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The Best UConn Team Since The Big 3?

oldude

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#1
When you lose 3 top ten draft picks to the WNBA off a team without a lot of depth to start with, it’s difficult to imagine that the team you put on the court the following year could be better than either of the 36-1 teams that made it to OT in the last two national semifinal games. But watching this year’s version of the UConn Huskies closely over their first 8 games, and particularly in their convincing win in South Bend over the previous #1 team in the nation, it occurred to me that this may be the best UConn WBB team since the graduation of the Big 3. Here is my analysis of the top 6 players on this year’s team, and why I believe it could be better than either of the past two teams.

Pheesa is one of the best low post players in college basketball. Her array of shots, rebounding prowess and ability to defend in the paint made her a consensus 1st team AA as a sophomore. Unfortunately, Pheesa played out of position for much of last season trying to blend in with Z, who basically played the same position. This year, Pheesa is stronger, her rebounding is up, she’s dominating the paint and she has once again become UConn’s “go to player” when they need a basket. On multiple occasions vs ND, whenever the Irish appeared poised to make a run, the Huskies dumped the ball into the post and Pheesa restored order by hitting difficult shots she makes routinely.

Crystal need only stay healthy to be better than last season. She is poised to be one of the very best pg’s in the nation. She is fitter than ever, clearly in command on the court and we are starting to see the array of incredible shot making and passing exploits from her that will only get better as the season progresses. The high, fall-away bank shot Crystal hit over the outstretched hand of Turner at ND was an absolute thing of beauty.

Lou, like Crystal, need only stay healthy to be better than last season. So far, so good on her surgically repaired ankle, which is clearly in evidence when you watch Lou move and elevate on the court. She too is stronger, her rebounding is up, and she seems to be doing whatever it takes to insure UConn wins. In the past, if Lou wasn’t hitting 3’s, she could disappear in a game. ND is a testament to how far Lou has come. She missed all of her 3’s, and yet rebounded well, played solid defense, set up her teammates and eventually found ways to score at critical points in the 2nd half.

Megan is not Gabby, but they fill the same roll, an undersized forward, battling larger opponents. Megan will never be as versatile a defender as Gabby, but she is a better shooter and her exceptional strength allows her to body up opposing posts to more than hold her own. After the ND game, MM lamented the fact that her team had done a bad job feeding Turner in the post. Once she looks at the film, she will see the reason Turner was not as effective was the result of a really strong defensive effort by Megan throughout the game. Megan is good right now. By March, Megan will be very good.

Christyn had her coming out party in South Bend. She is not the defender that Kia was….yet. But offensively, Christyn is not only better than Kia, she may be the best offensive player on the team. Aside from her ability to score, there are so many things she does well that demonstrate exceptional skill and a high B-Ball IQ. Her ability to use either hand, the way she uses her body to put a defender on her hip, her poise when handling the ball and her sixth sense to turn on the jets and run the court when a bucket is at hand. How many times did Christyn beat the entire ND team downcourt for easy layups?

Liv is a work in progress and not at Z’s level yet, but UConn doesn’t need her to be. She is smart, athletic and runs the court exceptionally well for a big. She’s starting to understand her role: defend, rebound and finish at the rim. Liv’s emphatic rejection of Mabrey’s shot in the 2nd half at ND was a key play in the game. By March, she will be a very solid reserve.

Finally, Geno has made several changes this season that allow this team to excel. Specifically, UConn employs multiple defensive packages that minimize the loss of 2 NDPOY’s. On offense, UConn is playing at a faster tempo and everyone on the team appears to have “the green light to hunt their own shot.” To be certain, there are several teams capable of winning the championship this year. But if UConn finds a way to win in Waco and Louisville, they should once again be the #1 overall seed at the Big Dance, coming out of the friendly confines of the TUC in Albany, NY to make their 12th straight FF, and from there………
 

oldude

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#3
It's one thing to revel in some post-ND-win euphoria, but let's not be prisoners of the moment. This is also the same team that trailed St. John's in the 4th quarter.
There are going to be ups and downs for sure, just like there were in each of the past two years. This team is not the 2015-16 team when no opponent came within 10 pts. I'm not making the case that they are unbeatable, only that they will be better than the prior 2 Husky teams.
 
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#4
There are going to be ups and downs for sure, just like there were in each of the past two years. This team is not the 2015-16 team when no opponent came within 10 pts. I'm not making the case that they are unbeatable, only that they will be better than the prior 2 Husky teams.

Last year's team was one of the greatest in the history of the sport based on the metrics.
 
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#8
When you lose 3 top ten draft picks to the WNBA off a team without a lot of depth to start with, it’s difficult to imagine that the team you put on the court the following year could be better than either of the 36-1 teams that made it to OT in the last two national semifinal games. But watching this year’s version of the UConn Huskies closely over their first 8 games, and particularly in their convincing win in South Bend over the previous #1 team in the nation, it occurred to me that this may be the best UConn WBB team since the graduation of the Big 3. Here is my analysis of the top 6 players on this year’s team, and why I believe it could be better than either of the past two teams.

