Rich Elliott of the Connecticut Post had an excellent article in advance of UConn's 90-40 rout of the Houston Cougars about Stefanie Dolson's improvement as a rebounder, which includes a combination of mental as well as physical improvements.
Along with her quickness, footwork and effort, Dolson said that she has a different mindset regarding rebounding.
"It's probably just not giving up and giving all your effort because some people aren't the best at tracking down balls," Dolson said. "I don't know why I'm terrible at reading where the ball's going to come off. So, with me, it's just about giving that extra effort to kind of get there and get the ball and kind of fight the other players to get it."
Dolson's statistics reflect the improvement as well, as highlighted in the sidebar in Elliott's piece: averaging a career-high 10 rebounds per game, Dolson is on pace to become just the fourth player in UConn history to average a double-double.
So what does that mean for her value as a 2014 WNBA Draft prospect, as discussed by Geno Auriemma in the SportsEdge video above?
To be specific, Dolson has improved her defensive rebounding. Through non-conference play, Dolson had a defensive rebounding percentage - the percentage of available defensive rebounds (i.e. missed shots by the opponent) that she secured - of 21.93%, up about 5% from last season's 16.79%; she has moved into the elite among defensive rebounders. And the fact that her percentage (and for what it's worth, her per minute average) has increased is a sign that her improved rebounding isn't necessarily about getting increased minutes - she's actually getting more defensive rebounds when she's on the floor.
However, Dolson's offensive rebounding percentage - the percentage of available offensive rebounds that she has secured and a skill that has been shown to transfer from college to pro in men's and women's basketball - has actually dropped a notch, from 10.40% last season to 9.2% in non-conference play this season. Yet that probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who has watched Uconn much this season: Dolson spends most of her time on the offensive end playing in the high post, putting her out of position for offensive rebounds in many cases. The fact that she even gets as many as she does as someone who's put out on the perimeter so often is actually a plus, even if it might not be counted as a dominant attribute looking ahead to the WNBA.
Regardless, as Auriemma states in the video, rebounding isn't (or shouldn't be) the thing that's going to make or break Dolson in the process of scouting for the WNBA: what's most impressive about her is the entire package she offers a WNBA team at 6-foot-5. In last night's game against the Houston Cougars, the senior fell short of recording her seventh double-double of the season but that's probably a byproduct of margin of victory: Dolson finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 blocks, not all that far from another triple-double.
It has been a while since we've seen a center with her combination of passing, rebounding, and scoring ability; as much as it might be difficult to predict how good she'll be as a pro, there's little question that she's among the top prospects in this draft and certainly the best interior prospect after Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike.