There's a saying -- OK, a cliche -- that the best teams don't rebuild, they reload. Hackneyed expressions aside, there is also some truth to it, and certainly when you're talking about the UConn women's team.
Unlike the men, who are losing Kemba Walker to the NBA and will try to fill in the gaps with a young group that overachieved the last six weeks of the season, the women, who were also very young, have one of the best recruiting classes in the country.
As it stands, Jim Calhoun has one recruit, point guard Ryan Boatright. While Boatright could possibly fill the same role Shabazz Napier did in 2010-2011, the Huskies will have to find creative ways to make up the points Walker provided every time he took the floor.
The women did lose Maya Moore, the best player in college last season, to the WNBA, and even with all the firepower coach Geno Auriemma has at his disposal, replacing her won't be easy. Just easier than the task Calhoun faces. (Plus, you'd be hard-pressed to find a coach -- men's or women's -- who wouldn't want to have Auriemma's problems.)
“In some ways, the worst thing that could have happened would be if we had won again,” Auriemma said, according to the Norwich Bulletin, “and then that group has to come in next year. It would be very difficult to convince them of all the changes they have to make.”
Some of the changes include replacing Moore -- both the scorer and leader. And it sounds like Tiffany Hayes, the only true rising senior, is up for the challenge.
“We know the plan,” Hayes said. “We’re going to start early (and) work 10 times harder than we did last year because we know last year’s workouts weren’t enough.”
Hayes will be joined by starters Kelly Faris, Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley, a healthy Heather Buck and Caroline Doty, not to mention three of the best high school players in the country.
According to ESPN, UConn's recruiting class ranks second behind Tennessee and it includes 6-0 sharpshooter Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (the 2011 class' top-ranked player), 5-9 guard Brianna Banks and 6-3 forward/center Kiah Stokes.
Sounds like the Huskies are well-equipped to do what they always do: contend for a national title. But as ESPN points out, UConn may not be done, ahem, reloading: "UConn doesn't typically fill its roster to the NCAA limit of 15 scholarship players, so the program could add as many as three more players, but probably won't."
That has to be a terrifying thought for the rest of college basketball.