For MilfordHusky: evaluating UConn post-Stanford based on the pre-season questions | The Boneyard

For MilfordHusky: evaluating UConn post-Stanford based on the pre-season questions

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alexrgct

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OK, the buzz from the great win and great atmosphere is starting to wear off. I predicted Stanford 62, UConn 57, and am happy to have been wrong. I thought the game would be low-scoring, which it was, but that not having a player with Nneka’s experience/talent would do UConn in at crunch time. Nneka played her butt off in the second half, but UConn prevailed just the same.

So let’s rehash what I considered the nine key questions relating to UConn’s 2011-12 season.

In my personal order of importance pre-season:

1. Caroline’s health
2. Kiah’s ability to contribute at the 4
3. KML- how good, how soon?
4. Tiff being a consistent senior leader
5. Stef- extent of her sophomore leap?
6. Bria- same question
7. Banks- can she be a meaningful bench player?
8. Can we get meaningful minutes out of some combination of Buck/Johnson/Engeln?
9. Kelly- more consistent contributor on offense?

After beating another very talented work in progress, UConn’s picture is becoming a bit clearer.

Caroline’s health- she had a couple of big threes down the stretch, but her most significant contribution may have come during warm-ups. Believe me, KML was nervous before this game. I saw it on her face and in her body language. At one point, Caroline, who was directly behind her, somehow sensed it too. She helped make sure KML was jacked instead of nervous. It’s little stuff, but that’s the kind of leadership we’re not getting from anyone else this season.

Kiah- welcome to the big-time! She held her own tonight on defense. Tough, strong kid. The crazy thing is she may never start at UConn…and that’s fair to precisely no one else in WCBB. Her offensive game needs a lot of work still, but she is doing an admirable job already.

KML- she’s better than I dared hoped she’d be at this stage, and we needed her to be tonight. Forget the 19 point first half for a minute…if that’s possible. Her second half, though nowhere near as prolific from a scoring standpoint, was just as impressive. She D’d up on Nneka (only a senior and one of the very best players in the country), fronting her and winning on a lot of possessions. Yes, Nneka got hers, but given that Stanford was looking to go to her at every opportunity, KML played some fine defense. She just contributes. You know how Geno said Kelly would never have a bad game at UConn? KML’s the same way, but she also has the gifts of a #1 high school player in the country. That’s scary. BTW, she easily outplayed 2010 national #1 Chiney tonight.

Tiff- God love her, she is who she is, and consistency ain’t her game. She has the athletic ability to have her name next to the 13 women who have made the Huskies of Honor, but it doesn’t come together for her game in and game out. She’s still a weapon, but thankfully not one UConn has to rely on to show up on offense every game…because we can’t.

Stef- not real sure what to make of her yet. Stanford has a number of tall players and did a good job keeping the ball out of the post. She stepped up her game on offense in the second half after a lucky bounce on a 15-footer got her on the board, and she was really tough on defense throughout. However, I’m still waiting on her breakout game this season.

Bria- but I’m not waiting on Bria’s! OK, it’s easy to get on her when she’s playing poorly and easy to get really excited when she has good games, but that was definitely a memorable game. For me, what was memorable about it was that she wasn’t content to stay on the perimeter. Instead, she attacked…and attacked…and attacked, and Stanford had absolutely no answer for it. She’d be an All-American if she played like this every night. I’m not prepared to say she will, but I am prepared to say that this was a performance from her that we would not have seen last season.

Banks- she had a short leash tonight, but she got in the game. Geno has the luxury of letting her progress a little more slowly given the depth of guards, but I’m happy to see we’re at least eight-deep, even against a top opponent. Geno even had the three freshmen in at once at one point in the first half!

Buck/Engeln/Johnson- well, I guess tonight answers this question pretty definitively, doesn’t it? At least for now?

Kelly- she will not be a consistent offensive performer. But seeing her physically force Boothe out of the post on one defensive series was worth the price of admission in and of itself.

