By Carl Adamec
For most members of the University women’s basketball team, Wednesday night’s matchup with Division II Holy Family University at the XL Center in Hartford is the Huskies’ second and final exhibition game.
For UConn’s freshmen, it’s a second chance to make an impression and build chemistry with their new teammates.
“That first game I learned how to play as a team more because it was the first time we were all together,” UConn freshman forward Morgan Tuck said. “The freshmen got the chance to get their jitters out of the way a bit because it was our first game. Even though it was an exhibition, it was real to us.”
UConn placed six players in double figures — including freshmen Tuck, Breanna Stewart, and Moriah Jefferson — in its 105-28 win over Indiana University of Pennsylvania at Gampel Pavilion last Friday. The matchup with Holy Family is the final warmup for Sunday’s regular season opener with College of Charleston.
“It’s exciting,” UConn fifth-year senior guard Caroline Doty said. “I know our freshmen haven’t played at the XL Center and this gives us another chance to work on our weaknesses as Sunday approaches.”
Coach Geno Auriemma will approach Wednesday night much as he did the IUP exhibition, trying different combinations and spreading out the minutes.
The Huskies’ goal is simple.
“For our team it’s to be better than last game,” Tuck said. “We want to click on all cylinders and do what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Holy Family is coming off a 26-8 season and won its sixth Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Championship since 2001. The Tigers advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the ninth straight season and reached the East Region final. Holy Family was tabbed 12th in the ESPN/USA Today poll. The Tigers return 10 veterans from last year’s squad, including All-CACC selections Kelly Brady and Erin Mann.
“For us, the exhibition with UConn is a great experience and opportunity,” Holy Family coach Mark Miller said on the school’s website. “It’s something as players and coaches we won’t forget. It will be great to play a team like UConn and have the experience.
“We are going to approach this game like we would any other game. We are going to compete, play hard and look to execute on offense and defense. Our main goal is to come in and have this game help prepare us for Sunday (at Bentley).”
Doty, who sat out the IUP game after tweaking her left knee, will play Wednesday night.
“We’re trying to keep her fresh, not wear her down,” Auriemma said. “The biggest thing with her is that if she gets fatigued, that’s when problems will occur.”
Stewart is probable for Wednesday night after injuring her right foot against IUP. She did not practice Monday or Tuesday.
“I saw her in the game Friday night, she went down and grimaced and made a face,” Auriemma said. “The next day I’m in the training room and Breanna’s in there and her foot is swollen. I asked, ‘Don’t you remember when it happened?’ She said no.
“But I guess it’s way better (Tuesday) than (Monday).”
All-America junior guard Bria Hartley is out for Wednesday night but is hopeful she’ll play in the regular season opener. Auriemma wasn’t so optimistic.
“She hasn’t practiced, so I would hope sooner rather than later we actually get her to a practice,” Auriemma said. “And the fact that we play (Wednesday) and then we play Sunday, which is not too far away … Believe me, no one would be happier than me to have her available for Sunday’s game. But right now I’m not that hopeful. I hope so, but I don’t envision it happening.”
Doty’s trick-or-treating days are over. The veteran guard was issued an infraction from campus police last Thursday at 2:15
a.m. for creating a public disturbance in a dormitory. Police were called to the scene after an excessive noise complaint was made. Doty was not arrested. Alcohol was not involved.
“There’s a time and a place for it.” Doty said. “I don’t think I’ll probably go trick or treating unless I have a kid. You get too old for it. It wasn’t anything, really.”
But Auriemma wasn’t pleased by the distraction.
“Halloween is for eight-year-olds,’’ he said. “And when 23-year-olds go trick or treating, the decision to go trick or treating is dumb and invariably the stuff they’re going to do is dumber. So that’s what I think about Caroline.”