 when they comprised the United States' U-19 national team that won the world championship. And this summer she played with Stewart and Jefferson on the U-18 squad.
“That helped a lot, playing against the best players in our age group in the country,” Tuck admitted. “Every day you had to compete. That’s what you have to do here. Being with the U-19 group last year -- Bria, Stefanie, Kaleena -- they gave me an idea what it would be like here, what practices would be like. They told me how coach would be. It’s been really helpful.”
It's great news for an already-stacked Huskies team and bad news for everybody else.