Women’s basketball gameday

November 10, 2018

Ohio State at No. 2 UConn When: Sunday, noonWhere: Gampel Pavilion, StorrsRecords: Ohio State (1-1), UConn (36-1 in 2017-18)TV: CBS Sports NetworkRadio: UConn/IMG Sports Network, 97-9 ESPNKEEP AN EYE ONTrading places: These Buckeyes look different, drastically different. The defending Big 10 champions face the tall task of replacing all five starters, including All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell, the NCAA’s second all-time leading scorer (3,402). While Kevin McGuff has attempted to patchwork the roster by bringing in five graduate transfers, the early returns aren’t overly encouraging.The Buckeyes (1-1) have endured an inauspicious start, losing Ashanti Abshaw, a three-time All-Horizon League guard from Cleveland State, to a torn ACL in the preseason, and then dropping their season opener to No. 22 USF, 71-47.What does that mean for Sunday? UConn assistant Shea Ralph — who helped fill in for Geno Auriemma during Friday’s practice — explained that it’s too early to glean much information from film on the new-look Buckeyes.“They do some things that are similar [to last season] but their personnel is completely different,” Ralph said. “In terms of scouting them … you just have one game — they play again tonight [against Detroit] — to go off of.“But it’s not really about them,” she continued. “I think, for us, we’re really trying to see where we’re at against a pretty good program. What are the things we’re accomplishing that are good, and what do we need to get better at?”The Huskies have won all four meetings with Ohio State, most recently an 82-63 triumph in 2016.Getting rid of the butterflies: Katie Lou Samuelson doesn’t remember much about her first game at UConn other than that she was nervous at tip-off.“My first game,” Samuelson, now a senior, said Friday before pausing, “I remember my exhibition game. Actually, I don’t even know who our first game was [against]. … It’ really nerve-wracking to be a part of.”Here, we’ll lend you an assist, Katie Lou: The Huskies, a preseason No. 1, throttled No. 6 Ohio State 100-56 on the road.“Once you start playing in it and you start kind of just doing the plays that we run every day in practice, then you realize that this is all the same,” said Samuelson, who had two points and five rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench in her collegiate debut. “You forget that it’s a real game.”A few of the team’s veteran leaders, including Samuelson and junior Crystal Dangerfield, have resorted to a similar message to ease the nerves of this year’s freshmen.“It’s just basketball,” Dangerfield said. “After a while, it’s kind of like high school. You’ve done it for so long. It’s playing basketball, just at a higher pace.”Room to grow: The Huskies are enamored by what they’ve seen so far offensively from freshman guard Christyn Williams, especially the way she attacks the basket. Williams, the top-ranked player in the Class of 2018, finished with 10 points and five rebounds in the exhibition game against Vanguard, and is slated to start again on Sunday.“She has an incredible amount of talent,” Ralph said. “She’s very, very gifted, especially offensively.”Defensively, though, let’s just say the Huskies see plenty of room for improvement.“She’s in between like not bad and suck,” Ralph joked when asked about where Williams is defensively. “It depends on the day. She has a short attention span for defense. If we can do a defensive drill for 10 or 15 minutes, she’s great. If we do it for a half-hour, it starts to get ugly.”Starting the right way: The date was Nov. 19, 1995. In their first game as newly minted national champions, the Huskies lost 83-81 in overtime to Louisiana Tech in Knoxville, Tenn., in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic.And that date is significant, why? Well, it’s the last time UConn lost its season opener.The Huskies are 36-8 all-time in season openers, including 29-4 under Auriemma.PROBABLE STARTERSOHIO STATEPlayerPos.PPGCarly SantoroG8.0Carmen GrandeG2.0Adreana MillerF3.0Dorka JuhaszF12.Makayla WatermanF4.0UCONNPlayerPos.PPGCrystal DangerfieldG9.5*Christyn WilliamsGNAKatie Lou SamuelsonG17.4*Megan WalkerF5.8*Napheesa CollierF16.1**Stats from 2017-18— Doug Bonjour

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