Geno's Comments On His Use of Bench Players | The Boneyard

Geno's Comments On His Use of Bench Players

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JoePgh

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There is a John A article in today's Courant where Geno is quoted at some length about his thinking behind the use of bench players. I think it answers (at least from his perspective) a lot of the questions that have been discussed on the Boneyard.

One of the issues we have with a couple of our bench players is trying to figure out when they are playing well, and that's not a good position to be in for a kid coming off the bench. If you are being asked to do certain things, provide certain things, and don't have it on a regular basis, that's tough for a coach.

There are games when we may need some defensive help, and that is what guides us into a substitution pattern. Or you may need people to put points on the board. What you like are to have options. Right now, the one option we have that we can count on is that Kiah Stokes will come off the bench and block shots, play defense and rebound. That's why her minutes are consistent.

But for the others, it's not a sure thing. And we've addressed it with them if they want to play more. It may not impact our ability to win much, but it's not what this is about. It's about developing, becoming a better player so your role grows. If you want your role to get bigger, it can. If you want it to stay the same, it can. If you want it to diminish, it can.

Some people think coach Auriemma just likes using six or seven players. No, coach Auriemma likes good players, guys that play hard and contribute all the time. Coach Auriemma likes guys that bust their butts all the time, that are reliable and dependable. If coach Auriemma had 10 of them, like I've had in the past, I'd play all 10 of them. When I have five, I only play five. I hate to disappoint those out there who believe that just because our players are cute and smart, they should all play 25 minutes. That ain't gonna happen.

It's hard to say it more clearly than that. And I agree with every word he says. These aren't fifth graders, they are serious college basketball players, most of whom aspire to a professional basketball career. The responsibility is on them to demonstrate their contribution, not on him to give them playing time in the hope that they will develop.

Remember that this "tough love" approach worked with Stewie in her freshman year. It can, and hopefully will, work for Chong also.

It's slightly surprising to me that Gabby is included in this group of players. She was great last night and in the past against poor competition, but she wasn't looking like that against either Duke or St. Johns. So I guess from his perspective, she fits the mold just as much as Saniya.
 

Waquoit

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Love the line about disappointing those who want all the players to get 25 minutes because they are cute and smart. Not that we have any fans like that on the Yard.
 

MilfordHusky

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I think it's a plus that Geno noted that the kids are cute and smart. :)

He hates inconsistency and unpredictability. Late last year, he resigned himself to the fact that Kiah wasn't going to provide much offense. But her defense, rebounding, and shot blocking were things he could count on. And she is great at them. She impacts just about every game in a substantial way within minutes of coming off the bench.

Gabby has shown flashes of great play, but has been a bit erratic. She really stepped up after not playing at Stanford--good for her. But the limited time against SJU suggests she had some weak practices. She was really good again last night (other than FT shooting).

Courtney is still learning, so it's hard to expect too much from her. I agree with the comparison to Mel--taller, maybe even a slightly better shooter, perhaps not quite as tough (which is not a knock because Mel set the bar so high).

Expectations for Saniya are higher, but she seems to be regressing. Her defense doesn't seem much better and her previously potent offense has slipped. She needs to work her way through this. Geno's lack of confidence in her is apparent. He knows she CAN play better.
 
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That's his style. You can't argue with success and he's the best in the game.

Other coaches might look at it differently.
 
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There is a John A article in today's Courant where Geno is quoted at some length about his thinking behind the use of bench players. I think it answers (at least from his perspective) a lot of the questions that have been discussed on the Boneyard.

One of the issues we have with a couple of our bench players is trying to figure out when they are playing well, and that's not a good position to be in for a kid coming off the bench. If you are being asked to do certain things, provide certain things, and don't have it on a regular basis, that's tough for a coach.

There are games when we may need some defensive help, and that is what guides us into a substitution pattern. Or you may need people to put points on the board. What you like are to have options. Right now, the one option we have that we can count on is that Kiah Stokes will come off the bench and block shots, play defense and rebound. That's why her minutes are consistent.

