Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Former UConn star Breanna Stewart named WNBA Rookie of the Year

Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm was a near unanimous choice as the WNBA Rookie of the Year.

Stewart led all rookies in scoring, rebounding and in blocked shots as she received 38 of the 39 votes for the award. Stewart's former UConn teammate Moriah Jefferson of the San Antonio Stars received the other vote.

Stewart joins Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles and Maya Moore as former UConn stars to win the award.

Stewart, Jefferson and Aerial Powers of the Dallas Wings were unanimous selections to the All-Rookie team and were joined on the squad by Imani Boyette and Tiffany Mitchell.

Stewart averaged 18.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots a game. She scored at least 20 points 15 times including a 38-point effort in a win over Atlanta with 12 double-doubles.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Schedule for UConn's First Night festivities

UConn announced the details for the upcoming First Night festivities with the only real change appearing to be that in place of an autograph session with players and head coaches from the men's and women's basketball teams, there will now be a "Selfie Session."

Here is the schedule for the Oct. 14 event

3:00 p.m.        Doors Open for First Night/Volleyball
First 50 students in line will be granted premium courtside seating
*NEW - First 300 fans to sign-up at the marketing table inside the SOUTH entrance will be granted entrance into a "Selfie Session" with the teams. This session will allow fans to take pictures with the members of both the men's and women's team at 5:30 p.m.
4:00 p.m.        UConn Volleyball vs. UCF
5:30 p.m.        Selfie Session begins in the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center
7:00 p.m.        Fan promotions and on-court entertainment begins
7:30 p.m.        Showtime

As has been the case in recent years, fans can vote for the teams taking part in the scrimmage. Voting will begin on Sept. 29 and will be conducted through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rookie numbers for Jefferson, Stewart match up well against UConn legends

With the WNBA regular season ending yesterday I figured I would see where Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson's rookie numbers compare to other former UConn players.

Not surprisingly, they more then held their own.

Stewart's 621 points broke Diana Taurasi's mark for most points by a UConn grad as a rookie. She was also second in rebounding and blocked shots, fourth in assists, seventh in steals and assist/turnover ratio.

Jefferson had the best assist/turnover ratio (with a remarkable 2.41), was second in assists, tied for second in steals and seventh in 3-pointers. More on the assist/turnover ratio, I didn't look at every player but among the WNBA all-time leaders in assists the only player with an assist/turnover ratio better than 2/1 as a rookie were Cappie Pondexter (2.17 with Phoenix in 2006), Nikki Teasley (2.06 with Los Angeles in 2002) and Temeka Johnson (2.01 with Washington in 2005).

Morgan Tuck finished 10th in assist/turnover ratio in an injury-shortened rookie season. If you project her numbers over a full season, she would have been in the top 10 in 3-pointers as well.


POINTS
Breanna Stewart (Seattle 2016) 621

Diana Taurasi (Phoenix 2004) 578
Tina Charles (Connecticut) 2010 528
Swin Cash (Detroit) 2002 474
Moriah Jefferson (San Antonio 2016) 472
Sue Bird (Seattle 2002) 461
Maya Moore (Minnesota 2011) 449
Nykesha Sales (Orlando 1999) 437
Rebecca Lobo (New York 1997) 348

REBOUNDS
Tina Charles (Connecticut 2010) 398
Breanna Stewart (Seattle 2016) 317
Tamika Williams (Minnesota 2002) 229
Swin Cash (Detroit 2002) 222
Kiah Stokes (New York 2015) 219
Rebecca Lobo (New York 1997) 203
Svet Abrosimova (Minnesota 2001) 174
Maya Moore (Minnesota 2011) 157
Stefanie Dolson (Washington 2014) 149
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix 2004) 149

ASSISTS
Sue Bird (Seattle 2016) 191
Moriah Jefferson (San Antonio 2016) 142
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix 2004) 132
Breanna Stewart (Seattle 2016) 114
Nykesha Sales (Orlando 1999) 91
Maya Moore (Minnesota 2011) 90
Swin Cash (Detroit 2002) 86
Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta 2012) 73
Renee Montgomery (Minnesota 2009) 72
Svet Abrosimova (Minnesota 2001) 53

STEALS
Nykesha Sales (Orlando 1999) 69
Sue Bird (Seattle 2002) 55
Moriah Jefferson (San Antonio 2016) 55
Maya Moore (Minnesota 2011) 48
Tamika Williams (Minnesota 2002) 44
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix 2004) 43
Svet Abrosimova (Minnesota 2001) 42
Breanna Stewart (Seattle 2016) 42
Swin Cash (Detroit 2002) 37
Charde Houston (Minnesota 2008) 30

BLOCKS
Kiah Stokes (New York 2015) 67
Breanna Stewart (Seattle 2016) 64
Tina Charles (Connecticut 2010) 57
Rebecca Lobo (New York 1997) 51
Stefanie Dolson (Washington 2014) 37
Swin Cash (Detroit 2002) 31
Kelly Schumacher (Indiana 2001) 29
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix 2004) 25
Asjha Jones (Washington 2002) 17
Maya Moore (Minnesota 2011) 16

3-POINTERS
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix 2004) 62
Maya Moore (Minnesota 2011) 58
Sue Bird (Seattle 2002) 57
Breanna Stewart (Seattle 2016) 45
Renee Montgomery (Minnesota 2009) 42
Nykesha Sales (Orlando 1999) 36
Moriah Jefferson (San Antonion 2016) 33
Bria Hartley (Washington 2014) 21
Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta 2012) 21
Svet Abrosimova (Minnesota 2001) 19

ASSIST/TURNOVER RATIO
Moriah Jefferson (San Antonio 2016) 2.41

Maya Moore (Minnesota 2011) 1.80
Sue Bird (Seattle 2002) 1.75
Bria Hartley (Washington 2014) 1.54
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix 2004) 1.47
Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta 2012) 1.43
Breanna Stewart (Seattle 2016) 1.41
Nykesha Sales (Orlando 1999) 1.31
Ketia Swanier (Connecticut 2008) 1.30
Morgan Tuck (Connecticut 2016) 1.16

Also, Tina Charles led the league in points per game (at 21.5 just percentage points ahead of Elena Delle Donne) and rebounding (9.9 per game). She joins Maya Moore and five-time champion Diana Taurasi as only former Huskies to lead the WNBA in scoring. It is the fourth time Charles won the WNBA rebounding title breaking Lisa Leslie's league record. She joins Chamique Holdsclaw as only players in WNBA history to lead the league in scoring and rebounding in the same season as Holdsclaw accomplished the feat in 2002. With Sue Bird leading the league with an average of 5.8 assists per game, it is the first time in WNBA history that the regular-season leaders in points, rebounds and assists per game played at the same college. They also both happened to attend the same high school (Christ the King in Middle Village, N.Y.). By the way, so did Holdsclaw which may be the most remarkable aspect of all of this.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Former UConn star Morgan Tuck undergoes knee surgery

The Connecticut Sun announced that rookie forward Morgan Tuck, a member of four national championship teams at UConn, underwent surgery to repair cartilage damage in her left knee.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Arciero at the UConn Health Center in Farmington on Tuesday. The recovery period is expected to be six months so Tuck won't be able to play overseas this winter.

Tuck was the third overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft. She averaged 7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in 16.7 minutes per game.

Future of UConn women's basketball program currently on campus

Things have been rather matter of fact on the recruiting trail for UConn this year.

Andra Espinoza-Hunter committed so long ago I could swear I was still in college at the time. Lexi Gordon's name was appearing as a UConn recruiting target not long before she also committed to play at UConn. Mikayla Coombs took a little bit longer but also announced her decision a little earlier than normal. Now there is one more potential piece to be added to UConn's class as Megan Walker, the No. 1 rated player in the Class of 2017, is currently on her official visit at UConn along with Espinoza-Hunter, Gordon and Coombs.

It's a little bit of a different way of doing things as usually the First Night festivities is the prime spot for UConn coach Geno Auriemma, his coaches and players to host top recruits but the decision was made to do it this weekend. The sarcastic side of me would suggest that the decision to do the official visit this weekend instead of during First Night weekend is that the coaches know I won't be at First Night for one of the few times since the UConn football team is playing at South Florida that weekend. The reality is that the timing works well for Walker, who visited Texas last weekend and is set to make her final official visit to Notre Dame next weekend, and Auriemma, who had kind of a busy summer with the whole coaching the U.S. to another Olympic gold medal thing. First Night will be a good time for UConn to bring in some of the top players on UConn's recruiting radar in the Class of 2018.

People have been quick to "break" the news of Walker's commitment but I'd be very surprised if she made any sort of announcement until after her trip to Notre Dame is done. She is rather active on social media so I fully expect the first news of her commitment to come courtesy of her Twitter account.

Here is a link to a story I did on Walker and the recruiting process when she was trying out for the U.S. U-18 team back in May.

When Walker announces her decision, that should wrap up the Class of 2017 for UConn. The Huskies are in the mix with many of the top player in the next recruiting class so it will be interesting to follow the process of players like Christyn Williams, Charli Collier, Sedona Prince and Aquira DeCosta among others.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Former UConn star Moriah Jefferson finishing rookie season in impressive fashion

It's a foregone conclusion that former UConn star Breanna Stewart will become the fourth former Husky to win the WNBA Rookie of the Year award as she is currently sixth in the league in scoring, second in rebounding and third in blocked shots. However, since the middle of July no rookie has been putting up better numbers than Moriah Jefferson, Stewart's former college teammate.

I actually began to research how the rookies have fared since July 12 for a story I wrote yesterday about former Hillhouse High Bria Holmes agreeing to play in Israel this winter because Holmes has been one of the most productive rookies in the second half of the season. While crunching the numbers, it is impossible to overlook how well Jefferson has been playing since that date.

She is leading all rookies in points, assists, steals, field goals attempted, field goals made, 3-point percentage and tied with Stewart for the top spot in 3-pointers made since July 12. Perhaps most impressive of all, she tops all rookies with an average of 21.7 points per 40 minutes. Much of it has to do with opportunity since injuries have limited the options of retiring San Antonio head coach Dan Hughes. As a result, Jefferson played at least 30 minutes in just nine of the first 17 games of the season but has played at least 30 minutes in 11 of the last 15 games.

Looking at these numbers it does appear as if better days are ahead for the Connecticut Sun as Jonquel Jones and Courtney Williams rank among the top five rookies in points scored per 40 minutes since July 12. Jones also leads all rookies with a 53.5 field-goal percentage over that span. I didn't include Morgan Tuck on this list because she missed the last six games but if I did include her, she would rank third in points per 40 minutes (20.8), third in field-goal percentage (45.7) and 3-point percentage (38.5).

PT/40                 REB/40          FG PCT.            3-PT PCT.
Jefferson 21.7    Boyette 12.5  Jones 53.5          Jefferson 42.1
Powers    21.4    Stewart 9.8    Boyette 48.7       Copper 40.0
Jones   19.3        Jones 9.2       Powers 43.2        Jones 36.4
Stewart   19.0     Powers 8.3    Holmes 43.1       Powers 36.1
Williams  17.9    Williams 7.5 Jefferson 42.4    Stewart 33.3
Copper    17.0     Copper 7.3
Holmes    15.3
Boyette   13.6

START TIMES FINALIZED
When UConn's schedule was released earlier this month, the times of four of the road games were listed as "to be announced."

Well, it is time to fill in the blanks as the final start time was announced today when the LSU women's basketball Twitter page reported that the Nov. 20 game will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will air on ESPN.

The times of the three conference road games previously listed as TBA have been updated on UConn's official schedule as the Jan. 17 game at Tulsa will begin at 8 p.m., the Feb. 7 game at Cincinnati will tip shortly after 7 p.m. and the Feb. 18 game at Tulane also has an 8 p.m. listed tip time. Also, the Dec. 11 game at Kansas State will be televised by Fox Sports 1 and the Big Ten Network had the Dec. 21 contest at Nebraska.

Here's the updated schedule
2016-17 UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Date Opponent Site TV Time
NOVEMBER
Tue. 1 IUP (exhibition) Gampel Pavilion. 7 p.m.
Sun. 6 PACE (exhibition) XL Center, 1 p.m.
REGULAR SEASON
Mon. 14 at Florida State Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Fla. ESPN2 6 p.m.
Thu. 17 BAYLOR Gampel Pavilion,  SNY 7:30 p.m.
Sun. 20 at LSU Maravich Center, Baton Rouge, La. 5:30 p.m. ESPN
Tue. 22 DAYTON Gampel Pavilion,  SNY 7 p.m.
Tue. 29 CHATTANOOGA XL Center, SNY 7 p.m.
DECEMBER
Thu. 1 DEPAUL Gampel Pavilion, SNY 7 p.m.
JIMMY V CLASSIC, HOSTED BY THE BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME
Sun. 4 vs. Texas Mohegan Sun Arena,  ESPN 4 p.m.
Wed. 7 at Notre Dame Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, Ind. ESPN2 7 p.m.
Sun. 11 at Kansas State Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan. Fox Sports 1 2 p.m.
Mon. 19 OHIO STATE XL Center, CBS-SN 7 p.m.
Wed. 21 at Nebraska Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska Big Ten Network 9 p.m.
Thu. 29 at Maryland XFINITY Center, College Park, Md. ESPN2 6 p.m.
JANUARY
Sun. 1 at UCF CFE Arena, Orlando, Fla. SNY 1 p.m.
Wed. 4 EAST CAROLINA XL Center SNY 7 p.m.
Tue. 10 USF XL Center, CBS-SN 7 p.m.
Sat. 14 at SMU Moody Coliseum, Dallas, Texas SNY 3 p.m.
Tue. 17 at Tulsa Reynolds Coliseum, Tulsa, Okla. SNY 8 p.m.
Sun. 22 TULANE Gampel Pavilion, ESPN2 1 p.m.
Tue. 24 at East Carolina Minges Coliseum, Greenville, N.C. SNY 7 p.m.
Sat. 28 HOUSTON XL Center, SNY noon
FEBRUARY
Wed. 1 at Temple Liacouras Center, Philadelphia, Pa. SNY 7 p.m.
Sun. 5 TULSA Gampel Pavilion, SNY 1 p.m.
Tue. 7 at Cincinnati First Third Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio SNY 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 SMU Gampel Pavilion,  SNY 2 p.m.
Mon. 13 SOUTH CAROLINA Gampel Pavilion, ESPN2 9 p.m.
Sat. 18 at Tulane Devlin Fieldhouse, New Orleans, La. SNY 8 p.m.
Wed. 22 TEMPLE XL Center, SNY 7 p.m.
Sat. 25 MEMPHIS Gampel Pavilion,  SNY 4 p.m.
Mon. 27 at USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Fla. ESPN2 7 p.m.
2017 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP, MOHEGAN SUN ARENA, UNCASVILLE, CONN.
Fri. Mar. 3 - Mon. Mar. 6 TBA TBD

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Friday, September 09, 2016

Here's UConn's 2016-17 schedule

UConn's 2016-17 schedule is out and since the non-conference slate was previously announced, there's not a heck of a lot of stuff to report here considering the way the Huskies have rolled past American Athletic Conference competition.

For those wondering, if UConn wins its first 14 games the Huskies would have a chance to tie their own NCAA Division I women's basketball record with their 90th win in a row against South Florida at the XL Center on Jan. 10. Those who are really optimistic could point to the Feb. 13 game against South Carolina as an opportunity to go for 100 straight wins.

The conference opener is on Jan. 1 against Central Florida and its new coaching staff includes former UConn star Nykesha Sales as a first-year assists coach.

Ending the regular season with games at Tulane, at home vs. Temple and at South Florida will be interesting because I would imagine that USF, Tulane and Temple are the three best AAC teams other than UConn.

2016-17 UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Date Opponent Site TV Time
NOVEMBER

Tue. 1 IUP (exhibition) Gampel Pavilion. 7 p.m.
Sun. 6 PACE (exhibition) XL Center, 1 p.m.
REGULAR SEASON
Mon. 14 at Florida State Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Fla. ESPN2 6 p.m.
Thu. 17 BAYLOR Gampel Pavilion,  SNY 7:30 p.m.
Sun. 20 at LSU Maravich Center, Baton Rouge, La. TBA TBD
Tue. 22 DAYTON Gampel Pavilion,  SNY 7 p.m.
Tue. 29 CHATTANOOGA XL Center, SNY 7 p.m.
DECEMBER
Thu. 1 DEPAUL Gampel Pavilion, . SNY 7 p.m.
JIMMY V CLASSIC, HOSTED BY THE BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME
Sun. 4 vs. Texas Mohegan Sun Arena,  ESPN 4 p.m.
Wed. 7 at Notre Dame Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, Ind. ESPN2 7 p.m.
Sun. 11 at Kansas State Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan. TBA 2 p.m.
Mon. 19 OHIO STATE XL Center, CBS-SN 7 p.m.
Wed. 21 at Nebraska Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska TBA 8 p.m.
Thu. 29 at Maryland XFINITY Center, College Park, Md. ESPN2 6 p.m.
JANUARY
Sun. 1 at UCF CFE Arena, Orlando, Fla. SNY 1 p.m.
Wed. 4 EAST CAROLINA XL Center, Hartford, Conn. SNY 7 p.m.
Tue. 10 USF XL Center, CBS-SN 7 p.m.
Sat. 14 at SMU Moody Coliseum, Dallas, Texas SNY 3 p.m.
Tue. 17 at Tulsa Reynolds Coliseum, Tulsa, Okla. SNY TBD
Sun. 22 TULANE Gampel Pavilion, ESPN2 1 p.m.
Tue. 24 at East Carolina Minges Coliseum, Greenville, N.C. SNY 7 p.m.
Sat. 28 HOUSTON XL Center, SNY 12 p.m.
FEBRUARY
Wed. 1 at Temple Liacouras Center, Philadelphia, Pa. SNY 7 p.m.
Sun. 5 TULSA Gampel Pavilion, SNY 1 p.m.
Tue. 7 at Cincinnati First Third Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio SNY TBD
Sat. 11 SMU Gampel Pavilion,  SNY 2 p.m.
Mon. 13 SOUTH CAROLINA Gampel Pavilion, ESPN2 9 p.m.
Sat. 18 at Tulane Devlin Fieldhouse, New Orleans, La. SNY TBD
Wed. 22 TEMPLE XL Center, SNY 7 p.m.
Sat. 25 MEMPHIS Gampel Pavilion,  SNY 4 p.m.
Mon. 27 at USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Fla. ESPN2 7 p.m.
2017 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP, MOHEGAN SUN ARENA, UNCASVILLE, CONN.
Fri. 3 - Mon. 6 TBA TBD

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Former UConn star Morgan Tuck trying to remain positive

Morgan Tuck put on a happy face as she met with the media before Friday night's win over Phoenix, a victory that moved the Connecticut Sun into a tie for eighth place in the WNBA standings.

In the eight years Tuck played at Bolingbrook High School and UConn, her teams combined for a 259-14 record with eight of those losses coming in her freshman season of high school and college.

When she was getting the most playing time during her rookie season with the WNBA's Connecticut Sun, it was usually coming in a losing cause. In one of the most bizarre statistics you will find considering how much of a winner Tuck has been in her basketball career, the Sun are 6-17 when Tuck plays at least 10 minutes per game and 5-0 when she plays fewer than 10 minutes or didn't play at all.

Early in the season with a disgruntled Kelsey Bone on the team, the Sun's effort level seemed to be on par with what you might see from East Carolina. Now that Bone has been shipped off to Phoenix in a trade that brought back the energetic and athletic Courtney Williams, Connecticut is winning and playing as hard as any team in the league. In a cruel twist of fate, Tuck will be forced to watch the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in her left knee (not the knee that she has had so much trouble with over the years) just as her team is playing with the type of winning attitude that she was accustomed to in high school and college.

Tuck was in line to see her playing time increase following the trade of Bone and it would have been valuable for her to get the experience on the court for the rest of her rookie season. Instead, she is in the process of figuring out when her latest knee surgery will take place.

"I guess they had to even out with injuries," Tuck said. "Anytime you get hurt and you have a history of getting hurt where you have miss game, it just sucks. The good part is I get to stay around my teammates, I get to travel. We are playing really well so hopefully we can continue to do that.

"I am trying to have the right mindset to just stay positive but it is hard to do that when the only reason I have been out of basketball is for my knees so I am trying to get there, try to make sure I look at the positive parts.

"It is really frustrating but I have a really good family/friends support system. I know everything happens for a reason, God has a plan for me. I may not like what happens but I know everything happens for a reason.

Tuck averaged 7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 16.7 minutes per game as a rookie.

"I wasn't super excited about how I was playing but I was just trying to go out there and play hard," Tuck said. "I think that was my biggest thing."

It is rather ironic that both of the Sun's lottery picks from April's WNBA Draft will be sidelined for the rest of the season. Rachel Banham is already making progress in her recovery from knee surgery and is hoping to play overseas by late December or January while Tuck believes she will be ready for the start of the 2017 WNBA season.

"She's had ACLs and had to go back in there," Tuck said. "She's had her fair share of surgeries so I think when you have somebody who is going through it with you, it is somewhat helpful because you don't feel like you are by yourself. When we come back, it will be good for ourselves and be happy for each other because we knew what we went through."

The good news is the future appears bright for the Sun.

Williams is averaging 6.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in 13 contests with the Sun. The 5-foot-8 Williams is averaging 8.75 rebounds per 40 minutes which is just under the 9.1 mark registered by the 6-foot-5 Bone in her 14 games with Connecticut which says plenty about both players.

Bone's departure has made  a huge difference in the locker room as even some of the other veterans who seemed to be struggling to give their full effort earlier in the season appear to have been reenergized since the trade. As a result, Connecticut has an 8-4 record since the start of July which heading into today's action was tied for the second-best mark in the WNBA only behind Minnesota 10-2 record (with both losses coming to the Sun).

Another aspect of the trade is that rookie Jonquel Jones went from averaging 4.3 points in 10.9 minutes in the 14 games Bone was with the Sun to 7.4 points and 15.6 minutes per game. She improved her field-goal numbers from 40 percent to 55.7 percent since the trade.

On the court, the biggest difference has shown up on the defensive end. In the first 14 games of the season Connecticut opponents were averaging 88 points per game while shooting nearly 48 percent from the field. In the last 14 games, the numbers dropped to 84.4 PPG and a 44.2 field-goal percentage.

More help could be on the way with the Sun also acquiring former Oregon star Jillian Alleyne and San Antonio's second-round pick, which would be the top pick in the second round if the draft were held today. Also, the first-round pick the Sun sent to Los Angeles in the trade which brought Jones to the Sun, looked like a lock to be a lottery selection not that long ago. With the Sun tied for eighth heading into today's action, there's a decent chance that the pick won't be a lottery selection.

Regardless of what happens with those two aforementioned draft picks, there is reason for optimism for the Sun and their fans.

"Our group of rookies is a really good group so hopefully we will be staying together for a long time and we will be good," Tuck said.