Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Connecticut post on UConn's radar

In the last couple of weeks assistant coaches Shea Ralph and Marisa Moseley have ventured down to Fairfield County to check out Greenwich High junior center Abbie Wolf in action. A recruiting source said that UConn coach Geno Auriemma is hoping to make it to a Greenwich game to see her in action as well.

UConn already has commitments from point guard Crystal Dangerfield and wing Kyla Irwin and would love to land a big kid in the class as well.

During the nearly two-week break between games Auriemma was in Texas to check in on Lauren Cox, considered to be the best player in the Class of 2016, as well as Joyner Holmes, who opened more than a few eyes with her relentless style of play at the U.S. junior national trials earlier this year. Illinois post Tori McCoy is another player on the radar but she just recently tore her ACL and is out for the rest of the season.

Wolf is an intriguing prospect. She is good enough of a student to draw interest from Ivy League schools and to say she comes from an athletic family is an understatement. She has one brother who is a member of the Duke football team, another one who is a freshman on the Dartmouth men's basketball team and another Andrew was a standout swimmer at Greenwich High School who is now a freshman at UConn and her father August was the U.S. indoor and outdoor shot put champion in 1984 who finished fourth in the 1984 Olympics.

The 6-foot-4 Wolf began her junior season by scoring 21 points in a 71-61 win over Stamford. She is averaging 13.7 points per game heading into tonight's game against Wilton.

UConn commits Katie Lou Samuelson and Crystal Dangerfield led their teams to hard-earned wins on the second day of the Nike Tournament of Champions event. Now if they can lead their teams to semifinal wins, they will square off in the Joe Smith Division title game on Monday.

Samuelson had 36 points (giving her 77 in the first two games) as Mater Dei defeated Fremont 59-44 despite 22 points from Nebraska signee Jessica Shepard.

Dangerfield had 17 points in Blackman High School's 58-48 win over Desert Vista (featuring Cal commit and U.S. U-17 national team member Kristine Anigwe).

Mater Dei plays the winner of the Millennium/Parkview quarterfinal while the winner of the Long Beach Poly and Stockton's St. Mary's game in tomorrow's semifinals with the winners playing in the title game

Stokes a winner on and off the court at UConn

The story of Kiah Stokes four years at UConn have been well documented. Despite rumors that she would be jumping ship due to a lack of playing time earlier in her career, Stokes has fully embraced the UConn experience.

Among those Huskies with at least 100 blocked shots, Stokes has the highest blocked shot/40 minute mark and just in case anybody wondered about her efforts in the classroom, she earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average during the fall semester.

Here's the breakdown on blocked shots per 40 minutes

Kiah Stokes (2011-present)       1693   203    4.80
Kara Wolters (1993-97)             3144   370    4.71
Rebecca Lobo (1991-95)           3572   396    4.43
Kelly Schumacher (1997-00)    1832   181    3.95
Breanna Stewart (2012-present) 2291  191    3.33
Tina Charles (2006-10)              3869   304    3.14
(Peggy Walsh blocked 162 shots from 1982-86 but minutes played are not available for those seasons)

Quirky schedule continues for UConn

UConn's schedule in November and December certainly doesn't lack in originality.

It wasn't too long ago when the Huskies became well acquainted to playing in the comfort of their on-campus haunts. It was just five seasons ago that UConn played six games at Gampel Pavilion in the final two months of 2010.

Yet, with tonight's game in Bridgeport and the Huskies finishing out 2010 with a game at Mohegan Sun Arena, two games in Hartford and one in Greenville, N.C., the Huskies will end the year having played just one regular-season game in Storrs.

However, it is another part of the way the schedule shook out that has not pleased UConn coach Geno Auriemma.

Tonight's game will end a 12-day hiatus, It isn't the first time it has happened as UConn also had 12 days off between the Penn State and Oakland games in 2012 and went 13 games between games in 2004 before losing at Arizona State. It will be the ninth time since 1990 that UConn will play after not having a game for at least 12 days.

"That doesn't make me feel good at all," Auriemma said. "It is scheduling, I guess it is the only time we could fit the games in or whatever but everybody else has played all week long. They (DePaul) will have played twice since our last game so any play you game after exams is not ideal but I've always said that you either want to play somebody good enough to beat you or somebody you are going to beat just because the bus shows up on time."

DePaul certainly falls in the former category in Auriemma's eyes.

