After missing the win over Saint Louis with a fever, Megan Walker was also ruled out for Saturday’s game against Seton Hall by head coach Geno Auriemma.
“She hasn’t practiced since shootaround at Saint Louis game,” he said. “When we got back, she got tested again and she’s got strep [throat], so she’s on medication and we’ll see how long it takes for that to get knocked out.”
Kyla Irwin will start her second-straight game in Walker’s place. Last game, Irwin totaled 10 rebounds in 25 minutes, both career highs.
“I think Kyla has a better grasp of what we’re doing at this point in time (compared to Olivia Nelson-Ododa) and I think Kyla’s earned it because she works really hard and I want to give her that opportunity and see what she does with it. Olivia’s still going to get her moments but I think Kyla’s earned it.”
Whereas Nelson-Ododa is still a question mark in regards to what she’ll give to the team night in, night out, Irwin is a known quantity.
“She’s bringing it now but she’s not going to bring more than she’s bringing, that’s just who she is,” Auriemma said. “She’s going to make some easy plays, figure out where her spots on the floor are that she can get to that can help her and she’s going to get a lot of open shots and she’s gotta make a bunch of them. She’s going to work hard, she had 10 rebounds the other night, she’s going to work hard and she’s going to compete.
“Then it’s just a matter of matchups — is it a good one or is it a bad one? That’s not going to change. Her role is a good one for her, she just has to take advantage of it.”
As for the rest of the reserves, Auriemma likes how they’re progressing. Against Saint Louis, the bench scored a season-high 19 points.
“I think that group as a whole has gotten a little bit better, they’ve improved, and I want to see them keep improving. The more you have them out there with the “regulars”, the better they look. I’m hoping that continues.”
On Friday, UConn announced that Rebecca Lobo and Ray Allen would both have their respective jerseys retired, the first two basketball players to received the honor. Auriemma felt it was a good way to celebrate the school’s only two Hall of Fame players.
“I’m not surprised. If you’re going to do it, those are the two you have to do,” Auriemma said. “It’s a pretty big deal to get in the Hall of Fame right? It’s a big deal at this school to be the only two players to be in the hall of fame. I don’t think they’ll be the only two, but it’s pretty special. It’s appropriate to retire their numbers. We’ve put a lot of jerseys on the wall and I guess at some point you’d run out of jerseys.”
Since Lobo graduated in 1995, nobody has worn her No. 50. But Auriemma said they didn’t intentionally keep it out of circulation.
“No one’s ever asked for it,” he said.
Katie Lou Samuelson: