Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, Tina Charles, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Nykesha Sales, Kerry Bascom, Diana Taurasi, Kara Wolters, Rebecca Lobo and now, Katie Lou Samuelson all have one thing in common – 2,000 points. On Sunday afternoon, Samuelson scored an easy layup for her 2,000th and 2,001st points, etching her name in UConn women’s basketball history.
“(Samuelson) came here with a reputation as a shooter and we were determined to try and make her into a well-rounded basketball player,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said Sunday. “So I’m not surprised that she has scored 2,000 points because she’s always had the ability to make shots. She is making them from a lot more different places now than she did early in her career.”
Despite winning the game 63-46, Auriemma was not pleased with the team’s energy out of the gate and he benched his entire lineup halfway through the first quarter. And there was Samuelson, encouraging the bench players and making sure they knew they could handle the pressure of playing early on in the game.
“I was just trying to make sure they knew what they were running and everything like that. I think that was the first time that group, together, has been in a situation like that,” Samuelson said. “So, making sure that they were just prepared and they did know what they were doing, but just trying to get it across that they all have strengths that they could do and use.”
Leading was not something that has always come naturally to Samuelson, instead she has had to work at it. It is similar to the way she has had to work at rebounding, cutting and defense, which she has excelled at this season.
“Lou has had to change her personality a lot to become more of an effective leader and she’s done that,” Auriemma said. “It’s not easy to do for these kids today, very few kids want to stick themselves out there because once you put your neck out there and say, ‘I’m in charge of this,’ you’re going to open yourself up to a lot.”
Samuelson finished this strange game with 19 points and five assists. Despite having only two rebounds Sunday, she is in the midst of her best rebounding season of her career. She set a career-high for most rebounds in a game with 16 against Seton Hall and she is averaging 7.9 per game.
The senior attributes her overall game improving with her strengthened leadership qualities.
“It’s definitely something that I have kind of learned how to do and part of it is just stepping outside yourself,” Samuelson said of becoming a vocal leader. “I’ve focused less on myself, I think this year, during games than I have before. I feel like I am playing better overall and I think that’s part of it.”
Samuelson has tried not to get too caught up in scoring 2,000 points. Instead she is focusing on each game and doing whatever the team needs her to do each day. So, what did she think of the standing ovation and congratulatory message on the big screen in Gampel Pavilion once she reached the milestone?
“It was interesting because it was an interesting game to get 2,000 (points) in to say the least,” Samuelson said. “I try to just ignore it and I saw it and I looked up, thought it was cool and then I was like, ‘we need to stay focused’ and it was just the furthest thing on my mind after that.”
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.