UConn freshmen look solid in debut
The comparisons between the two unlikeliest of players has emerged at the University of Connecticut.
Freshman Breanna Stewart, the six foot, four inch center has been likened to six foot guard Maya Moore.
The reason has had nothing to do with playing styles. Rather, the reason for the comparisons from coach Geno Auriemma has been the scoring mentality.
Both players, Auriemma has said and repeated Sunday afternoon, score at will from anywhere on the floor. With Stewart, her versatility has been a nightmare for opponents.
Sunday, Stewart scored 21 points, tying a record previously set by Moore.
Stewart said after the game that she's used to comparisons and that being likened to Moore will not phase her.
"People say a lot of nice things to me and I just try to overlook them," Stewart said. "They're nice to hear but after a while you have to realize that I have higher expectations than this."
With Stewart on the floor, the Huskies could go in a number of different directions. With Stewart on the court with a small lineup, it provides size but still allows UConn to get out and run the floor-the Huskies had 29 fast break points Sunday. It also allows Auriemma to bring in the team's other big players like Stefanie Dolson on the court and play a high-low game with players the 6-foot four-inch Stewart and the six-foot five-inch Dolson.
It also helps that Stewart is not a liability if sent to the free throw line. She was 5-5 Sunday from the charity stripe.
Stewart didn't just score and get assists, she was all over the place on defense as well. She grabbed five rebounds and recorded four steals, she also blocked a shot.
Another freshman to show amazing versatility was freshman Morgan Tuck.
Tuck scored 15 points on 7-11 shooting.
In back to back possessions she hit a three-pointer from the left corner and then followed that up with a turn-around right hookshot from the paint.
A player that can do things like that on offense is something that's not merely hard to defend, but it gives the offense more ability to do different things with different lineups.
On the defensive side, Tuck had two steals, two blocked shots and grabbed five defensive rebounds.
Tuck said that in practice she tries to do all the little things that coach Auriemma likes to see done by his players.
"To see it pay off in a game, it feels great," Tuck said.
The third of the UConn freshmen, guard Moriah Jefferson looked good at some spots, but was shaky at others.
On one play, she showed incredible athleticism, driving to the lane and instead of taking the layup, passed to a wide-open Tuck under the basket for an easy bucket. But in the first half alone, she had four turnovers and finished the game with five.
Auriemma said that it's a common thing for freshmen to try and do too much in a game, but from what he's seeing of her when she's making good decisions is impressive enough not to allow turnovers to concern him.
It's no debate whether or not these three can play, they showed they can. The question is whether they can handle a tough atmosphere against a really good team. The mental capacities of these freshmen is going to be tested next week when the Huskies travel to College Station, Tex. to face Texas A&M in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.
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