"They had Texas A&M beat, they had Northwestern beat, they had Notre Dame beat so in all three of their losses, those are games that they could look back and say with one thing or another those are games that they had a chance to win or could have won maybe," Auriemma said. "We are playing a team, I told him when the schedule came out that I don't like the fact we have 12 days off. He thinks it is a positive. He said you have 12 days to get ready for us like we are playing the Bulls or something like we have to find a way to guard Jordan and Pippen."
Since the start of the 1993-94 season UConn has lost nine games in the months of November and December and three of the defeats have come after breaks due to final exams. It began in 1993 when the Huskies lost at Stanford after not playing for 14 straight days. In 2004 UConn lost at Arizona State after not playing for 13 days and most recently, an eight-day break was followed by a loss at Baylor. On the other side of things, UConn has scored at least 100 points four times after a break of at least 12 days during that span and the largest margin of victory in program history came in 1998 after a 13-day break in a game against Quinnipiac.

Here's the breakdown
14: at Seton Hall 88-45 on 12-8-99/UCLA 106-64 on 12-23-99
14: at Boston College 80-62 on 12-13-93/at Stanford 75-94 on 12-28-93
13: St. John's 91-51 on 12-13-98/Quinnipiac 117-20 on 12-27-98
13: Hartford 55-32 on 12-7-94/at Arizona State 50-61 on 12-21-94
12: Penn State 67-52 on 12-6-12/Oakland 96-25 on 12-19-12
12: Southern California 68-44 on 12-7-02/Pepperdine 109-48 on 12-20-02
12: Louisiana Tech 74-50 on 12-9-01/Oklahoma 86-72 on 12-22-01
12: at North Carolina State 98-75 on 12-10-94/Iona 101-45 on 12-23-94
12: at Fairfield 60-58 on 12-10-91/Hartford 57-43 on 12-23-91

Thursday, December 18, 2014

UConn commits shine on first day of TOC

The first step towards a showdown between UConn commits Crystal Dangerfield and Katie Lou Samuelson went according to plan today at the NIKE Tournament of Champions.

Samuelson, a senior wing, tied a Mater Dei single-game record with 41 points (UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and UCLA's Nirra Fields share the mark) and broke the program record (held by Mosqueda-Lewis and her sister Karlie) with 10 3-pointers as Mater Dei defeated Skyline out of Dallas 67-34.

Dangerfield had 21 points as Blackman High defeated Hamilton High, one of the host schools, 57-44 in the first round in the Joe Smith Division.

Next up for California powerhouse Mater Dei is Fremont (Nebraska) High tomorrow in a showcase of a pair of top five national recruits as Fremont's Jessica Shepard, a Nebraska signee, is sure to cross paths with Samuelson more than once.

Blackman, the defending high school national champion out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will play Desert Vista in tomorrow's quarterfinals. Desert Vista features Cal commit Kristine Anigwe, who played on the U-17 national team along with Samuelson and fellow UConn signee De'Janae Boykin.

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Ticket sales going well for UConn's next two "home" games

It certainly has the makings of an interesting weekend of basketball.

For years when UConn played a game in Connecticut the choices were either on campus in Storrs or in Hartford. We knew that was going to change this season and it will all going occur over the next four days.

Tomorrow night the Huskies will play No. 25 DePaul at Webster Bank Arena and then on Sunday comes a game against UCLA at Mohegan Sun Arena.

I reached out to Charlie Dowd at Webster Bank Arena and the people at Mohegan Sun Arena and the Basketball Hall of Fame to get an update on tickets sold for the Huskies home away from home games.

Dowd said ticket sales for tomorrow's game are in the high 7,000s and headed to a sellout while Greg Procino of the Hall of Fame said about 7,000 tickets have been sold for the UCLA game.

I know there was a day when more than 10,000 would show up for a game regardless of the opponent, day of the week and time of year but those days have come and gone. Getting crowds in the 7,000-8,000 range is pretty solid with UConn on break between semesters and playing games away from campus.

UConn eyeing Jan. 1 as return date for Ekmark

After UConn's open practice yesterday Geno Auriemma headed over to his Geno's Grille restaurant at Storrs Center for the taping of his weekly radio show with WTIC's Bob Joyce.

There were a couple of things I wanted to check in with Auriemma about so I headed over there for the final 10-15 minutes of the show which featured an entertaining back and forth with DePaul coach Doug Bruno.

After he wrapped up Auriemma said that Jan. 1 is the tentative date when injured freshman guard Courtney Ekmark could be cleared to return to the court. Ekmark has been sidelined with a stress reaction in her right foot. The good news is that Ekmark didn't have the protective boot on the foot at UConn's practice.

"I think every day she is getting a little bit better," Auriemma said after practice. "She was probably anxious to getting back to doing something so she got out of the boot and was doing some other stuff other than being in the pool, I think it is a huge win for her."
It will be interesting to see how much time she needs in practice before she returns to the court but it wouldn't be surprise to see her get a few minutes once she is cleared just to get her back into the flow.

