Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New name emerging on UConn's recruiting wish list

As I've mentioned earlier, it looks as if UConn is done recruiting for the current cycle and while the UConn coaches aren't able to comment on specific recruits until they receive signed letters of intent everything I've been hearing is that the UConn brain trust couldn't be happier or more excited about the potential of commits (and multiple USA Basketball gold medalists) De'Janae Boykin, Naphessa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson.

What's interesting about the Class of 2016 is that due to Geno Auriemma's duties as the U.S. senior women's national team head coach he is unavailable to recruit during key periods so UConn has sped up the process a little bit. What I've been hearing is that there are about 15 players on UConn's recruiting radar which is way up from the normal number.

Certainly talented Texan Lauren Cox is at the top of UConn and everybody else's wish list but there is a new name I've been able to confirm that the Huskies are extremely high on and that is Newark (N.J.) Academy guard Jocelyn Willoughby who averaged 23.7 points and 4.4 steals as a sophomore and has already surpassed the 1,000-point plateau heading into her final two seasons.

Crystal Dangerfield is another guard UConn is very high on and she made it clear when I spoke to her during the U-17 national team trials in Colorado Springs, the feeling in definitely mutual. By the sounds of things UConn coaches will be spending quite a large amount of time in the states of Texas and California during the recruiting process because sources indicate that UConn has interest in the Texas duo of Natalie Chou and Joyner Holmes, members of the gold-medal winning U.S. U-17 squad, as well as Sabrina Ionescu and Jaelyn Brown, both out of California.  There have been reports that Kysre Gondrezick has been drawing recruiting interest from UConn as well. Illinois star Tori McCoy is one of the top posts available in the class and adding some size to the roster is a priority for UConn in the next recruiting cycle.

It's going to be an interesting process and I think it won't come together quite as quickly as it did a year ago when Boykin, Collier and Samuelson committed pretty early on in the process.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lofty praise for three UConn commits

USA Basketball held a conference call to discuss the naming of its player pool from which the team Geno Auriemma will coach in the FIBA World Championships will be drawn from. With not that many questions being asked I jumped in and asked Carol Callan, the director of all the women's teams with USA Basketball, about what impresses her about UConn commits De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson who won gold medals at the Youth Olympic Games earlier today.

"I call them veterans with smiles on my face but that is what it feels like to talk a little bit further about what Geno talks about in terms of the culture of winning, De'Janae and Lou were on a team last year as well as this year and sometimes we beat teams by a lot and we start to get a little full of ourselves and yet  at the world U17 championships we only won by two points so that all of a sudden makes a player grow up quite a bit," Callan said, "What is interesting about all of them and Napheesa as well is they have played for multiple years in 3x3 so they have expanded their game not only from 5 on 5 but to 3 on 3. The growth is amazing and they all still have another year of high school in front of them. I think thee is a maturity and I think what the maturity does more than anything is under pressure there is a calm that I have noticed in them. When we are in a game and we are down in the fourth quarter and we only win by two, there is a calmness to Lou and De that was very apparent and that is because they have so much experience. Napheesa just has a motor that just doesn't stop, she is not content to just shoot the ball, she then wants to get the rebound so I think Connecitcut fans will have a lot to be appy about in a couple of years when they get on campus."

UConn commits win gold at Youth Olympic Games

After waltzing their way through the field in the 3x3 competition at the Youth Olympic Game the United States squad faced a tough challenge in Tuesday's gold medal game.

Netherlands was tied with the U.S. 10-10 with 3 minutes remaining before the U.S. scored the final nine points to win the championship with a 19-10 victory.

UConn commits Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier had eight and four points respectively. Former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale had seven points and De'Janae Boykin played her typical strong all-around game as the U.S. finished with tournament with a 13-0 record.

It was the second gold medal of the summer for all four players as Boykin, Samuelson and Ogunbowale were members of the U.S. team which won the FIBA U17 Wotld Championship while Collier was a star of the U.S. squad which captured the FIBA Americas U18 title.

