#4 Connecticut Women's Basketball Preview

Connecticut Huskies

Overall Rank: #4
Conference Rank: #2 Big East
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The UCONN program in the early stages of the 21st century has become the gold standard of women’s basketball with six national championships since 2000. Geno Auriemma, who is also the coach of Team USA women’s basketball, has built a program that transcends the sport of basketball. He has often said he coaches basketball, not women’s basketball and it shows year after year as the likes of Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Rebecca Lobo, Jen Rizzotti, Maya Moore and many others continue to roll through Storrs and keep raising the bar of excellence higher and higher every single season.

2010-11: 36-2, 16-0
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Geno Auriemma (771-124 at UCONN, 771-124 overall)

Who’s Out:
Maya Moore embodied what commitment to uncompromised excellence as an athlete and a leader in sports should be. She would not let her team lose. The Huskies were an absolutely insane 150-4 during her career, making her the most prolific winning women’s basketball player in NCAA History. She will be someone you don’t replace but that’s why UCONN is a total definition of uncompromised excellence. They will continue to win at a ridiculous rate moving forward.  

Who’s In:
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was the Gatorade National Player of the Year and is expected to slide into the spot vacated by Moore. She brings tremendous athleticism and versatility as she can score from anywhere on the floor and, as she gets acclimated to the college game, will be very difficult to stop. The Huskies also added Brianna Banks in the backcourt who should provide some strong defensive energy and has an innate sense in passing the ball. Also Kiah Stokes was added for depth in the post. She should be able to take some of the stress off of Stephanie Dolson in situations where she gets into foul trouble and should provide a nice shot blocking presence as well for UCONN.

Who to Watch:
This will be Tiffany Hayes’ team. She is the leader, especially on the defensive end of the floor and she should be able to expand her scoring a little bit with the departure of Maya Moore. Caroline Doty returns from an ACL injury last season and should provide great depth in the backcourt. Depth was an issue for UCONN last season as they really could not go as deep into their bench as they would like.   Kelly Faris is someone who you could see playing multiple positions on the floor and her upperclassmen leadership will be important as well for the Huskies.

Final Projection:
There should be plenty of motivation for this squad to overcome the hurt of losing to league rival Notre Dame in the Final Four last season in Indy. With most media outlets picking Notre Dame to win the Big East, UCONN will be in the rare position of being able to play somewhat in an underdog role without as big of a target on their back.  Losing a Maya Moore in most programs would mean a two or three year rebuild. But at UCONN that just doesn’t happen. Geno Auriemma and longtime assistant Chris Dailey, arguably the best assistant coach in the women’s game, and the staff will use this as tremendous motivation in preparing their team for the grind of the upcoming season. The schedule is the usual loaded gauntlet for UCONN in non-conference play. They take on Baylor in Waco on December 18, along with the likes of Texas A&M, Stanford, Duke, Carolina and others. With the evolution of the women’s game it is not completely necessary anymore for UCONN and Tennessee to play yearly. Look for the Huskies to grind their way to another 30 plus win season and be peaking come tourney time. If you are going to pin a loss on Connecticut you better get them early in the season

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Tiffany Hayes, Senior, Guard, 7.8 PPG
Bria Hartley, Sophomore, Guard, 13.7 PPG
Kelly Faris, Junior, Guard, 7.8 PPG
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Stephanie Dolson, Sophomore, Center, 10. 2 PPG

Madness 2012 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#8 Tiffany Hayes

Madness 2011 Women's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#1 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
#20 Brianna Banks
#27 Kiah Stokes