The UConn women’s basketball season begins this weekend when the Huskies take on Vanguard in their first exhibition game.
The Lions were ranked No. 1 in the first edition of the 2018-19 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches Poll. UConn should not have much difficulty defeating them however, as the last time the two teams met in 2015 the Huskies prevailed 98-18.
Vanguard is coached by Russ Davis who is in his 23rd season with the squad. He is a four-time NAIA Coach of the Year and enters the 2018-19 season with an overall record of 579-139. Karlie Samuelson, the sister of UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson, is in her second season as an assistant coach on the team.
This will be the first time fans will get to see the new Husky squad play together. The team lost three players to graduation last year and there has been much talk about how the new squad will fare.
Senior Samuelson detailed what makes this year’s team different from ones from the last couple of seasons.
“This team is really different,” Samuelson said. “We have a lot of players that don’t necessarily have experience playing in games and close games and tough situations so we have a lot to kind of make up for.”
The team has been practicing for a couple of weeks now and head coach Geno Auriemma has been trying to figure out how to fill the gaps of the players who graduated.
“I think that’s what practice is going to be about, you know, we’re going to have to figure out who can contribute and in what manner,” Auriemma said.
So far, practice has been a learning experience for the team.
“We’ve had ups and downs like any team,” Samuelson said. “There’s always going to be ups and downs especially at the beginning of the year. Practices are tough and they’re tougher than they’re ever going to be. You know, as a team we have to push through the tough times, but they’ve been good. We still have a lot to learn about each other.”
The game against Vanguard is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Gampel Pavilion.
Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.