The best time of year is back: UConn basketball season! It’s a new era for UConn women’s basketball with the Big Three having graduated and the next wave of players taking over.
Check out our predictions for the upcoming season and share yours in the comments!
Candidate for Breakout player :
Daniel: Gabby Williams is going to make quite a name for herself this season. Kia Nurse and Katie Lou Samuelson get a lot of the attention, but Williams has been dominant on both ends of the floor this season. She can guard all five positions and play guard, forward and even a stretch-five on small lineups. Her versatility and athleticism is incredible and the entire country is going to see that this year.
Ian: Gabby Williams. With an expanded role this season and her athleticism. Williams should be able to put up good numbers inside and out. She's been working on her midrange game and has shown in the preseason she can shoot the three. If UConn has to play a tall team, she'll be fine in the post and if they play a smaller team, she can use that athleticism inside and outside.
Daniel: Katie Lou Samuelson - I think Gabby Williams becomes the best all-around player this year, but Katie Lou has shown a lot of control and poise over the offense in the preseason. I think she becomes the go-to scorer on this team.
Ian: This is a tough call. With no Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck to be your top three scorers, you have to hope someone can step up every game. Personally, I think that someone different will lead the team in scoring each night but in the end, Katie Lou Samuelson will end up leading the team with about 17-18 points per game.
Daniel: Gabby Williams is going to make quite a name for herself this season. Kia Nurse and Katie Lou Samuelson get a lot of the attention, but Williams has been dominant on both ends of the floor this season. She’ll out-jump everybody else to grab the leading rebounder title.
Ian: Given that the Huskies are a lot smaller than we are used to, Gabby Williams should lead the team in rebounding at the end of the season. However, if Natalie Butler can get back to the form that won her Big East Freshman of the Year at Georgetown, it's quite possible she could beat out Williams for most rebounds.
Over/Under 15 points per game for Katie Lou Samuelson (11.0 last year):
Daniel: Over - She’s worked on her all-around game in the offseason to become more of a shooter and that has already started to show.
Ian: Without having the Big Three to rely on to do all the scoring, Lou will need to step up and provide the scoring for Geno's squad so I'll take the over.
Does UConn tie and/or break 90 game winning streak?
Daniel: No, I think they drop a few games in the non-conference schedule.
Ian: No, I do not think they break it. Given how loaded the schedule is early in the season, I think the streak ends at 82 games when they play at Notre Dame on December 7 in South Bend.
Most likely to be a surprising loss on the schedule:
Daniel: I feel like casual fans and non-WBB media will be surprised if they lose no matter what, but a loss to Baylor, Notre Dame or South Carolina wouldn’t be a shocker. But the final game of the regular season at USF could be a trap game for them. In all likelihood they’ll coast through conference play as usual but they could start looking ahead to the postseason a little early and despite whatever Geno has to say, I don’t think this team has a leader that has the experience to keep them in line.
Ian: With how stacked the schedule is with challenges, losing to any of the top ranked teams is not a surprise. The big surprise loss would be any one that occurs in American Athletic Conference play as they've never lost one in three years, regular season or postseason.
Top Three Teams in AAC standings regular season:
Daniel: 1. UConn - Despite my previous prediction, I don’t think they lose their first ever AAC game this season. 2. USF - Jose Fernandez is a fantastic coach, but gets stuck playing in the same conference as UConn. 3. Temple - Definitely a dark horse to win the “Best Team in the American not named UConn” award.
Ian: Given the fact that the Huskies were picked to finish first again, I don't really expect anyone but USF and Temple to challenge them. So it's 1. UConn, 2. Temple and 3. USF.
NCAA Tournament seed and finish:
Daniel: 1 seed (But not top overall) and a Final Four appearance. This team is still really young and I think the championship streak ends this season. But watch out for next season...
Ian: I think UConn ends up being a No. 1 seed and like last year won't leave the state of Connecticut before the Final Four. I think they make the Final Four but lose in the semifinals.
UConn can overachieve on the season if..
Daniel: Three of Katie Lou Samuelson, Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier and Kia Nurse take the step from good player to star player. Nobody on the team has needed to play anything more than a role player in their career but they will need three players to take the next step in their game.
Ian: If the Huskies can stay out of foul trouble since they are not that deep and all three freshman adapt quickly, the Huskies could be good enough to win their 5th straight national title.
UConn's season disappoints if...
Daniel: The bench doesn’t step up. Behind the starting five are three freshmen and Natalie Butler and none have proven that they can contribute. Crystal Dangerfield has been drawing praise from Geno and other players but the other two freshmen still leave a lot to be desired. Butler dealt with injuries and inconsistency last season but the team needs her size to defend bigger lineups teams throw at them. If Butler can’t get her confidence back and the freshmen underwhelm, they won’t be able to run and would have serious problems with foul trouble.
Ian: If they do not win the national title. The goal for UConn women's basketball each season is to cut down the final net. To be serious though, the season disappoints if they can't get to the Final Four.