Posted by: kevinfortruth | March 5, 2013

UCONN – Notre Dame – the morning after.


“Publilius Syrus said in 35 B.C.: “Admonish your friends privately, but praise them openly.” Catherine the Great, in the 18th Century, said, “I like to praise and reward loudly, to blame quietly.”” http://ezinearticles.com/?Praise-in-Public,-Correct-in-Private-May-Not-Be-a-Good-Idea&id=1263976  

Catherine’s blame needed to be in private because it usually resulted in her executing someone.  Yuk!

Muffet McGraw does it one-way and Geno Auriemma does it the other – both, maybe to extremes.  Ideally, the most effective way is somewhere in the middle – even though McGraw’s style appears to be winning out against UCONN.

Geno made numerous comments after the game and only one of them was in poor taste.

I found these three comments to be spot on and not critical of any player or the team as a whole.

  1. “Every opportunity we had to put it away, we let it slip away,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
  2. “How many chances can you have?” Auriemma said. “You’re on the road, against a really good team. You might get one chance, might get two chances when it really mattered, but you are not going to get unlimited chances.
  3. “We really didn’t need her [Dolson] to go down there and screen for anybody, but she thought it was the best thing to. It’s unfortunate it happened. There was one when the kid tried to choke [Dolson], and she pulled her arm away. Every little foul in of itself doesn’t mean anything, but when they add up to five it means a lot.”

All of the above statements were good observations on Geno’s part.  I do not think he was overly critical of Dolson’s choice to screen, he only said that it was unnecessary but it was her decision.  Looking at the replay, it was obviously a bad call – but if she did not attempt the screen there would not have been a foul called and she would still have been in the game – probably into at least the first overtime.

Dolson, in reality, does tend to lean into opposing players when executing a screen and the refs might have been aware of that and maybe they were looking for it to happen.  That could be a case of her past coming back to haunt her.

Now, as far as Geno saying something very inappropriate, here it is:

Asked to explain the 35 turnovers, Auriemma responded, “I don’t know. I guess we’re not any good.”

Geno spoke out of extreme frustration.  If he took the time to think before speaking, he could have said, [“I don’t know, we are normally better at protecting the ball, we’re a good team but tonight we just were not good enough.”

I believe he owes an apology to the team for that one comment.

On the subject of screens and picks, with 2:04 remaining in the 2nd half of the game, Skylar, on offense, was out near the top of the key near the 3-point line and was being guarded closely by Faris.  All of a sudden, Ariel Braker, number 44, came out and confronted Faris to the point where she aggressively pushed up against her – preventing her from following Skylar Diggins to where Skylar was totally open to receiving a pass and then making a layup. 

If Dolson was given a foul for not moving at all while setting a pick, then Braker should have been charged with the same penalty. 

My thoughts are that Skylar is a superstar and she does get away with a lot – the play looked wonderful if you were a Notre Dame fan.  The official was positioned perfectly to see the overly physical pick – yet he did not call it.  Again, it was at the 2:04 mark in the second half of the game.

Now, I have some personal observations on many of the UCONN players – some critical and some quite positive.

