uconn women’s basketball Takeaways: Williams still learning, defense up to par
The UConn women posted a thorough 85-53 victory over Ohio State on Sunday at Gampel Pavilion. It was the Huskies’ 23rd straight season-opening win under Geno Auriemma.
Four players scored in double-figures, led by Katie Lou Samuelson’s 19 points.
Here are five takeaways from the team’s impressive start to 2018-19.
Williams learning on the fly: Christyn Williams seemed much more passive than she was during the preseason and the exhibition win over Vanguard, when she scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds over 26 minutes. The freshman guard, who has been praised for her aggressiveness and confidence, had a quiet day. It was so quiet, in fact, that Geno Auriemma joked postgame that he was unaware that she had played. Williams took by far the fewest shots among the starters, going 2-for-6 and finishing with seven points.
Granted, it was just one game — the first of what should be many for a player loaded with potential — but the Huskies would probably like to see a more assertive Williams moving forward.
Some clarity about the bench … well, not really: Auriemma, for the most part, stuck to a seven-player rotation in the first half — it was technically eight, if you’d like to count the 23 seconds that Molly Bent spent on the floor. Clearly, Mikayla Coombs (two points and two assists in 16 minutes) is the top guard off the bench. Auriemma likes what she brings in terms of athleticism and rebounding, saying she “probably gets more offensive rebounds than anybody on that team.” And Kyla Irwin (five points and two rebounds in 12 minutes) is the forward that he trusts most besides the starters.
Beyond those two? It’s pretty much anyone’s guess. The bench accounted for only nine points against the Buckeyes. While Olivia Nelson-Ododa, a 6-foot-4 freshman, might have the most potential of the group, she’s still raw. She had a nondescript debut, playing just five minutes and picking up a pair of fouls.
Defense does its job: The Buckeyes had five new starters, four of whom weren’t even with the program a year ago. And they were out of sorts early, committing a whopping 15 turnovers in the first half. UConn did its best to expose the Buckeyes’ issues, turning those turnovers into 21 points and a comfortable 49-19 halftime lead.
Auriemma called his team’s defense a “work in progress,” and he’s probably right. The Buckeyes — who shot a porous 17-of-58 from the floor — had plenty of open looks at the basket that didn’t fall. The Huskies are far from a finished product defensively, but they’re good enough on offense to where it won’t matter most nights. Against Notre Dame, on the other hand…
Hello, Megan: She has said that this season is going to be different, that the struggles she endured as a freshman are a thing of the past. And on Sunday, she backed up her words.
Megan Walker, the No. 1 overall recruit coming out of Virginia in 2017, looked like a player ready to break out. She did a little bit of everything, recording 15 points (nine in the first quarter), six rebounds and two steals over 27 minutes. The Huskies need someone besides Napheesa Collier to cause a ruckus in the paint. Clearly, Walker has the skill set to do so.
They get the job done, again: The last time UConn lost back-to-back games — against Providence in the Big East Tournament and Louisville in the first round of the NCAAs in 1992-93 — Katie Lou Samuelson had not yet been born. Considering the unpredictably of sports, the Huskies’ consistency is simply remarkable.