Tale of Two Teams
Geno Auriemma admits he is coaching two teams this year. The first has a trio of All-Americas led by forward Breanna Stewart, the reigning player of the year, who won a gold medal with Team USA at the world championships last month in Istanbul. There's also wing Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the nation's purest three-point shooter, and Moriah Jefferson, one of the country's top point guards.
Auriemma's other unit consists of four freshmen and two sophomores who must learn the nuances of UConn's combo high post--triangle offense to keep pace with the veterans. One of them should pick it up quickly: freshman Kia Nurse, a 6-foot guard who was the second-youngest player in Istanbul, where she averaged 6.9 points for Canada.
UConn is favored to threepeat as national champ, despite losing two starters (and first-round WNBA picks) in center Stefanie Dolson and guard Bria Hartley. Dolson's replacement in the post will likely be Kiah Stokes, a dazzling athlete and solid passer who earned more court time late last season because she was so strong defensively. "Can we get a consistently high level of energy and performance from Kiah?" Auriemma asks. "If we do, I don't think we will miss a beat."
That's bad news for the rest of the country.
With 2013--14 Stats
Moriah Jefferson* 5'7" Jr.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis* 5'11" Sr.
Morgan Tuck 6'2" Soph.
Breanna Stewart* 6'4" Jr.
Kiah Stokes 6'3" Sr.
Kia Nurse 6'0" Fr.
DAVID E. KLUTHO FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (JEFFERSON)
TELLING NUMBER 324
Shots blocked by the Huskies last season, an NCAA record. It was the first time in school history that three players—Breanna Stewart (110), Stefanie Dolson (93) and Kiah Stokes (89)—each had more than 50 blocks.