"The ball must have been lopsided on something."
Those words were echoed by Connecticut Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis after her 0-7 shooting performance from 3 against Holy Cross, mirroring a similar story once told by coach Geno Auriemma about former UConn great Maya Moore.
It was never her, it was always the ball.
While Mosqueda-Lewis’ shooting was a tad disappointing for the former high school Naismith Player of the Year, it was a complete anomaly. An irregularity she hopes to remedy tonight when the Connecticut Huskies take on University of the Pacific (7:30 PM, CPTV).
"Kaleena [Mosqueda] Lewis missed more shots [against Holy Cross] than she’s missed the whole time she’s been here,’’ Auriemma said. "And she’s not going to have a problem getting shots. This kid’s a shot magnet. Wherever shots are, that’s where she ends up. So I’m not worried about her.’’
While Kaleena struggled to shoot the ball, that’s where her struggles ended. It was refreshing to see a player not affected by whether they were making shots or not.
Kaleena is smooth. A lot smoother than people gave her credit for. I once saw her compared by someone as a similar player to April Sykes and that can't be further from the truth. She has obviously been working out and taking advantage of the strength and conditioning program at UConn. But the extra weight that she had on her before allowed her to develop the ability to bang inside against bigger bodies, teaching her the fundamentals to allow her to be an efficient rebounder against bigger posts. Mosqueda-Lewis finished with seven rebounds and one steal in 28 minutes against the Crusaders.
"I was pleased with the seven rebounds,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. "I felt very strong. Kelly Faris-like.’’
While Kaleena only collected 7 points on 3-12 shooting, her mindset and mechanics did not change. She kept shooting. She didn't show much of taking people off the dribble but she can legitimately get any shot that she wants partially because of her basketball I.Q. and strength. Her shot is very "guy like" - great mechanics and balance. Always proper elevation and height. You always think it is going in because her aim is never off. Every shot is on proper line and in rhythm. You are shocked when shots don’t get in because they always look perfect leaving her hands.
While her offense is what I think most of Kaleena’s reputation is written on, her defense is not too shabby - I was actually most impressed by her defense.
Kaleena was extremely active in UConn’s defensive scheme. She had a number of deflections and near steals. Her lateral quickness needs to improve as she can sometimes get beaten off the dribble when guarding the perimeter but the kid is scrappy and deceivingly quick. You think you can make that pass and she quickly proves you wrong by stealing it.
She is a great player and a great kid. Funny, engaging and competitive.
Kaleena will be great even on nights the ball is lopsided. I don't know if I believe Maya Moore great but in all honesty, I didn't think Maya would be 'Maya great' her freshman year. I just thought Maya was an unbelievable shooter with an undying will to win.
Kaleena has a chance to get a taste of west coast flavor in her life again against the Tigers. The Huskies beat Pacific 85-42 in Stockton, last season, the final victory in their 90-game winning streak.
Look for Kaleena to be the one checking the air pressure in the ball and draining 3’s.
For the first installment of our impact freshmen series, see the article on Tennessee Lady Vols point guard Ariel Massengale.