Great effort by the bench today against Pittsburgh. Maya Moore gets two early fouls called on her, Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles aren't having any luck with their shots, so you might think that its time to panic. Nope.
Enter Charde Houston, Ketia Swanier, Kaili McLaren and Meghan Gardler. Stats-wise, Gardler's line is a lie. In 11 minutes, it looks like she did nothing. She regularly found the post players with keen passes, she tracked down rebounds and on one play after Swanier was beaten on the fast break by Taneisha Harrison, Gardler came from behind to block the shot.
McLaren hadn't seen the light of day since the loss to Rutgers nearly two weeks ago and showed aggressiveness that I don't recall having seen in some time. She had a lot of phantom fouls called on her or at least calls that most players wouldn't have been called for. But the officiating is a story for another day.
Swanier provided stability that Lorin Dixon didn't give at the point early on and played a balanced, yet opportunistic game. Afterwards, Geno Auriemma said no one has had a tougher three days of practice than Swanier. His senior responded today and he's confident she will carry this into the final weeks of the season.
Houston was strong. She played 28 minutes, the most she had played this season. She also provided offense, which is her strongest skill. When Houston can get on a roll, there aren't many players who can control a game in the manner that she does. She seemed confident during and after the game when she recalled her effort. It can't be overstated how significant Houston is to the team. If she can catch fire, like she did in last season's Big East Tournament (she would have been MVP had UConn beaten Rutgers), no one will beat the Huskies this season.