Playing a DII team is not super predictive on the season. Obviously, the competition is going to improve: Texas for a second game is going to be a lot different than Kutztown. Still, there were a lot of positives for a team that had a lot of uncertainties before tip-off. Below are six takeaways from the exhibition.
Shooting could be a strength
The final tally was 14-29 from deep, with basically three people taking outside shots. Azzi was kind of good-okay she was deadly from deep. Lou Lopez-Senechal was a below average 3-9, but her form was good and has the history of being a deadly shooter- she will be fine. Dorka might have been the most important shooter as she splashed both deep shots and one mid-range jumper. Having a stretch big, especially one that can also post, is paramount if the motion offense is going to work. Dorka’s shooting could be the most important factor in the season. The deep ball will be even more potent once Caroline gets back.
Some of the new players have a long way to go on defense
As I said in a previous article, Lou is a prolific scorer but struggles on the other end. She was out of position on multiple occasions, which led to open buckets. The positive is that her mistakes are correctable and that she did improve as the game progressed. It is likely that she should progress to a serviceable defender early. Ayanna is a different situation. One game is too early to tell, but her positioning was also off. There were a couple of times when there was confusion because Ayanna made the wrong defensive read or got herself out of position multiple times. It will be interesting to see how quickly she can remedy this.
The lineup of Patterson, Muhl, Edwards, and Griffin is fun to watch
I hope Geno plays this group 30 minutes a game. They might not score 30 a game, but they probably wouldn’t give up more than 20 points. The athleticism, tenacity, and intensity of these players was amazing. They just play with a disruptiveness that most teams will struggle to handle. Obviously, this group can’t always be together, but playing two of the three bigs and Muhl would create havoc for other teams.
Aubrey is back
Aubrey might just be my favorite player on the team, and she was sorely missed last year. She showed an aggressiveness that was encouraging in a player coming back from surgery; she played with a lack of fear. UConn has a slimmer margin of victory than last year, but players like Aubrey widen that margin. At the end of the season, she might not even be the fifth leading scorer, but she could easily end up being one of the most impactful.
The starting lineup could be hard to crack
For the first time in awhile, Geno doesn’t have a clear cut decision for the Starting Five. Sure, Nika, Dorka, and Aaliyah are a given, but who are the other two? Aubrey played really well. We know what Caroline brings to the table offensively and is a better defender than most people give her credit. Lou’s offensive contribution will be hard to leave out of the lineup. Aubrey will probably come off the bench, but she played her role amazingly well.
Nika has to stay out of foul trouble
The team is thin at guard. Shoot, they’re just thin in numbers. Nika can’t afford to pick up silly fouls, like on the three pointer early in the game. She is at her best when she is playing aggressive defense and has to find a way to stay on the court. Her 11 assists made up for her lack of scoring; still, there aren’t many coaches that would complain about a 7-7-11-5-2 stat line from their point guard.