By Carl Adamec
STORRS, Conn. — Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis would rather play than watch, particularly when the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team is involved.
So being in front of a television to cheer on her teammates for three of the last four games — including their just-completed trip to Texas — seemed as stressful as if she was on the floor with them.
“I’m a little more intense when it’s my own team because I know them,” Mosqueda-Lewis said Thursday. “I know what they can do and what it’s supposed to look like.
“We bobbled the ball a lot during the SMU game. I was yelling, ‘Grab it. Get a hold of it. Keep the ball.’ I was doing that stuff a lot.”
Mosqueda-Lewis can now get back to encouraging her teammates in person. The junior All-American received clearance and began workouts last Sunday and went through practice at Gampel Pavilion Thursday. She expects to play Saturday when the top-ranked Huskies host Rutgers in American Athletic Conference play here.
“I feel good. I don’t feel sick anymore,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “The worst part was that I couldn’t do any physical activity whatsoever. I got tired today, which was expected, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Then again, practice wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.”
The Anaheim Hills, Calif., native is averaging 12.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in her 17 games this season for UConn (29-0 overall, 16-0 AAC).
She missed five weeks and eight games after suffering a nerve contusion of her right elbow against Stanford on Nov. 11. Against Louisville on Feb. 9, a fall led to a contusion of her left elbow and she played only seven second-half minutes.
Then on Feb. 14, the announcement was made she had mononucleosis and would be sidelined 3-6 weeks.
“I didn’t feel like I was dying when I was told I had mono,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I heard that some people can’t get out of bed and they feel really drained. I didn’t feel that bad but my spleen was enlarged and I was tired. So I rested as much as I could and when I got my checkup I was good.
“It could have been worse. But once I heard people saying, ‘She’s not going to be back to the Sweet 16,’ I thought, that’s not going to happen. I’ll be back. I was never worried I’d be out longer than three weeks.”
Mosqueda-Lewis’ return would at least get the Huskies back to having eight scholarship players available. They’ve been at seven the past four games and it seemed to be taking a little bit of a toll during their recent trip to Texas.
Freshman Saniya Chong started the last four games in Mosqueda-Lewis’ spot.
“It’s certainly much easier to play when you have someone of K’s caliber out on the floor,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “All of a sudden everything looks a little bit better. She’s such an integral part of what we’re doing. She plays with a lot of confdience and I’m not sure the guys that tried to take her place have that.
“She looked really good. She was in and out of practice for a good part of it. She was a bit winded. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow and at shoot-around and we’ll make a decision on how it’s going.”