Earlier in the day Collier, Ogunbowale and Samuelson had seven points each in a 21-12 semifinal win over Hungary. Colllier hit all four of her field-goal attempts including a 3-pointer (worth two points in the 3x3 scoring format) and both of her free throws while Samuelson hit three long-range shots.

Collier finished with a team-leading 113 points in the tournament and was the leading scorer in eight of the 13 games, Ogunbowale had 85 points, Samuelson had 41 points despite missing seven games with a sprained ankle and Boykin had 33 points.

Here are quotes from the four gold medalists courtesy of USA Basketball


De’Janae Boykin

On her thoughts of today’s games:
Today were very tough games. Both games were very physical. But we got together before each game and said that we had to play hard. Both games were very tough, but it feels good to come out with the game

On the 9-0 spark in the gold medal game that changed the energy of the contest:
We weren’t going to come here to lose. We wanted this; we wanted to win.

On winning her third gold medal playing for the USA and first Olympic gold medal:
It feels great. This is the Youth Olympic Games and it’s pretty big. We’re all excited and very happy.


Napheesa Collier

On winning her second gold medal playing for the USA in the month of August:
This feels so good, even a little better because it’s the Youth Olympics.

On today’s games:
I think that we focused on one game at the time.  Hungary was shorter so we could post them up, but the Netherlands was taller so we had to space up our game and change it up. Everything worked out.

On having the support from all other members of Team USA today:
It felt awesome to know the crowd was behind us, and that all of those players and fellow USA athletes came to support us.

Arike Ogunbowale
On her thoughts of today’s games:
It was crazy. We knew they were good teams because we had scrimmaged them when we first got to China, so we knew it was going to be hard, but we came out strong and knocked down our free throws, which was really crucial too.

On today’s game plan, especially since going 0-for-8 from beyond the arc:
Coach Dori pointed out to us that they (Netherlands) were in foul trouble, so we had to drive at them and we continued to do that, and we knocked down those shots late too; that really changed the game.

On winning her fourth gold medal playing for the USA:
It’s such a blessing. Each year I’m grateful to be a part of USA and USA Basketball, and winning the Youth Olympics- this is the highest honor you can get as an 18-and-under player. I feel blessed to have been chosen to do this stuff.

On this whole experience:
I expected it to be great but this has been amazing. The village and the venues are incredible. Nanjing really put a lot of time into this, and it has just been so great to get he opportunity to play here and be with all of these people.

On having a big cheering section today, including USA athletes from other sports:
It’s really cool. They’re from all over the states too, so it’s nice. We have met so many new people, and they came out to support us. We’re going to support them too; we’re going to go see boxing tomorrow. We’re one big family.

Katie Lou Samuelson
On their gold medal game:
It was such a physical game. Netherlands played so hard and so well, and we finally pulled out at the end, but it was such a good game.

On her performance today:
My shooting wasn’t on today so I knew that I had to get to the basket. At that point when I got the - and one, I think all of us were just like, ‘ok, this is enough. We need to take it away right now.’

On winning her fifth medal playing for the USA and winning her fourth gold:
It’s amazing. There’s nothing that compares to this and this is an Olympic medal.  It’s so cool to be able to be on this USA Youth Olympic Team.

On this whole experience:
It’s been incredible. I’ve met so many people from so many different sports that I never would have met without this opportunity.



Labels: , ,

Monday, August 25, 2014

Geno dishes on 2014-15 UConn squad

This is pretty much the calm before the storm for Geno Auriemma and his staff.

While he met with the team (minus Kia Nurse who is spending the summer training with the Canadian national team), he isn't planning for much in the way of individual workouts for another week or so. With classes starting today Auriemma said he wanted to give the players a week to get their academic bearings before they start thinking about basketball.

However, that doesn't mean he can't discuss what he's looking for from his players. I sat down with him for about 15 minutes today and touched on a variety of subjects including some posted in a previous blog entry. Here's some more for those fans eager for women's basketball chatter.


ON BREANNA STEWART BEING THE ONLY ACTIVE COLLEGE PLAYER INVITED TO THE UPCOMING U.S. NATIONAL TEAM CAMP
I think the fact that she has had such an unbelievable start to her career as a freshman and a sophomore and has done things that you just don't see freshman and sophomores do and her history with USA Basketball, going out to Vegas and playing so well there that the committee felt like this is a part of the future of USA Basketball. I know she is really excited about it, she is anxious to test herself against pros.

