Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Catching up with UConn coaches at the Travelers

Mike Cavanaugh, Chris Dailey and Randy Edsall chat
before start of mini-golf tournament in Cromwell

Just returned home from my annual day of coverage at the Travelers Championship.

It's been a few years since I've covered the tournament during the four rounds. Typically I head to Cromwell for the Celebrity Pro-Am and mini-golf tournament to catch up with UConn coaches.
The day started with the team of UConn women's basketball associate head coach Chris Dailey, hockey coach Mike Cavanaugh and Randy Edsall winning the title in the second (and final) flight in the tournament. With their victory (aided by a pair of holes in one by Chris Dailey and one each by Cavanaugh and Edsall) $2,500 was donated to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center.

The first flight was won by a team representing the Golf Channel headlined by Chantel McCabe (like me a fellow New Hampshire native) and with the help of a player pulled out of the stands when the team was short a player. With their victory, $2,500 will be donated to the Youth On Course charity.

A few things to report.

First, I asked Geno Auriemma if there was any cause for concern after Kia Nurse bypassed the first two stages of training and the international friendlies with the Canadian national team. He said it was more of a case of Nurse not overloading her schedule.

"They thought she needed a little bit of a break and she thought she needed a little bit of a break but I think she is going to do something with them later on this summer (when Canada will be one of the top contenders to win the FIBA Americas title)," Auriemma said. "Obviously she is kind of torn, she doesn't want to miss training camp and our trip to Italy."

Nurse figures to take part in the final stage of training beginning on July 23 in Edmonton where the 12-player roster for the FIBA Women's AmeriCup will be played in Argentina.

Geno Auriemma signs autographs after his Pro-Am round at Travelers
Also, Auriemma was one of two winners of the United States Olympic Committee Co-National Coach of the Year award. It was quite the honor bestowed on Auriemma as the only basketball coach - men's or women's - to win the award was Tara VanDerveer, the winner of the inaugural award in 1996.

"I was really surprised when I heard because that is usually something to goes to other coaches other than basketball," Auriemma said after finishing his round at the Pro-Am. "When Carol (Callan, Women's National Team Director for USA Basketball) told me about it, I was really surprised and thrilled.

"Sometimes we take things for granted, look back and realize it is eight years of your life. So many thing happen over those eight years (coaching the U.S. women's basketball team to a pair of Olympic titles), so many people you have met so when you are honored like this at the end of your run, I almost took it as it is not so much as what happened in Rio but for the whole eight-year run."

I also caught up with Dailey to get her take on how freshmen Mikayla Coombs, Andra Espinoza-Hunter, Lexi Gordon and Megan Walker are adapting to life at UConn since they are currently in summer school.

"If you talk to (rising sophomore) Crystal (Dangerfield), there is a big difference between Crystal, Kyla (Irwin) and Molly (Bent) this year," Dailey said. "They know what to expect so you are dealing with four freshmen who no matter what they did, they are never going to be totally prepared. They haven't been challenged, they've had their moments where they've been to manage it and other times when they have really struggled. That is what is great about the summer, it gives them a chance to see what it is like so it kind of gives us a jump start."

With four starters returning, transfers Azura' Stevens and Batouly Camara eligible and four freshmen in the fold, UConn will be a much deeper team than a season ago.

"We have 13, only 1 or 2 more but it seems like a lot more," Dailey said. "I don't know how it is all going to pan out, where things are going to fall but it is a better problem to have than not to have enough so we are happy about that."

More on the freshmen will be coming on Monday when we get to talk to the UConn players during Auriemma's annual charity golf tournament at Hartford Golf Club.
Auriemma also addressed his rather hectic schedule this spring and summer which will include three different trips to Italy.

"I just got back from two weeks in Europe, some of it was work, some of it was a little bit of vacation," Auriemma said. "I am going to do a FIFA thing in Geneva, a coach's clinic in Stockholm, get ready to go to that 19-and-under thing (featuring Dangerfield, Walker and UConn recruiting target Christyn Williams), before you know it, our trip is going to come. It has kind of been hectic. I knew it would be.

"Sometimes I don't get to go in a long, long time and now I am going to go three times in one summer."

Auriemma has liked the reports he has been getting on his players.

"All the guys in school have been doing pretty good," Auriemma said. "School has been good, everybody has been doing well, the four freshmen are trying to figure things out."

Finally, I asked Dailey for her take on how rookie Saniya Chong has been doing with the Dallas Wings. Chong, a third-round pick, had six points and two rebounds in a win over San Antonio tonight. She is averaging 7.6 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists in the last six games

"She is doing a great job," Dailey said. "In that game (a win over Washington on June 18th) she made a huge 3 for them, I am happy for her, she seems to enjoy it. They are having some success and she is playing a role in that."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

UConn coaches, former stars set to hit the course at TPC River Highlands

UConn fans heading out to the Travelers Championship tomorrow would be well advised to make their way to the first tee at TPC River Highlands around 12:30 p.m.