Pheesa is one of the best low post players in college basketball. Her array of shots, rebounding prowess and ability to defend in the paint made her a consensus 1st team AA as a sophomore. Unfortunately, Pheesa played out of position for much of last season trying to blend in with Z, who basically played the same position. This year, Pheesa is stronger, her rebounding is up, she’s dominating the paint and she has once again become UConn’s “go to player” when they need a basket. On multiple occasions vs ND, whenever the Irish appeared poised to make a run, the Huskies dumped the ball into the post and Pheesa restored order by hitting difficult shots she makes routinely.

Crystal need only stay healthy to be better than last season. She is poised to be one of the very best pg’s in the nation. She is fitter than ever, clearly in command on the court and we are starting to see the array of incredible shot making and passing exploits from her that will only get better as the season progresses. The high, fall-away bank shot Crystal hit over the outstretched hand of Turner at ND was an absolute thing of beauty.

Lou, like Crystal, need only stay healthy to be better than last season. So far, so good on her surgically repaired ankle, which is clearly in evidence when you watch Lou move and elevate on the court. She too is stronger, her rebounding is up, and she seems to be doing whatever it takes to insure UConn wins. In the past, if Lou wasn’t hitting 3’s, she could disappear in a game. ND is a testament to how far Lou has come. She missed all of her 3’s, and yet rebounded well, played solid defense, set up her teammates and eventually found ways to score at critical points in the 2nd half.

Megan is not Gabby, but they fill the same roll, an undersized forward, battling larger opponents. Megan will never be as versatile a defender as Gabby, but she is a better shooter and her exceptional strength allows her to body up opposing posts to more than hold her own. After the ND game, MM lamented the fact that her team had done a bad job feeding Turner in the post. Once she looks at the film, she will see the reason Turner was not as effective was the result of a really strong defensive effort by Megan throughout the game. Megan is good right now. By March, Megan will be very good.

Christyn had her coming out party in South Bend. She is not the defender that Kia was….yet. But offensively, Christyn is not only better than Kia, she may be the best offensive player on the team. Aside from her ability to score, there are so many things she does well that demonstrate exceptional skill and a high B-Ball IQ. Her ability to use either hand, the way she uses her body to put a defender on her hip, her poise when handling the ball and her sixth sense to turn on the jets and run the court when a bucket is at hand. How many times did Christyn beat the entire ND team downcourt for easy layups?

Liv is a work in progress and not at Z’s level yet, but UConn doesn’t need her to be. She is smart, athletic and runs the court exceptionally well for a big. She’s starting to understand her role: defend, rebound and finish at the rim. Liv’s emphatic rejection of Mabrey’s shot in the 2nd half at ND was a key play in the game. By March, she will be a very solid reserve.

Finally, Geno has made several changes this season that allow this team to excel. Specifically, UConn employs multiple defensive packages that minimize the loss of 2 NDPOY’s. On offense, UConn is playing at a faster tempo and everyone on the team appears to have “the green light to hunt their own shot.” To be certain, there are several teams capable of winning the championship this year. But if UConn finds a way to win in Waco and Louisville, they should once again be the #1 overall seed at the Big Dance, coming out of the friendly confines of the TUC in Albany, NY to make their 12th straight FF, and from there………
Great analysis. I watch every game as well, as I have for the past 6 seasons. People won’t like to hear it but this team is better.

Lou & Pheesa are better than they were (both by quite a bit in my opinion from last season).

We didn’t have anyone that could create their own shot (Crystal was hurt). Now we have 2 that can beat anyone off the dribble. Add that with our 2 NPOY Candidates that can score 20 in their sleep. This offense is light years ahead of our offense the last two seasons.

People forget a lot of our offense last couple years was created by steals for wide open layups. Against a team with good guards that could handle the ball (FF caliber teams) we couldn’t do that. Our overall team defense is much more solid because no one is gambling the way Gabby did. As great as she was Individually she often put our team in tough spots when she missed on steals against the good teams.

Think about how good this team will be in March! :eek::eek::eek:
 
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#9
I mean, last year's team had three top-10 WNBA picks as seniors and two future top-10 WNBA picks as juniors, plus a likely top-10 pick as a sophomore.
 

oldude

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#12
Which big three would that be?

Kia-Lou-Gabby
Moriah-Morgan-Stewie
Bria-Stewie-Stefanie
Renee-Maya-Tina
Sue-Diana-Asjha/Swin/Tamika
Shea-Svet-Asjha/Swin/Tamika
Jen-Rebecca-Kara
Since I reference the last two teams that went 36-1, I think it's pretty clear that I am referring to the Big 3 that graduated in 2016.
 
