UConn women’s basketball is entering arguably their strangest schedule stretch of the season. After having a week off for finals, the Huskies will return for two games before another week off for Christmas. To make matters more difficult, UConn will be heading west to play at Oklahoma before hitting the west coast to face-off against Cal.
With so much time off and a tough road swing, head coach Geno Auriemma is anxious to see how his team responds.
“It’s a little bit different than going to St. Thomas or up to Notre Dame real quick,” Auriemma said. “I’m anxious to see. For me, for this group, because so much is new, it’s been really a bunch of ‘I’m anxious to see’. And that’s how I’ve been since the very first day.”
While only having to focus on practice can help the Huskies fine-tune certain parts of their game, Auriemma isn’t necessarily a fan of it.
“When you don’t play for along time you get out of game mode, you get out of your normal mindset where you’re constantly thinking about the next game,” he said. “The next game has been a while. I think I’m more worried about where our head’s at and where our legs at.
“I’m more concerned with how we look energy-wise with our legs and I think if we get through the initial part, the early part of it is going to be a little bit ugly looking, but it’ll improve as the game goes on Wednesday night.”
As if coming off exams isn’t hard enough, the team gets to go home for five days during Christmas after the Cal game. The key will be making sure they don’t get ahead of themselves and focus on the task at hand.
“We’re going to have to be mature about it,” Crystal Dangerfield said. “We’re going so far, it’s a time change but it’s also right before we go home, so it’s easy to have mental slip ups and we can’t have that.”
Pseudo-Homecoming for Christyn Williams
When the Huskies go to Norman, Oklahoma to face the Sooners, freshman Christyn Williams will have plenty of familiar faces in the stands. The school is around three hours away from her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, so Williams parents, sister and other friends from home will make the trip to watch her play live.
There will also be a familiar face on the other team for Williams. Her best friend, Madi Williams, plays for Oklahoma. The two were AAU teammates and have only faced each other on opposing teams once: The McDonalds’ All-American game.
“It was funny,” Christyn said. “I couldn’t take her serious but it might be a different story now that I’m in college. But yeah I doubt it.”
“Once we’re on the court, we’re enemies,” Christyn said with a laugh. “It should be funny, we’re both living out our dream playing Division I basketball.”
Megan Walker Returns
After missing the last two games due to strep throat, Megan Walker will return for UConn against the Sooners. Auriemma said Walker is back to full participation at practice but is still making her way back.
“It took a while to get back into the swing of things,” Auriemma said. “She hasn’t missed any time since. (In practice) it started out as half-court stuff and now it’s back to normal. But she got pretty dehydrated and didn’t eat much so she was a little bit sluggish. That little by little is coming back.”
Walker said it’s not unusual for her to get sick around this time of year, so she’s taking extra precautions to make sure she doesn’t miss anymore time from an illness.
“[I’m] pretty much 100 percent now, still being cautious, wearing hats, don’t want to go back down that road,” Walker said.