Also, when I mentioned to Auriemma was Chattanooga on the verge of beating Stanford, the only team to beat the Huskies this season, he mentioned that they are playing Chattanooga next season. The news was reported on the radio show a couple weeks ago and Carl Adamec had more on the subject in his SNY blog

In an email seeking confirmation Corum, UConn's Senior Women's Administrator, replied saying the contract has not been signed yet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Reaction to departure of Sadie Edwards at UConn

After Wednesday's practice UConn coach Geno Auriemma and some of her teammates reacted to the sudden departure of Meriden native and freshman guard Sadie Edwards.

After the team returned from Notre Dame Edwards met with Auriemma and said she wanted to play more and made the decision to leave. So what was Auriemma's thoughts during that conversation?

"I appreciate that and hopefully you learned something when you were here, hopefully you land at the right place for us,"Auriemma said.

"It looks great from the outside. What do you see from the outside? The crowd, the adulation, the Final Fours, the parades, all the all-americans but what you don't see is how that all comes about. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If it is a kid from Connecticut you might look at it a little bit differently. "

Sources have indicated that Edwards is still currently weighing her options and may not make a decision on which school she will land at until after Christmas and perhaps even after New Year's.

"I am not necessarily surprised that she left, I am surprised it happened as quickly as it did," UConn senior forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. "She just wasn't happy, she wasn't happy that she wasn't playing and her demeanor changed over the last couple of months and you could tell it was deteriorating more and more, the more she wasn't playing.

"She went to boarding school to play basketball, to go away from home and somebody who makes a decision like that, obviously they want to play if they make a decision like that at that next level. When that doesn't happen when you are in college, it is hard to handle that. It is hard to be content with sitting on the bench. If you know you can go somewhere else and play right away, I am happy that she made the decision that is best for her and I am happy she made it earlier rather than later. It sucks to have stayed here, not played here and been miserable. Now she can go somewhere and play the minutes that she wants, hopefully turn into the player she wants to be and be happy.

"It takes a lot for people to stay here for four years and it also takes a lot for somebody to know when enough is enough and how much you can handle. I think she did the right thing when figuring out what she can handle and do what is best for herself."

Nobody was more surprised to see Edwards leave than her roommate and fellow freshman Gabby Williams.

"She didn't really tell anybody she was going to transfer," Williams said. "It was very quick and all of a sudden and now she is gone. It happened so fast that we couldn't take it in. Now, she is down the street so I am sure we will still see her around and everything. We are all just happy that she did what is best for her. We'd like her to stay but it is best for her that she went.

"That was kind of a wake-up call to everybody that you think you could  just get through it but it is just not for everybody. It is not that she is a bad player or anything, it is just that UConn is not the school for her."

Big game for UConn signee Boykin

UConn incoming freshman De'Janae Boykin had a season-high 30 points to lead Flowers High School to a 71-32 win over Laurel on Tuesday.

Boykin has scored at least 20 points in each of the first five games of her senior season and is averaging 24.8 points per game.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

3 UConn commits on Naismith watch list

UConn incoming freshmen Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson and 2016 commit Crystal Dangerfield are among 20 players on the Naismith Girls' High School Player of the Year watch list.

Also on the watch list are Class of 2016 UConn recruiting targets Lauren Cox, Joyner Holmes and Sabrina Ionescu.

Collier, a 6-foot-1 forward at Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis, is averaging 20.3 points, 9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.7 blocks per game. Samuelson, a 6-foot-3 wing at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., has five 30-point games in the first eight games of the season as she is averaging 31.1 points per game. Dangerfield, a 5-foot-5 guard at Blackman HS in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is averaging 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 3.6 steals per game.

Samuelson and Dangerfield will be among the showcase players at the upcoming Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona. Blackman will open up against Hamilton HS in Chandler, Arizona on Thursday. Mater Dei joins Blackman in the Joe Smith Division and will open against Skyline High out of Dallas. Mater Dei and Blackman are on opposite sides of the bracket and could meet in the Joe Smith championship game on Monday.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

MIlestone for UConn commit

Earlier in the season Class of 2016 UConn commit Crystal Dangerfield scored her 1,000th career point. On Friday the other early pledge in that class reached that milestone.

Kyla Irwin scored 21 points as she became the fifth player in State College (Pa.) High School program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

Speaking of Dangerfield, she had 14 points and 10 rebounds as her Blackman (Tenn.) team, ranked eighth in the USA Today national poll, defeated No. 2 Oakland 40-26. Oakland owns a win over the Potter House squad which defeated Blackman earlier this season.

