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UConn's Stewart progressing nicely, with a few bumps in the road

Updated 12:16 am, Thursday, December 6, 2012

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  • Connecticut forward Breanna Stewart, left, attempts to dribble around Purdue forward Sam Ostarello during an NCAA women's college basketball game in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. Connecticut won 91-57. (AP Photo/Thomas Layer) Photo: Thomas Layer, Associated Press / AP
    Connecticut forward Breanna Stewart, left, attempts to dribble around Purdue forward Sam Ostarello during an NCAA women's college basketball game in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. Connecticut won 91-57. (AP Photo/Thomas Layer) Photo: Thomas Layer, Associated Press

 

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STORRS -- Breanna Stewart does not need coach Geno Auriemma to put any pressure on her to live up to the hype that accompanied her to UConn. She expects herself to be great every time she steps on the floor.

Auriemma said Wednesday that no player on the team gets as frustrated as Stewart when they do not play well. She found herself questioning her performance following a 63-48 win over No. 9 Maryland Monday.

Stewart might have finished with 13 points and six rebounds in a season-high 31 minutes. But she also got pushed around, was 4-of-12 from the field, grabbed only one defensive rebound and committed a season-high five turnovers. And when the second-ranked Huskies watched the game on film, she discovered more mistakes.

"I think it was a learning experience because it was going to happen eventually," Stewart said. "I do put a lot of pressure on myself just because, obviously, you want to do everything right and strive for perfection. You're not going to be perfect. But if I could make every shot, I would make every shot, but I know that's not going to happen. But it's a mindset that I will (make happen)."

Auriemma has been working with Stewart, as well as the rest of the Huskies, to not beat herself up over a subpar performance. He is not concerned with early-season struggles. In fact, he welcomes them.

UConn sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who is questionable for tonight's game against No. 10 Penn State at Gampel Pavilion (7, SNY) with a left quad contusion, scored at least 21 points in four of her first seven games last season. By late December, though, she was struggling to make a sizeable impact on the game.

"I kind of like that (Stewart) has started out slowly," Auriemma said. "She struggled in the Texas A&M game. She struggled in the Maryland game a little bit. And I think that's good because it doesn't give you this false sense of confidence. She now has to come to practice and fight through that. And little by little, she's going to do that."

Stewart returned to practice Tuesday ready to make improvements on her game. And she has had junior center Stefanie Dolson to help guide her in her transition from playing at the high school level.

"She's definitely kind of my protege," Dolson said. "I know there are certain things she's going through that I went through, and I know how to help her handle them. That's something I had to learn on my own because I didn't have somebody older than me and I was kind of thrown into it."

While there have been some growing pains for Stewart, her overall numbers have masked them. She leads the Huskies in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 pg) in 22.6 minutes. She is shooting 59.5 percent from the field (41.7 3-point range).

Her struggles have not diminished her self-confidence. They have only fueled her desire to work harder.

"I'm always looking to do better and there's always things that I think about after the game like, `Why didn't I do this?"' Stewart said. "(But) I'm still confident that I'm the player that I believe that I am. So even though there have been little setbacks of frustration, I think that I will still play the way I can play."

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