At the very beginning of the season I wrote a column about how good I believed the UConn women’s basketball team could be this year. At the time there were many uncertainties surrounding the team: Could the team pick up the defensive slack with the graduation of Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse? How would the team fare with a true freshman in the starting lineup? Who would be the Huskies go-to player?
For the most part these questions have been answered.
Head coach Geno Auriemma has acknowledged many times that this team does not have the defensive prowess of years past. They are not going to win tough games solely based on defense. They must make shots to pull off tough wins. The Huskies suffered two regular season losses this season against then-No. 3 Louisville and then-No. 8 Baylor, due in large part to shots not falling.
Freshman Christyn Williams has had an up and down season thus far. She scored a career-high 28 points in early December against Notre Dame but averages 11.3 points per game on the season. She is a very athletic and savvy guard but is still a young and inexperienced player that can be taken advantage of in tough games.
The Huskies go-to player this season is a no-brainer. Senior Napheesa Collier has been tremendous. She averages 21.1 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game. Her innate ability to understand where the basket is in relationship to her spot on the floor is admirable and her shot is automatic. Auriemma has shown nothing but praise for her throughout the season.
“I can’t say enough about how many minutes she plays, no matter where we’re playing, no matter who she’s playing against, she’s just in a different headspace than everybody else,” Auriemma said earlier in the season.
Going forward, the Huskies will have to down difficult opponents to continue in the tournament. They take on UCLA this Friday night in Albany and if they make it to the Elite Eight could potentially match up with Louisville for a shot at the Final Four.
So even though the initial questions from the beginning of the season are answered there are more unanswered ones that will be answered in the coming week.
If UConn is down under pressure can they work together as a team to combat the deficit and not become frazzled? With star players such as Collier and fellow senior Katie Lou Samuelson being so heavily guarded, who will step up in the scoring department?
During the games the Huskies lost this season, each player tried to take the game into their own hands to no avail. They became impatient and their offense became out of sync. To continue to advance in the tournament, UConn must be able to stay composed when down and work together.
As for a player that will need to score, I truly believe that if Christyn Williams has a good game then the Huskies will win. She will be under guarded and if she can hit her shots then UConn will be able to maintain a good offensive flow. It’s definitely a lot of weight on her young shoulders, but she is also more than capable.
Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.