The Sophomore Leap is Coming!



oldude

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Just about every year UConn WBB fans scratch their heads and wonder how the Huskies will ever replace the incredible talent that graduates to the WNBA. This past season was no different with the loss of Pheesa and Lou, both 3x AA’s, the highest scoring duo in the history of the program. The good news is that each succeeding year, Geno and his staff work their magic. Freshmen learn the ropes, reserves become solid players and role players take the next step to become superstars.

This coming season, we can look forward to the contribution of a bunch of newbies: Aubrey, Ania, Evelyn and hopefully Evina. We can also expect solid leadership from Kyla, Touly and Molly and hopefully some key PT from time to time. After a solid sophomore year, indications are that Megan is working hard to come back in the best condition of her life, set to assume a major role that may confirm why she was rated as the top player in her HS class. After one “final” hip surgery, Crystal should be completely healthy for the first time at UConn, while solidifying her status as the “best pure pg” in the nation.

Most importantly, if past seasons are any indication, UConn can expect to see a significant sophomore leap from Christyn & Liv that could lead the Huskies back to a record 13th straight FF and possibly a 12th National Championship. While every school in college basketball hopes to see their freshmen develop into solid players, at UConn it’s not so much a hope as a given, particularly when it comes to top rated HS players.

Last season Christyn started every game as a freshman, something that few, if any, Huskies have ever done. While she had a minor brush with the freshman wall about mid-season, Christyn was so good during the back end of last season, it was easy to forget she was a freshman. During the Big Dance, when even the best freshmen can stumble (DT shot 1/15 in her 1st trip to the FF) Christyn was outstanding. In her first trip to the NCAA tournament, in 5 games total, Christyn was UConn’s 2nd leading scorer behind Pheesa, hitting double figures in every game. For the tournament, she averaged 17.4 ppg, 49% from the field, 44% from the arc, 79% FT, 3.6 rpg, 3 apg with an A/TO ratio of 2.1.

The best thing about Christyn’s performance last year is that this year she will be even better. An incredibly hard worker, in addition to an off-season that included developing basketball skills, strength training and conditioning, Christyn added an ambitious 3 x 3 schedule to compete against some of the very best competition around the globe. With Geno’s blessing, Christyn spent a good part of the summer improving her aggressiveness and creativity with the ball in her hands, earning a gold medal with her USA teammates in the Pan American Games. By the last competition of the summer in France, Christyn was the very best player on the US team, which was no small feat, considering that one of her teammates was the odds-on favorite to be the NPOY this season.

Christyn is in a class of players that includes Durr, Ogunbawle, Ionescu and Carter, with the potential to be as good or better than all of them. She has excellent size and strength for a guard with the ability to knock down 3’s, pull up from midrange, or finish strong at the basket with either hand. Through the course of last season she became a better rebounder, passer and defender. While UConn will have some outstanding players this season, I expect Christyn to be the Huskies best player with a great opportunity to earn AA recognition.

While Christyn may be UConn’s best player this coming season, Liv will be UConn’s most important player. BY’ers have lamented UConn’s lack of Bigs for some time. Well here’s a little-known secret. Liv is a Big. In fact, she is one of the most athletic Bigs in college basketball since Stewie. Don’t get me wrong. Liv is not Stewie. But she can run the court, elevate, move her feet and has really good hands, skills that translate into an enormous upside for a 6’5” post.

It bears repeating that before the bad injury that put Liv on the shelf for HS, AAU & USA basketball her entire junior year, she was the #1 rated HS player just ahead of her current roommate at Storrs. She had a lot of catching up to do when she got to UConn, but her improvement over the course of the season was exceptional.

