Women’s Basketball: Coach Auriemma balancing the bench

Despite the overwhelming victory, the Huskies bench is still trying to find its role. Photo by Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus

The UConn women’s basketball team may have opened 2019 with a loss at Baylor, but on Wednesday night they proved they have put that loss behind them, with a definitive 82-38 victory over Cincinnati.

In the new AP Top 25 poll released this week the Huskies were ranked third in the nation. The last time UConn was ranked third was the second week of the 2016-17 season.

Unlike their loss against Baylor, the Huskies were dominant on the defensive end. The Bearcats committed 25 turnovers, which UConn capitalized on and turned into 18 points.

“You really have to work hard to create those opportunities and I think we were more aggressive defensively tonight than we have been in a while,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “And because the ball went in the basket, it allowed us to set up some things that we wanted to work on. I thought we did a lot of really good things tonight and our defense started it off.”

Wednesday’s game marked the Huskies’ first game at Gampel since Nov. 11. Their last four matchups were away and any other home games after Nov. 11 were played in Hartford.

“You could tell we love playing here and you could tell that the feeling with the team at shootaround today everyone was in a better mood almost just because you know you’re home and you know you’re going to have that support,” Katie Lou Samuelson said.

The win at Gampel is the second game UConn has played in their conference so far. The Huskies have never lost a game in the American Athletic Conference since its inception. UConn’s dominance in the AAC allows bench players to accumulate more minutes and experience. However, Coach Auriemma mentioned a conundrum he is in with giving bench players more playing minutes.

“We have guys that need to play and I know that, and when they play they don’t play the way I expect them to play, and then if I keep playing them, they think that they’re playing like that is okay,” Auriemma said. “And then if I don’t play them, then I’m not giving them an opportunity to get better. It’s a fine line that I’m trying to figure out.”

Auriemma said that a solution to this is mixing and matching players from the starting five with bench players. He employs starter Samuelson the most to play with bench players.

“Lou is our backup point guard and our backup forward and she’s our starting whatever,” Auriemma said. “So, she can fill a lot of different spots and help them navigate where they need to be and help them, more than anybody else can help them on our team. So, I like having her out there with them.”

Despite the massive win, the Huskies’ bench produced only seven points in the game.

Next up, UConn will be playing USF on Sunday at 1 p.m. before heading to New Orleans to play Tulane.


Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mariana.dominguez@uconn.edu.