Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

UConn's future and past on display

UConn commit Kelly Faris had 8 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block as the United States finished undefeated in the FIBA U18 Championship for Women tournament with an 81-37 win over host Argentina Sunday in Buenos Aires.

Faris averaged 4.6 points, 4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals in the five games as the U.S. extended its winning streak in the Under-19 Championship for Women qualifier to 19 games.

Stanford incoming freshman Nneka Ogwumike had 20 points and set a U.S. Under-18 tournament single-game record with 15 rebounds as the U.S. won the gold medal for the fifth time in the event's seven-year history. Kelsey Bone (12 points, nine rebounds) and Skylar Diggins (11 points, four assists, two steals), two of the top targets on UConn's recruiting radar, also scored in double figures for the U.S. The United States qualified for next year's U-19 event along with Canada, Brazil and Argentina.

Diggins averaged 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2 steals a game while Bone averaged 10.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1 block per contest. Ogwumike led the U.S. in scoring (12.6) and rebounding (8).

Faris is the eighth UConn recruit to play for the U.S. in the event since 1992. Rebecca Lobo was a member of the silver-medal winning 1992 team, Stacy Hansmeyer was on the 1996 squad which finished second. Diana Taurasi and Ashley Battle helped the U.S. squad, which was coached by Geno Auriemma, to the gold medal in 2000, Charde Houston was a member of the 2004 championship squad while Tina Charles and Maya Moore helped the U.S. win the gold medal in 2006.

"Winning a gold medal kind of makes you speechless," Faris said. "Not only did we win the gold medal for us, but every person who saw us wanted us to win it for them too. It's an accomplishment that a lot of people don't have a chance to experience, and it feels good."

While a future Husky was helping the U.S. to a perfect record, it was a busy day in the WNBA for ex-UConn stars as every UConn product in the league was in action on Sunday.

Asjha Jones led the way with 27 points in Connecticut's 82-60 win at Washington. Former Huskies Barbara Turner (five points, three rebounds), Tamika Raymond (three points, five rebounds) and Ketia Swanier (three points, three rebounds, three assists) helped Connecticut head into the month-long Olympic break on a three-game winning streak. With Detroit's loss to San Antonio, the Sun went into the break in first place in the Eastern Conference.

Ashley Battle had five points, two rebounds and two steals in New York's 86-76 win over Atlanta. Ann Strother had five points, one rebound and one block for Atlanta.

Kelly Schumacher, recently signed by Detroit following the season-ending knee injury to Cheryl Ford, had four points, four rebounds and two assists in her debut with the Shock. However, it wasn't enough as Detroit lost to San Antonio 76-64. In Los Angeles' 92-84 overtime win at Minnesota, Jessica Moore had seven points for Los Angeles while Charde Houston had 15 points for Minnesota.

Diana Taurasi had 25 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals but Phoenix fell to Indiana 88-84 in what could be a costly loss as the defending WNBA champions will head into the Olympic break three games behind fourth-place Los Angeles for the final Western Conference playoff spot with just seven games remaining.

Sue Bird, who along with Taurasi will be a member of the U.S. Olympic team, had 24 points and three assits while Swin Cash had 13 points, five rebounds and three assists in a 77-71 win over Sacramento.

Twelve of the league's 14 teams were on the court on the final day before the Olympic break. It was the first time all season that every team with a Connecticut product was in action on the same day.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Schumacher signed by Shock

Former UConn center Kelly Schumacher has been signed by the Detroit Shock.

Schumacher will replace All-Star Cheryl Ford, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Tuesday.

Schumacher, who played 34 games for the 2007 WNBA champion Phoenix, has also played for Indiana and New York in seven seasons in the WNBA.

Schumacher, a member of UConn's 2000 national championship team, was taken in the first round of the 2001 WNBA draft by Indiana. Schumacher is averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 214 career games.

In other news, UConn commit Kelly Faris had five points, three rebounds and two assists as the U.S. improved to 4-0 with a 96-51 win over Brazil Satrurday in the FIBA U18 Championship for Women in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The victory clinched the gold medal for the U.S. Canada could match the U.S. with a win on Sunday against Venezuela and a U.S. loss to Argentina but the United States would win the gold medal based on the win over Canada on Thursday.

Kelsey Bone (8 points, 6 rebounds) and Skylar Diggins (13 points, six rebounds, three assists), UConn's leading recruiting targets, also had strong games while Stanford signees Nneka Ogwumike and Sarah Boothe added 13 and 12 points respectively.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Faris, U.S. roll on

Kelly Faris, the first player in the Class of 2009 to commit to UConn, continued to impress at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women.

Faris had six points (despite taking just three shots), six rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block as the U.S. improved to 3-0 with a 116-36 win over Puerto Rico in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ashley Corral led six U.S. players in double figures with 16 points. Skylar Diggins and Kelsey Bone, both high on UConn's recruiting radar, finished with 12 and eight points respectively.

The U.S., the only undefeated team remaining in the six-team tournament, has already clinched a spot in next summer's FIBA U19 Championship for Women.

In significantly sadder news, I heard today that Hal Levy passed away on Thursday after a gallant fight against liver cancer. Hal was the long-time executive sports editor of the Shore Line Times and a true legend in Connecticut journalism circles. Hal was a regular at UConn basketball games. More than 300 people showed up in Cromwell recently for a testimonial in Hal's honor and I can only imagine how many people will be lining up at his wake and funeral.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Olympians to sit

In an ironic twist, the Connecticut Sun will be hosting an Olympic sendoff ceremony for its head coach Mike Thibault, an assistant coach on the U.S. women's basketball team, on a night where three members of the U.S. Olympic team will serve one-game suspensions.

Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker and Delisha Milton-Jones, all part of the 12-member U.S squad, of the visiting Los Angeles Sparks will be suspended for tonight's game at Mohegan Sun Arena as a result of their actions in a melee in the closing seconds of Tuesday's Los Angeles/Detroit game.

Shannon Bobbitt and Muriel Page of the Sparks have been suspended for two games. Bobbitt will begin serving her suspension tonight while Page will be in uniform tonight and start her suspension on Sunday.

Plenette Pierson was given a four-game suspension for Detroit while assistant coach Rick Mahorn was suspended for two games. Kara Braxton, Sherri Sam, Tasha Humphrey and Elaine Powell were given one-game suspensions. Since teams are mandated to have at least eight players available to play, Sam will serve her suspension on July 27 and Powell, currently on the injured list, will sit out a game once she is cleared to play.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Faris, U.S. win opener

UConn recruit Kelly Faris had four points, three rebounds, six assists and two steals as the United States opened play in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women Wednesday in Buenos Aires, Argentina with a 112-49 win over Venezuela.

Kelsey Bone and Skylar Diggins, both on the short list of players on UConn's recruiting radar, added 13 and 11 points respectively. Lynetta Kizer matched Bone with a team-high 13 points while Nneka Ogwumike and Alyssia Brewer added 12 points apiece.

The U.S. will be back in action Thursday against Canada. The top four finishers in the six-team tournament qualify for the 2009 FIBA U19 Championship for Women.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sparks fly

Renee Brown and Donna Orender will earn their money in the next day or so.

The last thing the WNBA big wigs like Orender and Brown want is a scene like the one that played out on national television at the end of Tuesday's Los Angeles/Detroit game.

In case you missed it, LA's prized rookie Candace Parker got her feathers ruffled after she was roughed up a bit after grabbing a defensive rebound late in her team's win over the Eastern Conference leading Shock. If not for teammate Lisa Leslie stepping in and getting Parker to chill out, things could have gotten ugly. Unfortunately for Parker, Leslie was not able to help her out when Parker got tangled with Detroit's Plenette Pierson later in the game. Pierson locked onto Parker on a box out and wouldn't let go as Parker attempted to run down the floor so Parker threw Pierson to the ground. As Parker made her way down the court, Pierson began to get up and collided with Parker. What followed was not pretty. From Parker and Pierson needing to be separated by teammates, Detroit's Cheryl Ford appearing to reinjure her knee while attempting to restrain Pierson, Hartford native and Detroit assistant coach Rick Mahorn pushing Leslie to the floor and Delisha Milton-Jones responding with a punch to the back of Mahorn's head.

Tomorrow Brown and Orender figure to be breaking down the tape and levying penalties on the guilty parties. With Los Angeles' next game at Connecticut on Thursday, it will be interesting to see just who will be suiting up for the Sparks. Something tells me that Parker's first game in the state of the Connecticut since leading Tennessee to a 70-64 win over UConn at the Hartford Civic Center on Jan. 6, 2007 will be spent in street clothes as she begins to serve a suspension. Then again, with the way the league has marketed Parker and made it seem like the league wasn't born until Parker entered the WNBA, it is possible that Orender gives a Parker one of her "boy, I really wish you wouldn't do that" talks she gave technical foul happy ex-UConn star Diana Taurasi earlier this season after a game at Mohegan Sun Arena to let Parker off with just a "stern" lecture.

Regardless of the penalty Parker receives, don't be surprised to see a less than cordial response from the Connecticut Sun faithful Thursday night for the ex-Tennessee star.

A side note, my sister who lives in Michigan was in attendance at the game. She has pretty good seats and probably had a great view of the whole mess. I e-mailed her shortly after the game was over and am curious to see what her first-hand take on that fiasco was.

As pathetic a scene as the melee was, it was not the saddest turn of events I heard about today. This morning I received word that former UConn women's basketball beat writers Bruce Berlet, Jeff Goldberg and Dave Heuschkel were caught up in the bean counter's plan to shrink the newsroom personnel at the Hartford Courant. Berlet and Goldberg opted to accept buyouts while Heuschkel was laid off. A total of nine people either were bought out or laid off by the Courant. Among the others let go was my former boss Paul Rosano and the commissioner of the only fantasy baseball league I ever belonged to. A former sports editor at the Register, Paul had the unenviable and some may say impossible task of replacing the late Bo Kolinsky as the Courant's high school editor.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A few thoughts

UConn commit Kelly Faris and the United States Under-18 national team will open play in the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women Wednesday against Venezuela. The top four finishers in the six-team tournament will qualify for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women. Kelsey Bone and Skylar Diggins, two of the top targets on UConn's recruiting radar, are also a member of the U.S. squad.

Hopefully the games are more competitive than the CONACACAF Under-17 Women's Championship. The U.S. won the first two games in the qualifier for the inaugural Under-17 World Cup girls' soccer event by 6-0 and 9-0 scores over Costa Rica and El Salvador. While there are no Connecticut players on the U.S. soccer, stars from neighboring states have been impressive. The Mewis sisters - Samantha and Kristen - from Hanson, Mass. combined for the first U.S. goal in the third minute against Costa Rica. Samantha Mewis had two goals, Kristen Mewis had an assist and Victoria DiMartino of Massapequa, N.Y. had a goal in a 6-0 win Friday. In Sunday's 9-0 win over El Salvador Rachel Nuzzolese of Melville, N.Y. had three goals while Crystal Dunn of Rockville center anchored a defense which held El Salvador without a shot.

The U.S. already wrapped up a spot in the semifinals and can clinch the Pool A title with a win Tuesday against host Trinidad & Tobago. If the U.S. wins its semifinal, it will qualify for the Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand from Oct. 28-Nov. 16. If the U.S. loses, it would need to win the third-place game to earn a spot.

Closer to home, there are two pretty noteworthy female sporting events in Connecticut this week (not including Thursday's game between the Connecticut Sun and the one-person walking marketing blitz better known as rookie Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks). On Sunday a sellout crowd of 3,300 saw Jennie Finch and the U.S. Olympic softball team beat the Stratford Brakettes 9-0 at DeLuca Field. I have been going to Brakette games at DeLuca Field dating back to 1991 and the third-inning home run hit by Jessica Mendoza rivaled a couple hit by Sheila (Cornell) Douty during her playing days with the Brakettes. It should be noted that the local fans did not boo former Tennessee star Monica Abbott so I guess you can consider that progress. Nobody got a bigger hand than Finch which is hardly a surprise. Among the crowd was Jamie Carey of the Connecticut Sun who made the drive to Stratford shortly after her two clutch 3-pointerss helped the Sun defeat the Chicago Sky to snap a five-game losing streak. Carey was at Texas when U.S. national team pitcher Cat Osterman was rewriting the NCAA record book with the Longhorns softball team.

The 2008 U.S. Girls' Junior golf championships began Monday at Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford and will run through Saturday.

In other women's sports of interest to Connecticut fans, don't believe the news reports of Amelie Mauresmo being named as a late replacement for Mary Pierce on France's Olympic tennis team. Mauresmo, apparently annoyed at France's tennis federation for slating her to play doubles only, took her name out of consideration for a spot on the Olympic team. The International Tennis Federation originally sent out notice that Mauresmo has been named to the squad and some European news organizations went with the info without checking with Mauresmo or her camp. Big mistake. A few hours late the ITF announced that Pauline Parmentier has replaced Mauresmo on the team and will play singles and doubles in next month's Olympics. What that measn for Connecticut-based tennis fans is that Mauresmo's commitment to the Aug. 15-23 Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven is solid.