Liv spent the entire summer in Storrs working to get stronger. I was exhilarated when I first saw her new, lean, muscular frame during the PanAm games, when she and her teammates earned the 3 x 3 gold. While Christyn was developing her isolation skills playing 3 x 3, Liv’s primary goal was slightly different. I suspect Geno wanted Liv to get used to moving her feet, switching on defense as well as getting a feel for when to release from the player she was guarding to challenge a shooter in the paint. In the PanAm games, there were several instances where Liv did just that, swatting away shots with a ferocity that was reminiscent of my favorite play from this past season. Everyone remembers the play vs ND when Mabrey drove to the basket for a layup and was rejected by Liv. Mabrey was left seated on the floor, pleading with the officials to get the name of the truck that ran over her, while UConn raced the other way with ball for an easy bucket.

For UConn to be great this coming season, Liv doesn’t need to score 20 ppg. With all the scorers on this team, if Liv averages a very doable 10 & 10, stays out of foul trouble and becomes a defensive force in the paint, UConn will be great. Liv’s defensive presence will allow UConn to pressure the ball, force more turnovers resulting in more easy fast break baskets.

So that’s my take. The sophomore leap is coming for Christyn and Liv. Like most on the BY, I’m incredibly excited and impatient for the upcoming season to begin. Watching our two talented sophomores lead this team to the promised land will be a beautiful thing.
 

Carnac

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Excellent post OD, one of your best. I agree with all of your observations, and I also wait with great anticipation for the season to begin. I think Liv can very easily do a 10 & 10 every game. Like Geno commented on Pheesa this year in Minnesota, last year will be the worst she’ll be during her time here.

All of the posts I’ve read recently commenting on ONO, seem to assume that she will start this year, which she will. After the holiday break, I expect Liv to be almost unrecognizable from last year.

I think Christyn has already shown that she has made the anticipated sophomore leap with her play in the PamAm games. Now we’re just waiting on confirmation from Liv. I think she’s going to raise a lot of eyebrows this year. She deferred to the seniors last year, which she should have. It was not her time. That ship has sailed. Collier passed the baton to her after the final game last year and told her to “run with it.”

I’m not predicting anything just yet, simply suggesting that her play this year could warrant serious consideration by the AA selection committee.

UConn is going to be a fun team to watch this season. So many new players to watch, and the fact that this season will be UConn’s fair well run through the American Conference makes it even more interesting. Can they go through the conference one last time without a loss?

While most AAC teams will be glad to see them gone, I imagine everyone of them would like to send them out the door with a loss. I doubt it will happen, but it will be fun watching them try. For most of these teams, it should be the last time they ever see the Huskies.

How will Geno manage to blend all of the talent on this year’s team into a cohesive and highly functional unit? A challenge I’m sure he’s looking forward to. Of course the boneyard collective is standing by to give him all of the help (advice) and support he may need. No doubt you’ll get a lot of feedback on this post. Thanks.
 
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oldude

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Just trying to figure out how the leadership skills of Touly and Molly and Kyla will translate from sitting on the bench..please to explain...
I appreciate the question. While I don’t know how it works at Duke, at UConn, leadership starts with summer workouts, practice and yes, the games themselves. Kyla, Molly & Touly are 3 incredibly hard workers, who all know UConn’s system and will be expected to pass on their knowledge of what is expected in terms of effort and execution to their less experienced teammates.

Kyla in particular is one of the most knowledgeable basketball players I’ve seen at UConn, someone who many of us expect to follow in her mother’s footsteps to become a coach.

Several years ago, one of UConn’s unsung leaders was senior and former walk-on Tierney Lawler, a player who seldom saw the court during games until mop up time.
 

HuskylnSC

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From what I have seen Kyla is highly vocal and very encouraging. One of the rocks of camaraderie. What I have heard is that no one works harder than Molly. One of the great benefits of being a UConn fan, is our excitement for the performance of the whole roster. During the blowouts, I can't wait to get through the starters in the 3rd quarter to see how my bench favorites are improving. I get excited over every little hustle play. Molly getting a finger on a pass so someone else gets the interception. Kyla uses position to keep a rebound alive. The hard work and the attention to detail of these two ladies are representative of everything good in @UCWBB. It's not their stats that I care about, it's how they play the game. And don't think for a minute that what they do isn't used as a teaching example to the superstar freshmen and sophomores.
 

Carnac

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From what I have seen Kyla is highly vocal and very encouraging. One of the rocks of camaraderie. What I have heard is that no one works harder than Molly. One of the great benefits of being a UConn fan, is our excitement for the performance of the whole roster. During the blowouts, I can't wait to get through the starters in the 3rd quarter to see how my bench favorites are improving. I get excited over every little hustle play. Molly getting a finger on a pass so someone else gets the interception. Kyla uses position to keep a rebound alive. The hard work and the attention to detail of these two ladies are representative of everything good in @UCWBB. It's not their stats that I care about, it's how they play the game. And don't think for a minute that what they do isn't used as a teaching example to the superstar freshmen and sophomores.

Well said sir!! ;)
 
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Just about every year UConn WBB fans scratch their heads and wonder how the Huskies will ever replace the incredible talent that graduates to the WNBA. This past season was no different with the loss of Pheesa and Lou, both 3x AA’s, the highest scoring duo in the history of the program. The good news is that each succeeding year, Geno and his staff work their magic. Freshmen learn the ropes, reserves become solid players and role players take the next step to become superstars.

This coming season, we can look forward to the contribution of a bunch of newbies: Aubrey, Ania, Evelyn and hopefully Evina. We can also expect solid leadership from Kyla, Touly and Molly and hopefully some key PT from time to time. After a solid sophomore year, indications are that Megan is working hard to come back in the best condition of her life, set to assume a major role that may confirm why she was rated as the top player in her HS class. After one “final” hip surgery, Crystal should be completely healthy for the first time at UConn, while solidifying her status as the “best pure pg” in the nation.

Most importantly, if past seasons are any indication, UConn can expect to see a significant sophomore leap from Christyn & Liv that could lead the Huskies back to a record 13th straight FF and possibly a 12th National Championship. While every school in college basketball hopes to see their freshmen develop into solid players, at UConn it’s not so much a hope as a given, particularly when it comes to top rated HS players.

Last season Christyn started every game as a freshman, something that few, if any, Huskies have ever done. While she had a minor brush with the freshman wall about mid-season, Christyn was so good during the back end of last season, it was easy to forget she was a freshman. During the Big Dance, when even the best freshmen can stumble (DT shot 1/15 in her 1st trip to the FF) Christyn was outstanding. In her first trip to the NCAA tournament, in 5 games total, Christyn was UConn’s 2nd leading scorer behind Pheesa, hitting double figures in every game. For the tournament, she averaged 17.4 ppg, 49% from the field, 44% from the arc, 79% FT, 3.6 rpg, 3 apg with an A/TO ratio of 2.1.

The best thing about Christyn’s performance last year is that this year she will be even better. An incredibly hard worker, in addition to an off-season that included developing basketball skills, strength training and conditioning, Christyn added an ambitious 3 x 3 schedule to compete against some of the very best competition around the globe. With Geno’s blessing, Christyn spent a good part of the summer improving her aggressiveness and creativity with the ball in her hands, earning a gold medal with her USA teammates in the Pan American Games. By the last competition of the summer in France, Christyn was the very best player on the US team, which was no small feat, considering that one of her teammates was the odds-on favorite to be the NPOY this season.

Christyn is in a class of players that includes Durr, Ogunbawle, Ionescu and Carter, with the potential to be as good or better than all of them. She has excellent size and strength for a guard with the ability to knock down 3’s, pull up from midrange, or finish strong at the basket with either hand. Through the course of last season she became a better rebounder, passer and defender. While UConn will have some outstanding players this season, I expect Christyn to be the Huskies best player with a great opportunity to earn AA recognition.

While Christyn may be UConn’s best player this coming season, Liv will be UConn’s most important player. BY’ers have lamented UConn’s lack of Bigs for some time. Well here’s a little-known secret. Liv is a Big. In fact, she is one of the most athletic Bigs in college basketball since Stewie. Don’t get me wrong. Liv is not Stewie. But she can run the court, elevate, move her feet and has really good hands, skills that translate into an enormous upside for a 6’5” post.

