This past weekend, it finally happened. The somewhat short-staffed UConn women’s basketball squad received a commitment from a well sought-after transfer in Lou Lopez-Senechal. Lopez is the Huskies’ 11th player on the roster, which should be enough such that they won’t need to add anyone else this offseason. What is Coach Geno Auriemma getting out of Lopez-Senechal? Let’s take a look.
Charlie Creme of ESPN lists the guard as the 20th best transfer, placed among a series of high-major players.
“We’re excited to have Lou join our program,” Auriemma said. “She comes to us with a lot of experience and she’s a smart, tough, hard-working player. Lou is a great scorer and we’re looking forward to her getting to work in June.”
The now-graduate student was a complete force last season but the question is how it will translate to the next level. Lopez-Senechal averaged over 19 points and four rebounds and was moderately consistent. Of the Stags’ 31 games, she was only held to single digits twice and in both such games she scored eight. The highlight of her season was scoring 30 points in back-to-back wins over Rider and Manhattan, as a part of a 14-game win streak.
Lopez-Senechal shined in the MAAC conference tournament, scoring a combined 56 points across three games, including 24 in the finals. In the first round of March Madness, the guard faced the tough matchup of Texas, who would eventually make it all the way to the Elite Eight. Lopez-Senechal led the Stags to just an 18 point loss, which is impressive, given the fact that the other 15 seeds lost by 40, 40 and 45. She scored 17 points and grabbed five boards on 5/10 shooting.
Making the transition to playing high-major basketball is the biggest concern here, although the great performance against Texas is encouraging. Regardless of anything else, playing basketball at Fairfield is different from playing at UConn. In recent history, the Huskies’ haven’t had a mid-major player transfer-up successfully. Most recently, their transfers have been Evina Westbrook and Dorka Juhasz, who came from the perennial top 25 programs Tennessee and Ohio State, respectively.
Bringing in a player like Lopez-Senechal is a legitimate risk, albeit with minimal downside. There’s no telling how the transition will go from a place that’s so small-time like Fairfield up to the Basketball Capital of the World. It’s not an experiment that has been heavily tested in UConn women’s history. It worked when men’s player R.J. Cole transferred from Howard, but this is an entirely different situation. Looking at a player like Juhasz, who played at a big time school like Ohio State, even needed some time to figure out how she fit in.
Perhaps the most encouraging thing about the France-product’s game is her three point shooting. Lopez-Senechal shot over 40 percent from deep in each of her past two seasons at Fairfield. This is especially impressive when you note that she was the top option in the offense and the defense knows to be guarding her. When placed in a potent UConn offense, Lopez-Senechal likely won’t even be a top three guard offensively. With the opposing defense almost sure to have other focuses on the floor, she should have the opportunity to take many more open shots.
UConn is losing two guards this year with Christyn Williams and Westbrook moving on to the WNBA, leaving those slots open for Lopez-Senechal and freshman wing Ayanna Patterson. Those newcomers will be forced to compete with former National POTY Paige Bueckers, Nika Muhl, Caroline Ducharme, Azzi Fudd and Aubrey Griffin, who missed last season with a back injury. It could be an uphill battle for Lopez-Senechal to find minutes, but her experience as an off-ball threat could get her to the place that she needs to be in to succeed.