As her UConn Huskies aim for an unprecedented fourth straight title, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is finishing up her first year of pro basketball in France following her rookie season with the Seattle Storm.
Mosqueda-Lewis knows the feeling of striving for a repeat title well. She was the Huskies’ sharpshooter during their first three championship runs, leaving the school as the NCAA’s all-time leader in career three-pointers.
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By Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, as told to WNBA.com
Being a part of the NCAA Tournament and the atmosphere that came with it was something special, but I didn’t realize what March was really like until I left college. When you’re playing in the games, you realize it to a certain extent because you see people filling out brackets and you know how important it is to you that you advance. But now that I’m on the outside looking in, I turn on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU and there are games on all day, every day. Plus, it’s covered across every type of social media. It basically takes over everything in your life. I’m not even playing and I feel like I know everything that’s going on.
Following my UConn Huskies has definitely been a lot harder than anticipated, given the time difference — especially when I’m in France. It seems like every time they have a game that’s early, I have a game at the same exact time. It’s been a lot of recorded games or staying up until 1 a.m. to watch games.
Watching them play has been hard, too, since I’m only one year removed and I’m close with all the girls. You just miss it. You miss being a part of that atmosphere, especially when the NCAA tournament comes around. Luckily, I was able to FaceTime with all of them before the conference championship game, just to wish them good luck. Of course, there are random texts, too.
From what I see and what I hear, they’re doing just fine…
From my experience, it’s a whirlwind once the conference tournament ends. As soon as it’s over, whatever happens, it’s just like “Alright, now everything really starts to happen.” Coach Auriemma flips the switch. What that means depends on what kind of season you’re having. If you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, he’s able to relax and maintain. For him, it’s like, “Now we’re back to business. We know what our goal is — to win the national championship by being better than we were during the regular season.”
It’s up to the upperclassmen to make sure everyone else follows suit. At UConn, you know what’s expected of you, but the coaches make sure you take advantage of the experience, as well. The coaching staff does a great job of making sure you don’t get complacent. The team doesn’t stay the same every year. They don’t assume that just because they’re UConn, it’s going to be easy, and because we did it last year, we’re going to do it again. That’s the message the coaching staff emphasizes every year: Last year doesn’t matter; it only matters what you do this year.