It bears repeating that before the bad injury that put Liv on the shelf for HS, AAU & USA basketball her entire junior year, she was the #1 rated HS player just ahead of her current roommate at Storrs. She had a lot of catching up to do when she got to UConn, but her improvement over the course of the season was exceptional.

Liv spent the entire summer in Storrs working to get stronger. I was exhilarated when I first saw her new, lean, muscular frame during the PanAm games, when she and her teammates earned the 3 x 3 gold. While Christyn was developing her isolation skills playing 3 x 3, Liv’s primary goal was slightly different. I suspect Geno wanted Liv to get used to moving her feet, switching on defense as well as getting a feel for when to release from the player she was guarding to challenge a shooter in the paint. In the PanAm games, there were several instances where Liv did just that, swatting away shots with a ferocity that was reminiscent of my favorite play from this past season. Everyone remembers the play vs ND when Mabrey drove to the basket for a layup and was rejected by Liv. Mabrey was left seated on the floor, pleading with the officials to get the name of the truck that ran over her, while UConn raced the other way with ball for an easy bucket.

For UConn to be great this coming season, Liv doesn’t need to score 20 ppg. With all the scorers on this team, if Liv averages a very doable 10 & 10, stays out of foul trouble and becomes a defensive force in the paint, UConn will be great. Liv’s defensive presence will allow UConn to pressure the ball, force more turnovers resulting in more easy fast break baskets.

So that’s my take. The sophomore leap is coming for Christyn and Liv. Like most on the BY, I’m incredibly excited and impatient for the upcoming season to begin. Watching our two talented sophomores lead this team to the promised land will be a beautiful thing.

You nailed it! :)
 
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Just about every year UConn WBB fans scratch their heads and wonder how the Huskies will ever replace the incredible talent that graduates to the WNBA. This past season was no different with the loss of Pheesa and Lou, both 3x AA’s, the highest scoring duo in the history of the program. The good news is that each succeeding year, Geno and his staff work their magic. Freshmen learn the ropes, reserves become solid players and role players take the next step to become superstars.

This coming season, we can look forward to the contribution of a bunch of newbies: Aubrey, Ania, Evelyn and hopefully Evina. We can also expect solid leadership from Kyla, Touly and Molly and hopefully some key PT from time to time. After a solid sophomore year, indications are that Megan is working hard to come back in the best condition of her life, set to assume a major role that may confirm why she was rated as the top player in her HS class. After one “final” hip surgery, Crystal should be completely healthy for the first time at UConn, while solidifying her status as the “best pure pg” in the nation.

Most importantly, if past seasons are any indication, UConn can expect to see a significant sophomore leap from Christyn & Liv that could lead the Huskies back to a record 13th straight FF and possibly a 12th National Championship. While every school in college basketball hopes to see their freshmen develop into solid players, at UConn it’s not so much a hope as a given, particularly when it comes to top rated HS players.

Last season Christyn started every game as a freshman, something that few, if any, Huskies have ever done. While she had a minor brush with the freshman wall about mid-season, Christyn was so good during the back end of last season, it was easy to forget she was a freshman. During the Big Dance, when even the best freshmen can stumble (DT shot 1/15 in her 1st trip to the FF) Christyn was outstanding. In her first trip to the NCAA tournament, in 5 games total, Christyn was UConn’s 2nd leading scorer behind Pheesa, hitting double figures in every game. For the tournament, she averaged 17.4 ppg, 49% from the field, 44% from the arc, 79% FT, 3.6 rpg, 3 apg with an A/TO ratio of 2.1.

The best thing about Christyn’s performance last year is that this year she will be even better. An incredibly hard worker, in addition to an off-season that included developing basketball skills, strength training and conditioning, Christyn added an ambitious 3 x 3 schedule to compete against some of the very best competition around the globe. With Geno’s blessing, Christyn spent a good part of the summer improving her aggressiveness and creativity with the ball in her hands, earning a gold medal with her USA teammates in the Pan American Games. By the last competition of the summer in France, Christyn was the very best player on the US team, which was no small feat, considering that one of her teammates was the odds-on favorite to be the NPOY this season.