  1. Doty – Prior to her injuries and surgeries, she was a rock star – playing at the peak of her game.  Now, Geno tends to give her the benefit of the doubt by giving her a lot of playing time – but Doty has her limitations and should be used sparingly but Geno tends to give her way too many minutes out of an almost obligation to her past accomplishments. 
  2. Stewart – She is a diamond in the rough.  She is now where Tina Charles was in her first year.  She will get better, no, she will become one of the great ones at UCONN, but not this year.  She is good at blocking and rebounding.  On the other hand, she takes too many outside shots.  My guess is that she probably is shooting 20 percent from outside.  The other thing she really needs to learn is to secure the ball after she gets a rebound or a steal – many times the ball simply gets away from her.  I know she finds that frustrating – she wants to start a big play but that cannot happen until she securely has the ball up high – away from defenders trying to trap her and take the ball away.  Also, if Dolson is going to be in the high post, Stewie needs to be much closer to the basket – making herself available for layups or short jumpers.  She will learn to play using her strengths – her height, her wingspan, her quickness.  My gut tells me that Stewie’s best games, this year, are yet to come.  What I mean by that is she will have tournament games this year that will shock opponents and make UCONN fans say, “Wow, that is the Stewie we have been waiting for.”  Mark my words on this.
  3. Kalena Mosqueda-Lewis, aka KML – not much to criticize but a lot to compliment.  She can do it all and she wants to do it all and for the next two years she WILL do it all. One observation, she is trying to be a combination of Maya Moore and Kelly Faris – all in one.  Maybe she needs to focus on one or the other but not both.  My thoughts are that she should let Tuck grow into Kelly Faris and KML should just be KML – she doesn’t even need to be a clone of Maya because KML will be loved and respected for being KML.
  4. Dolson – enough said.  She does it all as well – she scores, blocks, rebounds, and intimidates anyone coming near the basket.  Two minor observations.  One, she has to get a handle on how she screens for her teammates.  Nine out of ten times she moves while setting a pick and she tends to move into the defender.  Two, she does not get off her feet enough.  Sure, she blocks and rebounds but she might accomplish more if went vertical a little more.
  5. Jefferson – quicker than the roadrunner but sometimes she loses control because of her speed.  She will improve and will probably become a key player sometime next year.
  6. Hartley – I almost hate to say this but I fear that Hartley is starting to go the way Doty did after her injuries.  She needs to get her confidence back and the only way to do that is with more playing time – and not by alternating with Doty.  If she doesn’t have her touch with three’s yet, then step in a little closer and regain confidence with two’s – and focus on feeding those who can consistently make the three’s.  She might focus more on defense and fast breaks – both of which are her bread and butter right now.
  7. Buck – I am a loss of words regarding Heather.  I don’t know how she can sit on the bench as much as she does. My guess is that she could have been used in the overtime periods last night because she would have had fresh legs and with no fouls, she could have cluttered up the lane – preventing Skyler and others from getting easy layups.  She is big and she is tough and is deserving of a few more minutes of playing time.  Shame on Geno for not utilitizing her a little more.
  8. Tuck – another diamond in the rough who will improve with time – game time, that is.  She did quite well last night but more playing time will help her fit in with starters.  She is smart and quick and plays a good inside game.  She and Stewie will both improve exponentially and with Dolson will be an incredible front line NEXT YEAR.  Add KML and Hartley or Banks, UCONN stands a chance of running the table next year.  OMG, where have we heard that before!

Next year, UCONN might be in a position of having too many bigs and not enough smalls.

Maybe Saniya Chong, UCONN’s only recruit for 2013 will be able to hit it running.  Next year UCONN will have no problem scoring points but I think their biggest problem will be playing defense without Faris – unless Tuck and/or Stokes can fill in the tremendous void by Faris’ departure.

UCONN might want to start focusing on Jefferson being a true point guard and grooming Chong to be the shooting guard.

UCONN will have no problem scoring next year – their biggest problem will be on defense – my guess is that there will be a lot of very high scoring games with UCONN ending on top the majority of the time – if not all the time.

Lastly, I have a question for those who made it all the way through this blog.

Does anyone know how many games UCONN loses when Geno is assessed a technical foul?  I can think of two games at least.

Every time Geno gets charged with a technical foul, the opposing team gets two shots AND the ball after the shots.

Fortunately, for UCONN last night, Diggins made only one of the two free throws and on Notre Dame’s possession, Stewart blocked a Diggins layup – otherwise it could have been a four point swing for Notre Dame.  Maybe Chris Daley needs to be more forceful with Geno when the Italian Stallion gets all worked up with a bad call.  Maybe Chris needs to recruit the assistance of another assistant coach to settle Geno down. I am sure Dolson was pleased that Geno stood up for her but the net effect is that his anger benefits the other team more than it benefits UCONN.

It is true that the technical was early on in the first half and did not affect the outcome of the game but even though his anger was justified but his actions were not.  For those who recorded the game, the controversial play when Markisha Wright hit Dolson in the neck with her forearm and Dolson responded by pushing her arm away she was charged with a foul – it was at the 8:21 mark in the first half. 

