Quartet should be enough for UConn

Foul trouble: Connecticut's small roster, numerically speaking, looked an ill fit from the outset for the new emphasis on freedom of movement that has turned some games across the country into strolls between free throw lines. And there were times early when the Huskies ran into trouble, as when Dolson picked up her third foul with nearly three minutes to play in the first half at Penn State or Stewart picked up two fouls in the first four minutes against Stanford. But Connecticut has played 25 games and has yet to see one of its players foul out.

In fact, when Dolson, Hartley and Stewart all picked up four fouls in a physical game against Louisville, they represented a quarter of the instances in which a Connecticut player accumulated even that many fouls in a game.

Freedom of movement aside, the Huskies are actually averaging fewer fouls per game this season than they did en route to a championship a season ago, currently just 12.2 per game (Baylor, Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Stanford all average more than 16 fouls per game). Considering they also force 18.1 turnovers per game and limit opponents to 31 percent shooting, that doesn't seem to have come at the expense of much aggressiveness.

The Huskies are routinely one of the least-penalized teams in the country, a state of affairs that annoys plenty of opposing coaches but which can't be entirely a product of reputation at this point. They reach when they shouldn't. They go for rebounds they have no chance of getting. They challenge shots they can't block. They just don't do those things as often as most teams.

All it takes is one bad night or one referee with a quick whistle to leave the rotation in tatters, but that scenario has been true all season. Even by the standards of a program that generally avoids foul trouble, this particular team has shown itself to be particularly adept at keeping people on the court without playing passively, all the more given the number of big road games the Huskies have played.

3-point shooting: By most accounts, even before she was ruled out with the illness, Mosqueda-Lewis was battling a rough stretch of shooting. Yet she was still converting on 42 percent of her attempts from the 3-point line (in addition to 47 percent overall with just 15 turnovers in 451 minutes). So perhaps rough is a relative thing. Still, losing Mosqueda-Lewis a season ago would have been a serious blow to Connecticut's prospects from the 3-point line. She shot 49 percent on such attempts a season ago; the rest of the team shot 33 percent. That last percentage includes 33 percent shooting from Stewart, 30 percent shooting from Hartley and 27 percent shooting from Jefferson.

What a difference a year makes. While Mosqueda-Lewis is the most accurate 3-point shooter this season, the rest of the team is shooting 36 percent, a not insignificant improvement when you're talking about shots worth three points and the already slim margin for error opponents have against Connecticut. And Stewart (40 percent), Hartley (36 percent) and Jefferson (34 percent) are three primary causes of the improvement. As long as Stewart doesn't drift out to the 3-point line at the expense of what she can do below it, there is still offensive balance.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...