Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

UConn's Nurse up for Golden Horseshoe Award

UConn freshman guard Kia Nurse is a finalist for the Golden Horseshoe Award, given to the top amateur or professional athlete from the towns of Hamilton or Burlington, Ontario.

Nurse was a starter on the Canadian national team which posted a surprising fifth-place finish at the FIBA World Championship for Women. Nurse, the youngest player on the Canadian team, finished as the team's fourth-leading scorer with an average of 6.9 points per game and was tied for second with seven steals in seven games. She has started the last 18 games as a freshman at UConn, is fourth on the team averaging 11.9 points per game and is third on the team with 64 assists and 37 steals.

Lacrosse standout Joey Cupido. Laura Fortino, who is a star on the Canadian women's hockey national team and Eleanor Harvey, the top-ranked junior fencer in the world, are the other candidates for the award which will be announced on Feb. 26.

Nurse was also a finalist a year ago but golfer MacKenzie Hughes won the award.

UConn's Jefferson downplays back issues

It is not unusual to see Moriah Jefferson tumble to the court after an aggressive drive to the basket as she did midway through the first half in last night's win over East Carolina.

It was, however, a bit out of the ordinary to see the junior point guard remain on the floor resting up against the padded basketball support while the opposing team raced up the court.

When East Carolina took advantage of Jefferson's absence to score one of its eight first-half baskets. When the fans realized that Jefferson hadn't moved even after the Pirates' fast-break layup, Gampel Pavilion got rather quiet.

Teammate Breanna Stewart made her way down to check on her teammate and when something Jefferson said made Stewart chuckle, there was a sense of this being a false alarm. Jefferson slowly made her way off the court, received some treatment and then took a seat next to associate head coach Chris Dailey which signaled that she was ready to go back into the game. However, before that happened, she headed past the bench and did some stretches with a student trainer to loosen up her back a little bit. Following the game Jefferson downplayed the incident.

"I've had a little bit of a back issue and I just kind of ran into (the basketball support) and irritated it but I am fine," Jefferson said. "I don't even remember what we were talking about (when Stewart started to laugh) but I will be all right."

Obviously an injury to a player like Jefferson would change the fortunes of this UConn team so UConn coach Geno Auriemma must have been a little antsy when he first saw Jefferson staying on the court but not long after he felt confident that it was little more than a false alarm.

"Moriah falls down all the time so I didn't put a lot into that." Auriemma said. "There was no sense of urgency because there was nothing that came from her that indicated that there was going to be a major problem. When she said she got a cramp I wasn't surprised and when she said that she wanted to go back in, I wasn't surprised so fortunately it wasn't anything serious."

Jefferson played 19 minutes, the fewest among the starters, and finished with 11 points, four assists and three steals.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stokes has three times the fun in UConn blowout win

Somehow it seemed rather fitting that the only thing standing between Kiah Stokes and becoming the fourth UConn women's player to record a triple-double was a couple of points.

Ripping rebounds and swatting away shots has been something that the senior from Marion, Iowa has been able to do with some amount of regularity since arriving in Storrs. However, she came into Wednesday's game against East Carolina with just 12 double-digit scoring games in 125 appearances as a Husky.

Stokes hit the double-digit mark in blocked shots and rebounds in the same sequence as she deflected a layup attempt by I'Tiana Taylor with 1:47 left to play and two seconds later was credited with her 10th rebound. With 1:05 left to play Stokes missed a layup and then with 33 seconds remaining she scored in the lane off an assist from Briana Pulido. Stokes added a rebound in the closing seconds to finish with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in the 87-32 victory.

Stokes has never been one driven by individual accolades but she was being reminded first by Kevin DeMille, UConn's Assistant Director of Women's Basketball Administration, and then by assistant coach Marisa Moseley that she was closing in on history.

First, it was DeMille  who informed that the senior forward/center had seven blocks for the sixth time this season and maybe it was time to swat away a few additional shots. Then late in the game Moseley, who works with the post players, implored Stokes to get the additional basket, rebound and blocked shot to record her first collegiate triple-double while setting a single-game program record with the 10 blocked shots.
"There was like two minutes left and 'Ris (assistant coach Marisa Moseley) was like 'one more block, one more rebound,'" Stokes said. "I was like 'what?' She said 'get a rebound and a block and you have a triple-double.' That was what I tried to do.
"I don't think about it but noticing I get a few (blocks), I said maybe I could get a few more and that is the way I approach it. I know I can block shots, it is one thing I know I can do and to get a triple-double with blocks, I think that is pretty awesome. Words can't really describe it but it is a great feeling and knowing that my teammates had my back and were encouraging me, that is something that is special to me where a lot of teammates might be 'oh, now she is going to get all of the attention' but my teammates were real important and that is the best part about it."
Stokes was there when teammates Stefanie Dolson and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis joined Laura Lishness as the only Huskies with triple-doubles. Dolson's triple-double particularly inspired her since she worked alongside of Dolson in so many drills in practice and so many game situations in their three seasons at teammates.
"Stef got it with assists and I remember talking to her after and said 'I am going to get mine but with blocks instead,'" Stokes said. "I was just fooling around but now that is really happened, I think it is really awesome. I am excited and I am glad this is happening in January and now we are going to get the ball rolling for February and into March."
The 10 blocked shots moved Stokes into a tie for eighth on UConn's single-season charts and leaves her 39 shy of setting a single-season UConn record which has stood since 1994.
"Kiah is just is in a defensive mindset right now that I think very few players can get to that comfort level," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "They know they can impact any shot they want to impact. I have seen people do that in the past, I don't know if I have seen anybody do that as often as Kiah has done it."

There was a scary moment as UConn junior point guard Moriah Jefferson stayed down under the basket with 11:25 left in the first half. Jefferson received some treatment but was able to return to the game with 9:03 left in the opening half. Jefferson didn't hold back when she was back into the game. Jefferson finished with 11 points for UConn.

Jefferson admitted that her back has bothered her from time to time this season but it is not anything she is too concerned about. She received some treatment and after stretching out her back, she was ready to get back out there.


3 UConn signees to play in McDonald's All-Americans

You can add the names of De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson to the list of McDonald's All-Americans with ties to UConn.

The three UConn signees were selected to play in the April 1 game at the United Center in Chicago.

Boykin is averaging 21.5 points as a senior at Flowers High School in Springdale, Maryland although she has missed the last seven games with a hand injury.
Collier is averaging 28.9 points (shooting 68 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line), 13.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.3 steals and 4.3 blocks per game as Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis has won 13 games in a row after a 1-2 start.
Samuelson is averaging 28.9 points per game with 10 30-point efforts in 20 games for Mater Dei HS in Santa Ana, California, the No. 1 team in ESPN's national high school poll and No. 2 in the USA Today national poll. Samuelson had a season-low seven points in Mater Dei's win over Orange Lutheran on Monday and missed last night's game due to a knee injury although the injury is not supposed to be serious and the hope is she can return to the court later this week.

Also, Meriden native Kiah Gillespie, who plays for Capital Prep, was also selected to play in the game. Gillespie, who signed with Maryland, is averaging 29.2 points, 15.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.7 blocks per game for 11-1 Capital Prep.

Boykin and Gillespie will be members of the East team while Collier and Samuelson will be teammates on the West squad.

Former UConn guard Montgomery headed to Seattle

The overhauling of the Connecticut Sun roster continued in a major way with former UConn guard Renee Montgomery was sent to Seattle along with the No. 3 and 15 picks in the upcoming draft to the Seattle Storm for veteran forward Camille Little and guard Shekinna Stricklen, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

"This is a significant move for both teams,” Connecticut Sun General Manager Chris Sienko said in a statement. “Based on our immediate needs, Camille and Shekinna help fill specific roles now and in the future. Of course, to get value, you have to trade value. We wish Renee much success in the future."

Little, a 6-foot-2 former North Carolina standout, averaged a career-high 12.9 points per game last season. Little has been a double-digit scorer in five of the last six seasons and will add experience to a frontcourt hurt by the loss of reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Chiney Ogwumike for much if not all of the upcoming season after she underwent knee surgery earlier this month.

