Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

No "big" deal

Anybody who speculates that UConn is suddenly leaving no stone unturned in its quest for another big kid in the wake of Jessica McCormack's decision to stay home in New Zealand rather than rejoin the Huskies would be disappointed. Sources indicate that while the UConn staff would like to bring in another big kid in next year's class, they think they will be fine with Heather Buck and incoming freshmen Stefanie Dolson and Michala Johnson as its big kids in the 2010-11 season. The only uncommitted junior with a scholarship offer is guard Bria Hartley, who is still trying to set up a campus visit to UConn. The earliest it could happen is June.

UConn does have its eyes on the top uncommitted high school junior post players and are interested in Chiney Ogwumike out of Cypress, Texas and Natasha Howard from Toledo, Ohio - generally considered to be two of the top 10 post players in the class. While Ogwumike has long been considered a layup for Stanford so she could join her sister Nneka, who just enjoyed an outstanding freshman season, in Palo Alto the word is that she does have at least some interest in UConn. At least one UConn coach came away very impressed with Howard and it figures the Huskies will pursue one or perhaps both of them when they are allowed to go back on the recruiting trail this summer.

One name not to concerned with is Monique Oliver, the top 10 ranked player in the current group of high school seniors, who recently decommitted from Southern California. UConn has had no contact with Oliver and is focusing its attention on the junior and sophomore classes.

While UConn coach Geno Auriemma's duties as U.S. Senior National team coach doesn't figure to include him being at the trials for the World University Games and Under-19 teams being held in mid May in Colorado Springs, he may take in the EuroBasket Women's tournament which begins on June 7. Auriemma also figures to attend more WNBA games than he has in the past for scouting purposes.

For those in the Danbury area Saturday morning, here is some info on a public appearance being made by former UConn guard Renee Montgomery.

Come meet Renee Montgomery, 2009 UConn Huskies women's basketball champion turned Minnesota Lynx professional player, as she samples coach Geno Auriemma's famous tomato basil and fra diavolo pasta sauces at Stew Leonard's Danbury, CT store.

In addition to leading the UConn Huskies women's basketball team to a sixth national championship and third undefeated season, and recently being named head coach to the U.S.A. women's basketball team for the 2012 Olympics in London, Geno Auriemma packages his fresh, all-natural tomato basil and fra diavolo pasta sauces, which are available for purchase at local stores.

Due to his busy coaching schedule, Geno is relying on Renee, one of his 2009 championship players, to sample his two delicious sauces. She will also sign bottles for fans and pose for pictures.

Renee Montgomery had a four-year college basketball career with the UConn Huskies women's team, during which she was considered one of the best point guards in the nation and helped her team achieve a 138-11 record. As a senior during the 2008-09 season, Renee helped lead the women Huskies to their sixth national championship and third undefeated season with a game average of 16.5 points and 5.1 assists.

Renee was the number four pick in the WNBA professional draft, landing herself a spot with the Minnesota Lynx.

Saturday, May 2nd from 10:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M.

Stew Leonard's Danbury store
99 Federal Road, Danbury, CT
For customer questions: 203.790.8030

Geno will be en route to his "Geno's Fast Break" restaurant at the Mohegan Sun Casino for his second annual "Horsin' Around For the V Foundation" event later that day.

Big night in Branford

It appears as if all systems are go for the "Plays for a Cure" event tonight at Branford High.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma is expected to be in the house, as advertised, for the fundraiser with proceeds being split between Geno's Cancer Team, Leukemia Society and the Debbie Maloney Memorial.

There will be four basketball games, each between 15-20 minutes featuring squads of teachers and students from Branford public schools, a team of Channel 8 on-air personalities (John Pierson, Noah Finz and Marc Robbins from the sports department along with Keith Kountz and Chris Velardi). There will also be a game between Branford's firefighters and police.

The event runs from 7-9 p.m. with tickets for the event $5 for adults and $3 for students.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More on netball

I figured I would share with you a little more information on netball, the new sport of choice for Jessica McCormack.