UConn signee Napheesa Collier made certain her Incarnate Word squad would not open the season with back to back losses. She had 36 points and 13 rebounds in a 60-28 win over Ozark (Arkansas) in the consolation semifinals at the Deepsnap Tournament of Champions. Play in the event concludes tofay with a game against North Little Rock.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

UConn products showcased on WNBA air waves

The WNBA released its national television schedule (i.e. the games on ESPN2) and while the Connecticut Sun will be shut out (along with Seattle and San Antonio), 10 of the 11 games feature teams with former UConn stars. The lone exception is the first game between Chicago and Indiana on June 14.

Maya Moore's Minnesota Lynx will be on three times, Diana Taurasi and the defending champion Phoenix Mercury will be featured six times, Tina Charles and the New York Liberty, Tiffany Hayes' Atlanta Dream and the Washington Mystics with Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley will each have one ESPN2 game. The list of games on NBA TV will be announced at a later date.

Here's the list of games

Day Date Visitor Home Eastern Time Network
Sun. June 14, 2015 Chicago Indiana 1 PM ESPN2
Sun. June 14, 2015 Minnesota Phoenix 3 PM ESPN2
Tues. June 23, 2015 Los Angeles Washington 8 PM ESPN2
Tues. June 30, 2015 New York Chicago 8 PM ESPN2
Tues. July 7, 2015 Tulsa Atlanta 8 PM ESPN2
Tues. July 21, 2015 Phoenix Los Angeles 10 PM ESPN2
Tues. July 28, 2015 Chicago Phoenix 10 PM ESPN2
Tues. Aug. 4, 2015 Minnesota Los Angeles 10 PM ESPN2
Sun. Aug. 9, 2015 Phoenix Chicago  1 PM ESPN2
Sun. Aug. 16, 2015 Indiana Phoenix 7  PM ESPN2
Sun. Aug. 30, 2015 Phoenix Minnesota 7 PM ESPN2

Speaking of the Connecticut Sun, the season opener is June 5 when Dolson, Hartley and the Mystics come to Mohegan Sun Arena. The road opener comes two days later against Atlanta.

Here is the complete schedule for the Sun

JUNE Fri.  5 Washington 7 P.M.
Sun.  7 At Atlanta 3 P.M.
Thu. 11 Chicago 7 P.M.
Sun. 14 Atlanta 3 P.M.
Tue. 16 At Seattle 7 P.M.
Fri. 19 At Phoenix 7 P.M.
Sun. 21 At Los Angeles 2 P.M.
Fri. 26 Los Angeles 7 P.M.
Tue. 30 Indiana 7 P.M.
JULYThu.  2 Chicago 7 P.M.
Sun. 12 At Chicago 5 P.M.
Tue. 14 Minnesota 7 P.M.
Thu. 16 At New York 7 P.M.
Sat. 18 Indiana 7 P.M.
Sun. 19 At Washington 7 P.M.
Wed. 22 At Minnesota noon
Fri. 31 Seattle  7 P.M.
Sun.  2 At Indiana 6 P.M.
Tue.  4 San Antonio 7 P.M.
Fri.  7 Washington 7 P.M.
Sun.  9 At Washington 4 P.M.
Wed. 12 Tulsa 7 P.M.
Fri. 14 New York 7 P.M.
Sun. 16 At Atlanta 3 P.M.
Fri. 21 At Tulsa 7 P.M.
Sun. 23 Atlanta 6 P.M.
Tue. 25 At Atlanta noon
Thu. 27 Phoenix 7 P.M.
Sat. 29 New York 7 P.M.
Sun. 30 At Chicago 6 P.M.
SEPTEMBERTue.  1 At Indiana 7 P.M.
Fri.  4 At San Antonio 7 P.M.
Wed.  9 At New York 7 P.M.
Sun. 13 Chicago 1 P.M.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

3 UConn players on Naismith watch list

The UConn trio of Moriah Jefferson, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart are among 50 players on the Naismith Trophy watch list.

New Haven native Bria Holmes, a junior guard at West Virginia, is also among the candidates for the prestigious national player of the year award.

Mosqueda-Lewis is UConn's leading scorer, averaging 17 points per game and is 16 3-pointers away from setting the Huskies' career mark.

Stewart, last year's winner, is averaging 16.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and is one of four UConn players with at least 20 assists.

Jefferson is averaging 9.6 points and has a team-leading 33 assists.

Holmes is averaging 24.1 points per game, which ranks sixth nationally. Holmes and Washington's Kelsey Plum are the only one of the nation's top 10 scorers on the watch list.