"Camille is a player we’ve had eyes on for quite a while,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said in the release announcing the trade. “She has championship experience that will be extremely valuable as we continue to develop our young talent. She is a premier small forward in the WNBA and a stretch four we are excited to acquire.”

Stricklen is a 6-foot-2 guard/forward out of Tennessee who has averaged 8.4 points in three seasons with the Storm, and scored a career-high 10 points per game in 2013. She has 138 career threes, and has shot 34.8 percent from behind the arc in the WNBA.

“We are super excited to get another young talent like Shekinna,” Donovan said. “She has proven to be a consistent threat from the three point line. Her length, athleticism and experience are a needed addition to our perimeter.”

Montgomery, acquired in the trade that sent Lindsay Whalen to Minnesota and gave the Sun the No. 1 pick used to select former UConn star Tina Charles, played five seasons in Connecticut, averaging 11.4 points per game. She stands fifth all-time in team history with 245 made threes, and her 543 assists with the Sun rank third.

With Montgomery's departure, the Sun is left with Kelly Faris as the lone UConn product on its current roster. Coming off a season when she averaged 7.7 minutes and 1.1 points per game, Faris is not guaranteed to make the 2015 roster. If that is the case and no UConn product is taken in the draft, the Sun could be without a former UConn player for the first time in franchise history.

The Sun still has the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

UConn commit Dangerfield's next game is being streamed live

Friday's Blackman/Riverdale game featuring UConn commit Crystal Dangerfield will be streamed live.

Dangerfield is averaging 16 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.8 steals per game for Blackman, which is 20-2 and winners of 10 games in a row. When the teams played on Jan. 9 Blackman only led by three points heading into the fourth quarter before emerging with a 56-48 victory. Riverdale is led by top sophomore Anastasia Hayes.

The Blackman/Riverdale game is set to start at 6 p.m. (7 p.m. here in Connecticut).

Former UConn star Tina Charles' Hopey's Heart Foundation, which provides funds for defibrillators to be placed in schools and gyms, is not limited to the United States. With Charles spending her winters playing in Europe, it is only natural that the next step in the foundation is to provide defibrillators in Europe as well.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

All 3 UConn signees on Naismith player of year midseason list

UConn incoming freshmen De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson were among the 15 players on the Naismith Girls High School National Player of Year midseason list.

The semifinals for the award will be announced on Feb. 3, the finalists will be named on Feb. 17 with the winner being announced on March 6.

More honors could be coming as the 24 players playing in the McDonald's All-American Game will be announced tomorrow at 6 p.m. live on ESPNU.

Boykin is averaging 21.5 points as a senior at Flowers High School in Springdale, Maryland although she has missed the last seven games with a hand injury.

Collier is averaging 28.9 points (shooting 68 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line), 13.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.3 steals and 4.3 blocks per game as Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis has won 13 games in a row after a 1-2 start.

Samuelson is averaging 28.9 points per game with 10 30-point efforts in 20 games for Mater Dei HS in Santa Ana, California, the No. 1 team in ESPN's national high school poll and No. 2 in the USA Today national poll. Samuelson had a season-low seven points in Mater Dei's win over Orange Lutheran on Monday. According to a report in the Orange County Register, Samuelson is  expected to miss tonight's game due to a left knee injury suffered in the first quarter of Monday's game. Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan told the OC Register that he believes the injury is a hyperextension instead of a more serious injury and there's a chance she could return to the court later this week.

Six winners of the award would play at UConn - Tamika Williams, Diana Taurasi, Ann Strother, two-time winner Maya Moore, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart.

UConn announced that the Feb. 9 game against No. 1 South Carolina is sold out. The game will be played at Gampel Paviluon (which opened to the public 25 years ago today) at 8 p.m.

Also, around 500 tickets remain for the Feb. 28 game against Memphis which will include a ceremony honoring seniors Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes as part of the Senior Night festivities.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Some thoughts on UConn's strength of schedule

I don't recall a season when UConn's strength of schedule getting as much attention as this year. I've certainly been among those pointing out what life has been like without teams like Notre Dame and Louisville in the same conference.

My curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to see how UConn's resume stacks up as most teams approach the 20-game point in the season.

Using the Real Time RPI site, I found that UConn has a many top 25 wins as any other team and among 10 teams with the top RPIs, UConn ranks fourth in wins against the top 50 and top 100 in the RPI. I found it interesting that South Carolina doesn't appear to receive anywhere near the same amount of criticism about its schedule yet UConn leads the Gamecocks 4-1 in top 25 wins, 5-3 in top 50 victories and 10-6 in top 100 wins.

Here's the breakdown with the top 10 teams in the RPI. I included No. 11 Oregon State because the site did not include yesterday's games in its most recent report and I anticipate Oregon State moved into the top 10 after the win over Arizona State.

                               Top 25 Top 50 Top 1001 Notre Dame          4-1       8-1       14-2
2 Baylor                   1-1      4-1        11-1
3 Arizona State        1-2      6-2          9-2
4 Tennessee             2-2       5-3       10-3
5 Maryland              3-1       7-1       11-2
6 UConn                  4-0       5-1       10-17 Kentucky             4-2        4-3         6-4
8 South Carolina     1-0       3-0         6-0
9 Texas                    2-2       3-4         7-4
10 N. Carolina         0-3       1-4         9-4
11. Oregon State     3-1        6-1        7-1

It should be noted that these numbers will change in a negative way for the Huskies who will only play five teams in the top 100 during the remainder of the regular season which is the lowest of the teams listed above. Baylor, Kentucky and Texas will not face a team with an RPI outside the top 100 for the rest of the regular season.

With tomorrow expecting to be a nightmarish day to travel, I reached out to East Carolina women's basketball sports information contact Adam Miller to see what the plans were for the Pirates to get here for Wednesday's game. He said that the team's charter is set to leave later this afternoon so there shouldn't be any issues with the team unable to make it to the XL Center for Wednesday's contest.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

UConn commits shine in Kentucky tournament

With Geno Auriemma among those in attendance, a pair of future Huskies led their teams to victories in the Raatz Fence/O'Shea's B-ball Classic.

Senior forward Napheesa Collier was up first as she led Incarnate Word Academy out of St. Louis to a 66-47 win over Mercy Academy in Louisville. Collier, despite picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter, had 29 points as she went 13 of 16 from the field.

Then it was time for junior guard Crystal Dangerfield to lead her Blackman High out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee to a 47-39 win over Rogers High out of Toledo, Ohio. Dangerfield finished with 21 points, her sixth 20-point game of the season.

The Kentucky Sports Broadcasting Network streamed the games so you can take a look at Collier and Dangerfield in action.

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UConn's Stokes swatting away shots at record pace

In her first three seasons at UConn the only time that consistency was used when describing Kiah Stokes usually came in a quote from Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma bemoaning the lack of consistent production from the talented forward/center.

However, in at least one area of her game, Stokes is in the midst of one of the most consistent seasons any UConn player has ever enjoyed.

Over the last five games Stokes' blocked shot totals are 7, 6, 7, 7 and 7. The single-game blocked shot totals in the UConn record book stop at 8 so I did some research to find the last time a Husky had at least six blocks in five straight games and found it has happened exactly once by Kiah Stokes.
So where does Stokes' shot-blocking prowess come from?

"I remember my freshman year Marissa (Moseley, UConn's assistant coach who works with the post players) would make up drills to block shots so maybe that has something to do with it but I played volleyball so that has something to do with it, that is my only answer," Stokes said.

During this recent stretch Stokes has blocked some shots with both hands and that is not a coincidence.

"Marissa said a lot of my fouls, I will block the ball up here but my other hand will be on their body so she keeps reminding me to have both hands up and don't push them with our body because they are going to call fouls if you have one hand on them," Stokes said.

