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Jim Fuller | New Haven Register | January 21, 2017

Katie Lou Samuelson thriving as UConn's go-to offensive player

STORRS, Conn. — It seems rather fitting that the picture in the UConn women's basketball media guide next to Katie Lou Samuelson's game-by-game statistics from her freshman season is her picture-perfect form while firing up a 3-pointer.

Samuelson had nearly twice as many 3-pointers attempted as she did had shots taken inside the 3-point line during in her first season as a Husky. That tendency to rely on 3-pointers is hardly stunning since her older sisters Bonnie and Karlie have combined to take more than 75 percent of their shots from 3-point range while at Stanford.

However, from the end of her freshman season to the beginning of her sophomore campaign with the Huskies, Samuelson was determined to add layers to her game.

  Connecticut G/F Katie Lou Samuelson (33) is averaging 20+ points a game to pace the UConn attack.
Heading into Sunday's game against Tulane, when the Huskies look to extend the NCAA record for longest basketball winning streak to 93 games, Samuelson has already posted seven games during her sophomore season in which she took more shots inside the 3-point line than she did behind the arc. As a point of reference, the only times it happened in 29 regular-season games as a freshman was against South Carolina when Samuelson only attempted one shot and in the following game at Temple.

"I was counting on Lou to do exactly what she was doing," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said of his team's leading scorer. "I knew Lou would come back and be a much better player. She is not content to be just a great shooter. Last year, she floated around waiting for her shot but she has become a basketball player."

In her opinion, there is not an area she has worked harder on than moving without the ball so she becomes as difficult as possible to guard.

"I definitely feel more comfortable now even if the 3s aren't going as well as I would like them to. I can still do some other things," Samuelson said. "I would stay in one spot or come off screens if it was necessary in games [as a freshman]. I have been trying to cut more, do different things.

"It started just in individual workouts, the things I was doing at the beginning of the year and trying to put that into practices. I was making sure I put in extra work to make sure I work on ball handling and things just to clean it up that I won't have a chance to do during practice."

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The hard work has paid off. Samuelson has scored in double figures in every game this season. Dating back to the 1988-89 season, the only Huskies with a longer streak to start a season are Kara Wolters (who scored in double figures in all 37 games she played in during the 1995-96 season), Maya Moore (who had streaks of 30, 30 and 27) and Breanna Stewart (who reached double figures in her first 29 games last season). Diana Taurasi opened the 2003-04 season with 17 straight games with at least 10 points, which is a mark Samuelson could top against the Green Wave.

  Samuelson (33) has made a concerted effort to expand her skill set on the offensive end this year.
"I think it is important that my team knows that they can count me when we need a bucket or I am consistently going to be able to knock in shots, but I wouldn't say that the points are important but it is just the trust that I am going to knock in shots that they know I can hit," Samuelson said. "They know I am going to do it every single game, not I will do it a couple games and then I will go 0-for-whatever, I am going to consistently knock in shots every single game."

Samuelson has been especially comfortable against Tulane.

Samuelson averaged 17.3 points in three games against Tulane as a freshman and was 13-of-20 from 3-point range. Her best scoring output against the Green Wave came on Feb. 27, 2016, when she had 21 points. On the night that highly decorated senior class was honored before its final regular season game at Gampel Pavilion, Tulane jumped out to a 13-2 lead.

"It was such a weird feeling that nobody could hit a shot but we came back in the second quarter, we just hit a bunch in a row and kind of brought ourselves back," Samuelson said. "It shows this team that even last year we had those kinds of things and we can have them this year. We have to learn from that and from the SMU game, we can pick things up and not get down on ourselves." 

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


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