"I’m starting to get excited about this team."
Those were the words of coach Geno Auriemma on Wednesday night after, UConn concluded its exhibition season with a 100 – 41 win over Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The UConn coach had a lot to be excited about. The Huskies had impressive performances from four of their freshmen, and the normally stellar performances by upperclassmen senior forward Maya Moore, junior guard Tiffany Hayes, and sophomore guard Kelly Faris.
UConn was led in scoring by freshman forward Samarie Walker with 22 points and 15 rebounds and freshman guard Bria Hartley, who was surprised with the start before the game, with 18 points and 7 assists. The freshmen admitted to being nervous before the game. They didn’t show it very much as they put the Crimson Hawks away early, leading 31-5 halfway through the first half.
Coach Auriemma is extra encouraged by Walker’s game. "That’s two games in a row now. Hopefully that’s what we can get every night. It’s pretty impressive." He went on to say, "She has a knack for the ball, a certain toughness in the lane, she finishes around the basket. Out of everyone that has played she has surprised me the most."
Maya Moore was impressed with Hartley’s aggressiveness. "She has an aggressive mindset. It’s important to come out to a good start and she realizes that. It doesn’t matter of she starts or comes off the bench. It was fun having her out there," Moore said. Hartley was dynamic in her role. Not afraid to shoot, penetrate, or at times slow the game down.
Freshman guard Lauren Engeln might not pass the ball as much as her coach would like but she did display some nifty offensive moves that netted her 8 points. "They don’t have the luxury of being real freshmen, sitting back and watching. They have to get in there and do their strengths," echoed Maya Moore.
Another freshman playing to her strength was center Stefanie Dolson with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. She was aggressive on both ends of the floor and imposed her presence on the much smaller IUP lineup.
While the freshmen were impressive, the upperclassmen made sure not to be forgotten. Maya Moore was an impressive 7-7 from the field, finishing with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, 1 block and an uncharacteristic 5 turnovers. Kelly Faris was all over the floor, almost literally, contributing 8 points, 9 boards and 7 assists. Tiffany Hayes added 12 points in 18 minutes of action.
IUP was led by freshman forward Chelsea Gieringer with 9 points, and Katelyn Marshall added 8 points. The Crimson Hawks were held to 14 rebounds the entire game, while UConn had 16 offensive boards alone and 53 total.
While UConn was solid on most aspects of the game, there are still a lot of unknowns. Coach Geno Auriemma is still searching for the answers of what he is going to get on a routine basis. "We are trying to find an identity. Right now they don’t have one," Coach Auriemma said. "I don’t worry about us wanting to shoot, wanting to score wanting to be aggressive. I don’t worry about any of that. It’s guarding somebody, getting a rebound, contesting a shot, setting a screen. Things they never had to do their whole lives. Every day I am still trying to figure them out."
UConn’s next jump ball is the start of the 2010-2011 campaign. UConn takes on Holy Cross Sunday at 2:00 PM at Gampel Pavilion.