By Carl Adamec
WASHINGTON — Geno Auriemma may have a tough adjustment Wednesday night when the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team takes on Georgetown in a Big East game at McDonough Arena (7:30 p.m., SNY).
The Huskies’ coach will have a full roster available to him for the first time in a month. Reserve sophomore center Kiah Stokes is probable after missing the previous five games with a stress reaction in her right shin.
“This hasn’t happened yet this year,” Auriemma said. “but we need to get some certainty about who’s practicing, who’s not practicing, who’s on our team, who’s not on our team. Who’s healthy. Who’s not. We haven’t played a game yet where everybody’s healthy. So I don’t feel like, ‘Wow this is the best we’ve got out here.’ “
All-American junior guard Bria Hartley missed most of the preseason and the Huskies’ first two games after injuring her left ankle in the FIBA 3×3 world championships. Sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis suffered a concussion against Purdue Nov. 24 and missed the Colgate game four days later. She also missed the second half of the Dec. 3 game with Maryland with a left quad contusion. Stokes hasn’t played a game since Dec. 6. Freshman Morgan Tuck missed games against Oakland and Hartford with a bone bruise in her right knee. Freshman Moriah Jefferson struggled with an illness through the holidays.
But all 11 players practiced for UConn (12-1 overall, 0-1 Big East) Tuesday and should be available for the Hoyas (10-4, 0-1).
“So much stuff has been going on with our team lately that now that we’re finally all going to be playing together, it’s going to be good to see,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “Obviously, we might not all be on the same page yet just because everybody’s been hurt, but we can see where we right now as a unit.”
Former UConn star and three-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi, who helped lead Team USA to a fifth straight Olympic gold medal as well as an undefeated exhibition schedule in 2012, was named the 2012 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year Wednesday.
“Twelve years ago I wore my first USA jersey, and the feeling of honor and excitement never diminishes,” Taurasi said in a statement. “I had the opportunity to learn from the best, play with the best and be coached by the best. This honor is very special because it is in recognition of everyone who has played for our country.”
Taurasi was also honored by USA Basketball in 2006 and 2010. The 2012 Olympic team was coached by Auriemma.
The Chino, Calif., native was a tri-captain of the U.S. squad and started in all eight Olympic wins in London. She averaged a team-high 12.4 points per game to go with 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists. She also shot 45.5 percent from the field and team-bests of 42.9 percent from 3-point land and 96.0 percent from the foul line.
“I think Diana was absolutely spectacular as a leader on and off the court,” Auriemma said in a statement. “I’m constantly amazed by her will to win, her drive, and how much she makes everyone around her better. It was a great experience for me to get to coach her again. I enjoyed every minute of it. Winning the gold medal, and her playing such a big part in it, put a real exclamation point on the whole summer.”
Former UConn star Carla Berube recorded her 200th win as coach of the Tufts University women’s basketball team last Saturday when the Jumbos defeated Middlebury College 54-41 on their home court.
In her 11th season at Tufts, the 1997 UConn graduate owns a record of 200-72 (.735). For those scoring at home, Berube reached the plateau nine games faster than Auriemma. The Jumbos are off to a 13-0 start, the best in program history, and are ranked eighth in the latest Division III national poll.
A native of Oxford, Mass., Berube played in 138 games at UConn (1993-97) and finished with 1,381 points, 677 rebounds, 384 assists, and 141 steals. The Huskies were 132-8 in her four seasons in Storrs.
When you play well against UConn, people notice.
Notre Dame junior guard Kayla McBride was named the Ann Meyers Drysdale women’s national player of the week by the United States Basketball Writers Association. McBride averaged 20.0 points, 2.5 assists, and 2.0 steals in wins over St. Francis of Pennsylvania and UConn. She had a career high 21 points in the Irish’s 73-72 win at Gampel Pavilion Saturday. She was also named the Big East Player of the Week.
McBride had 12 points on 4-for-14 shooting from the floor Tuesday in second-ranked Notre Dame’s 75-71 overtime win over South Florida at the Sun Dome in Tampa.
As it did in the Associated Press poll Monday, Baylor took over the top spot in the USA Today Sports coaches poll released Tuesday.
The Bears received 21 out of a possible 31 first-place votes. UConn, which was No. 3 in the AP poll, beat out Notre Dame for No. 2 with the coaches as the Huskies got four first-place votes and 724 points. The Irish also got four first-place votes and 700 points. Stanford was fourth while fifth-ranked Duke received the remaining two first-place votes.