But for the others, it's not a sure thing. And we've addressed it with them if they want to play more. It may not impact our ability to win much, but it's not what this is about. It's about developing, becoming a better player so your role grows. If you want your role to get bigger, it can. If you want it to stay the same, it can. If you want it to diminish, it can.

Some people think coach Auriemma just likes using six or seven players. No, coach Auriemma likes good players, guys that play hard and contribute all the time. Coach Auriemma likes guys that bust their butts all the time, that are reliable and dependable. If coach Auriemma had 10 of them, like I've had in the past, I'd play all 10 of them. When I have five, I only play five. I hate to disappoint those out there who believe that just because our players are cute and smart, they should all play 25 minutes. That ain't gonna happen.

It's hard to say it more clearly than that. And I agree with every word he says. These aren't fifth graders, they are serious college basketball players, most of whom aspire to a professional basketball career. The responsibility is on them to demonstrate their contribution, not on him to give them playing time in the hope that they will develop.

Remember that this "tough love" approach worked with Stewie in her freshman year. It can, and hopefully will, work for Chong also.

It's slightly surprising to me that Gabby is included in this group of players. She was great last night and in the past against poor competition, but she wasn't looking like that against either Duke or St. Johns. So I guess from his perspective, she fits the mold just as much as Saniya.
 
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It seems to me that Ekmark may be able to shoot but she appears to be slow and a poor ball handler.
 

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I'm very glad he addressed this. I know the criticisms from opposing fans, and I can imagine it's one thing coaches use against Geno in recruiting, is if you aren't a top 5 player, go to UCONN and risk getting buried on the bench. While technically that may be somewhat accurate, it's NOT the reason a kid will be stuck on the bench.

UCONN is the best. It's not even close as to the 2nd best program in the nation right now. Everyone is looking up at UCONN and chasing them. So here's the thing for players. If you are a kid like Chong, Williams, Stokes, Ekmark, Irwin, etc. and you aren't truly one of the top 5 or 10 kids in your class, then you won't likely become a starter at UCONN any time soon. IF you want to earn playing time, you will not only have to work your butt off in practice, but show that you can contribute something when you get into a game.

I think IMHO that the last part is the key. Megan Gardler earned a lot of PT her senior year and she was probably ranked outside the top 50. Why? Because she did all the things I mentioned, AND when she got into the game, she impacted it in a positive way. Williams is improving in leaps and bounds, and struggles at times with consistency, BUT she's only a freshman. Give her time. I think kids like Ekmark and Irwin can actually be very successful at UCONN - not because they will ever start, but because they are gym rats and tremendously hard workers who KNOW what they signed up for.

Geno doesn't expect a slower kid like Ekmark to play defense like Nurse or Jefferson, but one thing Meghan pointed out last night vs. Tulsa was a great play by Nurse. In fighting for a rebound she ended up on the floor diving for the ball and tried to push it away from the Tulsa player to a UCONN player. I think it was the play where the poor Tulsa kid lost a tooth. But Megan said something like "that's why Nurse is starting and gets so much PT - it's the effort". Then she showed a replay of a huddle where Nurse (looking kind of goofy in a super sweet way) was literally hanging on every word of the upper classmen. Any kid who wants to earn PT at UCONN needs to watch Nurse...
 

RockyMTblue2

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A certain coach in South Carolina just wrote on her office bulletin board: Gotta get into their bench in first 10 minutes. She has a fairly deep bench per the pundits and may seek "inventive" ways to use that. This is a vulnerability that I'd like to see diminish this month. I expect Geno to continue his experiment with "growth" ever game the point spread permits it.
 

huskeynut

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A certain coach in South Carolina just wrote on her office bulletin board: Gotta get into their bench in first 10 minutes. She has a fairly deep bench per the pundits and may seek "inventive" ways to use that. This is a vulnerability that I'd like to see diminish this month. I expect Geno to continue his experiment with "growth" ever game the point spread permits it.

That certain coach is smart and has worked with Geno. She perceives a weakness and wants her team to exploit it. Good for her. Of course she just gave Geno and staff bulletin board material for a little motivation.

