basketball-women-d1 flag

Jim Fuller | New Haven Register | November 1, 2016

UConn freshmen step into spotlight in preseason opener

  Freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield looks to make an impact on the court in the coming preseason game.

STORRS, Conn. — With the exception of a game against the U.S. national team back in 2007, UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma has opted to schedule Division II or NAIA teams for the two preseason games in the last decade in large part so the next wave of freshmen get a taste of live game situations in front of UConn fans.

So the Huskies will host Division II Indiana (Pa.) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first of two preseason games at Gampel Pavilion.

More than a few eyes will be on freshmen Molly Bent, Crystal Dangerfield and Kyla Irwin as they make their UConn debuts.

"I am so excited," said Bent, a 5-foot-9 guard from Centerville, Massachusetts. "I am sure it will be a little nerve wracking at first, but once the game starts and I get settled in, it will be a lot of fun."

RELATED: Notre Dame ranked No. 1 in AP preseason poll

Practices haven't always been a barrel of laughs. Tuesday's practice was supposed to wrap up around 5 p.m., but it ended early as UConn coach Geno Auriemma lectured the group on using this time to constantly improve. For good measure, there was a wind sprint just so Auriemma's message truly hit home.

"Every day is a different challenge, and I am relying on my teammates to help me," said Dangerfield, a 5-foot-5 guard from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

After joking that the leaders, since practice started, have been associate head coach Chris Dailey and assistant coaches Marisa Moseley and Shea Ralph, Auriemma said that sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson and junior Gabby Williams have found themselves with the opportunity to be the voice for the team more often than anybody else in the last couple of weeks. Time will tell if they take to the leadership role as easily as the graduated trio of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck did.

RELATED: UConn faced with number of questions

So what advice are UConn's returning starters giving to the Huskies' newcomers?

"Being able to listen to what they (coaches) are telling me," Dangerfield said. "Taking coaching in stride, don't take it personal and don't hang my head and be able to keep playing."

Since 2007, nine freshmen have scored in double figures in their first preseason game at UConn. There are some familiar names on the list including Maya Moore, Tiffany Hayes, Caroline Doty, Kelly Faris, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart, Jefferson, Tuck and current star Kia Nurse. However, a year ago highly-touted freshmen Napheesa Collier and Samuelson combined to go 4 of 18 from the field and Stefanie Dolson struggled to find the range in her Husky debut.

"I don't know. Exhibition games are funny sometimes," Auriemma said. "Kids can go completely the other way and be completely overwhelmed. I just want them to compete really hard. The things that we have worked on, just try do those things the best you can. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Don't be tentative out there. Just be aggressive, and I think they will be. They are good that way. They don't allow things to get them down. They are a pretty positive bunch."

This article was written by Jim Fuller from New Haven Register, Conn. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

 

The 5 most important players in AAC college basketball for 2019-20

The 2019-20 AAC talent pool is loaded, but Andy Katz pinpoints the conference's five most important players for the upcoming college basketball season. 
READ MORE

5 rising women’s college basketball stars for the 2019-20 season

Nalyssa Smith, Evelyn Adebayo, Haley Jones, Janelle Bailey and Rhyne Howard are a few women's basketball players who could breakout and become stars in the 2019-20 season.
READ MORE

UConn baseball coach Jim Penders about to make history in a job he was born and raised for

Penders is in his 16th season as UConn coach, and he has spent 27 of the past 29 years as part of the Huskies' program, a player and captain before graduating in 1994, then an assistant under Andy Baylock. When he applied to replace the retiring Baylock in 2003, Penders told then-athletic director Jeff Hathaway that his goal was not to be a college baseball coach. He said it was to be the UConn baseball coach. And in the years since, Penders has not simply been a great coach at UConn. He has been a great UConn coach. There is a difference.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners