Once the final buzzer sounded Sunday afternoon and the Huskies dismantled UCF, there was an interesting nugget -- Katie Lou Samuelson did not record a single field goal. Wednesday night against Memphis was different for the senior. Much, much different.
“I’ve been shooting so much my whole life that it’s kind of just second nature to me,” Samuelson said. “I felt really good in practice. I felt really good in shoot around today. I’m going to continue to shoot if teams do give me 3’s like I was getting tonight.”
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said he is never concerned about players who miss shots. However, when players struggle to find ways to create shots from where they are comfortable, that catches his attention.
“I don’t worry too much about when kids are not making shots,” Auriemma said. “I worry about if they’re not getting shots. If I’m not doing my job in getting them shots, that’s when I get a little bit concerned.”
Samuelson did not struggle to get any shots, especially in the first half. The senior was able to start her night scoring just 19 seconds into the game with a silky-smooth 3-pointer. During the first half of the 102-45 victory, Samuelson knocked down 7-for-8 3-point attempts. Her offensive prowess drew the admiration from freshman Olivia Nelson-Ododa.
“She’s amazing. Honestly, it’s unbelievable what she does,” Nelson-Ododa said. “She went what, 7-for-8 from 3 in the first half? That’s unheard of. That’s amazing. She is really the only person that can really do that. Not to mention just getting involved with rebounds and assists and sharing the ball. She does all that so well.”
Auriemma was also impressed with Samuelson’s ability to rebound and pass the ball on her way to recording her sixth double-double of the season with 10 rebounds to go along with a season-high 32 points.
“The rebounding was really cool,” Auriemma said. “There was a stretch there where she rebounded really, really well throughout the first half. She just had a great game tonight. She was locked in, you know, she was active.”
Samuelson did not wait for the ball to come to her, which separated her from a lesser-type of rebounder.
“There are two kinds of rebounders, what I call the ‘accidental rebounder,’ where the ball lands in their hands because they have to be standing in the right spot,” Auriemma said. “ And then there is those guys who go get rebounds. Tonight she just went and got ‘em and that was really cool for me to see.”
Samuelson was able to dish out seven of the team’s 32 assists as well. Auriemma said once the team put her at the top of the zone on offense and Crystal Dangerfield on the wing, Samuelson was able to see clearer.
“I know that I’m going to have to do a lot more moving on from here,” Samuelson said. “When we get into tournament play and without 3’s going in, you know, I’ve had to get myself involved in other ways. I can’t just stay on the 3-point line. So, it’s definitely something that has made me and pushed me to develop an all-around game.”
Samuelson said when she is shooting the ball so well, like she did Wednesday night, it can be hard to make that next pass, but she has gained a significant amount of trust in her teammates. The goal for her and the rest of team, Samuelson said, is to give the ball to the player with the best opportunity to make a shot.
There was one point toward the end of the game where Samuelson even drew up a play for the second unit. Auriemma said he let her have the spotlight for a specific reason.
“I already got five guys who don’t listen to me and that’s the first five,” Auriemma said. “I didn’t want to now also have five more guys who completely ignore me. So I said, ‘Lou, why don’t you talk to ‘em, see if they figure out what you’re saying?’”
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.