This is an e-mail I received from a reader in Australia.

"The sport has a fanatical following amongst women in Australia and New Zealand. Best described as "women's basketball" it differs from basketball in primarily having thrown passes, that can only be done when the player has stopped and there is no dribbling. The game has been getting a lot more general free to air TV time. On the other hand normal basketball cannot get free to air (time) and is struggling to stay alive."

As for the impact of McCormack's decision not to return to UConn, I don't think it will be that much of an issue next season since UConn has Tina Charles and Kaili McLaren coming back and adds Heather Buck, who will benefit from a season worth of practices against Charles, to the mix. But with Charles and McLaren going into their senior seasons, it's no wonder that adding another post player is a bigger recruiting need for UConn than it was a few weeks ago. If Baylor's incoming freshman Brittney Griner is half as good as people claim she is, being thin in the post will be a major issue in the coming years. UConn is off to a good start in the next recruiting class with commitments from 6-foot-5 Stephanie Dolson and 6-3 Michala Johnson but clearly should bring in another big kid in the next class unless they weave some magic for the incoming freshman class.

Jones, Gruda win a title

UMMC Ekaterinburg captured the Russian championship, winning the final game in the best of three series against Spartak Moscow Region 70-68 before a crowd of 6,000 on Tuesday.

Connecticut Sun forwards Sandrine Gruda (seven points, three rebounds and two blocks) and Asjha Jones (two points, three rebounds) helped Ekaterinburg get a little payback against the team which beat them in the EuroLeague semifinals.

Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, teammates of Jones on UConn's 2001-02 national championship team, had 17 and nine points respectively for Spartak while adding six rebounds each and combining for nine assists.

This figures to be a rather hectic week for UConn coach Geno Auriemma but considering the reasons behind his busy schedule, something tells me he won't mind.

As previously mentioned on this blog, Auriemma is expected to be on site for the "Play for a Cure" event at Branford High School Thursday from 7-9 p.m. for a series of charity basketball games featuring teams of teachers and students from Branford public schools, a group of Channel 8 personalities and a showdown between the city's police and firefighters. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students. All the proceeds will benefit Geno’s Cancer Team, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Debbie Maloney Memorial Foundation.

Saturday will be Auriemma's second annual "Horsin' Around" at Geno's Fast Break
Restaurant at the Mohegan Sun Casino from 3:30-7:30 p.m. featuring both live and silent auction with all the money raised being donated to The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Live and silent auctions will be part of the program.

For information on the Branford event, 488-8304. For more information on the Horsin' Around event visit or call (860) 558-1987.

Monday, April 27, 2009

McCormack staying home

Just heard back from Jessica McCormack who confirmed that she is not planning to return to Connecticut.

McCormack transferred to UConn after playing at Washington as a freshman. She would have been eligible to play for UConn in the upcoming season but since she returned home to New Zealand to have surgery on the area around her Achilles' tendon, she would not have been eligible to play until the end of the fall semester.

Now she won't be returning at all.

"I made the decision after really evaluating and reflecting what is making me happy at the moment and basketball is just not doing it for me right now," McCormack said in an e-mail. "This decision has nothing whatsoever to do with the school, coaches or team. They were all fantastic and I appreciated everything."

McCormack will enroll at the Auckland University of Technology and play netball with the hope of making the New Zealand national team once she is given a clean bill of health.

"Rehab is going well," McCormack said. "I have just started pool work so its all going along smoothly. I will be talking time away from basketball and concentrating on netball for the moment."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Huskies headed to D.C.

As it turns out, the trip to meet President Barack Obama happened even quicker than UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma had anticipated.

First at the pep rally celebrating UConn's sixth national championship at Gampel Pavilion and then at the championship parade in Hartford, Auriemma said he believed the Huskies' meeting with the President would come in May.

Well, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in Friday morning's press briefing that the meeting will take place Monday at 2 p.m.

More details to come.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Making the grade

UConn earned the NCAA Public Recognition Award for finishing with among the top 10 percent among the nation's women's basketball programs in Academic Progress Rates, the only one of the women's Division I Final Four teams to be so recognized. The results are for students enrolled from 2003-04 to 2007-08.

When Cassie Kerns graduates in 2010 and joins classmates Renee Montgomery and Tahirah Williams as UConn graduates, the Huskies will continue its trend of having every player in the program for four years having received a degree from UConn.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Making a difference

One of the signature events in Geno's Cancer Team's fundraising efforts is fast approaching as UConn coach Geno Auriemma will hold his second annual "Horsin' Around" on May 2 at his Geno's Fast Break restaurant inside the Mohegan Sun Casino.

Here's a little more information:

On May 2, 2009, Geno's Cancer Team, founded by Geno & Kathy Auriemma
in 2007, will host "Horsin' Around". Horsin' Around centers on a
derby day theme with the running of the 135th Kentucky Derby taking a
major role during the evening. It will be held at Geno's Fast Break
Restaurant at the Mohegan Sun Casino from 3:30 to 7:30 pm.

Net proceeds from the event will be donated to The V Foundation for
Cancer Research, founded in 1993 by NC State Basketball coach Jim
Valvano and ESPN. The afternoon will include great food, a wine
tasting provided by Connecticut Distributors and entertainment
provided by Out of the Basement. Live and silent auctions will be
part of the program. Auction items include a 2009 National
Championship UCONN basketball, signed Rafael Nadal photos and tickets
to see Brittany Spears at Mohegan Sun. There will also be a one of a
kind live auction item - two tickets, as Geno and Kathy's guests, to
the Naismith Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony held at the Mohegan Sun
Casino on Saturday, September 12th, where the 2009 Hall of Fame
Inductees will be presented their rings (the inductees include:
Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Jerry Sloan, John Stockton, and C.
Vivian Stringer.) The evening's special guest is Nick Valvano,
brother of Jim Valvano and CEO of The V Foundation for Cancer

Geno's Cancer Team also hosts a Student Initiative which is coming to
the end of a very successful fund-raising season. To date they have
raised $32,500 from events through out the state, $6,500 from E-bay
auctions, and $2,300 in loose change from donations boxes. The final
event of the season will be held at Branford High School." Branford
Plays for a Cure Basketball Tournament" will be held on Thursday,
April 30th from 7-9 pm at Branford High School. For ticket
information please call: 203-488-8304.

For more information on the Horsin' Around event or to make a
donation visit: or call (860) 558-1987.

Auriemma is also expected to be in attendance as a fundraising event in Branford on April 30. The "Plays for a Cure" event will feature four charity basketball games with the money raised going to benefit Geno’s Cancer Team, the Leukemia
& Lymphoma Society and Debbie Maloney Memorial Foundation. Tickets are $10 for games between teams of Branford public schools students, teachers, a team of WTNH television personalities as well as a showdown between Branford's firefighters and police. For more information, contact Dave Maloney in CIAC headquarters at 203-250-1111.

Staying on the "making a difference" theme, there is an event at Yale Thursday which bears mentioning even if there happens to be no UConn connections I am aware of. There will be a marrow donor drive in the hopes of finding a match for Yale women's hockey player Mandi Schwartz and others fighting leukemia and in need of a match for a stem cell transplant. The event will be held from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Yale Commons (the corner of College and Grove streets) and all that is required is a swab of the cheek and the OK to have your information entered into National Marrow Donor Program registry.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Faris honored by Parade

UConn signee Kelly Faris was one of 10 players named Parade Magazine first team All-Americans.

Faris, a 5-foot-11 guard/forward, averaged 14.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.4 steals to lead Heritage Christian to its fourth straight Indiana 2A championship.

Faris is joined on the first team by 6-foot sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Calif. who made an unofficial visit to UConn in January and is expected to be rated as one of the top - if not the best - recruit in the high school Class of 2011.

Samarie Walker out of Chaminade Julienne High in Dayton, Ohio, one of four high school juniors to orally commit to UConn, is a third-team selection while North Babylon (N.Y.) junior guard Bria Hartley, the only uncommitted high school junior to have a scholarship offer from UConn, was a second team selection.

Baylor commit Brittney Griner was named the magazine's national player of the year.

The team will appear in this Sunday's edition of Parade Magazine.

More on Montgomery winning Honda Award

As was reported yesterday, Renee Montgomery was named the women's basketball winner of the Honda Sports Award.

Here's the release sent out this morning

Renee Montgomery , a senior at the University of Connecticut, has been chosen as the nation’s top collegiate female athlete in basketball. The honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 33rd year.

Montgomery’s victory will earn her the 2009 Honda Sports Award, given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, along with automatic nomination for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. UConn players have won the Honda Sports Award for basketball six times in the past. They include: Rebecca Lobo (1995), Jennifer Rizzotti (1996), Shea Ralph (2000), Sue Bird (2002) and Diana Taurasi (2003, ’04). Both Lobo and Rizzotti went on to win the Honda-Broderick Cup as Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.

Montgomery, who is known to be a strong team player, said: “I’m appreciative of the Honda Award because they only choose one player, so it's exciting. With everything that’s happened in the past week I thought things couldn’t get better and then to learn I’ve won the Honda Sports Award is like a bonus and a blessing.’’

Montgomery, a four-year starter as point guard for the Huskies, was the #4 draft WNBA pick this year, chosen by the Minnesota Lynx. A native of St. Albans, West Virginia, she captained her team to an undefeated season this year, culminating with the NCAA championship in which she scored 18 points in the final game. She received both the Big East Sportsmanship Award and the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award and was a WBCA, USBWA, and AP First Team All-American. Montgomery is one of only three players ever at UConn to boast 1500 career points and 500 assists, and she is the only player in school history to rank in the top-10 in points, assists, steals and 3-pointers. She started 139 consecutive games in her college career – the longest streak in the nation – and also played in 150 games, a program best. She is also the first-ever active player inducted into the University of Connecticut’s Huskies of Honor. Montgomery is a communications major with a 3.1 GPA.

Previously announced Honda Sports Award recipients are Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego for cross-country, Susie Rowe from the University of Maryland for Field Hockey, Casey Nogueira from the University of North Carolina for soccer, Nicole Fawcett from Penn State University for volleyball and Dana Vollmer from UC Berkeley for swimming & diving. Honda Sports Award winners in golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, softball, tennis and track & field will be announced in the coming months. The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year will be determined by separate balloting involving all NCAA-member institutions and the winner will receive the Honda-Broderick Cup at a ceremony in New York in June 2009.

Connecticut Sun offers scholarship

The Connecticut Sun Foundation is accepting applications are now available for the Third Annual Bright Horizons Scholarship.

The $10,000 scholarship, which will be distributed in $2,500 increments
annually, will be awarded to one graduating Connecticut high school senior
who will attend an four-year college or university in the state of Connecticut.

Applicants for the scholarship must meet a variety of criteria, which includes but is not limited to, a demonstrated financial need and a minimum 1300 score on the SAT or 28 on the ACT. All applicants must provide information detailing their extracurricular activities and honors, two letters of recommendation that reference their academic and community status as well as a 500-word essay describing the greatest challenge in their community and how they hope to make a positive impact.

The first recipient of the Bright Horizons Scholarship was Rebecca Wilcox, a graduate of Terryville High School. Wilcox is currently a business major at the University of Connecticut. The recipient of the scholarship in 2008 was Audrey Sperry, a graduate of Windsor High School. Sperry is now a student at Connecticut College.

Scholarship applications can be downloaded from the Sun website at by clicking on "Connecticut Sun Foundation." All
applications must arrive at the Connecticut Sun office by May 15.

