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UConn WBB Weekly: Jana El Alfy beginning to find her place with the Huskies

The early-enrollee has settled into her new home of Storrs.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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Jana El Alfy beginning to find her place at UConn

When Jana El Alfy first arrived in Storrs as an early enrollee in January, her new UConn teammates went out of their way to help her adjust. They were constantly by her side, made sure she got where she needed to be by organizing car pick-ups and drop-offs and provided support for whatever else she needed.

El Alfy appreciated all of it but also didn’t want to be a burden. Her teammates were in the midst of the season whereas for her, basketball was on the back burner. So El Alfy decided to branch out on her own and started to discover her new home by herself.

“I started feeling like I want to explore more,” she said on Tuesday. “I wanted to do it because I don’t want them (her teammates) to because obviously they have other stuff to do. But yeah, it’s been really great exploring campus and making new friends.”

Since that change, El Alfy has started to find her place in Storrs. She’s made friends outside the team — including a fellow Egyptian — has gotten to know campus and created a life away from the basketball court as well.

“She’s pretty good at finding herself,” Dorka Juhász said. “Sometimes in the apartment it’s, ‘Where’s Jana?’ And like, ‘Oh she went here, she went there.’ She’s exploring a lot on her own...Every time we go say like, ‘Hey, do you need to help?’ She’s like, ‘No, I got it.’ She’s adjusting super quickly and she’s a great kid. I think she like fits perfectly into our team.”

While El Alfy is settling into life in Storrs quickly, progress on the basketball court hasn’t been so quick. As a late arrival, she’s spent more time in individual workouts and is only a partial participant in full-team practice.

“I’m not fully in practice yet. I’m doing like some individual stuff with Coach CD (Chris Dailey). So I’m just getting a step-by-step,” she said.

“She’s gotta learn our style of play, what we want from those guys,” Auriemma added.

There’s no rush, though. El Alfy graduated from high school early and drove the decision to arrive at UConn ahead of schedule — not the other way around. Since she won’t play in a game for nine months, the Huskies are bringing El Alfy along slowly with the hope that by the time next season arrives, she’ll be further along than the average first-year player.

“This is all for her development, all for her getting acclimated,” Auriemma said. “So she’ll have this whole semester, June, and then our August trip so by the time September, October comes around, it’s not like your typical, normal freshman coming in.”

But even with the limited glimpses, it’s not hard for the coaching staff to see El Alfy’s potential.

“You can tell,” Auriemma said. “She has a feel for where she wants the ball and how well she runs the floor...She’s very skilled. She’s got a little bit of an edginess to her, too.”

For now, El Alfy will have to wait to show what she can do on the floor. She’s not expected to play this season, so most of her work will happen in the background. But considering how much El Alfy has settled in off-the-court — with the exception of dealing with New England weather, which she highlighted as the biggest culture shock — it should only be a matter of time until everything on the court follows along.

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