Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reunion time for UConn graduate assistant Jasmine Lister

As the UConn women's basketball traveling party made their way to the Naples/Fort Myers area there was little thought given to the opponent on the second day of the Gulf Coast Showcase.
The Huskies know better than to run before they walk so their focus was on the College of Charleston, who third-ranked UConn will play on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Germain Arena.

However, for graduate assistant Jasmine Lister it isn't hard to hear the exuberance in her voice when she ponders the possibility of a second-round matchup with Vanderbilt.

Lister graduated last year after scoring 1,618 points and contributing 591 assists for Vanderbilt teams which played in the NCAA tournament in each of her four seasons including a game in Storrs against UConn in 2013.

"It would be very surreal," Lister said, "It would be weird because I will be on the other side and I won't be playing so it will be different."

Lister has gotten into the habit of checking the Vanderbilt box scores and she speaks occasionally with her former teammates and coaches.

"It will be nice to see how they are doing and see the new dynamic of the team," Lister said. "I definitely keep up and follow different things, keep up with them and talk to the . I get to hear who stands out and now see who stands out and how everybody is doing."

Lister has nothing but positive memories of her time. So what does she take from her time with the Commodores?

"How competitive every game was every time I played in that Vanderbilt jersey whether it is home or away everybody always came and gave their best, we had to stay on our toes and nobody was going to lay down for us," Lister said.

UConn has had graduate assistants in the past but normally it has been a former UConn player filling to role and seeing if they want to pursue a coaching career.

Lister has a former UConn star to thank for her opportunity.

"I played in the Seattle Storm training camp and I played with Sue Bird for a few days," Lister said. "After I got released CD (UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey) actually called her and said 'we have this GA open and do you have anybody in mind?' Sue said 'hey, there is this girl I played with in training camp and I don't know if she is planning to play overseas but here you go.' CD reached out to my coaches, they reached to me and said are you interested. It is crazy how perfect timing it was."

When she was cut by Seattle her agent worked on getting her a chance to play overseas but Lister put those plans on hold when the UConn opportunity presented itself.

"I didn't want to say no to this because I do want to get into coaching down the road maybe not this soon but this is a perfect opportunity where I can learn from the best coaching staff in the country and this is the best situation ever," said Lister, who works with UConn's guards and also helps organize UConn's male practice players and managers during practice.

"It is amazing," Lister said. "They are so (focused on) attention to detail, focused on every little thing and I try to pay attention that they pay attention to so I can see what they see and how they broke down a specific play."
Lister thought she wanted to get into coaching and now that she has been able to work alongside Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma and his staff, she definitely has been bitten by the coaching bug.
However, she has not turned her back on a professional playing career.

"If the opportunity presents itself I might (play overseas)," Lister said. "I want to play in the WNBA next year and that is a possibility as well I have to stay in shape and be ready for anything."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UConn's Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart named to Wade Trophy watch list

Another day and another national award watch list appearance for the UConn duo of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart.

A day after they joined teammate Moriah Jefferson among 30 players named to the Wooden Award watch list, the duo joined 23 other players on the Wade Trophy list.

Former Hillhouse High star Bria Holmes, a junior guard at West Virginia, is also on the list.

UConn's Nurse toughness comes from brother

UConn coach Geno Auriemma has referenced the toughness of freshman Kia Nurse on more than one occasion.

When Nurse ponders where that competitiveness was developed she doesn't have to look very far. He older brother Darnell is a rugged defenseman who is a former No. 1 pick by the NHL's Edmonton Oilers and there were countless competitions between the two of them growing up.

"He is somebody who always pushed me," Kia Nurse said. "There is a sibling rivalry when you are younger you want your parent's attention, he always pushed me, he always told me how proud he was of me, told me to work harder so he has been a great influence."

Darnell Nurse made the Oilers out of training camp. After being a healthy scratch in the first two games of the season he made his NHL debut against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Nurse played 18:04 on Oct. 14 and saw 15:55 of ice time the next night against Phoenix.

The Oilers had nine games to decide to keep Nurse or send him back to Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League. The decision was made for Nurse to return to the OHL. He wasted little time making his presence felt as he had a point in his first 12 games including a four game goal-scoring streak. Both of those came to an end when he was held without a point in Sunday's 3-1 win over Kingston. Still, in 13 games he is tied for the team lead among defenseman (despite missing 10 games while he was with the Oilers) with 15 points.

"I am proud of him no matter what, he is doing a good job," Nurse said. "He is living his life, I am living mine but we keep in contact and it is great."

Monday, November 24, 2014

3 UConn players on Wooden Award watch list

UConn senior forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, junior forward Breanna Stewart and junior guard Moriah Jefferson were among 30 players named to the Wooden Award preseason watch list.

Former Hillhouse High star Bria Holmes, a junior at West Virginia, was also on the list.

Here is the complete list
 Name    School    Conference    Ht.    Yr.    Pos.
Jillian Alleyne    Oregon    Pac-12    6-3    Jr.    F
Rachel Banham    Minnesota    Big Ten    5-9    Sr.    G
Brittany Boyd    California    Pac-12    5-9    Sr.    G
Crystal Bradford    Central Michigan    MAC    6-0    Sr.    G
Lexie Brown    Maryland 
    Big Ten    5-9    So.    G
Nina Davis    Baylor    Big 12    5-11    So.    F
Kaela Davis    Georgia Tech    ACC    6-2    So.    G
Nneka Enemkpali    Texas 
    Big 12    6-1    Sr.    F
Bashaara Graves    Tennessee    SEC    6-2    Jr.    F
Reshanda Gray    California    Pac-12    6-3    Sr.    F
Allisha Gray    North Carolina    ACC    6-0    So.    G
Dearica Hamby    Wake Forest    ACC    6-3    Sr.    F
Sara Hammond    Louisville    ACC    6-2    Sr.    F
Isabelle Harrison    Tennessee    SEC    6-3    Sr.    C
Bria Holmes    West Virginia    Big 12    6-1    Jr.    G
Brittany Hrynko    DePaul    Big East    5-8    Sr.    G
Moriah Jefferson    UConn    The American    5-7    Jr.    G
Samantha Logic    Iowa    Big Ten    5-9    Sr.    G
Jewell Loyd    Notre Dame    ACC    5-10    Jr.    G
Tiffany Mitchell    South Carolina    SEC    5-9    Jr.    G
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis    UConn    The American    5-11    Sr.    F
Amber Orrange    Stanford    Pac-12    5-7    Sr.    G
Kelsey Plum    Washington    Pac-12    5-8    So.    G
Aerial Powers    Michigan State    Big Ten    6-0    So.    F
Breanna Stewart    UConn    The American    6-4    Jr.    F
Rachel Theriot    Nebraska    Big Ten    6-0    Jr.    G
Courtney Walker    Texas A&M    SEC    5-8    Jr.    G
Aleighsa Welch    South Carolina    SEC    6-0    Sr.    F
Elizabeth Williams    Duke    ACC    6-3    Sr.    C/F
Courtney Williams    USF    The American    5-8    Jr.    G

Sunday, November 23, 2014

UConn freshmen deliver in blowout win

Breanna Stewart has reached such a level at UConn that a game when she goes 10 for 10 from the field is hardly worthy of huge headlines.

We already knew that Stewart is a dynamic offensive player and she certainly showed that during Sunday's 96-60 win over Creighton finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Rebecca Lobo, who was 11 for 11 in a Dec. 23, 1994 win over Iona, is the only Husky to attempt more shots without missing than Stewart. However, after she hit baskets 26 seconds apart, she was 8 of 8 from the floor with 18:08 left to play. She spent the most of her time on the floor looking to get her younger teammates more involved in the action.

