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Women's Basketball: Huskies deal with layoff before Duke matchup

Associate Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 23:12

Right about now, we could all use a break.

Whether it be a 20-minute break from studying or the upcoming month-long semester break, just about every student in Storrs that’s feeling the pressure of finals is looking forward to their next pause.

Though they may not get a full month between semesters like the rest of us, the UConn women’s basketball team is in the midst of a break of their own.

Following their win over UC-Davis Thursday, the Huskies began a 12-day hiatus from their regular season schedule, in large part to focus on finals.

Unlike most of us, however, breaks aren’t necessarily a good thing for Geno Auriemma’s crew.

“I think if players had their druthers, they’d rather play games than practice,” Auriemma said during a four-games-in-five-days stretch last month.

Now, it’s completely opposite.

“It’s just too many days of practice,” Auriemma said. “And you know, you have to be careful because it’s just training, training, training without no outlet. They’ll practice really hard if they know at the end there’s a game…Then to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got 12 days and we’re going to practice our (butts) off. Well when do we play? Twelve days from now.’ That’s a little bit harder, and then you throw in exams. It’s a grind.”

Staying focused during that time, a period of the year in which the Huskies often begin to implement new schemes and strategies to utilize later on in the season and come tournament time, is crucial. Especially with a trip to Cameron Indoor and No. 2 Duke – perhaps UConn’s toughest test of the season – up next on the docket.

Perhaps, though, having such a daunting matchup on the horizon can be an incentive to stay sharp during the layover?
“I’ve always said, during that stretch during finals, you either want the best team in the country waiting for you at the end of finals, or you want the worst team in the country,” Auriemma said. “You don’t want somebody in between, that’s just a terrible game to play unless it’s somebody that’s going to get your attention. And certainly, that game (against Duke) is going to get everybody’s attention, no question about that.”

The trip to Tobacco Road is just the third of five games on UConn’s December schedule – a major change of pace from the season’s opening month, when the Huskies crammed in 10 games.

The final two contests of 2013 come in the form of a Dec. 22 trip to Madison Square Garden, where they will take on No. 21 California in the Maggie Dixon Classic. UConn will wrap up the month by opening American Athletic Conference play against Cincinnati at Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 29.

The Huskies play five games in 2014 before the beginning of the spring semester, including one at Webster Bank Arena, UConn’s newest “home” arena. The January slate is highlighted by a Jan. 13 trip to Waco, Texas for a matchup with No. 9 Baylor.


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