THOUGHTS ON NATALIE BUTLER, WHO TRANSFERRED FROM GEORGETOWN
She was here a little bit and the coaches got a chance to spend a little time with her and it is quite an adjustment for her. She is one of those kids who puts a lot of pressure on herself because she wants to prove to everybody that she is good enough to play here. I told her she has a whole year to prepare and don't rush it. She is going to be a great help to us in practice because she will help make Kiah better, she will help make Morgan, Stewie, she is going to give those guys a bit of a problem so she will benefit from those guys.

CAN KIAH STOKES DO MORE THAN JUST REBOUND AND BLOCK SHOTS AS A SENIOR
Coaches were talking this morning about how many things she is really good at. She plays good defense, she blocks shots, she rebounds the ball, she is not a bad passer and we go to practice and she makes shots from the perimeter, she is a good shooter. It is astonishing when you talk about all the things that she can do and why hasn't she done all those things leading up to now. You immediately star to think if she decides to put it all together and it all comes together for her, it is going to change our team dramatically. Maybe finally being a senior and finally having enough confidence in yourself to say 'what is the worse that can happen?' It is that time now. I think we are all anxious to see it.

WILL STEFANIE DOLSON OR BRIA HARTLEY BE TOUGHEST PLAYER TO REPLACE?
When you talk about two kids who started every game pretty much, they were counted on right from the beginning from the first day of practice freshman year, they have been through a lot and they gave us such a huge advantage throughout their careers. You have one of the best guards in the country and one of the best centers in the country, that is a good place to start. Stefanie, being kind of the focal point of our offense last year and the year before, that is going to take some adjustment. Bria, with her competitiveness and her ability to do things at big moments, we are obviously going to miss that and we are going to miss Stefanie's personality. she became the personality of our team and somebody is going to have to replace that and right now  I am not sure who that is but I know somebody is going to step up and do that."



UConn's Morgan Tuck, Gabby Williams expected to be 100 percent before first practice

As luck would have it UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma was walking through the halls at Gampel Pavilion as I was working on some football stories and blogs and I was able to sit down with him for about 15 minutes. I got caught up with a lot of news including updates of how the rehabilitation process is going for veteran forward Morgan Tuck and freshman guard Gabby Williams, who both underwent season-ending knee surgeries last year.

First up, here is what he had to say about Tuck.

"She is just starting to do that (basketball-related activities) now," Auriemma said. "She is going to do some individuals this week and try to add to it next week and by the third week of September, she could be cleared to go. Usually these guys, they don't look forward to preseason conditioning in September, all the workouts and all the individual stuff that they are doing but I talked to her today and she said I have never been so anxious and so excited to start individual (workouts) and preseason conditioning. I think she will be pretty happy when they get started."

Tuck will bring so many dimensions to the 2014-15 UConn team with her ability to play inside and outside. She is an outstanding defense, underrated passer and can score in so many different ways.

"We didn't see it last year except for a couple of times," Auriemma said. "I went back and watched the Stanford game and the Cal game at the Garden and you really get to see Morgan playing and you say 'it is a miracle that we were able to get through the season and win the whole thing while not having her.' Losing Stefanie, you lost a couple of players so bringing Morgan back into the mix is like adding a couple of players. The other players are kind of anxious too because they know how many areas she can help us in. She is not just a one-dimensional kid."

Here is what he had to say about Williams, who suffered serious knee injuries in each of her final two high school seasons. So how is she progressing?

"Good, same thing (as with Tuck). We are starting (individual workouts) a week from Tuesday, give them a week to acclimated to everything. they went home towards the last part of August so she is going to get with Rosemary (Ragle, UConn's athletic trainer) and I would expect that by the time practice starts that she is going to be ready to do (everything)."

He was also in favor of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis not being invited to the U.S. national team training camp next month so she can focus all her energies on getting ready for her senior season.

