UConn women to face Duke on their first road trip

Instead of spending the holidays together on campus, the Huskies will be eating turkey in downtown Portland, Oregon. On the 30th floor of one of the tallest buildings in the city with views of the City of Roses, the Columbia River and the Oregon mountain backdrop.

Of course, that dinner would come the day after the team visited Nike’s global headquarters in Beaverton (a suburb outside Portland) for a reception hosted by none other than the brand’s co-founder, Phil Knight.

The No. 3-seed Huskies will have their first road game of the season on Friday when they take on Duke in the first round of the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament on the University of Portland campus. UConn will face either Oregon State or No. 9 Iowa on Sunday on the final day of the tournament.
And despite hitting two consecutive top-10 home runs; UConn coach Geno Auriemma is excited to see how his team stays focused while taking on the challenge on the road.
“You want to see, are they mature enough to take care of themselves when you’re not around them, to handle their business in a mature way, to be able to keep their balance, to keep their priorities right and not get caught in anything,” Orema said. Another is happening here with this event.” “That’s why you love coming on these trips. You’re going to be playing good teams, and you’re going to be in an environment that’s going to challenge them a little bit.”

Friday will be Ocon’s second game without graduate striker Dorka Guhasz. Juhász (who had at least three starts due to a broken thumb) traveled with the team to Oregon.
On Sunday, she was replaced in the starting lineup by junior stage Aubrey Griffin. A last-minute change to the Huskies frontcourt did not impress as the pair of Griffin and Aaliyah Edwards combined for 18 of the team’s 36 total rebounds. However, Auriemma said that whoever fills this open starting spot can rotate depending on the team’s opponent.
The Blue Devils pride themselves on size (starting center Kennedy Brown is 6-foot-6) and rhythm. They play at a pace that defies offense to match their depth in the backcourt.
“They really control the tempo of the game, they make the game go at a pace that is good for them, and it’s fast,” said Orima. “I think your guards have to do a really good job of not getting caught in how much you want to run, how much you want to push the tempo… With every game that we win, I tell the team, with every game that we win, I think the next game play is going to be progressively more difficult.”

UConn’s offensive arsenal continues to be highlighted by second-year guard Kazi Fad. Fudd currently ranks second in the country with 30.0 points per game. She scored 32 in each of UConn’s last two games. But even with Fudd doing her thing, the Huskies continue to look for others to step up to help ease the burden when other teams target them.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” said Orima. “Obviously you want Ezzi to touch the ball as many of his possessions as possible, but the others will have to step up and they will have to kick the ball and there will be plenty of chances for others. …
“And there’s a lot you can throw at her (Fad). But you still have to stop her from grabbing and shooting at her and she doesn’t need much time to do that. And she doesn’t have to rely on just the threes… I’m sure she’s a player. Good enough that it wouldn’t be easy to get her out of the game.”

Outside the fd, though, the Huskies aren’t 100 percent strong in the backcourt.
Auriemma said that while Caroline Ducharme has returned to full participation in practices, the sophomore is still working her way back to full strength after missing the fair and UConn season opener due to a stiff neck. Ducharme played just five minutes against Texas last week and 11 against NC State.
“I think she understands that this is a long process and it’s going to take a little bit at a time,” Orima said. “…every day in practice she does a little more, a little more. And so far, the reaction has been good. She just has to get back to playing.”
Update on CHRIS DAILEY
Associate head coach Chris Dailey did not travel with the team to Oregon on Tuesday, but Orima said Dailey will arrive Thursday.
Daley broke down after the national anthem on Sunday before UConn’s game against NC State. She was attended to by the medical staff before she left the court on a stretcher. Daley was responsive and alert when she left the XL Center and was taken to UConn Health for her examination. She was released shortly after her arrival.
“She’s on a trip tomorrow to go out here,” said Orima. “I just stayed there to make sure they checked everything. It’s a long trip. So, they said you’re OK.”

Maggie.Vanoni@hearstmediact.commaggie_vanoni

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