After taking down Ohio State 85-53 in their season-opener Sunday, the UConn women’s basketball team will play their second and final exhibition game against SCSU Thursday at 7 p.m.
No. 2 UConn will look to work out their remaining kinks and get freshman starting guard Christyn Williams into a groove before the regular season kicks off. In the first exhibition game against Vanguard, Williams played 27 minutes, scored 10 points and reeled in five rebounds. However, against Ohio State, the freshman struggled to get much going in 28 minutes.
“I want (Williams) to do more because the kid is really, really good,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “I mean really good and she’s going to get better every game. I think when she looks back at this game, she’s going to realize that that is not who she is – playing 28 minutes and hardly getting anything done. You didn’t even notice her most of the time.”
Auriemma said that he thinks it is a good thing that the team played so well despite William’s struggles. The beginning of the season is imperative for most freshmen because it allows them to continue to work on adjustments to college and that is likely what Williams is going through.
One player who has continued to stand out is sophomore Megan Walker. Against Ohio State, she was one of four Huskies to have double-digit points (15) to go along with six rebounds. The forward was constantly battling down low with the opposition.
“I don’t know how you really describe (Walker),” Auriemma said. “She’s a big guard or a smaller version of a forward – I don’t know what she is. But she’s got a lot of skills obviously.”
Auriemma said that he told Walker to use senior Napheesa Collier as a role model and mimic her work ethic on the court. So far, Walker looks like she has taken his advice.
Collier said that while she saw good things during the season opener, there is definitely still room for improvement and the exhibition game against SCSU allows them to do that.
“I thought we did good things on offense and some really good things on defense,” Collier said. “Then I thought there were times where we broke down on both of those things. So, it’s just (about) staying together and getting more than one good play in a row.”
While the Division II Owls are not a threat to the Huskies, forward Kiana Steinauer is coming off a solid game against Bridgeport, which she scored 25 points and snagged 19 rebounds. Auriemma has said that the team needs to improve their rebounding, so it could be interesting to see Walker and Collier battle with Steinauer for boards.
The players coming off the bench for the Huskies should get plenty of playing time Thursday and it will be a good opportunity to see if Kyla Irwin can build off her solid performance against Ohio State. During just about 13 minutes, the forward scored five points, grabbed two rebounds and came away with a steal.
“There aren’t a lot of points on the bench,” Auriemma said. “So the guys in the starting lineup have to score a lot of points like they did (Sunday).”
The Huskies’ starters accounted for 76 of the team’s 85 points against Ohio State. Expect UConn to give the role players and freshmen plenty of opportunities to work on their game during the matchup against SCSU.
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.