"I think more from way her injuries and the way her season went last year, I think that in my opinion, it was better for her to be here and get herself ready for us and for herself this season," Auriemma said. "That's a position where they are loaded with pros so I think it is best that she stays here and works out with our players."

With incoming freshman Kia Nurse spending the summer training with the Canadian national team and with Nurse set to play in the FIBA World Championships, I wanted Auriemma's take on how much this summer will benefit her.

"I think the maturity that Kia has is really what separates her from most incoming freshmen," Auriemma said. "Most incoming freshmen are used to playing high school basketball and it is a huge adjustment. I think Kia, by virtue of being on the Canadian national team, has made herself almost a sophomore coming in instead of a freshman and the style of play that Canada has is very similar to what we do in more ways than one so she is somebody that because she is not here right now that few people talk about but she is probably the one who is going to be the most intriguing of all the freshmen, I am looking forward to seeing her both in Bridgeport, in Istanbul and when we get back here in October."

I also asked Auriemma for his reaction to former UConn guard Brianna Banks landing at Penn State and whether that was a good landing spot for her.

"We will see," Auriemma . I think UConn was a good spot but unfortunately there are some things you have to do (to remain at UConn). I think having a year off, getting a chance to kind of gain some perspective by being away from it, hitting the books a little bit. It is a big place and they have a really good program. I am sure having a year to practice with the team is going to help a lot. I saw her this summer. I am rooting for her, let's hope she makes it."

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Breanna Stewart, 6 former UConn stars in U.S. national team player pool

USA Basketball named the 27 athletes being invited to the U.S. Senior Women's National Team training camps leading into the FIBA World Championships.

Former UConn star Bria Hartley and Connecticut Sun star Chiney Ogwumike were the players added to the player pool.

UConn's Breanna Stewart is the only current college player in the pool of players.

