#4 Connecticut Women's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Connecticut Huskies
Overall Rank: #4
Conference Rank: #1 American
For the first time in a long time, Connecticut is not heading into the basketball season as the clear favorite to win the national championship. The Huskies lost three-time Player of the Year Breanna Stewart, as well as Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson. If any other team lost that much talent, no one would think they had a shot at getting back to the Final Four. But this is UConn and Coach Geno Auriemma has the potential to reload extremely quickly.
2015-16 Record: 38-0, 18-0
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Geno Auriemma
Coach Record: 955-134 at Connecticut, 955-134 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Breanna Stewart, Forward, 19.4 ppg
Morgan Tuck, Forward, 13.7 ppg
Moriah Jefferson, Guard, 12.6 ppg
Courtney Ekmark, Guard, 2.0 ppg
Briana Pulido, Guard, 0.4 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Kia Nurse, Junior, Guard, 9.3 ppg
Katie Lou Samuelson, Sophomore, Guard/Forward, 11.0 ppg
Gabby Williams, Junior, Guard, 8.8 ppg
Napheesa Collier, Sophomore, Forward, 6.8 ppg
Natalie Butler, Junior, Center, 5.6 ppg
Saniya Chong, Senior, Guard, 3.7 ppg
Tierney Lawlor, Senior, Guard, 0.3 ppg
Key New Players
Molly Bent, Freshman, Guard
Crystal Dangerfield, Freshman, Guard
Kyla Irwin, Freshman, Forward
Azura Stevens, Junior, Forward, Transfer from Duke, not eligible
Batouly Camara, Sophomore, Forward, Transfer from Kentucky, not eligible
Kia Nurse and Katie Lou Samuelson are the experienced returning starters who will emerge as the leaders of the Huskies. Nurse, a junior guard, averaged 8.3 points per game and is ready to be one of the premiere shooters in the AAC. Samuelson is a big 6-3 wing who is a very dangerous scorer from everywhere on the floor. She connected on a team high 78 three-pointers and will use her size to effectively attack the basket. Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier and Natalie Butler are all back too. However, it is incoming freshman Crystal Dangerfield, one of the top recruits in the country, the Huskies expect to immediately take over the point guard duties and emerge as a leader of the team. Connecticut has a ton of talent here, as they always do, but this team lacks experience and that is what could haunt the Huskies when the competition gets extremely difficult in the Sweet 16 and beyond.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 88.1 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 48.3 (1, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 53.0 (1, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 33.2 (4, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game:  7.8 (24, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.1 (11, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 80.0 (1, 1)
Rebound Margin: 11.1 (7, 1)
Assists Per Game: 21.6 (1, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (8, 1)
Madness 2016 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#3 Crystal Dangerfield