AAC Preview: Get to Know the Players and Coaches Who Will Lead the League This Season

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UConn Will Dominate but 12th Championship is not a Foregone Conclusion

If you are reading this article, chances are you are already very familiar with the UConn Huskies.  So you probably do not need an introduction to Gabby Williams or Napheesa Collier or the rest of their ridiculously-talent bunch.  When they bring their “A” game (Hot Take Alert!), there is not a women’s college basketball team in America that can come within a dozen points of them at least.

That does not mean that their 12th NCAA championship is foregone conclusion.  Six of their 13 players have never played a regular season game in a Huskies uniform before.  Integrating those new players and balancing playing time will be one of Head Coach Geno Auriemma’s toughest challenges.  Injuries, in-game foul trouble and turnovers when an opponent puts forth their “A” game can all lead to losses.

Even though UConn had a better shooting percentage than Mississippi State in their Final Four match, the Bulldogs grabbed six more rebounds.  Little things can make big differences.  Once of the most exciting finishes in the AAC regular season last year took place when Tulane came within two points of UConn with 14 seconds to go.  That night, the Huskies shot 38 percent from the field, 30 percent from three and just under 68 percent from the free-throw line.  Every year, the team tends to have a couple of those types of games.  The question is when they happen, will the opponent be ready to take advantage of it.

Still, greatness is worth watching and celebrating.  The Huskies will be fun to watch and they will have their own storylines this season including:

  • The playing time dilemma will be fascinating…Auriemma has lots of experience managing this type of situation…the chemistry on this team could provide more drama than some of the games
  • Azurá Stevens is one two transfers players (Batouly Camara is the other) that sat out last year. She is a special talent that some say could be the best player in the country.  How she fits in to the system and performs is one of the more interesting stories in the AAC
  • Will there be a seventh undefeated season?
  • On the flip side, can an AAC team beat the Huskies? USF may be in the best position, but anything can happen

 Players to Watch

Gabby Williams — Forward, Senior, 2017 WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year, 2017 Selected as a First Team All-American by the WBCA and the USBWA, 2017-18 AAC Preseason Player of the Year

Katie Lou Samuelson —Guard/Forward, Junior, First Team All-American by the AP, WBCA and USBWA in 2017, 2017-18 All AAC Preseason First Team

Kia Nurse — Guard, Senior, Led AAC last season in free-throw percentage and 3pt percentage, 4th in assist/turnover ratio and 9th in field-goal percentage

First Regular Season Game: November 12 versus Stanford at Columbus, Ohio