Here the the official release

Featuring 27 athletes, the 2014 USA Basketball Women's National Team will begin training in defense of the USA's FIBA World Championship title on Sept. 8 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Additionally, the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee has added a pair of athletes to the 2014-16 USA Basketball Women's National Team roster in four-time USA Basketball gold medalist Bria Hartley (Washington Mystics) and three-time USA Basketball gold medalist Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun), and they are scheduled to take part in the fall training camp. The final 12-member, 2014 USA Basketball Women's World Championship Team will be named prior to the start of the FIBA World Championship, which will be held Sept. 27-Oct. 5 in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey.
            Hartley and Ogwumike were extended an invitation to join the USA National Team by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee, which will also select the 2014 USA World Championship Team.
            "The 27 who have been invited represent a cross section of what the USA National Team is ultimately all about," said Geno Auriemma, 2013-16 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. "It's some of the best players in the world. It's a combination of past Olympic and World Championship gold medalists. It's also young players who have also won gold medals at various levels of USA Basketball, pros in the WNBA, college players, veterans and rookies and everything in between. I think we're going to be able to pick a 12-player roster that's going to be as good as any team we've ever had.
            "Coming out of college last year, two of the best players in college basketball, they distinguished themselves over four years playing at the highest level and now they've gone onto play in the WNBA as rookies. With Chiney in Connecticut, I've had a chance to follow her progress. She's been absolutely amazing and no one competes harder than Chiney does. Bria's gone to Washington and played a great role in helping them make the playoffs this year with such a young roster that they have. So, I'm excited about the possibility of having both of them in the camp. I know both of them really wanted to be there last fall and couldn't, so this is a great opportunity for them and I'm looking forward to seeing them out there."
            "Bria Hartley and Chiney Ogwumike were both invited to the USA National Team training camp last fall, but were unable to make it," said Carol Callan, USA Basketball women's national team director and member of the committee.  "They have remained on the committee's radar and with their USA Basketball international experience and play this season in the WNBA, the committee felt that we should extend an invitation to continue their involvement with the USA National Team."
Athletes invited to participate in the fall training camp in hopes of being named to the 2014 USA World Championship Team include: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock), Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Hartley, Briann January (Indiana Fever), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Chiney Ogwumike, Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Stars), Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) and Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx).
            Athletes listed above who are not participating in the WNBA Finals will begin training camp Sept. 8-10 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. WNBA teams still in the playoff hunt include the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky and Indiana Fever in the East and Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury in the West.
Hartley first won gold with the 2010 USA U18 National Team at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, then collected gold medals playing for USA Basketball at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship, 2012 FIBA 3x3 World Championship and 2013 World University Games. She is a two-time NCAA champion with the University of Connecticut and currently has the Washington Mystics in the WNBA playoff hunt. The No. 7 pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft, Hartley averaged 9.7 points and 3.1 assists in the 2014 WNBA season and aided the Mystics to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Chiney Ogwumike teamed up with Hartley to win gold on the 2010 USA U18 National Team and 2012 USA 3x3 World Championship Team, and she captured her third gold medal at the 2011 World University Games. The No. 1 pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft and 2014 WNBA All-Star averaged 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game during the 2014 season and is a two-time (May, June) WNBA Rookie of the Month award winner.
The USA National Team training camp roster includes three-time (2004, 2008, 2012) Olympic gold medalists Bird, Catchings and Taurasi; two-time Olympic gold medalists (2008, 2012) Augustus, Fowles and Parker; as well as 2012 Olympic gold medalists Charles, Moore, McCoughtry and Whalen.
Bird and Catchings have won two FIBA World Championship gold medals (2002, 2010); while Charles, Dupree, Fowles, McCoughtry, Moore and Whalen captured FIBA World Championship gold in 2010; and Augustus, Bird, Catchings, Parker and Thompson played on the 2006 USA World Championship Team that returned with the bronze medal.
            The USA will compete in a pair of exhibition contests during its domestic training. The first game is the USA Basketball Women's National Team Showcase, a Red versus White intrasquad game scheduled for Sept. 11 (7 p.m. EDT) at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Delaware.
            ESPN2 will televise both USA Basketball Women's National Team exhibition games, and both games will also available on WatchESPN.
            Traveling up the coast to Bridgeport, Connecticut, the USA will train Sept. 14 alongside 2013 FIBA Americas Championship silver medalist Canada in Bridgeport, prior to the two teams squaring off in a Sept. 15 exhibition contest (7 p.m. EDT) at Webster Bank Arena.         
            Tickets for the USA Basketball Showcase can be purchased through the Bob Carpenter Center box office, by calling 302-831-2257 or online via ticketmaster.com; while tickets for the USA-Canada contest can be purchased through the box office at Webster Bank Arena, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or online via www.websterbankarena.com.
            In addition to the domestic exhibition schedule, the USA squad will play four additional exhibition games in Europe against 2012 Olympic silver medalist France, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Australia, 2010 FIBA World Championship silver medalist Czech Republic and 2013 FIBA Asia bronze medalist China, prior to the start of the World Championship.
            Finalists for the 2014 USA World Championship Team will compete in the 2014 France International Tournament in the Stade Pierre de Coubertin in Paris, Sept. 19-21. Opening against Australia on Sept. 19, the U.S. will face China on Sept. 20 and close the round-robin tournament against host France on Sept. 21.
            From there, the Americans will head to Prague, Czech Republic, for an exhibition against Czech Republic on Sept. 23, before traveling to Istanbul for their final pre-World Championship preparations.
Auriemma will be assisted on the sideline by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
The USA owns a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Championship play, while compiling an all-time 97-21 record at the event. In 2010, the most recent World Championship, the U.S. finished with a perfect 9-0 record and the gold medal.

In addition to Callan, members of the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee include WNBA appointees Reneé Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations, Dan Hughes, San Antonio Silver Stars head coach and general manager, and Chris Sienko, Connecticut Sun vice president and general manager; and three-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist Katie Smith, who played in nearly 200 games for USA Basketball from 1993-2008, and serves as the athlete representative.

U.S. team moves into YOG semifinals

UConn commits De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson moved two wins from another gold medal.

Collier had six points while Samuelson and Boykin had five and three respectively as the U.S. defeated Estonia 21-12 to advance to the semifinals of the 3x3 basketball event at the Youth Olympic Games. Former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale led the U.S. with seven points.

