Breanna Stewart, rising star of the UConn Huskies, has already accomplished a great deal considering she has only played college basketball for one season.
The freshman was named the 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, as well as the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player.
She broke UConn’s record for the most points scored by a player in her first ten games with 169 points and ranks fourth in the most points ever scored by a UConn freshman with 497. Stewart also holds the number three spot in the most blocks by a UConn freshman with 74.
Stewart is currently playing on the USA 19 and under team and looking forward to competing for a world championship in Lithuania. SportzEdge.com contributor Maura Murphy scored an exclusive interview with her, and brings you the scoop on UConn’s upcoming basketball season, Geno Auriemma’s coaching style, and more.
SE: How did you develop your guard skills that kept you from being pigeon-holed as a center in your early years?
Stewart: When I was younger and still, now, I dribble around my neighborhood block 4-5 times doing different dribble moves. I just wanted to make it so my game was not one-dimensional.
SE: What was the biggest difference between high school and college basketball?
Stewart: The pace and intensity of the game.
SE: What is the worst part of being constantly recognized on campus?
Stewart: I don’t think there is a worst part of being recognized on campus, it is great to receive support from the community.
SE: What surprised you about UConn basketball and Geno’s coaching?
Stewart: I that as the season went on you realized the tremendous amount of support that we had gotten from the state of Connecticut. Coach Auriemma is a very intense coach and is just looking to get the best out of his players.
SE: You have been to some men’s games and practices. Can you tell me some differences and similarities between Geno Auriemma and Kevin Ollie?
Stewart: I think Coach Ollie and Coach Auriemma are similar in the way that they both want to win and will do whatever it takes to win. They also want to see success from their players as well as the program.
SE: What is the team going to do differently next year?
Stewart: Next year is going to be different because we are going to fill some of the gaps from the seniors leaving. But we will work hard, play hard and go after another National Championship.
SE: Outside of your immediate family and your UConn basketball family, who has been the biggest influence on your life?
Stewart: I would say my friends from back home and the friends that I now have at Connecticut.
SE: Can you talk about the role of the guys on the practice team?
Stewart: It is great to have a guys’ practice team. They are the best people we play against all season, and really make it an intense, competitive practice. We appreciate everything they have done for us.
SE: Tell me about your dream career.
Stewart: My dream career is to continue to play the sport I love professionally and maybe after my basketball career is over end up working for Nike or something like that. I’m not completely sure what I want to major in yet.
SE: The WNBA beckons. But which career choices are you looking at as a backup?
Stewart: My back-up plan right now is to somehow work with Nike. That could change between now and the time that I graduate but that’s what I am thinking about right now.
SE: Can you see yourself coaching someday? If so, at what level?
Stewart: I am not sure if I could see myself coaching someday, that could always be an option.
SE: If you never played basketball, what sport would you have perused and why?
Stewart: I think that I would play volleyball, I had played it in high school and maybe if I wasn’t playing basketball it would have been something that I seriously pursued.
SE: What is it like to be from Syracuse but play for UConn?
Stewart: Honestly in the beginning people have joked around saying that I should have came to Syracuse. But I still support Syracuse except when we are playing them and I have received tremendous support from everyone in Syracuse throughout my basketball career.
SE: If not UConn, where would you have gone to school?
Stewart: If not UConn, I would have most likely ended up at Penn State because of the coaches there and I seemed to really get along with them very well.
SE: What is your favorite quote?
Stewart: “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength,” because basically saying that when you are struggling is the best time to prove your strength. Life unfortunately is not always going to be perfect it is going to have highs and lows.