UConn Women Ready to Start Over

STORRS – Life after Maya Moore – against competition - begins for the Connecticut women's basketball team Thursday night at Gampel Pavilion when the Huskies meet Division II Assumption in an exhibition game (7:30 p.m., UConn Radio Network, WTIC AM 1080).

Coach Geno Auriemma's team will have a new look with only one senior, guard Tiffany Hayes, on the roster. Hayes and sophomore guard Bria Hartley are both members of the preseason All-Big East team. Sophomore center Stefanie Dolson is an honorable mention pick.

But during the exhibition season, the eyes of the coaching staff and fans will be on three talented freshmen – forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, center Kiah Stokes and guard Brianna Banks. All three are expected to be instant impact players.

"Kaleena is a great shooter and great defender." Dolson said. "She's a really great rebounder for a guard too. She's going to be really important with those clutch threes and getting extra possessions.

"The same thing with Kiah . . . Kiah is a great rebounder and shot blocker. When she starts getting strong in there, she's going to be a game changer for us. Bria is a great defender. She is quick as anything, so she can just get in the passing lanes and steal balls. That will get us those easy layups in games. All of them are going to play a really important role."

After six consecutive seasons of winning at least 30 games, UConn faces a different role this season. The Huskies are no longer favorites in the Big East or nationally. UConn has been picked to finish second in the conference (behind Notre Dame) and is ranked No. 4 nationally in both the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.

"Some years you show up and the players name the drills and do the drills without you having to say anything," Auriemma said. "And then there's other years where everything is pulling them along. With seven freshmen and sophomores, it's going to be an adventure at times, for sure. Pushing them at times; pulling them at times."

Junior guard Caroline Doty, fighting back from her third surgery on her left knee, will not play against Assumption. She is out with a sprained left ankle after stepping on someone's foot in practice. It is not know how long Doty will be sidelined.

The UConn women complete the exhibition season Nov. 9 against Pace at the XL Center in Hartford. The regular season opens Nov. 13 against Holy Cross.

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