"It is wonderful playing with her," said UConn freshman Kia Nurse, who had 22 points in her first career start. " For her to hit 10 for 10, she is a great shooter so that doesn't blow my mind, To have her on the team, she makes us all better. She is a great teammate, she is a great leader and she works as hard as anybody. I think she helps us with our confidence."

Nurse joined a list including Sue Bird, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi as the only UConn players to go perfect from 3-point range while attempting at least four treys.

"There are a lot of people who question that I am a good cook because I never cook a thing so it is hard to know if I am a good cook," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Kia Nurse, watching the Canadian national team play, it was hard to see if she was a good 3-point shooter because she was never allowed to shoot the ball. We have encouraged her to find her offense. There are days in practice when she does when she doesn't miss and other days when ... I am not ready to say she is a great 3-point shooter but she is better than people think, no question about it."

Nurse also drew the defensive assignment on Creighton's Marissa Janning, the Big East's preseason player of the year. Janning had a team-high 15 points but was just 6 of 21 from the field.
"It motivated me and I knew I had to get this assignment right just because of how I felt about myself in the last game," Nurse said. "It was definitely a big motivation. I am glad I had the challenge and I am probably going to have more challenges in the future."

Nurse was among the UConn players who took the loss to Stanford the hardest according to Auriemma.
"I watched the game film on the plane and saw where I definitely could have been better," Nurse said. "I talked to the older players, the veterans and told them exactly how I felt. I think it is taking it as motivation and that I can make a difference."

While Nurse didn't think she played well against Stanford, Williams didn't play at all and she understands why.

"It was a wakeup call for me," Williams said. "I haven't given the coaches any reason to trust me more. I really needed to step it up in practice, working hard in practice made it easy to have fun out
there. I definitely saw where I could help but I also knew why I didn't play at the same time. I think it is effort, not picking and choosing when to go hard, just keep going on every play, keep going, keep talking, keep being a good teammate."

Before the game it came out that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' flu-like symptoms would keep her out of the game. Auriemma said Mosqueda-Lewis will make the trip to Florida for the upcoming Gulf Coast Showcase but it remains to be seen if she has recovered well enough for her to return to the court. Auriemma said it is merely the flu and not a return of the mononucleosis

Also, freshman Courtney Ekmark is out 4-6 weeks with a stress reaction in her right foot.

"Just in the last couple of weeks she has been complaining about it," Ekmark said."Last night we got the MRI back, she has a stress reaction and it is the usual."

Nurse is Ekmark's roommate and said she is taking the news hard.

"She is a workhorse, she is in the gym all the time and to have an injury, especially this early it can be a little bit of a confidence buster," Nurse said. "I know she is going to keep doing what she is doing in practice, making sure she is bringing energy and maybe this will be a learning experience."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Class is in session after UConn's loss to Stanford

Perhaps the only thing worse than experiencing the bitter taste of defeat is sitting there and watching the replay of Monday's loss to Stanford over and over again.

Such is the life of a UConn women's basketball player.

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma wasn't as disturbed that the Huskies lost on the road to a very good Stanford team but it was the manner in which the Huskies let a 10-point second-half lead evaporate.

With nearly a week between games there was plenty of time to break down the tape and then work on fixing the flaws exposed by the Cardinal.

"The young guys, they don't know what to make of it but the older guys I think are a little disappointed more with what we didn't do (as opposed to) some of the things we did do that defy explanation in some cases," Auriemma said. "We talk a lot of about when you win, it rally masks a lot of things that maybe we don't do well. When you shoot well it masks sometimes that your offense is not that good because if you make shots, it makes the offense look good."

The players, especially the five upperclassmen, knew the replay of the game was not going to be pretty and they were right.
"I am not saying it is ever good to lose but it is better to lose now than in the tournament," UConn senior center Kiah Stokes said. "It is a good test for us because we don't want to go through the season thinking we are really good and when we get tested later on, that is what happens. It is better that we got it out of the way now rather than later because we can work on it and focus on it. If we would have won the game, the feeling would have been different that 'this is a great play to help us win' now it is 'those are the plays that help us lose.' I saw a lot of things I could have done better and there were so many things we could have done. Film can only go so far to make sure we fixed it."

