UConn's coaching staff breaks down the newcomers
While the early returns on Lou Lopez Sénéchal are good, the staff is keeping expectations low for the freshmen.
On Thursday, UConn women’s basketball’s entire coaching staff met with the media. While we often hear from Geno Auriemma, the assistants provided a different perspective than the head coach. Jamelle Elliott focuses on the bigs and Morgan Valley specializes in the guards, meaning they spend more time working with the players on an individual level and might have a different viewpoint on someone than Auriemma.
Collectively, the coaching staff gave the most in-depth preview of the Huskies’ four new players that we’ve received so far.
Lou Lopez Sénéchal
Lopez Sénéchal dominated at Fairfield for the last four years — earning All-MAAC First Team honors three times and MAAC Player of the Year as a senior — but there were questions about whether or not she’d be able to play at a significantly higher level when she committed to UConn. So far, she’s earned high praise.
“She's amazing. She's just an awesome kid,” Valley said. “She's a worker. She's blue collar — doesn't expect anything, doesn't ask for anything. She just puts her head down. We use this system called Catapult, her numbers are off the chain in workouts, the weights, the effort she puts into her workouts, the way she works out — she's here for a reason. It's fun and games, but it's not fun in games for her. She has goals of going to the WNBA and playing in Europe. So she's here for a reason.”
So what part of her game stands out the most?
“I think being able to score at the capacity she can score, it is not normal,” Valley said. “She knows how to score and she knows how to score in a lot of different ways.”
“She gets to her pull-up really easily. She doesn't necessarily look that athletic, but she gets her shot off on all the guys (the practice squad),” the coach added. “She has an uncanny ability — she can turn the corner and get to the basket and it doesn't always look like it's gonna happen and then the next thing you know she's getting the layup or getting fouled or shooting a little turnaround jump shot.”
“…When she catches the ball, she's not really in a rush. She’s a bit methodical and will jab-step you and try to get you to move a little bit. I think she took all that, she learned all that at Fairfield being their primary scorer.”
For some, the adjustment from being the No. 1 option on offense at Fairfield to being a more complementary piece at UConn could be difficult. But Lopez Sénéchal seems like she’s excited to have more weapons around her.
“She had a lot of things run for her where she was under tremendous pressure, especially when they played the best teams, ‘If I don’t score, we're going to lose.’ So she's operated under that kind of pressure. Being thrown into this has been no big deal really,” Auriemma said.
“Last time we talked about it, I said, ‘Look, whatever you did at Fairfield, it's going to be different here because we can't possibly run as many plays for you as Joe (Frager) did.’ And she started laughing. She said, ‘Yeah, I felt bad because every play was for me.’ And I said, ‘We can't do that here.’ She goes, ‘Oh no. I like this because you can spread it around.’”
As of Thursday, UConn had only held one full-team workout since the fall semester began so it’s far too early to know how much of a role Lopez Sénéchal will have. But from what Auriemma and Valley said, it’s hard to imagine her not being a factor for this team. That’s the hope, at least.
“I said, ‘However many points you scored at Fairfield, it'd be really nice if you did that here,’” Auriemma said with a laugh. “That would really help us a lot.”