Geno's Biggest Decision For 2021-22: 3 Guards or 4?

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I am thinking that before Geno decides on the starting lineup, he first needs to decide if UConn will play predominantly in a 3-guard or 4-guard configuration in the upcoming season. In different years, he has done both, but (IMO) he has had more success in winning NC's with two bigs than with just one (or none, as with the Gabby / Pheesa / KLS teams). Think of Wolters/Lobo, Schumacher/Cash, J. Moore/B. Turner, Tina/Maya, Stef/Stewie, Stewie/Tuck. The 2002 team was somewhat of an exception with Sue Bird, DT, and the Three Horsemen of the Front Court (A. Jones, S. Cash, T. Williams).

Offense is completely different with four perimeter shooters and one big than with three shooters, a high post, and a low post. I believe that the reason Azura did not start during her one active year at UConn (2017-18) was that Geno did not want to fundamentally change the offense that he ran the previous year, which her presence in the starting lineup would have required. But this did create problems when Azura came into the game as a sub, because everyone else had to adjust to an unfamiliar offensive configuration. With hindsight, I think that (not starting Azura) was a mistake and I suspect that Geno also thinks so, but his decision was understandable when he made it at the beginning of that season.

Last year, UConn started four guards for most of the season, and (except for a few short-lived experiments) it continued into the NCAA tournament until Nika got hurt. The mid-tournament switch to a high-low configuration with Liv and Aaliyah was more successful than one might have expected, but (again with hindsight) it probably would have been better to start Aaliyah from the middle of the season so that the two-big offense against the other NC contenders would have been more practiced by NCAA time.

Obviously, choices about offensive configuration are largely determined by the available talent, but assuming the talent is equally suited, I think Geno prefers (and should prefer) a two-big, 3-guard offense. In the upcoming season, there is the additional factor that Liv's talents are best used in the high post. Finally, there is the apparent fact that the most obvious contenders for the 2022 NC are both very big teams, and the case for going with a 2-big offense from the start of the season seems (to me) compelling. I think it would have been compelling in other years since 2016 if the roster had included three proven bigs (and other talented but unproven backups) as it does this year.

So I'm not going to pick the starting lineup, and I assure all Boneyarders that Geno has not done that yet either. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if he has basically decided to play in a 3-guard, 2-big offense for all or most of this coming season.
 

CocoHusky

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In full agreement @JoePgh- good stuff. In support of your well stated points Geno has also stated that Liv was at her best last year when she has someone live Aaliyah to take some of the ruggedness that is required of the post position. Of course that is paraphrased. The dilemma last year in addition to the injuries was that there was no reliable third post to put in the rotation if Aaliyah were to start alongside Liv.
One additional point in support:wether it was Nika or Aaliyah starting last year you were looking at a very young team that included two freshman starters regardless of the choice. This season Geno could start a lineup which includes 4 seniors (Liv, Dorka, Evina, Christyn) and the reigning National POY in Paige. Azzi would then be the first guard off the bench and Aaliyah the first post. That is a very formidable seven player rotation with significant talent behind it that I’m sure will press for minutes and contribute.
 
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I'm all about 3 guards and 2 forwards as the routine!!!!! Except in some BE games where 4 guards could be helpful against a bunch of small fast guards...
 

cferraro04

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We know that from past practices that Geno likes to settle on a starting five...however, this year he has much more flexibility and he may still have a preferred starting five but he may adopt a more flexible line-up depending on his opponent. A team like South Carolina that will start two bigs will certainly cause Geno to favor a 3 guard line-up. A team that is guard heavy will allow Geno the flexibility to go with a 4 guard line-up if he deems it a better fit. I think it will be all about the match-ups this year. But, we will see...nice to have the options that Geno has this year.
 
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Then there's the 5 best players option. Though a matter of opinion, that option leads me to 3 bigs and 2 guards. So: something like Azzi and Paige plus Dorka, Liv, and Aaliyah. That provides size, rebounding, and shooting around the post and great perimeter scorers/passers on the outside. I can imagine that line-up facing anyone UConn will play this year.
I understand that people get hysterical if a favorite player isn't included, but, in the end, the best 5 should be on the court whomever you think they are.
 

Centerstream

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Unless someone else has a standout preseason camp, I can see the same starting 5 this season that was the starting 5 during the 20-21 post season: Nika, Paige, Evina, Christyn and Liv. But I do concede that Geno could do a lot of very different substitution scenarios depending on the game situation because I don't think he will have any problem putting in Aaliyah, Azzi, Dorka or Aubrey at any point after the tipoff. And throwing Amari, Caroline, Saylor and Mir into the mix, we could see 5 subs come into the game quite often. Heck, I can see Geno taking a substitute TO or two just to put in 5 subs.
 