The players would love to see a team the caliber of Stanford coming into Gampel Pavilion. However, tomorrow's game against Creighton is the first of four straight against unranked opponents.

Still, the UConn players know a strong performance can wash away some of the bad taste left by the loss to Stanford.

"I watched the game, I learned from it and I can build on it," UConn junior guard Moriah Jefferson said. "It helped a lot. There's a lot of stuff that you feel in the game but you don't know what it looks like until you watch it. Looking back, it is something you don't ever want to see again so that is motivation to make sure I am pushing myself and my team as hard as I can.

"I am ready to get back on the court and show the type of team that we are because that team was obviously not the type of team that we are . We know that, we will learn from it and you will see a completely different team on Sunday."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Nurse moving into starting lineup for UConn

Considering how much UConn struggled defensively in Monday's loss to Stanford it was hardly a surprise to see the Huskies working on nothing but defense in the 40 or so minutes we were able to watch practice.

"We are not as good of a defensive team and that bothers me and we are not as good of an offensive team," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

If the UConn players were not aware of their defensive shortcomings before, they are now.

"Defensively, we didn't stick to the scout that the coaches gave us," UConn sophomore forward Morgan Tuck said. "We really need to focus on what the coaches are saying and actually executing."
When the Huskies return to the court on Sunday against Creighton, the desire to become a better defensive team will also result in a change in the starting lineup as Auriemma said he intends to start freshman Kia Nurse at shooting guard and will bring Saniya Chong off the bench. Nurse is a much better defensive player than Chong and Auriemma is confident Chong will thrive coming off the bench just as she did as a starter.

Auriemma admitted that Morgan Tuck, who has he said has been practicing as well as anybody in the last three weeks, could eventually find herself starting as well.

"I would probably in the last three weeks Tuck has been at a whole other level, she is playing great right now," Auriemma said. "We are going to find a way to start her down the road too, she is playing great."

Tuck wasn't wearing a brace on her surgically-repaired right knee but she said it was more of a case of its being so hot inside the practice facility than her proceeding without a knee brace.
Other than Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis missing practice as she continues to fight the flu, there's not much else to report off today's practice.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

UConn commit Dangerfield's team No. 1 in national rankings

USA Today released its first high school poll of the season and the No. 1 team is Blackman High out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee which is led by UConn commit and junior point guard Crystal Dangerfield.

Dangerfield had 11 assists as Blackman opened the season with a 67-57 win over Southwest DeKalb.

UConn signee Katie Lou Samuelson's Mater Dei squad checks in at No. 3. Mater Dei kicks off the 2014-15 season by playing Long Beach Jordan HS in the Palisades Beach Invitational.

Bridgeport to host 2016 & 2017 regionals

The NCAA announced the regional sites for the women's basketball Division I tournaments from 2016-2018.

Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport will host regionals in 2016 and 2017 with Albany getting the regional closest to UConn in 2018.

Lexington, Kentucky was the only city to receive regionals for all three years.

Bridgeport hosted regionals in 2006 and 2013 and subregionals in 2008 and 2012. UConn was sent to Bridgeport each time and the only loss came to Duke in the 2006 regional final.

With the NCAA going back to having the top 16 seeds hosting the first and second rounds, the Huskies likely won't have to play a game outside of Connecticut to reach the 2016 and 2017 Final Fours. The 2016 regionals will run from Mar. 25-28 with the dates of the 2017 regionals being Mar. 24-27.

Here's the list
2016: Bridgeport, Dallas, Lexington, Sioux Falls
2017: Bridgeport, Lexington, Oklahoma City, Stockton
2018: Albany, Kansas City, Lexington, Spokane