What doesn’t make sense is that the official was looking at the two players the entire time – yet he did not call a foul on Wright.  In my opinion, Wright could have been called with a Technical one. That play reminded me of elementary school where one kid hits takes a swipe at another kid and when the kid chooses to defend himself, he is sent to the principal’s office.

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Responses

  1. Kevin, good piece but you are incorrect on this particular technical foul. The call had been made against Uconn so Notre Dame was getting the ball anyway, after the two ft’s. As a Notre Dame fan I see a lot of handwringing from the Uconn fans about a game they lost in 3OT that could have gone either way. They lost the first game by a point, again it could have gone either way and could easily go the other way in the bigE tourney or ncaa. I also find it laughable that some(maybe most) uconn fans think the officiating was so poor. How bout when Mcbride gets called for a charge and Stewart actually left her feet when contact was made. You are correct, Dolson tends to move into opponent on the screens and doesn’t get busted for it most of the time. But, please, for anyone on the uconn side to argue about fouls is like bill belichick complaining about def backs being too physical when they actually had to change the rules because of how his guys used to maul people. These are two evenly matched teams who know each other well. I don’t see either team beating Baylor though.

    • Hi Frank; thanks for stopping by. Even though I am a UCONN fan, I tried to remain as neutral as possible. I agree – calls were missed on both sides. Regarding Dolson though, I feel she had no need or business to execute a pick in the backcourt – unless she thought it might take away a few ticks off the clock. Either way, it was risky for her to do – not dumb, just risky.

      However, you might not agree but Dolson had an arm up against her neck – almost a choke hold that was missed. Either way, when Dolson responded, instead of somehow trying to back away, she got caught. That foul was correct – even though the neck choke should have been called.

      I read my blog again and I am missing your point about the “T”. Geno got assessed, ND shot 2 FT’s and ND got the ball back but lost it.

      The other play I objected to was when Diggins was out at the key being guarded by Faris and then a ND player came up and gave her a pick/body check (moving toward her) and no foul was called – and because of that, Faris could not chase down Diggins – in the grand scheme of things, Diggins was already moving toward the ball and probably could not have been caught, but moving picks are moving picks and penalties should be standard.

      UCONN, I believe, got away with two travels – but they aren’t penalties – I gues it depends if a shot is made in conjunction with the travel.

      All in all, it was an away game on a hostile court and UCONN was fortunate to stay in the game and they had 3 chances to win and they choked on the free throw line.

      Muffet is the smarter of the two coaches and if she had Doty, knowing her limitations – strengths and weaknesses, she would not have had her in the game.

      It is a strange thing – it is almost like Doty has a magic hold on Geno and he feels some obligation to play her often. At one time Doty was great – but after injuries and surgeries, Geno should have focused more on getting guards instead of filling the bench with taller 6 footers. IMHO. Thanks again for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      • Kevin, I agree with the travel calls and the illegal screens. But the fact of the matter is that these things tend to even out and a program that has built itself on toughness and plays on the edge all the time can hardly “cry foul” and cherry pick calls when they lose a game. Officiating is what it is. Not very good most of the time, depending what seat you are in.
        As far as the “T” goes, I am referring to you saying that it could have been a 4 point swing when in fact it could have been a 2 point swing. We were getting the ball anyway, so that 2 does not factor in. The free throws would have been the swing.
        Thanks.

        • I agree on the “T” point swing. In retrospect, I believe UCONN blew it by doing several things and not necessarily in order of importance.