Geno and company will be ready.
 

RockyMTblue2

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That certain coach is smart and has worked with Geno. She perceives a weakness and wants her team to exploit it. Good for her. Of course she just gave Geno and staff bulletin board material for a little motivation.

Geno and company will be ready.

Uh, Huskeynut: That bulletin Board is in my head. 'Course, she'd be a bad coach if she hasn't been thinking along those lines for some time. Puts a premium on our three point shooters showing up Feb. 9 to damp down her opportunities for banging and ref confusion.
 

HGN

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A certain coach in South Carolina just wrote on her office bulletin board: Gotta get into their bench in first 10 minutes. She has a fairly deep bench per the pundits and may seek "inventive" ways to use that. This is a vulnerability that I'd like to see diminish this month. I expect Geno to continue his experiment with "growth" ever game the point spread permits it.
Rocky , the only way they get into the UConn bench within 10mins is to get UConn in foul trouble. Not an easy assignment. Also USC risks geting their own players into foul trouble at the same time. Is this also another way of saying 'I don't think my starting 5 can beat your starting 5' ? Talented and deep is the USC bench , but smart are the UConn players not to foul. The game will be a chess match with much at stake.

I think The Huskies will be up for the challenge.
 

RockyMTblue2

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Rocky , the only way they get into the UConn bench within 10mins is to get UConn in foul trouble. Not an easy assignment. Also USC risks geting their own players into foul trouble at the same time. Is this also another way of saying 'I don't think my starting 5 can beat your starting 5' ? Talented and deep is the USC bench , but smart are the UConn players not to foul. The game will be a chess match with much at stake.

I think The Huskies will be up for the challenge.

I figure you and Yoda have it figured out about right. Staley and Co. the new wanna be Evil Empire!
 
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Rocky , the only way they get into the UConn bench within 10mins is to get UConn in foul trouble. Not an easy assignment. Also USC risks geting their own players into foul trouble at the same time. Is this also another way of saying 'I don't think my starting 5 can beat your starting 5' ? Talented and deep is the USC bench , but smart are the UConn players not to foul. The game will be a chess match with much at stake.

I think The Huskies will be up for the challenge.
I think that's what they were trying to do last night and the game before. Trying to get Stewart and Tuck into foul trouble.
 

caramel

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Geno has said,on a few occasions,that the rating of player,in high school,by the rating services,seldom means anything.Of course,a number one or two,coming out of high school has talent,or they wouldn't be rated so high.However,there are cases where those rated lower on the rating system,end up being close to a top five before they are done,or even better.
Few of cases in point ,from the Connecticut teams themselves,are Dolson,Hartley,and Ferris.
None of these three were rated exceptionally high coming out of high school,and yet,by the time they were done,they were three young ladies that were considered some of the best at what they did on the court.
Playing time was generously given,to all three,throughout their college careers,because of the hard work and effort,that they gave to the team.They are proof,that listening,learning,practicing,and doing,what was preached and taught to them,gave them the opportunity to play valuable minutes,as well as in reaching a growth,that they might never have realized,in playing at another school.
Each had a skill set,that became very valuable to the team,and each had the confidence of the coaches.
We forget the struggles of each of these players,and many others,along the road to the success they enjoyed.Each had their weaknesses,but each learned to push through them,and to rely upon and improve their strengths.
As freshmen and sophomores,each had their struggles.This has been happening to Chong and others,in this year,and in Chong's case,some of last year.All it takes,is time,to realize what it takes,to come out of any struggle,and Chong will come out of her's.
Mark my words,before this year is over,Chong,Williams,and Ekmark. will be valuable assets to the team,and will contribute quality minutes .There are very few coaching staffs,that can bring the best out of the people assigned to them,but this staff is one that can.
 

RockyMTblue2

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Mark my words,before this year is over,Chong,Williams,and Ekmark. will be valuable assets to the team,and will contribute quality minutes .There are very few coaching staffs,that can bring the best out of the people assigned to them,but this staff is one that can.

