When Katie Lou Samuelson met up with Kobe Bryant in California this summer she had yet to study the game that ended UConn’s season.

She was hesitant — not ready to face the pain of seeing her national championship hopes crumble at the hands of a last-second shot from Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale.

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Then, Bryant asked her if she was likely to meet up with Notre Dame again this year. If so, wouldn’t she want to be as prepared as possible in an attempt to change the outcome? Of course, the Huskies play the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Dec. 2.

“You’ve got to deal with it,” Bryant said in a recent interview with podcast show host Lewis Howes. “Face it. Learn from it.”

So Samuelson chose to face the music, asking Bryant to sit down with her and break down the game. They dissected every part of the national semifinal, paying attention to tiny aspects and attempting to decipher body language. The experience was eye-opening for the UConn star, who said she started to see the game differently in the hours she spent with Bryant.

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“She still came out like Lou,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I was hoping she would come out and maybe have a little bit of his athletic ability, a little bit of his swagger and a little bit of his mentality. She still came out as Lou, but I think what she said was really smart, which was ‘I was looking at the game in a way that I’m not used to looking at it.’ She’s already a smart player. She already sees things so I think she got a chance to see things a different way, which was really cool.”

Bryant has long been a UConn women’s basketball fan, bringing his family to watch games. Samuelson’s former club team practices at the same place Bryant’s team practices, so the two were able to connect for film pretty easily.

Samuelson was amazed by Bryant’s attention to detail and plans to watch the game with her teammates at some point this season to break down film for them the way Bryant did for her.

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“He literally watches everything that’s going on, whether it’s a timeout or not,” Samuelson said. “He’s watching what other coaches are saying, what players are saying on the court. He’s trying to read body language, and sometimes he can just watch the game and the play that’s happening from everything from three seconds before the basket was made to five seconds after, how the person is guarding me or how I reacted to the person I was guarding. Every little detail matters.”

Since sitting down with Bryant, Samuelson estimates she’s watched the game at least 10 more times trying to understand what she could’ve done better and what went wrong.

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“This one was different for me. Mississippi State — it wasn’t like I felt like we deserved to lose, but I think we played in a way that kind of wasn’t acceptable to what we felt,” Samuelson said. “This past year we had a lot of mistakes but we played as hard as we could that game, and there were just things that I didn’t know what happened during the game, times where I didn’t know what was going on. Thinking back about it I just didn’t know how certain things happened so I needed to go back and figure that out.” 

This article is written by Kelli Stacy from The Hartford Courant and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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