UConn WBB Weekly: Ayanna Patterson is ready to dive

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Ayanna Patterson is ready to dive

The first and only dunk Ayanna Patterson attempted in a match couldn’t have been worse. Not only did she miss, but she got a technique to hold on to the rim. Yet she has no regrets.

“It was worth it,” Patterson said with a laugh. “The crowd was in. My coach was really surprised. It was worth it in the end, but I really wish it had gone down.

While athleticism has always been the hallmark of Patterson’s game, the dunk is a relatively new addition to his arsenal. She had worked to improve her jumping ability but had actually only tried to throw it one day in the summer of 2020. Patterson’s trainer was late so she found herself with time to kill and decided to give it a shot. .

“I just set up my phone, I was like, ‘Okay, let me see if I can dunk.’ And so I just went out there, set it up at different angles and just tried to dunk it,” she said. “I dunked easily with one hand and then I was like, ‘Maybe I could do it with two. “And I did it with two and I was like ‘Oh wait!’ I was a little surprised.”

Since that day, Patterson has gone viral on social media whenever videos of her dunks surface. She’s stuck in empty gyms doing individual workouts, during warm-ups, and most recently on her trainer.

These videos have not only caught the attention of fans. Once she arrived at Storrs for summer session and started training, Patterson’s new teammates pushed her to make dunking a legitimate part of her game.

“Ayanna is going to dive this year,” said Paige Bueckers. “Every time she misses the lay-up, I just tell her ‘Bruh, you’re over the edge already. Why don’t you just dunk it?'”

Patterson appreciates reminders. Although she makes it look easy on the video, she still isn’t fully confident in her ability to dive into game situations and isn’t thinking about trying it just yet.

“A lot of times I wake up and forget that I can really do it and just rest,” Patterson explained. “I need that extra push because I need someone to ride me when I know I can.”

If Patterson dunks, she would go down in history as the first UConn player to do so. Breanna Stewart came closest when she grabbed the rim during a throw-in attempt while Olivia Nelson-Ododa took part in the McDonald’s All-American Powerade Jam Fest and threw one easily but never did in a game. In 2006, Candace Parker became the first female basketball player to dunk and she jammed on UConn at the XL Center the next season.

The Huskies haven’t had one of their own yet. If Patterson is the one, Geno Auriemma won’t stand in his way.

“No, not really,” she replied when asked if the coaches had talked to her about dunking. “I mean, [as long as I] put the ball in the rim. It’s a bit like that.


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