Christyn is in a class of players that includes Durr, Ogunbawle, Ionescu and Carter, with the potential to be as good or better than all of them. She has excellent size and strength for a guard with the ability to knock down 3’s, pull up from midrange, or finish strong at the basket with either hand. Through the course of last season she became a better rebounder, passer and defender. While UConn will have some outstanding players this season, I expect Christyn to be the Huskies best player with a great opportunity to earn AA recognition.

While Christyn may be UConn’s best player this coming season, Liv will be UConn’s most important player. BY’ers have lamented UConn’s lack of Bigs for some time. Well here’s a little-known secret. Liv is a Big. In fact, she is one of the most athletic Bigs in college basketball since Stewie. Don’t get me wrong. Liv is not Stewie. But she can run the court, elevate, move her feet and has really good hands, skills that translate into an enormous upside for a 6’5” post.

It bears repeating that before the bad injury that put Liv on the shelf for HS, AAU & USA basketball her entire junior year, she was the #1 rated HS player just ahead of her current roommate at Storrs. She had a lot of catching up to do when she got to UConn, but her improvement over the course of the season was exceptional.

Liv spent the entire summer in Storrs working to get stronger. I was exhilarated when I first saw her new, lean, muscular frame during the PanAm games, when she and her teammates earned the 3 x 3 gold. While Christyn was developing her isolation skills playing 3 x 3, Liv’s primary goal was slightly different. I suspect Geno wanted Liv to get used to moving her feet, switching on defense as well as getting a feel for when to release from the player she was guarding to challenge a shooter in the paint. In the PanAm games, there were several instances where Liv did just that, swatting away shots with a ferocity that was reminiscent of my favorite play from this past season. Everyone remembers the play vs ND when Mabrey drove to the basket for a layup and was rejected by Liv. Mabrey was left seated on the floor, pleading with the officials to get the name of the truck that ran over her, while UConn raced the other way with ball for an easy bucket.

For UConn to be great this coming season, Liv doesn’t need to score 20 ppg. With all the scorers on this team, if Liv averages a very doable 10 & 10, stays out of foul trouble and becomes a defensive force in the paint, UConn will be great. Liv’s defensive presence will allow UConn to pressure the ball, force more turnovers resulting in more easy fast break baskets.

So that’s my take. The sophomore leap is coming for Christyn and Liv. Like most on the BY, I’m incredibly excited and impatient for the upcoming season to begin. Watching our two talented sophomores lead this team to the promised land will be a beautiful thing.
OLDUDE, good stuff---more, more, more give us MORE.
Lots of words to agree with and I do. Chrystn Williams (CW) (Okey Dokey) I touted early on as the Second coming of DT because of her confidence. I was wrong a bit but only a bit. She has ice in her veins. What I didn't count on was her Arkansan breeding--the nice girl thing. She deferred to Geno to upper class men. That was not DT. But against ND early she dropped 28 on them--ala DT and I'll hit anything orange--this time it's green. CW doesn't need to have a huge leap maybe just a step up. The talent, desire and confidence is within her. Look for her to Shine brightly as the focus of Geno attacking offense.
ONO, Olivia Nelson Od, came on strong after December she learned to control the swatting however she was hurt more by her STEWIE issues--the REFS don't believe she can do what she does do. Most of her fouls were not REAL fouls they were anticipated. Had Geno, yes it takes courage sometimes, believed ONLY a bit in ONO in the final games if he would have let her stay until she fouled out--her presence was a huge difference in the game--to me her being in the game or out was the difference. Confidence, Geno, is a 2 way street, give some to CW and ONO.This season is for them to win or lose--expect wins. As usual I expect 2 losses by NCAA time (usually I'm wrong)
Uconn to the FF with hopes to the NC, the talent, confidence, desire is among all on this team.
 