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In full agreement @JoePgh- good stuff. In support of your well stated points Geno has also stated that Liv was at her best last year when she has someone live Aaliyah to take some of the ruggedness that is required of the post position. Of course that is paraphrased. The dilemma last year in addition to the injuries was that there was no reliable third post to put in the rotation if Aaliyah were to start alongside Liv.
One additional point in support:wether it was Nika or Aaliyah starting last year you were looking at a very young team that included two freshman starters regardless of the choice. This season Geno could start a lineup which includes 4 seniors (Liv, Dorka, Evina, Christyn) and the reigning National POY in Paige. Azzi would then be the first guard off the bench and Aaliyah the first post. That is a very formidable seven player rotation with significant talent behind it that I’m sure will press for minutes and contribute.
The four seniors is kind of how I see Geno leaning early on. I wouldn't be surprised if in January we see a lineup of Paige, Azzi, CW, Liv, and Dorka, AE and Evina first off the bench, with Nika spelling all of the guards and Caroline and AG subbing the wings. However, if there's a guard or wing giving the defense trouble I expect Nika and AG will see more significant time.
 
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smh... because everyone seems to know what Geno will do... before any real practices have happened... the season can't start soon enough for me, so all the "expert" speculation can fade into the background... but I know the BY has to be the BY.... btw, do we need more bigs? :)
 

oldude

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I come at this a little differently. UConn has 8 players that have started multiple D1 basketball games. All of them believe they will be starting this season.

In addition, the last time Azzi was fully healthy, as a sophomore in HS, she beat out Paige for HSPOY. So she also believes she will be starting this season. That makes 9.

I understand that Caroline, who has “sick” shooting range, has a chip on her shoulder. So maybe we’re looking at 10 players who believe they will start.

Who knows what Mir, Piath, Saylor & Amari believe? I hope they all believe they can start too, because in the end it will make them and the UConn team better.

At this point of the year, Geno may have some ideas about who will start, whether or not he’ll go with 3 or 4 guards, etc. But IMO, the only thing he’s committed to is letting all of his players compete for starting spots and PT on the court in practice.
 

diggerfoot

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While I agree with the overall point being made, the J. Moore/Turner combo being referenced featured a 5’11” “power forward who I believe played guard in high school.

For that matter, M. Moore was an undersized but spectacularly athletic “4,” which made the average size of that frontcourt the same average size of Cash and Jones.
 

D J B

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smh... because everyone seems to know what Geno will do... before any real practices have happened... the season can't start soon enough for me, so all the "expert" speculation can fade into the background... but I know the BY has to be the BY.... btw, do we need more bigs? :)
I agree. Been following the BY for a long time, and it seems it's a great forum for everyone to pretend to be the head coach of the UConn women's team. Nothing wrong with that, since it's great fun and generates some outstanding discussions and arguments, but in the end it's all about what Geno will do, and that isn't dependent on what we think. He surprises us, the players surprise us, and the game surprises us. Ain't it wonderful?
 

Majic Hands

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Good fun stuff.

With the level of talent and size this year I've been thinking it makes more sense to look at team structure of 2, 3, or 4 guards on the floor, than who starts or minute distribution.

My limited experience in coaching was slow-pitch softball in the town summer league where our goal was about creating a moment in time where the girls could remember for the rest of their live about the great summer learning how to play ball.

Out of the league the best girls who wanted to complete at a higher level could get on a travel team where we worked towards learning how to complete/play to win.

as much as I have loved women's basketball. Largely due to the teams UConn were developing that caught my attention and got me hooked. I really have never understand GA's substitution pattern of only bringing in a couple players during the game and then bringing in a lot of players at the end who are mostly lost and confused and have no idea as to who to follow.

I would think the player development would be greatly accelerated if at least 1 of "not your best players" was in the game learning how it's done.

I would find it interesting if every couple of minutes a player or two from the bench were to replace players on the floor. Especially! If you're playing a team where your best players should win by 20 or more.

personally, I think it would be better for the "team" to get the inexperienced players more minutes playing with the teams best players when the game matters than getting what's basically meaningless minutes at the end. Player know when they are getting meaningful minutes.

Hey, just my take. Personally I don't think any player who starts for UConn will be negativity effected if they are getting 4-7 minutes less time in a game to get the rest of the players game experience.
 

oldude

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Hey, just my take. Personally I don't think any player who starts for UConn will be negativity effected if they are getting 4-7 minutes less time in a game to get the rest of the players game experience.
The players will be fine with 4-7 minutes less. But Paige will drive Geno crazy if she gets 4-7 minutes less PT per game. ;)
 

huskeynut

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Great post Joepgh.

The options Geno has available to him can be minded boggling. But Geno being Geno, formal practices are going to be interesting to say the least. This team is going to go at it in practices. The five returning starters are on a mission and they have the talent to get there. How much time will Aaliyah and Dorka get? More than many think. Despite all the hype - Azzi still has to earn her minutes just like everybody else.

Two guards and three bigs, three guards and two bigs, four guards and one big- which one? I think we will see all those combos during the season. Our opponents will dictate Geno's decisions.

We really have no idea how this will all go down. Practices and chemistry will tell us a lot. Practices will also give us an indication of possible sub patterns.

