After a slow start to the season, UConn women’s basketball’s offense finally showed signs of life in its last two games with 83 points against both Temple and Virginia. But as the Huskies continue work on improving their play on the offensive end, they’re doing so without their floor general at 100 percent.
During the part of UConn’s practice open to the media on Friday, Dangerfield arrived late and did not participate in any drills. Auriemma said she’s dealing with “a little bit of an issue,” though he didn’t appear overly concerned about it. Dangerfield underwent hip surgery over the offseason and missed most of summer workouts. Auriemma declined to specify what exactly was bothering his point guard.
“One of the problems with having something operated on is the concession you make to it and the next thing you know, you’re dealing with something else,” he said. “That part isn’t anything serious, no.”
At the same time, Auriemma doesn’t expect it to go away anytime soon, characterizing it as “a year-long thing.” Through four games, she’s averaging the second-most minutes per game on the team at 37.3, but the coach said he needs to lower than number.
“I’m trying to limit her minutes but I haven’t done a great job of that so far and I have to try to keep doing that as much as I can,” he said.
The tricky part is there’s nobody else on the team that can handle Dangerfield’s duties. Molly Bent has played in just two games this season while Christyn Williams said she could run the point “if push comes to shove.” Prior to the season, one of Auriemma’s biggest worries was how the offense would run without Dangerfield on the floor. To this point, UConn still doesn’t have answer answer.
“I don’t know. That’s part of what we have to come up with,” Auriemma said when asked who else on the team could fill in for Dangerfield. “How do we do that?... Every option is available to us. Every option is an option.”
Auriemma to America
Friday marked a special day for Geno Auriemma. 58 years ago — November 22, 1961 —Auriemma, his mother and two siblings landed in New York City after an 11-day boat journey from their native Italy. Auriemma was seven at the time and still remembers it well.
“My mom was sick the whole time. She didn’t feel good the whole time. She got seasick,” he said. “My sister never left the cabin either, she was only one. So it was just me chasing after my brother all over the ship. That’s how I spent my 11 days, chasing him wherever he went. Trying to keep him out of trouble. By day number eight I wanted to throw him overboard.”
The ship first landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia before heading south to New York City. Auriemma’s father and some other relatives had already come over prior to Geno’s arrival.
“That’s why I love the water maybe, I don’t know. Maybe that’s why I hate the water,” Auriemma laughed. “Nah, I love the ocean. I wouldn’t recommend it for 11 days but I love the ocean. Unless you had better accommodations than we had.”
Despite the anniversary, Auriemma didn’t have any major plans to celebrate.
“How do I commemorate it? Walk in the rain and come over here to practice,” he said. “Living the dream. Living the American dream. That I am.”
UConn women’s basketball is set to embark on its longest road trip of the season, playing three games away from home against Ohio State, Dayton and Seton Hall. While it’s hard to beat the comforts of home, hitting the road is a good way for the team to bond with everyone forced into close proximity with each other.
“We go to dinner, we have activities, we do trivia,” Megan Walker said. “It’s definitely good to do that.”
Trivia is an especially popular way to pass the time and it also gives the team a chance to compete against each other. UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey organizes it and picks the questions, which keeps everyone on their toes.
“History, previous UConn teams or the opposing team that we’re playing, stuff about them,” Walker listed as some common question topics. “They could be anything.”
While the trivia competition is intended to be a mix of education and recreation, Auriemma says it doesn’t take long for it devolve.
“It’s supposed to be an educational thing, teaching them new things, new words, new ideas. Instead it turns into a comedy show. The best part of the trivia is seven or eight people saying ‘I can’t believe you just said that.’”
One example of that came last weekend when the Huskies went down to Philadelphia to play Temple. The players were asked what famous river flows past the city and separates it from New Jersey. An unidentified player quickly threw out an answer: The Mississippi River.
“I knew we were in trouble. I knew we had major problems,” Auriemma said. “Hey, Mississippi is a famous river. Got that part right.”
But it’s not all fun and games. One of the players’ favorite parts is the competitive nature of trivia and with that comes winners and losers. According to Walker, the losers have to carry something around — sometimes a poop emoji pillow — until the next game or shoot-around. The winners flaunt something nicer around, though Walker didn’t get into specifics about it.