April 3, 2011
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma hoped for a little more fight from Lorin Dixon during her four years at UConn.
Dixon entered the program a highly touted point guard out of Christ the King High School in New York, where she had made a name for herself dishing the ball to Tina Charles. Charles became a national player of the year at Connecticut.
But over her four years in Storrs, Dixon has been content to play a backup role to players such as Ketia Swanier, Renee Montgomery, Tiffany Hayes, and this season freshman Bria Hartley.
"We, as coaches, had always hoped that if that was going to be her role and that's the role that she wanted, that she would take advantage of it and treat herself as a starter, as a contributor, who, without whose contributions, we wouldn't be able to make it to the Final Four," Auriemma said.
"And there were times during Lorin's career here where she did just that, but there were too many times where she just settled."
Dixon isn't settling this postseason. During UConn's run to a fourth Final Four, she has played a key role as Auriemma's lone sub off the bench in a six-player rotation.
During the regular season, she had been relegated to the role of spelling a tired starter, or picking up the pace for a few minutes when Auriemma thought that was needed.
"When she steps on the court, she's generally the quickest player on the floor," Auriemma said. "Very rarely is she not. So automatically, the tempo of the game changes.
"The second thing she does is defensively, we're able to exert more ball pressure with her on the floor, which changes the other team's offense a little bit."
Auriemma turned to Dixon in the regional semifinals against Georgetown with the Huskies trailing in the second half, subbing her in for center Stefanie Dolson. She responded with four steals, four points, an assist and a rebound in a 16-2 run that turned a 53-46 deficit into a 68-63 UConn win.
Her performance earned her a spot on the all-regional team.
"It's a great feeling," Dixon said. "Just to get the response from my teammates made it all better. Everybody grabbed me. I thought Maya (Moore) was going to toss me into the stands. It was a great moment. Just to have this my senior year, going out this way is something I definitely will remember."
Moore, her roommate, said Dixon has played a much bigger role than people realize in the 150-3 record the two have amassed during their four years at UConn.
"Lorin brings so much energy," she said, "just her personality, her style of play."
But Dixon has acknowledged that she has had problems developing the confidence her coaches have wanted from her.
She has it now.
"Personally," she said, "it's a great feeling for me to play this well."
Auriemma said he saw a light go on in Dixon around senior night. Since that time, she has been the leader he hoped she would become.
"I couldn't be happier for her and I couldn't be more proud of her," he said. "Because, you know, these last three, four, five weeks is what she's going to remember, not the previous three years.
"So, I'm thrilled to death for her, and I know all the other players are as well."