It's not unusual for freshmen on Geno Auriemma's teams to learn by watching; the roster is stocked with All-Americans and, in general, the coach feels more comfortable with upperclassmen on the floor than wide-eyed rookies.
Saniya Chong is hoping to make the jump to more consistency and playing time as she embarks on her sophomore season. As a freshman, especially as the Huskies were making their title run, she was often relegated to mop-up duty -- those final seconds, long after the game had been decided.
“The beginning of the season was great but at the end I wasn’t getting off the bench until the end of games and it was hard,” Chong told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I wish I had contributed more. I wanted to help out. It would have been a great opportunity for me to get a couple more minutes in the championship game. It was great to win it, but I wanted to do more than I did.”
And that's the plan for 2014-15.
“I think I am very much more confident this year,” Chong continued. “You come in as a freshman and it’s new and the intensity is different. Even though you think you’re ready and you’re playing for the No. 1 team in the country and for Coach Auriemma, it’s a shock. But I think that since the summer I’ve stepped it up to another level and we’ll see what happens.
“I think I’m more intense and a better listener. I know what I’m doing now. It’s hard for a freshman. Now I have to be a leader to our new freshmen so I have to know what’s going on,” she told Ademec.
Chong was something of an aberration last year in that she was UConn's only recruit. She'll now be competing with four players in the 2014 freshman class -- Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse, and Gabby Williams -- vying for playing time.
“Being a sophomore I should be more prepared and I should work harder,” Chong said. “Coach always says the sophomores, juniors, and seniors always should be working the hardest. So coming out here and knowing any of those four freshmen can take my spot makes me work five times harder.”