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.

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