Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

UConn's Kia Nurse to miss first stage of busy summer with Team Canada

Canada Basketball announced the 12 players who will be heading to Europe to play five international friendlies between Saturday-June 2 and notably missing from the list is UConn star Kia Nurse, who has been the team's leading scorer in every major international competition in the last couple of years.

Canada Basketball communication manager Bailey Williams said that Nurse will be taking this first stage off. Nurse did take part in the training camps used to select the 12-player team that opens the tour by playing host Spain on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The team heading to Spain and France is headlined by 2016 Olympians Miah-Marie Langlois, Katherine Plouffe and Michelle Plouffe. Current college players Shay Colley (Michigan State) and Bridget Carleton (Iowa State) and Stanford commit Alyssa Jerome are joined by Laura Dally, Saicha Grant-Allen, Ruth Hamblin, Sami Hill, Jamie Scott and Laeticia Amihere.

The team will reconvene in Edmonton next month for the second stage of training followed by a six-game tour in China. The final preparations for the FIBA Women's AmeriCup 2017 will begin on July 23 in Edmonton. Nurse is expected to be a member of that team as Canada looks to qualify for the 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

UConn's Dangerfield, Walker named to U.S. U-19 national team

UConn's Crystal Dangerfield is the fifth U.S. player named to multiple U-19 national teams and she was joined on the 12-player roster for the upcoming FIBA U19 World Cup by UConn incoming freshman Megan Walker and Class of 2018 recruiting target Christyn Williams.

Dangerfield, the only returning player from the 2015 U19 world championship team, was second on the 2015 team with 14 steals and third with 19 assists. She joins former UConn stars Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck, South Carolina's national player of the year A'ja Wilson and Alexis Jones, currently a rookie guard with the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, as the only players to be on more than one U.S. U-19 team.

Walker joins Harvard forward/center Jeannie Boehm, Texas A&M signee Chennedy Carter, South Carolina guard Tyasha Harris and Oregon forward Ruthy Hebard as members of the 2016 U-18 team to make the squad while Williams is the only player from last year's U-17 national team to be named.
Nine of the 12 players selected are going into their sophomore season of college.

Bella Alarie making the team, there will be a pair of Ivy League products on the team as the U.S. goes after a seventh straight gold medal from July 22-30 in Italy. Texas star Joyner Holmes, the United States Basketball Writers Association's national freshman of the year, Vanderbilt's Kayla Overbeck, Arizona State's Reli Richardson and Alecia Sutton, also out of Texas, were also selected to the team.

This is the sixth straight time the U.S. will compete for the U-19 world title with at least one current or future UConn player on the roster. Walker will be the 13th player with UConn ties to suit up for the U.S. U-19 team. The run began with Rebecca Lobo being a part of the 1993 team and in 2011, five of the 12 players (Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart and Tuck) would eventually become teammates at UConn. Williams would make it 14 if she picks UConn.

Williams, who is down to Baylor, Notre Dame, Tennessee, UCLA and UConn, is the only player with remaining high school eligibility to be named to the team.

UConn incoming freshman Mikayla Coombs and Class of 2018 commit Charli Collier were among the 33 players who competed for the 12 roster spots.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Dangerfield impressed with future UConn teammates at U19 trials

In several months time Crystal Dangerfield will be throwing passes to talented freshmen Mikayla Coombs and Megan Walker in practices and games at UConn. However, she doesn't need to wait that long to get used to sharing the court with her soon to be college teammates.

Dangerfield, the only player in the U.S. U-19 training camp who was a member of the team to win the  2015 FIBA U19 World Championship, has relishing the chance to develop chemistry with Coombs and Walker.

"Mikayla, she is out here playing defense, getting steals, getting her hands on the ball, knocking down 3s and playing really well," Dangerfield said. "Megan, she is doing her thing. Smooth is all I can say about her, she is hitting those shots and running the floor really well."

Two years ago Dangerfield has the chance to play with Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. All three of the future Huskies made the U19 team but Samuelson relinquished her spot to tend to some family business. Collier was the leading rebounder and No. 1 scorer on the gold-medal winning team while Dangerfield was second on the squad with 14 steals and third with 19 assists in seven games.

"It definitely helps," Dangerfield said. "Playing with Napheesa, during the year a pick and roll with her, it is (as simple as) breathing almost, it is easy. Just being able to play with both of them, they have been on my team (in 5 on 5 drills) and being able to build the chemistry before we get on the campus at the end of the month so when we get in there, we will keep building on it."

The 12-member team will be announced tomorrow. UConn Class of 2018 commit Charli Collier and Class of 2018 recruiting target Christyn Williams are also among the 33 players vying for spots on the team.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

UConn recruiting target Christyn Williams relishing challenges at U19 trials

UConn recruiting target Christyn Williams in action during U.S. U-19
trials at U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado
(photo courtesy of Jenny Johnston/USA Basketball)
It would be easy to excuse the youngest player in Colorado Springs for the U.S. U-19 national team trials to be a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all.

A total of 23 of the 33 vying to be a member of the 12-member team playing in the FIBA U19 Women's World Cup have already played a year of college ball. However, highly-touted high school senior to be Christyn Williams is no stranger at the concept of playing against older players since it is something she has done countless times in AAU ball.

"I feel like the first couple of drills, I've noticed that I can keep up with them so I can (look ahead) to my freshman year of college and how I am going to do," Williams said in a phone interview after Friday's second practice session. "I really have an advantage because I compete with some of my potential teammates or people I'll play in college. It has given me a big head's up.

"I've always played against people two or three years older than me so that is why it is so weird in AAU now because we are in the old group and I am not used to it. Everybody I am playing against is either my age or younger. It hasn't been much of a change because I have been playing up a lot."
The 5-foot-11 Williams has cut her list to a final five of Baylor, Notre Dame, Tennessee, UCLA and UConn.

Tennessee is represented at the trials by incoming freshman Evina Westbrook. UConn guard Crystal Dangerfield is in Colorado as are signees Mikayla Coombs and Megan Walker and Class of 2018 UConn commit Charli Collier.

"A lot of the girls will be there on my official visits so when I get on campus, I will know them already," Williams said. "It's been pretty cool being able to play with them to see how we play together."

I'll refrain from asking Dangerfield, Coombs and Walker to comment on Williams since it could be viewed as an NCAA violation since all are part of the UConn program and Williams is an uncommitted recruit.

Williams, the two-time Gatorade state player of the year in Arkansas, is a dynamic offensive player who averaged 26.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game as a junior at Central Arkansas Christian. There is another aspect of her multi-faceted game she is looking to show off at the trials.

"My defensive showing that I can guard off the ball and on the ball because they know that I can score from previous USA Basketball experiences," Williams said.

That scoring prowess was on display last summer as Williams was the second-leading scorer and had a team-high 10 3-pointers for the U.S. team which earned the bronze medal in the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women. She had 20 points in a hard-earned 59-55 win over Italy and 17 points in a 56-45 victory over France in the quarterfinals.

Williams figures to be busy in September and October taking her five officials visits before making her decision "before the high school season starts next year. People say that recruiting process is stressful but it's been pretty fun with me. I am just enjoying it."

I haven't seen Central Arkansas Christian's schedule for the upcoming season but the team opened the 2016-17 season on Nov. 15.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

15 Connecticut Sun games to air on CSN New England

 For the first time, 15 Connecticut Sun games will be televised on CSN New England during the 2017 season beginning with the May 26 game against the Minnesota Lynx.

Other CSN New England broadcasts include games against Washington (5/31),  Atlanta (6/10), Dallas (6/25), Indiana (7/1), Washington (7/8), San Antonio (7/16), New York (7/19), Washington (7/28), Phoenix (8/4), Atlanta (8/15) and Phoenix (8/20) while games against San Antonio on June 3, Minnesota on June 17 and New York on June 23 will air on a tape delay basis.

Since this is a UConn women's basketball blog, it bears mentioning that every team with a UConn graduate on its roster is featured in the CSN New England schedule except Seattle but the June 29 game between Seattle and Connecticut at Mohegan Sun Arena will air on ESPN2 as will the Sun's game at Minnesota on May 23.

WCCT-TV will televise three of the Sun's road games beginning with Saturday‚Äôs game against the Indiana Fever. WCCT-TV will also carry Sun games against Chicago on May 2 and Los Angeles Sparks on Sep. 3.

Bob Heussler will be the play by play announcer for the games on CSN New England and WCCT as he begins his 15th season as a voice of the Sun. He will work with either former UConn star Rebecca Lobo or Sarah Kustok, who is the sideline reporter for Brooklyn Nets games on YES.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Couple more dates in 2017-18 schedule announced

Little by little the dates of UConn's non-conference schedule are being revealed.

DePaul announced that it will host UConn on Dec. 8 while the game against Oklahoma at Mohegan Sun Arena is set for Dec. 19 and is the first in a four-year home and home series between the schools.

