Print this story

The drive for four straight title kicks off for UConn women.

POSTED October 30, 2015
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

STORRS: As the 2015-2016 UConn women’s basketball team prepares to begin the drive for four consecutive National Championships for seniors Brianna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson, it does so with as impressive a lineup as you will find in the land, including a stellar first year group.

Most teams would take a returning lineup that features the likes of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck and Kia Nurse and say thank you very much and see you in the NCAA Tournament in the spring.

Well that’s not how things work in the eastern portion of the state where the power of the basketball program is sometimes hard to fathom.

The four above mentioned other world stars may just be joined by one of the first year players, freshman Katie Lou Samuelson in the starting lineup, not shocking by any means for UConn but consider what her head coach had to say about her when asked how she was developing after her first summer and fall with the team.

“She knows how to play basketball,” Geno Auriemma said, “More than a freshman should. Your normal freshman doesn’t know as much about basketball as she does. Your normal freshman doesn’t make as many of the other plays as she does. Compared to most freshman I see coming out of high school, she’s pretty good.”

High praise indeed from a guy who has known a couple of young superstars in his day.

Napheesa Collier and De’Janae Boykin are also expected to make an impact with the Huskies, who kick off their exhibition season on Monday night when they take on Lubbock Christian in the XL Center at 7 p.m.

Boykin may still be playing catch up at this point.

“De’Janae has not been out here very much,” Auriemma said, “But every day she’s getting a little better.”

Collier, a 6’1” guard, gives Auriemma even more depth at a position that features sophomore Courtney Ekmart, junior Saniya Chong, sophomore Gabby Williams and either Boykin or Samuelson.

When asked if he had all the horses to bring home another net and trophy in the spring, the head coach was upbeat and why wouldn’t he be?

“I don’t know if the whole team does,” Auriemma said, “But I know the guys who are in charge do. I know Stewie does, I know Tuck does, Moriah does and Kia does. They’re not going to have any problem with it and I think it’s pretty important to them. I think they welcome it. They’re like all for it. They’re not hiding from it or shying away from it.”

The regular season gets underway on Monday, November 16 in Columbus against Ohio State.

Should be another great year and count on us to be all over not only the girls program but the men’s season as well.

Rick Wilson and I will be joined by former UConn beat writer, Rich Elliott this season to supply you with all the coverage you could want while Patrick Tiscia will own the men’s beat with help from yours truly.

For more from Timothy W. Gaffney click here