Stokes has 80 blocked shots in the first 18 games of the season, one shy of her career high set a season ago and it is the ninth best total in UConn history. With as many as 21 games remaining, Stokes is on pace to shatter the single-season program record of 131 blocks set by Rebecca Lobo during the 1993-94 season. If she were to keep up her current pace and play the maximum of 39 games (if UConn reaches the American Athletic Conference and Division I title games) she would finish with 173 blocked shots which would be the fourth best title in NCAA Division I history trailing only the 223 and 206 recorded by Baylor's Brittney Griner during her freshman and junior seasons and the 195 blocked by Louella Tomlinson of St' Mary's during the 2009-10 season.

As much as Stokes loves blocking shots, you rarely see exuberant reactions from her after she swats away a shot.

"I may not be the most emotional person on the court but it is something I love to do, I love to get all hyped up," Stokes said. "I was taught as a kid to keep a cool head and not get too emotional so that is the one thing that is hard for me it to show excited emotion so I am good as hiding it if I am mad or frustrated but positive emotions, I don't really express  my feelings but I am excited and it is the one thing I know I can do well and I am excited to do it." 

Ironically, the one person who would like to see the blocked shot numbers go down is Auriemma.

"I think the fact why Kiah has so many blocked shtos is that our guards are just so bad at keeping the ball in front of them and it is providing those guys a lot of opportunities," Auriemma said. "I wish they didn't have as many blocked shots because that means there would be less people in there."

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Friday, January 23, 2015

UConn being put to the test - on the practice court

Some of the UConn women's basketball team's recent games, especially the ones played in the state of Connecticut, have not exactly been of the nail-biting variety.

In the seven games played at Gampel Pavilion, the XL Center, Mohegan Sun Arena or Webster Bank Arena, UConn's average margin of victory has been a shade under 38 points per game.

However, it would not unfair to say the Huskies have not been tested since the November 17 loss to Stanford. Whenever the team met for practice, UConn coach Geno Auriemma and his staff has attempted to put them in positions where failure is an option. In recent weeks that has been easier said than done since most of the male practice players live too far away during the break between the fall and spring semesters. However, with the classes in the spring semester starting on Tuesday, the male practice players were back and put to good use.

There was one spirited portion of practice when the game was tied at 49 and UConn had the final possession. Moriah Jefferson had the ball and was about to run a play - presumably for Breanna Stewart - when practice player Collins Nwafor reached in, poked the ball away from Jefferson and raced down the other end of the court for the go-ahead layup with about 2 seconds left. Kia Nurse's desperation heave from about 30-35 feet actually caught iron before bouncing away harmlessly.

"Coming out and playing against these guys, they are bigger than us, faster than us and it makes you have to play smart basketball," Jefferson said. "As you saw, any mistake you make they are going to steal it and it is going to be a turnover.

"I had a play in my head and it didn't work out so I try to run another play, he came out and stripped the ball right out of my hands. It hurt but you have to keep moving on."

In the next period, the final one in the practice, the UConn team fought back the best way they know how but making shots. It ended with Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis draining a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer.

"I think we do need those situations," Stewart said. "Those practice players they are the best people we are going to see all season and they make it really competitive for us. You want to play those kinds of games, those are the types of things you want to do in practice. You want to win so when you lose, you want to keep playing. We won that last (period) but we were down by so much that we couldn't come back. A competitive game in practice, it kind of keeps your head level."

Assistant coach Shea Ralph, who spent a good part of practice coaching up the practice players, knows that the lessons learned from a spirited practice like the one on Friday could be invaluable for the team at some point this season.
"I know our staff feels like it is our job to prepare them for what they are going to see not only on a day to day basis but in our conference," Ralph said. "We need to win every game in our conference and that is important to us. We also understand we are going to face some teams that are going to challenge us so it is our job to make sure they are prepared for that."

When the media was able to check out practice UConn had its three freshmen (Kia Nurse, Courtney Ekmark and Gabby Williams) playing alongside sophomore Saniya Chong and Stewart. There were some rough patches as some of the team's most experienced players were on the sidelines and that is the point. UConn coach Geno Auriemma is known for putting his players in the most difficult scenarios during practice and the more lopsided the final margins are in actual games, the more challenging he tries to make practice. That was most certainly the case on Friday.
"They want to compete, they want to challenge themselves so we want to do that as much as we can, we try to put them out there and when they are playing our practice players they can do everything exactly right and still get their butts beat and I think that is good for them," Auriemma said. "It forces them to do things that ordinarily they wouldn't have to do.