Collier had 11 points while Boykin and Ogunbowale added five points each in the 21-7 win over Venezuela. The U.S. got to the free throw line nine times and matched Venezuela's scoring output from the foul line Samuelson did not play..

The U.S. will play Hungary in tomorrow's semifinals and with a win would play for the gold medal tomorrow as well as either Spain or Netherlands.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Impressive UConn streak to continue

With Diana Taurasi's Phoenix Mercury team eliminated the Los Angeles Sparks with a 93-68 victory on Sunday night and Maya Moore's Minnesota Lynx team already in the Western Conference final, this will be the 12th season in a row at least one former UConn player will be playing in the WNBA championship series.

With the Atlanta Dream forcing a winner take all game three with a win on Sunday against Chicago, there's a chance that two former Huskies could be playing for the WNBA title since Tiffany Hayes is one of the top players for Atlanta. Here's a breakdown of the former UConn players in the WNBA finals.

2013: Minnesota (Maya Moore) def, Atlanta (Tiffany Hayes)
2012: Indiana def. Minnesota (Maya Moore)
2011: Minnesota (Maya Moore, Charde Houston) def. Atlanta
2010: Seattle (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Svetlana Abrosimova) def. Atlanta
2009: Phoenix (Diana Taurasi, Ketia Swanier) def. Indiana (Jessica Moore)
2008: Detroit (Kelly Schumacher) def. SA
2007: Phoenix (Diana Taurasi, Kelly Schumacher) def. Detroit (Swin Cash)
2006: Detroit (Swin Cash) def. Sacramento
2005: Sacramento def. Connecticut (Nykesha Sales, Asjha Jones)
2004: Seattle (Bird) def. Connecticut (Nykesha Sales, Asjha Jones)
2003: Detroit (Swin Cash) def. LA
2000: Houston (Jen Rizzotti) def. NY
1999: Houston (Jen Rizzotti, Kara Wolters) def. New York (Rebecca Lobo-injured and did not play)
1997: Houston def. New York (Rebecca Lobo)


012: Indiana def. Minnesota (Maya Moore)
2011: Minnesota (Maya Moore, Charde Houston) def. Atlanta
2010: Seattle (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Svetlana Abrosimova) def. Atlanta
2009: Phoenix (Diana Taurasi, Ketia Swanier) def. Indiana (Jessica Moore)
2008: Detroit (Kelly Schumacher) def. SA
2007: Phoenix (Diana Taurasi, Kelly Schumacher) def. Detroit (Swin Cash)
2006: Detroit (Swin Cash) def. Sacramento
2005: Sacramento def. Connecticut (Nykesha Sales, Asjha Jones)
2004: Seattle (Bird) def. Connecticut (Nykesha Sales, Asjha Jones)
2003: Detroit (Swin Cash) def. LA
2000: Houston (Jen Rizzotti) def. NY
1999: Houston (Jen Rizzotti, Kara Wolters) def. New York (Rebecca Lobo-injured and did not play)
1997: Houston def. New York (Rebecca Lobo)

Labels: , ,

UConn's Nurse, Canada fall in Zafer Cup finale

UConn incoming freshman Kia Nurse had six points and two rebounds but it wasn't enough as Canada lost to Brazil 65-56 on the final day of the Zafer Cup in Turkey.

Miah-Marie Langlois led Canada with 13 points while Taina Mayara Da Paixao led Brazil with 24 points and nine assists.

Nurse had 19 points and 10 rebounds as Canada finished 1-2 in the event with the only win coming against Australia on Friday.

Labels:

U.S. finishes undefeated in pool play at Youth Olympic Games

UConn commit Napheesa Collier had 17 of the 42 points as the United States completed a perfect run through pool play at the Youth Olympic Games.

Collier had seven points while fellow UConn commits Katie Lou Samuelson and De'Janae Boykin finished with five and four points in a 21-12 win over the Czech Republic.

Collier and former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale had 10 points each in a 21-10 win over Guam. Samuelson was held out of the game.

The U.S. finished atop of Pool B with a 9-0 record and will play Venezuela in the Round of 16 tomorrow.