          1. When UCONN had significant leads at the end of the second period and in the first two overtimes, they DID NOT play ball control. They chose to run the ball, almost at warp speed, which left them vulernable to making bad passes (Dolson, KML, Doty, Faris). Haste makes waste. Now, if you are running a fast break – go like hell, but if you are up 6 or 7 and you have the ball and there are, give or take, 2 or 3 minutes left, slow it down a tad to prevent traps and errant passing – go four corners, stay free, make sharp passes, and take as much time off the clock as possible.
          2. If you are guarding the middle against players like Diggins et al, and you are up the same amount, if she is coming in for a layup where she will be a wiggle worm to get hit, focus on the ball and make sure it doesnt come anywhere close to going in – if necessary, don’t try to NOT foul – MAKE the foul to absolutely prevent a basket.
          3. When in possession of ball, don’t go all the way in to score running hard – ND is great at positioning to get a charge called – doesn’t hurt to stop short and make short jumper. You cannot be penalized for charging if you stop and take a short jump shot – plus if they come out to challenge, the ball might go in and you might get a free throw to boot – or if you are fouled and the shot misses, you have 2 shots and not a 1 and 1.
          4. Again, if you have the lead, run 4 corners and make snap passes – eventually someone will be fouled – that means shots – as well as the clock winding down. Play smart offense, not fast offense. Four corners make traps almost impossible – especially of 2 defensive players try to trap, other offensive players NEED to keep moving and one will eventually get ball and score.

  2. Good piece Kevin, but you are wrong on the technical foul for this game. The call had been made against Uconn. So, ND was getting the ball anyway.

    • Hi anonymous. For the life of me I reread the piece a few times and cannot see where I presented the technical wrong. Geno got mad, came out on the court, got a “T”, Diggins shot 2 FT’s and ND got the ball as well. ND did not benefit from the inbound because they did not score, so ND gained only two points – it could have been worse, it could have been a 4 or 5 point swing.

      I am not trying to defend my blog – maybe too wordy and is confusing to people.

  3. Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis was criticized by Geno for being just a shooter. She has become an effective defender and rebounder in response. She is the backbone of this team. That is why should played all of regulation and the 3 overtime periods . This young lady will leave UCONN as one of the superstars of the program.

    Auriemma’s obsession with gluing Stokes to the bench is hurting the team. While not a game changer, she is an effective rebounder and defender. She doesn’t get rattled. She could have provided meaningful breaks for Dolson which may have prevented her from fouling out. I would go with a starting line up of Lewis, Faris, Dolson, and some combination of Jefferson, Hartley, Tuck, Stewart and Stokes. In fact, to shut off the penetration, I would play Stewart and Stokes with Dolson. I am not as sold on Tuck. She has sat far too long.

    Geno clearly should have given more minutes to Jefferson in the blowout games . She will get better as she plays more and they may really need her in the tournament.

    At this point, Doty would be a last option. She simply isn’t effective.

    • Hi Bracchus, thanks for stopping by. I agree with a lot of what you said. KML was a H.S. all american and a great shooter but she needed to make her game more well rounded – and she did. I also agree with your starting lineup – even though it had 8 players (I jest).

      I think two bigs should be in at a time – i.e. Dolson/Tuck and Stewart/Stokes. More than that, I believe one big like Dolson can play high post but the other should be way inside. If you have a height advantage like they did last night, you do not need two bigs outside. When Stewart was inside she was more effective. She spent too much time outside and when she does that, she tries long shots – which she seldom makes.

      I agree, Doty has lived out her effectiveness. In fact, I think she left her heart and her will on the bench – partly because she did not start the past two games. Hartley’s injury might result in her going the path of Doty – I hope not. She is shooting poorly, so she should focus on being a strong point guard. UCONN already has three solid shooters – KML, Dolson, and Faris. Stewart, when inside, adds to the scoring punch as well as providing blocks and rebounds.

      Jefferson needs to slow it down and focus on ball control, solid passing, and smart shooting. She will develop.

      When UCONN legs get overly tired again, Geno would be smart to use Buck and Stokes (if her injury has subsided). Buck is big and strong and can be a big deterrant for those attempting back doors and layups. Buck has the will and desire to give it her all. Sure, she is the most positive player on the bench – high fiving and keeping everyone upbeat, but she has so much more to give before the season is done. Geno does not want to play her because he feels that keeps minutes away from someone else growing. But, that said, he also needs to seal a victory in a close game and I would sacifice a few minutes for someone’s tired legs to have Buck kick some butt to insure a victory. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Oh, I almost forgot. Everytime I put together my UCONN dream team, I come up with six players and then I have to remind myself that only five can be on the court at one time. 200 minutes – nothing more, nothing less. I hope you took my poking as jest.


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