March 27, 2011
STORRS, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut guard Caroline Doty has spent a lot of time this season working on her trick shots.
In a video that became popular on YouTube, the 5-foot-10 guard hits them from half court, from the stands, from the arena concourse. But on game days, the junior sharpshooter is relegated to the bench, where she has been sitting all season, recovering from a third tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.
Doty, who will have two years of eligibility left when she returns in the fall, says it's been a frustrating year, but a character-building experience.
And hasn't been all bad. The Huskies, after all, will play in the regional semifinals in Philadelphia, near where she starred at Germantown Academy.
"Who doesn't want to play in the NCAA tournament?" she said. "But, I try not to show it when I'm around my teammates."
Instead, the players say, Doty has made sure she's still a big part of the Huskies quest for a third straight national championship.
"Coach Doty," spends her games on the bench, clipboard in hand, watching, learning and giving advice when she sees something a player on the court might not.
"When you get over there, she's going to tell you what's right and what's wrong, what you can do better and what you've done good and all this type of stuff," guard Tiffany Hayes said. "She's been one of my biggest helps to me, to all of us."
Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma says he believes Doty has been the most help to herself. Instead of moping about her injury, the third to her left knee since high school, she has been studying the game.
"If they're really paying attention and they're sitting there watching what's going on, they're so much easier to coach because of that because they see the same things you see," he said. "Now, when you talk to them, they understand exactly what you're saying."
Doty first injured her knee playing soccer in high school in 2007. She tore it again as a freshman, after starting her first 17 games.
Last season, she played in all 39 games, and was one of the Huskies' top outside threats. When healthy, she has averaged more than seven points a game and has scored in double figures 17 times.
"I think Caroline was a really good player as a sophomore because she missed a lot of time as a freshman. But she really didn't know the game that well at the time," Auriemma said. "Now, I think she's going to be an unbelievable player next year."
Doty said that is also her plan.
"Being able to take a step back and see different situations the team is going through and see coach's reaction to it," she said, "I've been really taking that in and keeping it in the back of my mind with what he wants next year and the year after that."
Doty spends her days in rehabilitation, working toward next season. The knee feels strong, she said, and the goal is to play next season without thinking about it.
Rehabilitation takes about 1 1/2 hours, and practice can run a lot longer. But she still has free time, and as a result? Her trick shot video.
"It's been a blast, and we're going to try and put another one out," she said. "Something special if we make the Final Four."
Auriemma is hoping this group of Huskies can win an eighth championship this season, without Doty. But he acknowledges that if they do, it won't be the same.
"Because the look on her face, if we do win it, will make you feel bad," he said. "How much do I miss her? I miss her more because of what she would feel like if she was a part of it, than (I miss) how many points, rebounds, assists she would get for us."