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#13
I mean, last year's team had three top-10 WNBA picks as seniors and two future top-10 WNBA picks as juniors, plus a likely top-10 pick as a sophomore.
Talent wise, yes. But we all know last years draft was weak (aside from Wilson). Plus we had major injury issues. Gabby’s hip, Crystals Shins, Lou’s ankle were issues all season. They weren’t playing at 100%. Possibly not even 70%. Combine that with the conundrum that was the Z experiment with Pheesa. This TEAM is better.
 

oldude

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#14
I mean, last year's team had three top-10 WNBA picks as seniors and two future top-10 WNBA picks as juniors, plus a likely top-10 pick as a sophomore.
Let me simplify my OP. Lou, Pheesa & Crystal are all better than the last two years. Christyn & Megan will be as good, if not better, than Gabby & Kia by March. Liv will not be better than Z, but she'll be a solid player by March. Collectively, this team could be better than either of the previous two teams once the Big Dance starts.
 
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#15
While I don't think they'll be quite as good defensively as last year's team, on offense, it's an entirely different story.

Last year's team basically had the motion offense on half-court sets, the high-low facilitated by Gabby, and transition buckets generated by turnovers. But this year's team can and will do anything at any time. They much less predictable, can read and counteract any defense, and their confidence is to the moon. As a result, they are not going to get bogged down by any opponent that comes up with an effective defensive scheme or two after studying video tape .

The word that comes to mind is versatility. If they can get just a little more of a high-low going into Pheesa and Liv on demand, they will be unstoppable. And that's just how we at the boneyard like it.
 
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#18
This year team is likely to be better offensively than the previous 2 years, but no way they are as good defensively, or even as good in passing.
 
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#19
Talent wise, yes. But we all know last years draft was weak (aside from Wilson). Plus we had major injury issues. Gabby’s hip, Crystals Shins, Lou’s ankle were issues all season. They weren’t playing at 100%. Possibly not even 70%. Combine that with the conundrum that was the Z experiment with Pheesa. This TEAM is better.
With all due respect, I don't think there's a chance this is true. Geno would snicker rather loudly at the notion. This year's team has three elite upperclassmen, last year's had five. Each had a talented sophomore. I realize CW is way ahead of most freshmen but not enough to make up the difference. She's not in the same stratosphere as Nurse when it comes to defense. And Gabby was leagues better than MW on that side of the ball.
 
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#20
This year team is likely to be better offensively than the previous 2 years, but no way they are as good defensively, or even as good in passing.
Statistically, last year's team was better offensively than any of the Stewart teams. This team isn't near as good on either side of the ball. If the freshmen were juniors maybe we'd have a legit comparison.
 
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#21
You realize our defense is #1 in the country right? We just shut down the #1 offense on the road. Don’t think it’s that outlandish of a comment but carry on.
What do you base that first assertion on? And I wouldn't say Notre Dame was shut down. They missed a ton of uncontested shots, something documented by the ESPN studio panel postgame.

The outlandish part is the Gabby Williams part. She not only was a major disruptor, she defended every position including centers. She was arguably the best defensive player in the nation two years in a row.
 
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oldude

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#22
This year team is likely to be better offensively than the previous 2 years, but no way they are as good defensively, or even as good in passing.
I agree that UConn does not have the two shut down defenders in Gabby and Kia, defense is very much a team effort, and as a team, so far, this team is leading the nation in defense.

I completely agree that this team will not have anywhere near as many assists as either of the past two, but one of the criticisms of both of those teams is that they didn't have anyone to take the ball and score in key situations when the shot clock was running down, like either Morgan William or Arike Ogunbawle in each of the last two national semifinal games. This year, Geno is building that ability by letting every single starter "hunt their shot." Just think back to last year's game vs ND. UConn had a chance to win it in regulation. Wouldn't it have been great to have Christyn on the floor with the ball in her hands?
 

oldude

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#24
Statistically, last year's team was better offensively than any of the Stewart teams. This team isn't near as good on either side of the ball. If the freshmen were juniors maybe we'd have a legit comparison.
So are you saying that last year's team was better than 2015-16? I would remind you of the old saying, "There are 3 kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics."

I would also point out a comment that Geno made during his post game presser after the ND game when he was asked to comment on ND as a team. He was quite insightful when he said, "Just because you have everyone coming back, it doesn't mean you have the same team." Geno spoke from experience and was clearly referencing his own team from last season when he had 4 starters coming back, including three 1st team AA's.
 
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#25
Did you read the article at the link? Last year's adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency differential was better than any of the UConn title teams under Stewart.
So what does that tell you? Are you saying the last two years were better than any of Stewies? Head bang:rolleyes: Sometimes it’s good to trust your eyes instead of just reading numbers.
 
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