By JOHN ALTAVILLA, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
10:27 PM EDT, November 2, 2012
STORRS — A season of promise began with a pledge to the UConn women's fan base about how it might eventually play out.
Friday's preseason opener at Gampel Pavilion wasn't about the opponent. Indiana (Pa.) proved as competitive as some of the low-echelon Big East teams that the Huskies play, which isn't saying a lot.
This was about the execution. And the execution was impressive. Very impressive.
"And it got better as the game went along, which is a very good sign," coach Geno Auriemma said.
The No. 2 Huskies delivered an impressive 105-28 win before 5,462 that showed off many of their new and improved assets.
"We did a lot of things aggressively, and that's hard for any team to defend," Auriemma said. "Once they figure out what they are doing, take off their roller skates and put on their sneakers, they are going to be all right."
UConn had six players score in double-figures, led by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who scored 14 of her 24 points in the first half when the Huskies overcame a 2-0 deficit to lead, 50-13.
Mosqueda-Lewis, the Big East's rookie of the year last season, was 9 of 16 from the floor, 6 of 11 from three in 27 minutes. She also had nine rebounds and four assists. Auriemma was more impressed with her defense.
Kelly Faris had 11 points and eight assists. Junior center Stefanie Dolson added 14 points (6 of 9) in 23 minutes. And freshmen Breanna Stewart (15 points, eight rebounds, four blocks), Morgan Tuck (15 points) and Moriah Jefferson (10 points) all were impressive, as well.
"It was just great to get all the jitters out," Jefferson said. "It's nice to get your first game over with. I did good, but I can do better."
What made this game more interesting was what UConn came without. Neither senior guard Caroline Doty nor junior Bria Hartley played because of injuries.
That gave Auriemma the chance to experiment in his first live laboratory. He began the game with freshmen Jefferson and Tuck in the lineup with Dolson, Mosqueda-Lewis and Faris.
Doty, a fifth-year senior point guard who has recovered from three knee surgeries in her career, tweaked her left knee during the afternoon shoot-around at Gampel Pavilion. Hartley, a WBCA All-American last season, is out indefinitely with a medial sprain of her left ankle. Auriemma said Thursday that Hartley might miss the season-opener on Nov. 11 against the College of Charleston.
Doty's setback is not considered serious and she is expected to play in UConn's next preseason game on Wednesday at the XL Center. Doty has been limited in the amount of time she's practiced this season because of the chronic pain in her knees.
"There will be issues with [Doty's health] all year long and for the most part it will be nothing for anyone to worry or obsess about because there is nothing you can do about it," Auriemma said.
The Hawks scored the game's first two points and then few others in the first half as UConn opened it up with a 16-0 run. By the time the half was over, UConn was leading 50-13 and all nine of its remaining players had worked up a sweat.
"Having all these players just makes our team appear unguardable," Mosqueda-Lewis said.
In his 28th season at UConn, Auriemma has come to expect certain things from the preseason opener — a little bit of everything.
But he's also seen enough during the preseason to conclude that his team is already well on its way.
"Our challenge as a coaching staff is to make sure the play smarter than their ages," Auriemma said. "That will be the key."
Fiske Makes Radio Debut
Debbie Fiske made her debut as Bob Joyce's partner on the Huskies' radio network Friday.
Auriemma was asked what he remembers about Fiske, who was known as Debbie Baer when she played point guard for the UConn coach from 1989-92.
"She may have been physically the strongest point guard we've ever had," Auriemma said. "I don't think in four years at Connecticut, or when I saw her play in high school or AAU, that I saw anybody take the ball from her. She never gave the ball up and she led her team to the Final Four (1991). That alone makes her qualified to be a part of the media because she has had that kind of success."
"What troubles me is that she is the only point guard I had who didn't speak. So I don't know how she is going to do on the radio because she didn't speak [at UConn]. She is certainly a lot more vocal now than she was as a player, and I think somehow or another that WTIC managed to find somebody who will talk as much as Kara [Wolters] did."
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