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From what I have seen Kyla is highly vocal and very encouraging. One of the rocks of camaraderie. What I have heard is that no one works harder than Molly. One of the great benefits of being a UConn fan, is our excitement for the performance of the whole roster. During the blowouts, I can't wait to get through the starters in the 3rd quarter to see how my bench favorites are improving. I get excited over every little hustle play. Molly getting a finger on a pass so someone else gets the interception. Kyla uses position to keep a rebound alive. The hard work and the attention to detail of these two ladies are representative of everything good in @UCWBB. It's not their stats that I care about, it's how they play the game. And don't think for a minute that what they do isn't used as a teaching example to the superstar freshmen and sophomores.
You are not alone with BENCH FAV's 2,000,000 Uconn WBB fans all feel the same way. Now if the confidence of CW or Westbrook leak into the brains of these 2 Uconn will have 2 near great players. I t is not for the lack of talent or the lack of desire or the lack of work in practicing hard. CONFIDENCE. Their good games came when they forgot which end of the bench they came from and just played. No doubt they have the package minus confidence.
 
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I appreciate the question. While I don’t know how it works at Duke, at UConn, leadership starts with summer workouts, practice and yes, the games themselves. Kyla, Molly & Touly are 3 incredibly hard workers, who all know UConn’s system and will be expected to pass on their knowledge of what is expected in terms of effort and execution to their less experienced teammates.

Kyla in particular is one of the most knowledgeable basketball players I’ve seen at UConn, someone who many of us expect to follow in her mother’s footsteps to become a coach.

Several years ago, one of UConn’s unsung leaders was senior and former walk-on Tierney Lawler, a player who seldom saw the court during games until mop up time.
Molly is super intelligent a thinker with skills of near greatness, as does Irwin. Irwin has some speed/quickness issues but not work ethic, abilities, even talent issues . Sometimes Intelligent people over think and analyze too much in WCBB, rote works wonders, and let the body do what it knows it can do--let the brain just float a bit.
 

RockyMTblue2

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Didn't see this before I posted the article elsewhere, but relevant to both threads. I really like ONO speaking on what the 3X3 experience has done.

“It was definitely a great experience to be there with one of my UConn teammates and I learned so much from the girls from Oregon that they shared with us,” Nelson-Ododa said. “It was my first experience with 3x3 and it was very exciting. It’s definitely different than 5x5. The pace is totally different and 3x3 showcases more your one-on-one skills. You also have to work on guarding smaller players. That’s a big thing for me.

“And the physicality of the game was definitely different being overseas. They didn’t call any of the fouls that you would see over here. But you learned to work through that, finish and score through that. Dealing with that is something I think will definitely help me being back here.”
 
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Excellent post OD, one of your best. I agree with all of your observations, and I also wait with great anticipation for the season to begin. I think Liv can very easily do a 10 & 10 every game.

I think Christyn has already shown that she has made the anticipated sophomore leap with her play in the PamAm games. Now we’re just waiting on confirmation from Liv. I think she’s going to raise a lot of eyebrows this year.

UConn is going to be a fun team to watch this season. So many new players to watch, and the fact that this season will be UConn’s fair well run through the American Conference makes it even more interesting. Can they go through the conference one last time without a loss? While most AAC teams will be glad to see them gone, I imagine everyone of them would like to send them out the door with a loss. I doubt it will happen, but it will be fun watching them try. For most of these teams, it should be the last time they ever see the Huskies.

How will Geno manage to blend all of the talent on this year’s team into a cohesive and highly functional unit? A challenge I’m sure he’s looking forward to. No doubt you’ll get a lot of feedback on this post. Thanks.
Nice stuff Carnac, nice. Your last paragraph---I'm prone to say: Geno will do his magic with whomever he may have--but you knew that. What the fun of the early pre and early season is speculating on who will do what and how they will blend. But blend they shall.
I'm sure you are correct--after all you have the hat to prove your wizzardery (sp) Some in the AAC shall say don't let the door hit you in the backside on the way out the league will lose ALL credibility without Uconn showing up in all bracketsof excellence for the NCAA to show off
 
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A NC is possible this year but it would take some breaks. However, the year after could see the first of a long run of NCs.
 

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