The State Of Connecticut

By Jeff Lippman - January 18, 2008

No. 1 Connecticut can not afford to lose any more leadership to injury.

First, the Huskies lose junior guard and contributor Kalana Greene for the season to a torn ACL, and now, the same injury has taken senior guard and the Huskies' best outside shooting threat Mel Thomas.

This one hurts, especially for Thomas as she is a senior and can no longer red shirt the season because UConn has played more than 30 percent of its games. Greene will be able to earn eligibility back for this season despite playing in eight contests.

Greene was a starter before she got hurt, and the scoring average she left behind was fifth on the team. Thomas, however, also a starter, was scoring in double figures and was the Huskies' third leading scorer.

Now all the points fall upon Maya Moore and Tina Charles, but, perhaps the player who needs to step up the most in junior point guard Renee Montgomery.

Montgomery's scoring average is down this season from her team-leading 13.3 ppg last year. She's only pulling 10 points a game with Charles and Moore leading the way.

But without Thomas, Montgomery will be heavily relied upon to make the bulk of the three pointers for Geno Auriemma's team and will need to score more to pick up the slack left behind.

Are the Huskies still a Final Four contender? Are they still worthy of a No. 1 ranking? Oh, you better believe they are.

This is still one of the best lineups in the nation when you consider that Moore is a freshman, Charles is a sophomore and Montgomery a junior. They are younger as they lost their veteran leadership, but they still have plenty of leadership in Montgomery and backup point guard, senior Ketia Swanier.

Two other players who might be able to fill the voids left by Greene and Thomas are senior Charde Houston and freshman guard Lorin Dixon.

Houston is having a forgettable season scoring just over four points per game compared to last season's 12.5. Whatever the reason for her porous start, here is an opportunity to bounce back. Her playing time will increase because of the injuries and if she can find her game, the Huskies really won't miss a beat.

Dixon is still learning how to play college basketball. She's only averaging just under 10 minutes per game - again that number will probably go up - and is only scoring 2.6 points a night. But Dixon can shoot the three and handle the ball and will be given the chance to show she is ready. One of the more highly touted guard prospects in the nation out of high school, Dixon is eager to prove she belongs alongside Moore as the talented freshman on this incredible Huskies roster.

So, to get back to the title of this blog, what is the state of Connecticut? Connecticut is still in good shape. But, for the Huskies' sake, they cannot lose anyone else.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 11:01 AM on January 18, 2008

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