The Huskies may have back-to-back national titles to defend, but every year is different. And for coach Geno Auriemma, that means finding players to replace the production and leadership lost when Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley graduated. So far, it's been a process, but no one's feeling sorry for UConn, which has nine championships under Auriemma.
But even though the Huskies fell to No. 6 Stanford in the second game of the season, the team has shown glimpses of that ability to take over games, to dominate down the stretch, most recently during Sunday's matchup against Wisconsin-Green Bay in the Gulf Coast Showcase championship game.
The score was 26-25 with just over five minutes left in the first half and Auriemma knew it wasn't in Wisconsin Green-Bay's nature to roll over.
"They are not going to go away and lose," he said, via the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. "That's not who they are. That's not what their culture is."
And then the Huskies got to work.
"I've only seen [playing at a high level] in glimpses in practice," Auriemma said. "It's not something I thought the team had completely embraced to this point. So I'm thrilled we were able to come out that way in the second half. And it happened quickly; it was an eight-point game and then it was a 20-point game."'
When it was over, the Huskies outscored the Phoenix down the stretch, 63-27, and cruised to a 89-53 victory.
"For sure, I believe our defense got a lot better this weekend than it was earlier this season," Auriemma said. "And offensively, we are getting better production from more people than we were two weeks ago. … We are a much better team right now than we were on Friday."
Good thing, too. UConn faces No. 2 Notre Dame on Saturday.