November is just around the corner.
 
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Good fun stuff.

With the level of talent and size this year I've been thinking it makes more sense to look at team structure of 2, 3, or 4 guards on the floor, than who starts or minute distribution.

My limited experience in coaching was slow-pitch softball in the town summer league where our goal was about creating a moment in time where the girls could remember for the rest of their live about the great summer learning how to play ball.

Out of the league the best girls who wanted to complete at a higher level could get on a travel team where we worked towards learning how to complete/play to win.

as much as I have loved women's basketball. Largely due to the teams UConn were developing that caught my attention and got me hooked. I really have never understand GA's substitution pattern of only bringing in a couple players during the game and then bringing in a lot of players at the end who are mostly lost and confused and have no idea as to who to follow.

I would think the player development would be greatly accelerated if at least 1 of "not your best players" was in the game learning how it's done.

I would find it interesting if every couple of minutes a player or two from the bench were to replace players on the floor. Especially! If you're playing a team where your best players should win by 20 or more.

personally, I think it would be better for the "team" to get the inexperienced players more minutes playing with the teams best players when the game matters than getting what's basically meaningless minutes at the end. Player know when they are getting meaningful minutes.

Hey, just my take. Personally I don't think any player who starts for UConn will be negativity effected if they are getting 4-7 minutes less time in a game to get the rest of the players game experience.
To get experience, yes. To learn, no. That's what practice is for.
 

Tonyc

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With so many options this season those who are playing well will play and those who are not may not see as much playtime. If a player is missing bunnies, or foul shots, or throwing up bricks chances are they will find a seat on the bench and be replaced and maybe be brought back into the game after a rest. The coaches will tweak them when theyre on the bench and give them another shot. This is the way it used to be and Im sure it will continue this season. This creates competition and imo there is no better way to motivate your players then to let them know that there is someone waiting to get more playtime and there is no better way to motivate a non starter then by giving them a chance when the player they are replacing is taken out of a game
 

CL82

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Then there's the 5 best players option. Though a matter of opinion, that option leads me to 3 bigs and 2 guards. So: something like Azzi and Paige plus Dorka, Liv, and Aaliyah. That provides size, rebounding, and shooting around the post and great perimeter scorers/passers on the outside. I can imagine that line-up facing anyone UConn will play this year.
I understand that people get hysterical if a favorite player isn't included, but, in the end, the best 5 should be on the court whomever you think they are.
Tough to make the argument that CW is an among our best five. I suspect that Azzi is as well. I strongly doubt that we will see Olivia, Edwards and Dorka on the floor at the same time.

Regardless, “too much talent“ is a happy problem to have.
 

CL82

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With so many options this season those who are playing well will play and those who are not may not see as much playtime. If a player is missing bunnies, or foul shots, or throwing up bricks chances are they will find a seat on the bench and be replaced and maybe be brought back into the game after a rest. The coaches will tweak them when theyre on the bench and give them another shot. This is the way it used to be and Im sure it will continue this season. This creates competition and imo there is no better way to motivate your players then to let them know that there is someone waiting to get more playtime and there is no better way to motivate a non starter then by giving them a chance when the player they are replacing is taken out of a game
Tony, even if they aren’t missing bunnies, players’ minutes are going to be reduced the season. That’s a good thing because it means that we have plenty of talent and our kids will be fresher at the end of the games and at the end of a long season.
 
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The players will be fine with 4-7 minutes less. But Paige will drive Geno crazy if she gets 4-7 minutes less PT per game. ;)
Well she is going to be locked up in a padded room by the middle of the season with her own craze because she ain't getting the minutes she got last year with all the good players on the team this year.
 
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Tough to make the argument that CW is an among our best five. I suspect that Azzi is as well. I strongly doubt that we will see Olivia, Edwards and Dorka on the floor at the same time.

Regardless, “too much talent“ is a happy problem to have.
I think we might see it this year in one of the SC games. I could see Dawn throwing the kitchen sink at UConn if she gets desperate with a Boston, Cardoso, and Amihere line up and Geno responding in kind with his own big line up.... Dorka has the skill to play at the 3 for periods of time.
 

CL82

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I think we might see it this year in one of the SC games. I could see Dawn throwing the kitchen sink at UConn if she gets desperate with a Boston, Cardoso, and Amihere line up and Geno responding in kind with his own big line up.... Dorka has the skill to play at the 3 for periods of time.
Maybe, I think Geno is more likely to counter with speed in the outside accuracy. More often than not Auriemma will take advantage of his best match ups offensively and make the other team beat you with their best options. Not many have been able to do that. But you’re right, it’s a possibility.
 

Bigboote

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I'd love it if, once or twice during the season, this happens: The opponent has gone all football on UConn. You know, how East Carolina or UCF played a few times. So Geno puts in a lineup of Dorka, Aaliyah, Saylor, Christyn, and Nika. The other team would be schooled in being big and tough.
 
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