That is when UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma will be part of a group hitting the course in the Celebrity Pro-Am along with pro Webb Simpson. next up will be hockey coach Mike Cavanaugh, former UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun and Scott Burrell, one of the his best players, being a part of the group led by pro Harold Varner III. UConn women's basketball associate head coach Chris Dailey and Hall of Famer Rebecca Lobo will be in the next pairing with Retief Goosen while Hunter Mahan's group, going off at  1 p.m., features UConn football coach Randy Edsall as well as UConn legends Ray Allen and Dan Orlovsky.

Monday, June 19, 2017

More on UConn's 2017-18 schedule

A few more dates of UConn's non-conference games have been confirmed thanks to the Huskies putting season tickets on sale.

Games against California and Maryland are set for Nov. 17 and 19 after the Huskies open up against Ohio State on Nov. 12. Also, the home game against Notre Dame is set for Dec. 3 and Louisville comes to Connecticut on Feb. 12.

I previously reported this back at the Final Four, but UConn will also host Fort Hays State on Nov. 1 and reigning Division II national champion Ashland on Nov. 5 in a pair of exhibition games.

UConn recently announced the dates of the homecoming games for Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse as UConn will play at Nevada on Nov. 28 and in Toronto against Duquesne on Dec. 22.

The Nevada game will be the final one in the three-game swing out west. It begins with a game at UCLA on Nov. 21, four days later comes a game in Eugene, Oregon against Michigan State. UConn will play at DePaul on Dec. 8. face Oklahoma at Mohegan Sun Arena on Dec. 19.

Texas announced that its home game against the Huskies will be played in January and it will be played on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 15).  I've yet to see the date of the game at defending national champion South Carolina.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

UConn legend Diana Taurasi sets WNBA career scoring record

When Diana Taurasi scored with 45.3 seconds left in the second quarter in today's game against Los Angeles, the UConn legend moved by Tina Thompson to record more points in the regular season than any other WNBA player.

Taurasi finished the game with 7,494 points in her 376th career game while Thompson had 7,488 points in 496 career contests. Taurasi also ranks first in 3-pointers made and is fifth in assists in WNBA history.

"Congratulations to Diana on becoming the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer," Thompson said in a statement released by the WNBA. "I am excited that it is Diana and it is my absolute pleasure to pass the torch on to her. She and I have shared so many amazing moments throughout our basketball careers, whether it was gold medals, championships or all-star games. Diana is one of the best players to ever play the game and definitely one of my favorites. She has done amazing things and I am so grateful that I’ve been able to share many of those with her. I am really excited for Diana and I think she is going to blow that record out of the water.”

If points in the regular season and playoffs are combined, Tamika Catchings is still the record holder  with 8,521 points while Taurasi is at 8,489.

The 2001-02 UConn team features not only the WNBA's all-time leading scorers but also the players ranking ninth (Sue Bird), 15th (Swin Cash) and 30th (Asjha Jones). Tina Charles is 23rd while Maya Moore needs 72 points to tie Jones for 30th on the career list.

Another former UConn great has a chance to set another WNBA career record as Sue Bird has 2,480 assists in the regular season, 112 behind the record holder Ticha Penicheiro.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

UConn will be well represented at Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, associate head coach Chris Dailey, football coach Randy Edsall, hockey coach Mike Cavanaugh and former UConn stars Ray Allen and Dan Orlovsky and former UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun are among those expected to take part in the Celebrity Pro-Am at the Travelers Championship a week from today.

It's been a few years since both Auriemma and Dailey have taken part as Geno's had USA Basketball commitments to tend to.

The Travelers tournament runs from June 22-25 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quite a weekend for former UConn greats

Even a couple of months after the season, the UConn women's basketball program had a weekend to remember.

The highlight was former national player of the year Kara Wolters becoming the third member of UConn's first national championship team to be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Rebecca Lobo was the first former Husky honored as she was a part of the Class of 2010, three years later it was Jen Rizzotti's turn.

Kara Wolters, Louise O'Neal and rest of Hall of Fame class
(photo courtesy of Women's Basketball Hall of Fame)
Wolters gave a tremendous and emotional acceptance speech, paid homage to her late mom and was escorted at the induction by her two daughters.

Wolters wasn't the only inductee with Connecticut ties as former Southern Connecticut State coach Louise O'Neal was a member of the class as well.

O'Neal coached the Owls from 1962-76 and helped Southern Connecticut be the only school to play in the first eight National Women's College Championships (an event that predated the NCAA tournament). The Owls finished third in 1973 and 1974 (losing by a combined six points in the semifinals both years) and also advanced to the semifinals in 1975.

After taking Southern Connecticut from a club program to a national powerhouse, O'Neal continued to make an impact even after her coaching career came to an end. She was the former president of the Eastern Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and served on the NCAA Long-Range Planning Committee, Women’s Basketball Rules Committee, Sears Cup Selection Committee and NACDA Executive Board.

