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Learning in a 117-44 blowout. Only the UConn women.

POSTED November 10, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Busy day at the XL Center as both UConn basketball teams saw action. Both came away with pre-season wins.

HARTFORD: In a 117-44 blowout in an exhibition game, you might not think much is going on for the Uinversity of Connecticut Huskies women's basketball team aside from just scoring buckets of points.

Ah, but you would be so wrong. This is UConn, a team that never takes a minute off, even during a game that is never, ever going to be in doubt.

UConn beat Waterbury's own Post by that lofty margin but the pot is just being stirred by a coaching staff that is trying to figure out just the best way to make this year's team into a third straight national champion.

It's a team that lost a couple of key parts to the recipe, kind of like losing a couple of key ingredients that make that special recipe taste just that good or on the court, leads to astounding play, day after day.

One might think there could be nothing to complain about when an offense that has produced triple digits wins in both their pre-season outings. But that would mean you haven't met their head coach, one Geno Auriemma.

"The offense is great when we go to Stewie," Auriemma said. "It gets everything else going.I like the way we moved the ball in the first ten minutes but we are going against players that can't provide a lot of competition." 

Finding out the combinations that are going to work when the season gets underway in earnest on November 14 when they head out to California to take on UC Davis, is still a work in progress.

Funny, this team was down to just seven players a year ago when they brought home their ninth title but this year, they have 10 scholarship players and 12 bodies in total.

Mixing in a talented but raw freshman class that has four different kinds of players is going to take some time and one of the returning players, who is coming off an injury marred season a year ago, is playing a big role in their development.

Morgan Tuck is back and healthy this year and will be counted on for many things but on Sunday it was working with the newbies.

How does she feel about being the one in charge when she is out there with the four, first-year players as she was for long stretches on against Post?

"I think it's kind of a good thing," Tuck said. "It's different then when you are out there with Stewie and Kaleena and Mo but I think when you are with the new guys who might not understand everything as well as they do I think it definitely makes you be a little more focused. You can't just coast or float along like you are out there with the starters."

Tuck herself gave the Huskies a glimpse they would like to see every night as she scored 22 points and grabbed a team high 15 rebounds in 27 minutes of action, most on the team.

The four freshman each had time to show why the Huskies chose them, starting with Kia Nurse, who was first off the bench.

Nurse missed back to back tries at layups at the rim but responded well by showing off the lightning speed that she translated into eight points to go along with six assists.

Courtney Ekmark followed Tuck as the third player in and showed her prowess from beyond the arch with a three long balls on the way to a 13- point effort.

Sadie Edwards saw 17 minutes of time while Gabby Williams struggled to get in, not because of her on the court actions, but something that happened on her way to the gym.

Williams apparently forgot one of her shoes while getting ready to come to Hartford, something that didn't sit well with the coaching staff but these are the trials and tribulations of first year players.

How have the newcomers progressed since first arriving at practice just two and a half weeks ago?

"I think the freshman have just become more competitive," Tuck said. "I think that's what a lot of freshman have to get used to is the competition level and I think they have done a great job stepping up to the plate on how to play in college."

The season starts for real on Friday night on the West Coast. The top player in the country thinks they will ready when the ball goes up for real.

"We know who the main people are, that's the returners," Stewart said. "We have the experience, we know what it takes to win a national championship. We want to set the pace for this team right from the start."

UConn has questions that need to be answered and can only be answered against much better competition than they have seen so far this preseason.

Does anybody doubt they will take off like the wind when the whistle blows?

NOTES: The Huskies stay in California to play Stanford on Monday, November 17 before coming back to Storrs for their home opener on November 23 against Creighton.  

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