Stokes ready to return to action

Connecticut center Kiah Stokes, right, and Purdue forward Taylor Manuel vie for a rebound during an NCAA women's college basketball game in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. Connecticut won 91-57. (AP Photo/Thomas Layer)

Connecticut center Kiah Stokes, right, and Purdue forward Taylor Manuel vie for a rebound during an NCAA women’s college basketball game in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. Connecticut won 91-57. (AP Photo/Thomas Layer)

By Carl Adamec

STORRS, Conn. — Kiah Stokes wanted to help Saturday and she stayed ready just in case the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team needed her to play a few minutes against Notre Dame.

But with Stefanie Dolson performing well and staying on the floor for the whole 40 minutes in the 73-72 loss to the Irish, Stokes was able to give her injured right shin another day of rest.

“It was heartbreaking. It was frustrating knowing that I couldn’t do anything about it,” Stokes said Monday.

That will change Wednesday night when the third-ranked Huskies travel to the nation’s capital to take on Georgetown in a Big East game at McDonough Arena (7:30 p.m., SNY). Stokes is expected to see her first game action since Dec. 6 after missing five games since being diagnosed with a stress reaction in the right shin.

“Tomorrow she’s going to practice, Wednesday she’s going to go to shootaround, and Wednesday night I plan on playing her,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I hope not playing for awhile lights a fire under her. She’ll only be limited by herself, not by me.”

Stokes is averaging 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 12.4 minutes over eight games. She didn’t score in eight minutes in her last outing against Penn State a month ago.

After the game she went to athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle and told her about the pain she was feeling in her right shin. The stress reaction was discovered and she was shut down.

The 6-foot-3 center from Marion, Iowa, who was named to the Big East all-freshman team a season ago, began doing some workouts and taking part in some drills in practice last week.

“I’m excited to play,” Stokes said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the court so I’m ready to get after it and get back playing again. It feels good to be getting back.

“I’ll have to calm myself down a little bit. It will take a little time to get the rust off. I’ll be good to go.”

Stokes will continue to wear a sleeve on the right shin but won’t have the air cast she uses to walk around.

Auriemma gave the Huskies Sunday off as scheduled but called off Monday’s practice after a long film session. The players did some weightlifting and then some shooting on their own.

“I just thought that if we could get a good lift in today and get some shots up I thought that was the best option for us today,” Auriemma said.

For senior Kelly Faris, though, that wasn’t enough.

“I would’ve liked to have done more. I definitely would’ve liked to have had a practice,” she said. “But it is what it is and you’ve got to learn from it. So tomorrow is Day 1. You start back over and you’ve got to set a tone right from tomorrow. Tomorrow is a pretty important day, I think, for us, and that’s how we have to approach it. We have to approach it like tomorrow is extremely important and the next day is even much more important and so on.”

UConn (12-1, 0-1) has not suffered consecutive losses in its last 706 games. Notre Dame junior Kayla McBride, who had a career high 21 points in the win over the Huskies, was named the Big East Player of the Week Monday. UConn’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was put on the Big East honor roll.