Getting back to UConn, 10 former Huskies had double-digit scoring games and for those wondering, second on that list over the weekend was Duke with six followed by Notre Dame's four.

Stefanie Dolson had a career-high 25 points for Chicago while rookie Saniya Chong had her first career double-digit scoring game with 10 points against Minnesota on Sunday which came two days after she netted a career-best seven points. Breanna Stewart (23 points), Sue Bird (21 points), Moriah Jefferson (18 points), Renee Montgomery (13) and Bria Hartley (10) all set or matched their season highs. Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore, who each celebrated birthdays on Sunday, had games with 27 and 17 points respectively while Tina Charles had a 21-point game.

UConn legend Diana Taurasi closing in on pair
of WNBA career soring records
Taurasi is now 28 points shy of Tina Thompson's WNBA record for most points scored in the regular season. Thompson had 7,488 points in 496 career games while Taurasi has 7,460 in 375 games. Bird recently passed Delisha Milton-Jones to moved into ninth place on that list although it's going to take a while to move up to No. 8 as she is 243 points behind Becky Hammon. If playoff points were included, Taurasi would trail record-holder Tamika Catchings by 66 points.

On Sunday some players who could land at UConn were able to lead the U.S. to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Aliyah Boston, a forward from Worcester and a player very much on UConn's recruiting radar, was named the tournament's MVP. Boston had 15 points and six rebounds in the win over Canada in the gold medal game. She led the U.S. in scoring (11.8 points per game) and rebounding (8.6) in the tournament.

Fellow Class of 2019 UConn recruiting target Samanta Brunelle averaged 11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.2 blocked shots in the five games and was the team captain. Paige Bueckers and Zia Cooke were other double-digit scorers for the U.S. in the tourney. In the title game, the top scorer was the team's youngest player Azzi Fudd from Falls Church, Va. The 14-year-old Fudd had 18 points as she was 4 of 6 from 3-point range. She also had five steals. Not bad for somebody who is several months away from the start of her freshman season of high school basketball. I would have to think her high school games will feature just a few college coaches in the stands.

The team was coached by another veteran of UConn's 1995 national championship team Carla Berube, the head coach at Tufts.

“We just kept getting stop after stop,” Berube said in the USA Basketball release on the gold-medal game. “In the first quarter, I thought we allowed them to get a lot of easy drives. They were getting to the rim on us. In the second quarter, we really shut that down and got some important defensive rebounds, and that was leading to easy offense. When you get stop after stop, it’s hard to sustain us in transition, because we have athletes and players who can make plays in transition and make plays for each other. It was awesome to watch. For a team that has not been together very long, they worked really well together.”

Finally, I've been out of the loop a little basketball wise over the last few days because of my responsibilities covering the semifinals and championship games in the CIAC softball tournament. While I was there I caught up with UConn incoming softball freshman Brianna Marcelino.

Marcelino scored from first base on a single and later drove in a run as Barlow won its first state title with a 4-2 win over Torrington in the Class L final.

There will be a story on Marcelino going up on the site later today focusing mostly on the state final and fact that Marcelino grew up in Madison (along with fellow UConn signee Hollis Wivell) before the family moved to Easton when she was in eighth grade. Heading into the state semifinals, she was batting .617 with 43 runs, 41 RBIs, 10 doubles, 12 homers, 21 stolen bases and just four errors.

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Thursday, June 08, 2017

AAC announces home and away schedule breakdown

Tulane, the team which nearly handed UConn its first loss in the history of the American Athletic Conference, is one of five conference teams which will meet the Huskies twice during the regular season during the upcoming campaign.

The AAC announced the breakdown of home and away opponents as the Huskies will play UCF, Memphis, USF, Temple and Tulane will play UConn both at home and on the road.

UConn will also host conference newcomer Wichita State as well as Cincinnati and Tulsa while playing on the road against East Carolina, Houston and SMU.

UConn is 82-0 in conference play since the formation of the American Athletic Conference with the
average margin of victory of 42.2 points.

The Huskies are 70-0 in the regular season in AAC history which is tied with Pac-12 power Stanford for the third longest conference winning streak in NCAA Division I women's basketball history. Texas holds the mark with 124 straight regular-season wins in the Southwest Conference from 1981-1990 while Old Dominion won 96 in a row from 1995-2001. When postseason games are factored in, UConn ranks third in Division I history trailing only Texas' mark of 143 straight and Old Dominion's 115 in a row.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma has never lost a game to a team in the conference recording a 96-0 mark.

The Huskies return their top four scorers from a team that was 36-0 before a loss to Mississippi
State in the national semifinals. All-Americans Napheesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby
Williams are joined by fellow double-figure scorer Kia Nurse. Crystal Dangerfield, who finished
fourth among Division I freshmen in assist/turnover ratio, is another key rotation player
returning while Azura' Stevens and Batouly Camara, who began their careers at Duke and Kentucky,
are eligible after sitting out last season. UConn also has one of the best recruiting classes led by national player of the year Megan Walker.