A sentiment we all can subscribe to ( I know a dangling something or other) while I for one believe Williams does not deserve to be included in that statement, having fairly consistently delivered while learning a new position and because Geno has focused on "guards" in his more acerbic remarks, and it is hard to believe Geno is grading Eckmark right now given the injury and limited practice/play time. I guess we have focused on "the bench" because our Chief Psychologist (a/k/a Coach) has been. Damn starters are getting off scott free lately! :) So, when Geno says something along the lines of: 'Cute and nice will not get you playing time.' A never to be forgotten Genoism I suspect. So, when he says that it is because he considers the target(s) of that little barb worth the effort, akin to Lobo etc being The Worst Centers in America. In Geno we trust (it's on all my pocket change).
 
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I'm very glad he addressed this. I know the criticisms from opposing fans, and I can imagine it's one thing coaches use against Geno in recruiting, is if you aren't a top 5 player, go to UCONN and risk getting buried on the bench. While technically that may be somewhat accurate, it's NOT the reason a kid will be stuck on the bench....
Geno doesn't expect a slower kid like Ekmark to play defense like Nurse or Jefferson, but one thing Meghan pointed out last night vs. Tulsa was a great play by Nurse. In fighting for a rebound she ended up on the floor diving for the ball and tried to push it away from the Tulsa player to a UCONN player. I think it was the play where the poor Tulsa kid lost a tooth. But Megan said something like "that's why Nurse is starting and gets so much PT - it's the effort". Then she showed a replay of a huddle where Nurse (looking kind of goofy in a super sweet way) was literally hanging on every word of the upper classmen. Any kid who wants to earn PT at UCONN needs to watch Nurse...wants to earn PT at UCONN needs to watch Nurse...
[/QUOTE]

In contrast to Nurse, there is a photo posted on another website of a huddle of UConn players during the Tulsa game. The huddle is about to break and all the players have a hand extended into the center of the huddle expressing unity. Their fists are balled or their fingers are extended energetically. Their heads are slightly bowed, or they are looking into the circle. Except for Chong. Her hand is limply extended, and she is looking at something far beyond the circle. Focus! Saniya, focus. You have the talent; we are all pulling for you.
 

Biff

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In contrast to Nurse, there is a photo posted on another website of a huddle of UConn players during the Tulsa game. The huddle is about to break and all the players have a hand extended into the center of the huddle expressing unity. Their fists are balled or their fingers are extended energetically. Their heads are slightly bowed, or they are looking into the circle. Except for Chong. Her hand is limply extended, and she is looking at something far beyond the circle. Focus! Saniya, focus. You have the talent; we are all pulling for you.

Let me start with the part of your post that I agree with : Chong has the talent to succeed and many of us are pulling for her to show it.

But I don't agree with your over-reading of the photo (DannyK's photos of the game posted in this thread on the Boneyard.

10922608_821665437891718_819697807627144722_n.jpg


This is the photo you are talking about correct? Assuming I am correct, you are taking a transient moment in time and projecting what you want to see.
Why not comment that Breanna is so disinterested that can't even exert herself enough to extend her hand to the group? We all know she has the wingspan of a 7'1" player right? (or was that a 7'1" wingspan or was it ...oh never mind. We know she can reach a really long way)

You could also comment that Natalie s obviously disconnected and doesn't feel part of the team as she halfhearted reaches into the huddle.

Pictures are funny things and often do not accurately represent dynamic situations. For example the very next picture in Danny's gallery (or previous picture in time maybe) you can see Chong actively looking around Geno's head to see clearly what he is discussing/drawing. Looks pretty engaged in the process and focused to me.

10343652_821665521225043_3966911026212626124_n.jpg
 
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A certain coach in South Carolina just wrote on her office bulletin board: Gotta get into their bench in first 10 minutes. She has a fairly deep bench per the pundits and may seek "inventive" ways to use that. This is a vulnerability that I'd like to see diminish this month. I expect Geno to continue his experiment with "growth" ever game the point spread permits it.

Well... you know Muffet thought that same thing last year the Championship game... and we all know how that turned out. Fact of the matter is, if it was needed, the starters are fully capable of playing all 40 minutes.
 

