As programs break for the end of semester and exams, Geno Auriemma's UConn team remained No. 2 in the nation behind Stanford this week. But the heavy lifting is yet to come. Yes, the Huskies are 8-0, and that's nice, but this isn't an atypical November and December for UConn. The true test -- and Auriemma preaches this constantly -- will come in January, February and March.
So while the Huskies don't play again until Dec. 19, the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla outlined some of what we've learned over the first month of the season:
Talent takes time. Specifically regarding the team's highly touted freshmen: Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson.
“It’s not a mystery that teams which make a lot of outside shots tend to think that everything is going in, and they don’t work as hard as they need to on offensive rebounding," Auriemma has said about why his team might struggle with offensive boards. "Sometimes that happens to us."
Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis is a game-changer. “I have been working hard all year to earn everyone’s trust, not only his [Auriemma],” she said. “I’ve tried to change as a player, change as a teammate. And I think I’ve done an all right job to this point. I am still trying."
Opponents aren't sold on UConn's toughness. “When Rebecca [Lobo] was a freshman, she would sneak out to the three-point line and launch one," Auriemma said in reference to Stewart, whom he describes as "having a tendency to float."
"But that’s not responding like a tough guy," he continued. "When you are getting beat up, you go into the lane and foul them out. Then you don’t have to worry about getting beat up anymore.”
Depth. Despite the media and fan contention that the Huskies could field two legit NCAA Tourney teams with their top 10 players, Auriemma sees things slightly differently.
“My players 5 through 9 couldn’t beat a good intramural team,” he joked.
“If you don’t have eight, you have to zig-and-zag [for success],” he continued. “Some of our younger players are good, but they are even better when they are out there with our older players. But on this year’s team, if you get a chance to play, and you play well, you are going to have a chance to keep playing.”
We'll find out soon enough. The Huskies are back on the court next week.