So, where does that leave us? Well, not national-championship caliber yet despite the #2 ranking. I have a hard time believing that you can win it all with most of your paint points coming from a guard and most of your other shots being from 12+ feet away. However, that might not be the worst strategy against Baylor. Griner’s going to force your offense out to the perimeter anyway. Let’s hope we hit some more of those shots in Waco.

Again, ten of these kids are coming back next year, with Breanna, Moriah, and Morgan coming in. Does everyone realize just how ridiculously good UConn is going to be next season? If not, I’ll forgive you for just enjoying this one, especially after a win like tonight. I loved seeing the smiles on Tiff’s and Stef’s face as the game was coming to an end. The girls wanted this one bad- make no mistake about it.
 

VAMike23

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Great post! I'm savoring the moment *and* thinking happy thoughts of next year's lineup.....
 

MilfordHusky

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Thank you!

I thought most of the first 6 points were positive tonight.

#7 was indeterminate.

#8 was not relevant tonight.

#9 was not positive, though Kelly did a lot of other things well.
 

VAMike23

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Thank you!

I thought most of the first 6 points were positive tonight.

#7 was indeterminate.

#8 was not relevant tonight.

#9 was not positive, though Kelly did a lot of other things well.

As Kelly was ice cold from outside tonight, I would have liked to see her do some ball fakes and then a quick dribble for a pull-up off the glass--she executed this move quite a few times last year. Obviously she can get to the rim too, but tonight she probably could have had the midrange shot more easily, if she looked for it.

In all other aspects, she was awesome
 

Icebear

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Kelly was cold for sure, but she did take the right shots and the shots themselves did not look terrible. Her form was good the ball maybe a little flat but not bad, ball rotation was good. If she keeps doing what she is doing there is a good possibility it all comes together.
 

cohenzone

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Kelly reminds me in some ways of a guy who played for the men way back in the mid-1960's named Dan "Spider" Hesford. Once in awhile he would have a very good scoring game, but that was fairly rare. But he was all over the place defensively, and got his "Spider nickname because at "only" 6'2", he was all arms and legs, defended all over the floor and looked like he was going in 3 directions at the same time. He was invaluable to the good UConn teams of his era. Kelly is a gem and exactly what a team with a fair number of kids who can score needs as a complementary player.
 
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It is absolutely incredible, but not at all surprising how Kelly Faris can be endlessly praised for her contributions, while Tiffany Hayes is roundly criticized despite grabbing 13 rebounds, handing out 6 assists, and making 3 steals. Did she not do the other things well?
 

sarals24

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I think it might be because Tiff is needed and looked to as a primary scoring threat. Yes, she did other things well and people are lauding her for that, including Geno, but she is a senior and should be the #1 or #2 scoring threat from the outside. Kelly hasn't ever had that role, and Geno normally looks to her to gaurd the team's toughest opponent, get rebounds, make steals and set screens. Any scoring she does is a bonus. Yes, she needs to put away the easy layups, but Tiff has the quickness and finishing ability around the basket that the team needs to use in order to be sucessful.
 

pap49cba

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Further to your point about CD helping KML settle down....

66249354.jpg
 

sarals24

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The shot of Tiff and KML at the end of the game is so great too. True teammates. Senior and freshman.
 
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Upon reading through previously unread threads, it is encouraging to see that there were quite a few positive remarks about Tiffany's contribution to last night's victory. A few posters chimed in strongly in her defense, John Fryer and elzorrogris to name two.
 

alexrgct

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It is absolutely incredible, but not at all surprising how Kelly Faris can be endlessly praised for her contributions, while Tiffany Hayes is roundly criticized despite grabbing 13 rebounds, handing out 6 assists, and making 3 steals. Did she not do the other things well?
Tiffany's and kelly's roles are not the same. When Kelly isn't feeling it, she becomes afraid to shoot, which, though not good, is better than giving away possessions.

I'd also argue that I'm personally more critical of Tiff because she could/should have her name on HoH based on potential, whereas Kelly's role was always going to be all-time great glue gal more than potential superstar. Love both girls, btw.
 
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