UConn freshman forward Samarie Walker was guilty of a traveling violation recently – but in this case it wasn’t for walking with the ball, it was for walking away from the Storrs campus.
Walker did indeed travel, literally packing her bags and heading south for the greener pastures of Kentucky’s bluegrass.
That was one of only two losses that the women’s basketball program has suffered this season – and that’s two more than the team had during the previous two seasons combined, when the Huskies were trampling any and all comers during the team’s historic 90-game winning streak.
Only one of those losses came on the court – that was Stanford’s stunning streak-snapping 71-59 win in Palo Alto on Dec. 30.
Since then, UConn hasn’t lost on the court (on Jan. 31, they beat Duke, 87-51) but the program did lose a roster player when Walker told coach Geno Auriemma of her plans to transfer to Kentucky.
Samarie Walker recently dropped out of the UConn women's basketball program. UConn photo
“The coaching staff has known for quite some time that Samarie (was) struggling with her commitment level to basketball,” Auriemma said. “We have attempted to work with her and help her through this. I wish Samarie all the best in her future endeavors.”
The 6-foot-1 Walker, who hails from West Carrolton, Ohio, said she needed a change of scenery in order to channel her “energy and commitment” into game-time productivity.
“I have struggled with this for some time and remaining here would not be fair to my teammates or the coaching staff,” she said. “I need to go and figure out what my future holds.”
Walker played in 17 games, starting once, while averaging 6.2 points and 5.8 rebounds during her 18.8 minutes per game of floor time.
As they did in the wake of the loss to Stanford, Auriemma’s squad will likely recover nicely from Walker’s walking away from Storrs.
The Huskies have yet to lose in 2011, rattling off a half-dozen victories, including a 63-44 drubbing of Rutgers in Piscataway on Jan. 26.
Despite losing their two-year-long top ranking in the nation, the Huskies are still perched in their customary spot atop the conference standings.
The loss dropped the Scarlet Knights to 5-1 in the conference while the Huskies remain unbeaten in Big East play along with 7-0 DePaul, setting up a potential showdown between the league’s only two unbeaten teams on Feb. 5 at Gampel Pavilion.
Currently, UConn is No. 2 in the national polls behind Baylor, a team Connecticut nipped 65-64 at the XL Center back in November.
In a weird set of circumstances, Connecticut is ranked lower than a team they beat, but higher than the team that beat them, No. 4 Stanford.
Another big-time non-conference opponent will be coming to Connecticut a couple weeks from now, when Oklahoma stops in at the XL Center on Feb. 14.
Posted Feb. 1, 2011