Collier accounted for 85 of her team's 190 points while shooting 76 percent from the field. Ogunbowale, the only U.S. play to get to the free-throw line in each game, added 59 points while Boykin had 25 points. Samuelson, who earned a bronze medal in the shootout competition, was held out of five of the nine pool play games due to a sprained ankle. In just four games she had seven of the team's 16 3-pointers (worth two points in the 3x3 scoring system) and had 21 points.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tough sledding against Turkey for UConn's Nurse and Canada

Coming off an impressive win over a talented Australia team in the first game of the Zafer Cup on Friday, things were significantly more challenging for UConn incoming freshman and the Canadian national team against host Turkey.

Nurse scored all four of her points in the fourth quarter and added four rebounds as Canada, which did not hit the 20-point mark until late in the third quarter, lost 51-33.

Tamara Tatham led Canada with 10 points while Turkey had four players with either seven or eight points.

Canada wraps up the three-day round-robin event by playing Brazil on Sunday.

Labels:

U.S. team continues to roll at YOG

UConn commits Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson finished with eight and six points respectively as the United States defeated Chinese Taipei 21-5 to improve to 7-0 in pool play at the Youth Olympic Games.

The U.S. finishes pool play on Sunday with games against Guam and the Czech Republic.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Memorable summer for UConn's Nurse continues

In terms of preparing for your freshman season of Division I basketball it is pretty hard to top what Kia Nurse is doing this summer.

She will be taking part in multiple training camps with the Canadian national team and will face the U.S. in an international friendly next month in Bridgeport as well as competing in the FIBA World Championships beginning on Sept. 27. Currently she is in Turkey playing in the Zafer Cup, a three-day round-robin event featuring games against Australia, Turkey and Brazil.

The action kicked off today against an Australia team featuring WNBA players (who took the 2014 season off) Liz Cambage, Leilani Mitchell, Rachel Jarry as well as Belinda Snell, who played for three WNBA teams from 2005-11 and Laura Hodges, a member of the Connecticut Sun during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. The game occurred around the same time that many of her classmates were moving their belonging into their dorm rooms.

Nurse finished with nine points and four rebounds in a 62-55 win over Australia. Canada will play Turkey on Saturday and Brazil on Sunday.

Former UMass star Tamara Tatham led Canada with 14 points while UCLA"s Nirra Fields added 10. Cambage had 16 points and Rebecca Allen 13 for Australia.

Labels:

UConn commit Samuelson hits the court at YOG

A day after earning a bronze medal in the shootout competition at the Youth Olympic Games UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson was able to make her debut in the 3x3 basketball event.

Samuelson missed the first four U.S. games due to a sprained ankle but she returned in a major way in a showdown for first place in Pool B.

Samuelson hit four of five shots behind the 3-point line (worth two points in this competition) and finished with a team-leading nine points in a 21-6 win over previously undefeated Belgium. UConn commit Napheesa Collier, who led the U.S. in scoring in each of the first four games, finished with six points.

In the team's final preliminary round game of the day it was former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale who had a team-high nine points in a 22-4 win over Andorra. UConn commits Collier and Boykin finished with seven and five points respectively while Samuelson had the other point.

The U.S. is now 6-0 heading into the final two days of pool play.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Seattle Storm wins WNBA Draft lottery

Could UConn's sweet-shooting wing Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis be teaming up with former Husky Sue Bird in Seattle?

Well, the Storm won the WNBA Draft lottery and has first dibs at Mosqueda-Lewis if Seattle is inclined to go that way. Tulsa, which was tied with Seattle for the worst record in the WNBA, once again finished second best in the lottery and will have the No. 2 overall pick. The Connecticut Sun will pick third and fourth in the draft which is being projected as one of the weakest in recent memory.

Seattle took Bird with the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft and certainly have no complaints on how that turned out.

As for Connecticut, the Sun would like to improve itself in the post. Chiney Ogwumike was brilliant as a rookie and Kelsey Bone had a pretty solid season. The question is whether Duke's Elizabeth Williams will be on the board when the Sun gets ready to pick or if 6-foot-1 Crystal Bradford fits what they are looking at or if more of a true post player would be on the radar like Cal's Reshanda Gray (who averaged 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds as a junior).

