Geno Auriemma and the Huskies officially begin their national title defense Wednesday, less than two weeks after Auriemma led Team USA to the FIBA Championship in Turkey. On Tuesday, the coach talked about the expectations for the upcoming season.
"Everyone is excited about the freshmen [Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, Sadie Edwards and Courtney Ekmark] except the coaches," he said at a UConn Alumni Association event alongside Kevin Ollie (via the Hartford Courant). "I'd be happy if they all just showed us how competitive they are. I don't think any of them is ready to win a national championship by themselves."
One player Auriemma has no such concerns about: Junior Breanna Stewart, who was part of Team USA, and is also a perennial player-of-the-year candidate.
"She certainly got an education, let's put it that way," the coach said. "And I don't mean just in terms of playing internationally, which she has already done many times. But instead of playing up in years [age] by one or two, she was playing, in some cases, up 10 years. And that's a whole different world."
Meanwhile, senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis spent the summer improving her physical conditioning after her junior season was sidetracked by an early injury.
"She's had a lot of experience in the past getting herself ready for the start of practice," Auriemma said. "And people's bodies change as they get older. They start to understand what they can do and what they can't do. … It was a long summer. She's put in a lot of effort and she's getting things done she struggled to do last year."