The Huskies last played six days ago, a thorough dismantling of Towson, 92-31. On Tuesday night they face their second stiff test this season when they host defending national champs Texas A&M.
The Aggies are coming off their first loss of the season, to Purdue, but such is the fate of a team now marked on everyone's schedule as "the ones to beat."
It's something new for Texas A&M, but it's not like they lucked their way into a title last season. They know what it means to face great opponents under tough circumstances.
Senior guard Tyra White, writing for the Associated Press, explains:
"As the team's leading returning scorer, I know that I will get everyone's best shot every game. It adds a lot of pressure and encourages me to work even harder to take good shots and help my teammates improve. After hitting the winning shot in our game against Stanford last year to put us in the Final Four, I know my teammates are expecting another big year.
"Coach Gary Blair has led the Aggies to six straight NCAA tournament appearances and last year's 33 wins were the most in school history. We weren't favored to win it all, but beat Baylor to get to the Final Four before a win over Notre Dame gave the school its first title."
Unlike the Huskies, who lost Maya Moore, the Aggies are down three starters from a year ago. Another difference: UConn's top-ranked recruiting class. Texas A&M has 6-4 transfer Kelsey Bone.
"I'm just excited to come out and actually play again after sitting out," Bone said. "It is exciting to come and be able to play a top team like UConn on such a big stage."
The Huskies have picked up where they left off last season, even now that Moore is in the WNBA. Freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has exceeded already high expectations and Bria Hartley's game has improved greatly from her freshman year. One player still finding her way: Caroline Doty, who has suffered a series of setbacks that started with a knee injury that kept her out for the 2010-11 season, then an ankle injury that sidelined her for two weeks earlier this season, and most recently a concussion.
Coach Geno Auriemma senses that it's weighing on Doty, who is eager to do more than cheer from the bench.
When you’re coming back [from her third knee surgery] her first week or two was really good,’’ Auriemma said, via the Hartford Courant. “It was like nothing hurt, she was playing really well. And then all of a sudden she hurt her ankle and it was another setback, another two weeks [lost]. When she came back from that it wasn’t so good. She got a little bit frustrated. And then you get frustrated and you’re not thinking clearly everything else starts to go wrong."
"Her mind, it was like, `I don’t want to go through this anymore.’ So I told her just take three days off and quit," said Auriemma. "And she laughed and had some fun with it. She knew that once she got her head cleared, which she did, she’d be alright."
Doty, who didn't quit, played 11 minutes against Towson last week and scored four points. For the season she's averaging 18 minutes and 5.7 points a game.