By Carl Adamec
UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was a unanimous selection to the Big East first team as a sophomore. She would go on to be named to the WBCA All-America team.
That’s just not good enough in the new American Athletic Conference.
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s junior was named to the AAC preseason team that was announced today at the league’s media day, but she was not a unanimous choice.
“If they didn’t vote for me, they didn’t vote for me,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “They didn’t think I was good enough. I’m just going to go out there and continue to play. It doesn’t affect me or my team and how we’re going to perform.”
Mosqueda-Lewis became only the fifth UConn sophomore to be selected as a WBCA All-America team and the fourth to reach 1,000 points a year ago. She averaged 17.6 points and 6.3 rebounds and led the country in 3-point shooting percentage at 49.2.
The only unanimous selections to the AAC preseason team were Mosqueda-Lewis’ UConn teammates Breanna Stewart and Stefanie Dolson along with Louisville senior Shoni Schimmel.
Stewart was named the Preseason Player of the Year. According to a source, the sophomore forward beat out Mosqueda-Lewis for the honor by one vote.
“She’s led our team in scoring the last two years,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “So maybe this league is a lot better than people are giving it credit for. I’m anxious to see all these great players when they come up to Gampel Pavilion and when we go down to play against them. I’m sure Kaleena is anxious to see them, too.”
So maybe it will be motivation for Mosqueda-Lewis, then again …
“I don’t think it’s important who it is (that didn’t vote for her),” Auriemma said. “That’s one thing we have to make sure we don’t do, don’t get caught up in the other stuff. It’s going to be difficult enough as it is to keep everyone going in the right direction.”
Stewart averaged 13.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.0 blocked shots in 36 games as a freshman. She was a Big East honorable mention and all-freshman selection.
But in the postseason, there was no one better. She was chosen to the Big East all-tournament team and then in five NCAA tournament games (she sat out the opener against Idaho) she averaged 20.8 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 56.3 percent from the floor. She was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Bridgeport (Conn.) Regional as well as the Final Four, the first UConn freshman so honored.
“She had (five) unbelievable games in the NCAA tournament and that’s enough to show everybody what your true potential is,” Auriemma said. “Hopefully that’s indicative of where she’s going to finish.”
Stewart, took it all in stride since the award is based on what she did last year.
The North Syracuse, N.Y. native does have history on her side. The only UConn sophomores to be named Big East Preseason Player of the Year — Svetlana Abrosimova (1998-99) and Maya Moore (2008-09) — went on to be honored as Player of the Year in March.
“It’s an honor and it’s humbling,” Stewart said. “But it’s the preseason. It’s what people think at the beginning of the season. To get at the end of the season means I’ll have to play well throughout the whole season. I’m focused on playing well.”