The UConn women’s basketball will shuffle off to the Virgin Islands for three games against Ole Miss, St. John’s and Purdue. The Huskies are coming off a 38-point win Saturday against Vanderbilt and will look to win all three games, while enjoying St. Thomas.
“I think this time of year, you just play,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said following the team’s win against Vanderbilt. “You want to go down there and you want to win all three games. You want to have a great time, obviously, it’s a great place to go.”
Through two games, the UConn (2-0) offense has been consistently explosive when the starting lineup is on the court. Auriemma said he is pleased with the increase in production from the bench this early in the season. Freshman Olivia Nelson-Ododa figures to be the key contributor off the bench.
“She is the only one that is 6-foot-5 and can do what she does,” Auriemma said. “So we need to get her on board and we need to get her feeling really confident out there. I thought the exhibition game and (Saturday) served as a great place as a start. Hopefully these next three games, she can really get a lot done.”
Nelson-Ododa is in an unusual spot for a front court player as a freshman at UConn. With the adjustment to the front court at UConn being extremely difficult, it is expected that the player will not see much playing time until her sophomore year. However, the Huskies bench is lacking a catalyst and she is the tallest player on the team.
“We need Olivia to get really good,” Auriemma said. “So the more minutes that she spends on the court, the more things that she gets herself involved in, the better we are going to be down the road. She gives us a dimension that obviously we don’t have.”
Junior point guard Crystal Dangerfield will be relied upon heavily this season along with seniors Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier. So far she hasn’t shied away from it and leads the team in points-per game (18.5), 3-point percentage (.538) and assists (5.5). Against Vanderbilt, she knocked down five 3-pointers and scored 19 points.
“I thought (Dangerfield) made a couple calls today that were really right on the money at the perfect time to get us the perfect shot,” Auriemma said.
A main reason for her continued upward progression, Auriemma attributed it to her confidence and feeling assertive.
Purdue and St. John’s are rolling into the Paradise Jam undefeated, while Ole Miss is 3-1, losing only to IUPUI.
Ole Miss is the only team in the Paradise Jam that have played a team in The American Conference this season. They beat Temple 62-55 last Wednesday behind a 16-point effort from Crystal Allen. The Ole Miss defense was able to keep Alliya Butts in check, holding her to seven points on 20 percent shooting from the field.
St. John’s is coming off a 60-49 win against Army, with Qadashah Hoppie leading the way with 17 points. Despite the team being out rebounded 29-27, the game was won by Army turning the ball over 22 times to St. Johns’ 6.
Purdue played their last game Sunday and thrashed Purdue Fort Wayne 78-44. The Boilermakers defense held Fort Wayne to 27 percent shooting and only 22 rebounds. Meanwhile Purdue shot 55 percent, hauled in 45 rebounds and had 33 points from their bench.
Each game will start at 7:30 p.m. with the Huskies taking on Ole Miss Thursday, St. John’s Friday and Purdue Saturday. The game will be available on 97.9 ESPN radio and televised through FloHoops. However, you will need a subscription to watch the game through FloHoops, which costs about $30 for one month or $150 for the full year.
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.