It should be noted that among rising college seniors, Bradford was the top rebounder in Division I averaging 12.2 per game. Wake Forest's Dearica Hamby (who averaged 22 points, 11 rebounds while contributing  61 assists, 65 steals and 33 blocks in 31 games) is another draft-eligible player who put up pretty impressive numbers as a junior. Hamby also outplayed Williams in last season's Duke/Wake Forest tilt finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds while Williams finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison could also be rising up the draft boards. Coaches love players who improve over the course of their careers and she went from averaging 3.3 points on 36.7 percent shooting as a freshman to putting up 13.6 points a contest and shooting 57.7 percent last season (in just 23 minutes per game). She also pulled down 9.3 rebounds per game and already has more than 100 career blocked shots. With the recent news that Mercedes Russell is expected to redshirt this season, Harrison could be primed for a huge season for the Lady Vols.

Penn State officially announces arrival of former UConn guard

Penn State made it official by putting out a release on the transfer of former UConn guard Brianna Banks, a member of two national championship teams with the Huskies.

Banks will need to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer regulations and will play her final season for the Lady Lions during the 2015-16 campaign.

SAMUELSON FINISHES THIRD IN YOG SHOOTOUT EVENT
While UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson hasn't gotten onto the court for the undefeated U.S. team at the Youth Olympic Games due to a minor ankle injury, there is nothing wrong with her shooting form.

Samuelson emerged from a field of 62 to advance to the finals in the shootout competition. Samuelson, who made six 3-pointers in the preliminary portion of the event, hit four treys in 32 seconds to finish third.

Spain's Lucia Togores Carpintero won the competition with seven 3-pointers.

UConn commit De'Janae Boykin made four 3-pointers to finish 19 in the preliminaries.

Former UConn star Moore named WNBA MVP

To the surprise of just about nobody former UConn star Maya Moore was named the WNBA's most valuable player.

Moore received 35 of the 38 first-place votes to easily beat out fellow former Husky Diana Taurasi to win the award for the first time finishing second in the voting last year and fourth in 2012.

Moore led the league by averaging 23.9 points per game, the third highest total in league history. Moore opened the 2014 season by scoring 135 points over her first four outings, marking the most prolific four-game scoring stretch in WNBA history. Moore also became the first player in league history to post four consecutive games of 30 or more points after pouring in 34 points at Washington; 33 vs. Connecticut; a then-career-high 38 at Tulsa; and 30 vs. New York.  She went on to finish the regular season with a league-record 12 games of 30-plus points, topping the previous mark of 10 set by Taurasi in 2008.

 Moore also finished the season ranked atop the WNBA in made field goals (295) and was second in minutes (34.7 mpg) and free throws made (160).  Moore placed eighth in rebounding (8.1 rpg), tied for third in three-point field goals made (62), fourth in free throw percentage (.884, 160-of-181), tied for fourth in steals (1.88 spg), sixth in double-doubles (10), and 20th in assists (3.4 apg).  In addition to leading her club in scoring, Moore placed second on the Lynx in rebounding and assists, and third in blocks (0.82 bpg).

She will now try to buck a trend as no regular-season MVP has led her team to the title since Lauren Jackson powered Seattle to the 2010 title. Diana Taurasi (2009), Lisa Leslie (2001), Sheryl Swoopes (2000) and Cynthia Cooper (1997 and 1998) are the only other players to win the WNBA title the same year they were named the league's MVP.

DRAFT LOTTERY IS TONIGHT
The lottery to determine the order of the top four picks in the 2015 WNBA Draft will be held during halftime of tonight's Indiana/Washington playoff game (approximately at 8 p.m.).

The Connecticut Sun has two of the four lottery picks thanks to finishing with the third-worst record in the league and also holding the New York Liberty's No. 1 pick but by winning the final game of the regular season the Sun's chances to earn the No. 1 pick for the second year in a row dropped dramatically. Tulsa and Seattle each have a 35.9 percent chance of picking first while the Sun's probability to earning the top pick is 28.2 percent.

UConn sweet-shooting wing Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is among the top prospects available in next year's draft.