STORRS -- UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma refused to call it a discussion. That would lead one to believe that both he and senior point guard Caroline Doty participated in a conversation at practice Jan. 20.
Auriemma labeled it a presentation. He needed to make sure that Doty knew exactly what her role is for the third-ranked Huskies. He spoke. Doty listened.
"I told her, `If you're not going to organize our offense and our defense and get us in the right spots, take care of the ball and make sure the ball goes exactly where it's supposed to be and when it's supposed to be there, and that guys are playing the style of play we want to play, and knock down some open shots, there's absolutely positively no reason why I should play you. None,''' Auriemma said. "She took it hard, obviously.''
Auriemma has seen a difference in Doty over the last week. She is coming to accept the fact that her role in some games might be significant, as it was at Oregon Dec. 31 when she had season-highs of 14 points, seven assists and four 3-pointers and a career-high 12 rebounds in 26 minutes. And it might be minimal in others as she has finished scoreless in five games this season.
Doty admitted that the exchange with Auriemma needed to happen.
"We had a run-in with each other,'' Doty said. "I understand what he was trying to get across. We had out whatever on the court ... There was something that had to be said. He said it. I took it. And we're on the same page. If you kind of mope around and aren't confident in yourself and do certain things bad things are going to happen.''
Entering tonight's game against Villanova at the XL Center (7; SNY), Doty is averaging 3.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 18.6 minutes this season. She is shooting just 36.5 percent from the field, 32.7 percent from 3-point range and has a 1.6 assist to turnover ratio.
Doty is averaging 2.1 points on 26.1 percent shooting from the field (3-of-17 3-pointers) in the last seven games. She certainly wishes her numbers were more impressive. But her focus is on the team right now.
"Chris Dailey, Shea Ralph and the whole coaching staff have made it a point to tell me how important it is not to be selfish,'' Doty said. "So I need to stop worrying about what my role is personally and just kind of do what is best for the team. If you're worrying about everybody else, then the stress and pressure on yourself kind of vanishes and good things start happening.''
Doty has not been blessed with good fortune since arriving at UConn. She has twice torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee (three times overall), missing the final 22 games in 2008-09 and the entire 2010-11 season.
At this point, Auriemma has compared Doty to former Tennessee guard and current North Carolina State coach Kellie (Jolly) Harper. Harper underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in her right knee Oct. 14, 1996 and was back in action Jan. 12, 1997.
Harper then helped guide the Lady Vols to the 1997 and 1998 national championships.
"Caroline's a great athlete,'' Auriemma said. "Forget a good athlete, she's a Kelly Faris kind of athlete. And then after awhile if you're that kid and you look back at yourself, and then you realize that you can't do any of those things, it's pretty depressing. You've got to be pretty strong to change the way you play basketball when you've played it the same way for so long. It's been tough on Caroline, but I'm proud of her.''
email@example.com; http://twitter.com/elliottctpost; http://blog.ctnews.com/elliott/