RockyMTblue2

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Well... you know Muffet thought that same thing last year the Championship game... and we all know how that turned out. Fact of the matter is, if it was needed, the starters are fully capable of playing all 40 minutes.

Yes, Muffet - a humbled Muffet - told us that as she stood in that arena basement corridor didn't she. The flop machine failed. Right now I do not have your confidence in the starting 5 able to withstand that strategy for 40 minutes. This team has more finesse than any other WCBB team, but they still can be rattled and every one of them plays better with a breather - even the energizer bunny MoJeff (playing with leg cramps is an absolute b*t*h!). I want 7 1/2 reliable players by Feb. 9 at the very least. Right now its 6 1/2.
 
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There is a John A article in today's Courant where Geno is quoted at some length about his thinking behind the use of bench players. I think it answers (at least from his perspective) a lot of the questions that have been discussed on the Boneyard.

One of the issues we have with a couple of our bench players is trying to figure out when they are playing well, and that's not a good position to be in for a kid coming off the bench. If you are being asked to do certain things, provide certain things, and don't have it on a regular basis, that's tough for a coach.

There are games when we may need some defensive help, and that is what guides us into a substitution pattern. Or you may need people to put points on the board. What you like are to have options. Right now, the one option we have that we can count on is that Kiah Stokes will come off the bench and block shots, play defense and rebound. That's why her minutes are consistent.

But for the others, it's not a sure thing. And we've addressed it with them if they want to play more. It may not impact our ability to win much, but it's not what this is about. It's about developing, becoming a better player so your role grows. If you want your role to get bigger, it can. If you want it to stay the same, it can. If you want it to diminish, it can.

Some people think coach Auriemma just likes using six or seven players. No, coach Auriemma likes good players, guys that play hard and contribute all the time. Coach Auriemma likes guys that bust their butts all the time, that are reliable and dependable. If coach Auriemma had 10 of them, like I've had in the past, I'd play all 10 of them. When I have five, I only play five. I hate to disappoint those out there who believe that just because our players are cute and smart, they should all play 25 minutes. That ain't gonna happen.

It's hard to say it more clearly than that. And I agree with every word he says. These aren't fifth graders, they are serious college basketball players, most of whom aspire to a professional basketball career. The responsibility is on them to demonstrate their contribution, not on him to give them playing time in the hope that they will develop.

Remember that this "tough love" approach worked with Stewie in her freshman year. It can, and hopefully will, work for Chong also.

It's slightly surprising to me that Gabby is included in this group of players. She was great last night and in the past against poor competition, but she wasn't looking like that against either Duke or St. Johns. So I guess from his perspective, she fits the mold just as much as Saniya.





Great post and wonderful insightful information.
 
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That certain coach is smart and has worked with Geno. She perceives a weakness and wants her team to exploit it. Good for her. Of course she just gave Geno and staff bulletin board material for a little motivation.

Geno and company will be ready.

No spitting match here nut but I would think the weekly polls would be plenty of bulletin board for this team. I really don't think a UCONN team could give a rat's patootie about what the opposing coach thinks. I think the board would say something like... nobody chants "we're number two!"
 
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With regards to these pictures, I am not concerned about where she is looking, I am concerned about the look on her face. I think the coaching staff is losing this kid. Geno has said things that make me think he has been very clear with Saniya telling her that he wants and needs her to contribute and what he expects from her. However for some reason she is not responding.
She has regressed in every aspect of her game the past 2 or 3 weeks, one can only speculate what is going on in there.
Can only hope she snaps out of it cause this kid has limitless talent.
 
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Four years is an eternity. Conlon averaged about 3 minutes a game as a freshman, and nobody ever thought she'd ever be in the real rotation. Chong's averaging more minutes per game as a sophomore than Conlon did. Chong has time.
 
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Saniya does not have "limitless" talent. While everyone should be pulling for her, the reality is that her play has been disappointing. She is hesitant, which is leading to too many mistakes. Next year she will be buried deep on the bench if her play doesn't improve.
 
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