"The practice level is obviously much different (with the practice players), we play more 5 on 5 when they get here, more core stuff when they get here and I look forward to this time of the year when the practice players are back," Auriemma said.

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UConn's Stokes a candidate for Senior CLASS Award

UConn senior forward/center Kiah Stokes, who has blocked more shots over the last four games than any other Husky over a span of four games, is a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award.

Stokes, who had a 4.0 grade-point average during the recently-completed fall semester, is one of 30 candidates for the award which honors achievement both on the court and in the classroom.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Connecticut Sun's Ogwumike undergoes knee surgery

Connecticut Sun forward and reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Chiney Ogwumike underwent microfracture knee surgery today. She is expected to have a full recovery after an extended rehabilitation period of approximately six months according to a release put out by the Sun today.

"This is new territory for my family and I, but I am not one to shy away from challenges," Ogwumike said in a statement. "I have met every life challenge with an optimistic point of view, therefore this is an obstacle I know I will overcome. I have the best support system, both personally and professionally, so I know I will emerge from this experience a more confident and determined

Ogwumike led the Sun in scoring (15.5 points per game) and rebounding (8.5) after being taken with the first overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft. The Sun already figured to take a post player with either the third or fourth pick in the upcoming draft and the probability of that happening figures to have increased with Ogwumike being sidelined.

The Sun vowed to place more of a premium of making sure Ogwumike, the cornerstone of the new-look squad, is 100 percent healthy rather than rush her back onto the court.

"At the moment, Chiney’s health is our only concern," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "I know the decision to have this procedure was not an easy one, but it needed to be done. We know with complete certainty that Chiney will work hard to get back into top form."

UConn still keeping tabs on intriguing prospect

Most of the high school players that Geno Auriemma hits the road to see are prolific scorers and players who fill up the score sheet.

However, before he headed down to Orlando with his team for last night's game against Central Florida, he was back in the Philadelphia area where he grew up. However, this was a business trip as he went to check out 6-foot-9 Nigerian native Felicia Aiyeotan up close in person, a player with just two double-digit scoring games during her junior season. Even with a 26-point effort in Neumann-Goretti's win over Hallahan last month, Aiyeotan is averaging less than seven points per game by my count.

When Neumann-Goretti defeated Archbishop Wood 52-43 on Monday with Auriemma in the stands, Aiyeotan finished with five points. Unofficially the junior has 71 points in 16 games although I am missing three box scores. Still, Auriemma and Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw have been in to see Aiyeotan play, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley is supposed to take a look at a Neumann-Goretti game next week.

Aiyeotan, who has games with five and six blocked shots this season, sees limited time on a star-studded 16-0 Neumann-Goretti team. During the summer the major programs began to take more of an interest in Aiyeotan as she made remarkable strides playing with the Philadelphia Belles AAU program. She will play for them again this summer, teaming up with UConn commit Andra Espinoza-Hunter.

Aiyeotan is certainly a project but it is hard to find 6-foot-9 players so this is a player I would expect to UConn staff to keep an eye on in the future.

SNY just sent out an email promoting Swin Cash's appearance on the next installment of "Geno's Legacy" which will air on Wednesday at 10 p.m. during a four-hour block of UConn women's basketball coverage.

The programming will begin with the pre-game coverage, then SNY will air the home game against East Carolina followed by a post-game show. The Geno Auriemma Show will follow from 9:30-10 p.m. followed by Geno's Legacy.

Here is how SNY is promoting the appearance by Cash, a key member of the 2000 and 2002 national championship team.

The Hall of Fame coach and the two-time National Champion discuss the highs and lows of her four years at Connecticut, which includes her time playing with what many consider the greatest UConn’s women’s team ever, as well as her experience playing for him in the Olympics’ and the challenge of overcoming a cancer scare a few years back.