Depth will be in short order for Huskies today vs. Seton Hall
Walker has strep throat and will likely to miss second straight game
When UConn steps on the court today, it will likely be without Megan Walker.
The sophomore starter has strep throat, coach Geno Auriemma said, and as of Friday he believed she would be out for the Huskies' game against Seton Hall (1 p.m., SNY) at the XL Center in Hartford.
Walker also missed Tuesday's game against Saint Louis.
Starting in Walker's place will once again be junior Kyla Irwin — a decision Auriemma said came down to Irwin best understanding what he
wants out of her.
“I think Kyla has a better grasp of what we're doing at this point and time (than Olivia Nelson-Ododa),” Auriemma said. “I think Kyla's earned it because she works really, really hard and I want to give her that opportunity and see what she does with it. Olivia's still going to get her moments, but I just think that Kyla's earned it.”
Auriemma said the more time Irwin and Nelson-Ododa spend on the court with the starters, the more they improve. While Irwin is getting the nod this game, Nelson-Ododa is coming off a positive two-game stretch where she impressed her coach and also recorded her first collegiate double-double. Both will need to contribute in Walker's absence against Seton Hall.
The freshman forward earned a lot of praise from Auriemma after UConn's win over Notre Dame, and then continued her success against Saint Louis. The result is she's starting to feel more comfortable on the court as she sees the fruits of her labor.
“I think with each game my confidence will continue to rise,” Nelson-Ododa said. “Just the experience I get will help with that.”
Nelson-Ododa still has room for improvement: She's still not strong enough and doesn't consistently finish around the rim. Both of these are things she's working on, she said, and she's been hitting the weight room a lot.
“A little bit at a time she's getting better every day,” Auriemma said. “You know, it's weird, some kids have really bad game habits because they can't transfer what happens in practice over to the game. … She's just the opposite. She gets in the game and does four or five things and I'll go ‘Man, I didn't know she could do that. That's not the same kid I see in practice.' So she likes playing games. She likes the competition, and she's gotten better every time we've put her out there.”
The Huskies will also be without Batouly Camara. Auriemma said there's no timetable for her recovery from a sprained MCL sustained in practice, but that she's begun doing more each day.
Between injuries and transfers (Lexi Gordon), UConn's bench will be smaller than usual. Their bench hasn't hurt them yet this season, but it's a concern that lingers and forces the starters to put much of the game on their own shoulders.
Freshman Christyn Williams has been shouldering her fair share lately, putting up 28 points against Notre Dame and 17 against Saint Louis.
“I've been working on being more consistent and those past two games have really made a difference so hopefully I can keep it going,” Williams said.
Against Seton Hall — a fast-paced offensive team that relies heavily on 3-pointers — Williams said she's excited for a team that will test her defensively, which is an area she's been working on improving.
UConn's game against the Pirates will be their last home game Jan. 9 against Cincinnati.