This was suppose to be the year the “UConn” (University of Connecticut) women’s basketball team was vulnerable. That made no difference to head coach Geno Auriemma, who’s non-league schedule was littered with tough road games and ranked opponents. I’m sure in the back of his mind, he knew they could lose some games but the focus would not change. They play for National Championships in Storrs, Connecticut. The rest of the country has taken notice.
There are two transfers already enrolled and will be eligible to play in the 2017-18 season. The prize transfer is the versatile 6’6″ Azura Stevens. As a freshman at Duke, she averaged 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds, good enough for All-Freshman ACC and second team All-ACC. As a sophmore, those averages increased to 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds. That performance earned her first Team All-ACC and honorable mention All-American Honors. She can do things most players her size cannnot. She has range out to the 3-point line and can also handle the ball like a guard. Her face up game gives her a huge advantage as well but her biggest contribution to the team will be her post defense and shot blocking ability. She is just tapping into her potential which means bad news from everyone else.
The other transfer is 6’2″ athletic Batouly Camara. As a freshman at Kentucky, she averaged a modest 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds. Although not known as a scorer, there is room for growth. Right now, her strengths are defense and rebounding. With three years of eligibility left, I suspect her overall game will get better under Auriemma and his staff. Her biggest asset she will add to UConn is depth. That is the one thing they have lacked this season. It will be a strength next season and one more thing opponents will have to worry about.
Then add the No. 2 recruiting class and you have the ingredients to continue their dominance. Let’s introduce you to the next generation of players. The 37th ranked player, Andra Espinoza-Hunter is a 5’10” guard with a solid mid range game, rebounds, handles and a crafty defender. The 29th ranked player, Lexi Gordon is a 5’11” wing player that can stretch the defense with 3-point shooting and can score from mid-range. The 14th ranked player, Mikayla Coombs is a 5’10” guard that is an explosive scorer who attacks the basket. Then you have the No. 1 ranked player, Megan Walker. A 6’1″ wing with a smooth shot, attacks off the dribble and dangerous in transition with great court awareness. She will be the next iconic player for Auriemma.
And if all that is not enough, you have the core and plethora of talent coming back from the current roster. You have AAC co-Player Of The Year & All-Americans Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. Then you have the versatile, do-it-all duo of Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse. Last but not least, the precocious point guard Crystal Dangerfield and Natalie Butler. Now I know why Geno Auriemma has a smirk on his face. He’s reloading to continue this streak.