It was previously announced that UConn will open the season playing Ohio State on Nov. 12 at Nationwide Arena, the site of the 2018 Final Four

.UConn will have an extended road trip later in November with games at UCLA, against Michigan State at the University of Oregon on Nov. 25 and at Nevada on Nov. 28. There will also be a game in Toronto against Duquesne. Duquesne coach Dan Burt has gone on the record saying that Dec. 22 is the date of that game. Texas announced that it will host UConn on Jan. 15. That leaves the only other road game being at national champion South Carolina. If recent history counts for anything, that game could be in February.

UConn will also host California, Louisville, Maryland and Notre Dame.

Also, the American Athletic Conference portion of the schedule (at least the home and away opponents) figure to be announced after the conference's spring meetings which are schedule to end on June 1.

The AAC went from 18 to 16 conference games last season playing Central Florida and Cincinnati on the road, Houston and Memphis at home and the other six teams both home and away. The schedule grid will need to be altered with Wichita State coming into the conference and I'd be shocked if the Shockers' first season in the AAC doesn't include a home date with UConn.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

UConn signee Mikayla Coombs adds to her state title collection

UConn incoming freshman Mikayla Coombs led the Wesleyan School to the Georgia 1A Private School title and now there are a couple additional state titles in her collection.

Coombs ran the anchor leg as Wesleyan won the 4x100 relay at the Georgia 1A Private School Track and Field Championships earlier today at Berry College.

Coombs teamed with Callie Davis, Sutton West and Meagan Lynch to finish in a time of 48.54 to win by 1.1 seconds over Eagle's Landing Christian Academy.

Coombs then ran the leadoff leg as Wesleyan won the 4x400 relay team which won the state title in a time of 4:00.65.

Coombs was named Miss Georgia Basketball, Gatorade state player of the year and the Georgia Coaches Association co-Class 1A North Player of the Year after averaging 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 4.2 steals per game to lead Wesleyan to its 12th state title since 2002.

Looking at WNBA rosters

The WNBA season kicks off this afternoon and there are 27 players listed as rookies on the WNBA rosters.

The rookie class includes 20 players taken in this year's WNBA Draft. Eleven of the 12 first-round picks made the roster. No. 2 overall pick Alaina Coates, taken by Chicago, is still recovering from injury. Five players taken in the second round and four others going in round No. 3 made the cut which is a pretty impressive number considering that this was supposed to be a draft lacking in quality players. Two other former third-round picks made the cut (Stephanie Talbot, selected in 2014 by Phoenix and Temi Fagbenle, Minnesota's third-round selection).

The only undrafted player whose collegiate career ended this year is Sophie Brunner out of Arizona State. Phoenix's rookie class is an intriguing one since no first or second round pick are among the newcomers. Third-round pick Alexis Prince is joined by Talbot, Yvonne Turner (who was in training camp with Chicago in 2014) and Emma Cannon, who is six years removed from the end of her collegiate playing days. Dallas also has five rookies on its roster as first-round selections Evelyn Akhator, Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis, second rounder Breanna Lewis and third-round pick Saniya Chong out of UConn.

Here are some notes from the rosters
Chicago has 14 players on its roster as cuts will need to be made when Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot report after wrapping up their overseas obligations

San Antonio is at 13 players for the same reason as Kayla McBride is still overseas

Minnesota has 11 players which is a result of the contracts required for the star-studded roster

UConn leads all colleges with 14 alums on opening day rosters followed by Duke, Maryland and Rutgers with eight each. The 14 players is one shy of the record set by UConn a season ago. Tennessee also had 14 of its former players on WNBA rosters in 2008.

The most players from one college on a WNBA team this season is 3. New York (Tina Charles, Bria Hartley and Kiah Stokes) and Seattle (Sue Bird, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart) feature three UConn grads. Six of the eight Maryland alums play for Connecticut (Brionna Jones, Lynetta Kizer and Alyssa Thomas) and Washington (Tianna Hawkins, Kristi Toliver and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough

Indiana, Los Angeles and Washington are the only teams with no UConn players. This is the first time in Mike Thibault's 15 seasons as a WNBA coach that he doesn't have a UConn product on his roster.

Shayla Cooper of the Chicago Sky is the only player to make a roster who was taken by a different team in the 2017 WNBA Draft as she was selected 13th overall by Connecticut

Makayla Epps of the Chicago Sky, taken 33rd overall, has the distinction of being the last of the 2017 draft picks to make the cut. Chong (picked 26th), Prince (No. 29) and Lanay Montgomery (No. 30) are the other third rounder to make rosters.