#2 Connecticut Women's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

Connecticut Huskies
Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 American
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It seems like it has been forever since Connecticut did not enter a campaign as the preseason #1. But with three players gone who were selected in the first round of the 2018 WNBA Draft, the Huskies do have some questions to answer. Kia Nurse, Gabby Williams and Azura Stevens will be missed, but Coach Geno Auriemma does not lack talent on his roster. By March, Connecticut should be right there among the favorites to win the NCAA Tournament. And after two disappointments in the Final Four, the program will be looking for a national championship.
2017-18 Record: 36-1, 16-0
2017-18 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Geno Auriemma
Coach Record: 1,027-136 at Connecticut, 1,027-136 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Kia Nurse, Guard, 12.9 ppg
Gabby Williams, Forward, 10.8 ppg
Azura Stevens, Forward/Guard, 14.3 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Katie Lou Samuelson, Senior, Guard/Forward, 17.4 ppg
Napheesa Collier, Senior, Forward, 15.8 ppg
Crystal Dangerfield, Junior, Guard, 9.2 ppg
Megan Walker, Sophomore, Guard/Forward, 5.3 ppg
Kyla Irwin, Junior, Forward, 2.3 ppg
Molly Bent, Junior, Guard, 1.0 ppg
Mikayla Coombs, Sophomore, Guard, 0.9 ppg
Batouly Camara, Junior, Forward, 1.2 ppg
Lexi Gordon, Sophomore, Guard/Forward, 0.5 ppg
Key New Players
Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Freshman, Forward
Christyn Williams, Freshman, Guard
Despite the departures, Connecticut does return seniors Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier. Samuelson, a 6-3 wing, led the Huskies with 17.4 points. She knocked down 96 three-pointers at an impressive 47.5 percent clip. Collier added 16.1 points and 7.4 rebounds to go along with 1.7 blocks and 1.6 steals. Collier is an absolute menace on both ends for the floor and this season Connecticut will ask her to do even more. Crystal Dangerfield will return to a starting spot after averaging 9.5 points and 4.1 assists as a sophomore. Like Samuelson, Dangerfield is a very dangerous outside shooter. The expectations are very high for sophomore Megan Walker. As a freshman last season the 6-1 wing averaged 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in just over 15 minutes per game. With more playing time coming her way, Walker should take a big step forward. Coach Auriemma only has two newcomers coming into the program, but Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa are both top five recruits who are ready to crack the regular rotation right away. There is not much proven depth on this team, but Connecticut does not need to go more than seven or eight deep and few teams in the country have as much top level talent as the players Coach Auriemma will put on the court.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 89.4 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 53.4 (5, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 53.3 (1, 1)
Field-Goal Defense:33.6 (4, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (38, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.0 (4, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.9 (15, 2)
Rebound Margin: 10.5 (5, 1)
Assists Per Game: 22.8 (2, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (23, 1)
Madness 2019 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#4 Katie Lou Samuelson
#10 Napheesa Collier
Madness 2018 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#2 Christyn Williams
#4 Olivia Nelson-Ododa