Best of both worlds

In the last couple of days since news of Geno Auriemma accepting the head coaching gig for the U.S. Senior Women's National team through the 2012 Olympics, I have received anxious inquiries from UConn fans curious how his appointment will impact his coaching duties with the Huskies.

The answer is - not a heck of a lot. It would be naive to think that Auriemma will be able to devote as much time to the program over the next three years as he would have without the added responsibility of heading the effort to lead the U.S. to a fifth straight Olympic gold medal. But let's make one thing perfectly clear, the landscape of USA Basketball has changed since 1996 when Stanford's Tara VanDerveer took off the entire college season because of her national-team commitments.

"I don't anticipate taking any time off," Auriemma said. "My first priority is making sure that the players that I have in the program that we have here get my full attention. The only difference that I see is any time that I would have off from coaching UConn now is on. I'm OK with that."

Certainly there will be some recruiting trips Auriemma may have to miss and the biggest impact may be felt during the preseason both next year and in 2012. From Sept. 23-Oct. 3, 2010 Auriemma will be in the Czech Republic coaching the U.S. team in the FIBA World Championships. Normally, it would have been a time he would have been working with his staff preparing for the start of practice to officially start in mid-October. If the U.S. wins that tournament, it will gain entry into the Olympics automatically. If that is not the case, then Auriemma would need to led the squad into an Olympic qualifying tournament in 2011. With the Olympic basketball tournament set for July 27-Aug. 12, there won't be any exhibition games between U.S. college teams and the U.S. squad in 2012 as was the case four years ago.

Whatever the time commitment, Auriemma will receive the support he needs from his veteran coaching staff headed by associate head coach Chris Dailey.

"I think whatever it is, we'll get it done," Dailey said. "Hopefully if we can get our recruiting and commitments done early so that is not a concern but it certainly doesn't hurt to have the Olympic coach as your head coach. I don't see it really impacting us that way. We will be here and do whatever needs to be done."

Perhaps nobody was more in Auriemma's corner during this process than Carol Callan, USA Basketball's Women's National Team Director who traveled with Auriemma during three of the UConn coach's former coaching stints with USA Basketball.

"Record aside, six national championships aside, the experience with us personally he knows how to take terrific players and get them to play at an even higher level," Callan said. "He knows how to be the hunted and take a team that is expected to win and have them win but win in a basketball pure way and win. He does have a real soft spot in his heart for this country. When he took teams overseas, he made them see the big picture and that to me is still part of what we do. They are appreciative of whatever food is put in front of them, they say thank you, they work hard to earn the respect of opponents, they compete in a sportsmanlike way. The culture he has created here is the culture of USA Basketball. I think we have a tradition of that."

Callan said the task of calling the three assistants on the 2008 Olympic team (the Connecticur Sun's Mike Thibault, South Carolina's Dawn Staley and Gail Goestenkors of Texas) to tell them of Auriemma's appointment was not easy considering the loyalty and professional manner in which they served in their roles.

"I had a chance to talk all three," Callan said. "I think because it is early enough and we hadn't said we were going to do this, I don't think they were expecting a call from me to say 'hey, you were going to be the coach.' But, I think we owe it to them, they have committed a lot of time to us and probably will in the future. They were all - to a person - very good about (saying) 'thank you' and 'I appreciate the call' and they said they do want to be kept in line for future teams. Geno coached eight years ago for us so it is not like there is any pecking order."

There is no rush for selecting Auriemma's assistants. It will be a mix of WNBA and college coaches, male and female with at least one minority on the staff. This will not be an overnight process. Certainly Auriemma's good friends and USA Basketball mainstays Doug Bruno of DePaul and Sherri Coale of Oklahoma will have their names mentioned. Between the various USA Basketball teams, there are no lack of candidates to draw on. One of the main requirements is for the coaching to be a head coach so don't look for Auriemma's own UConn staff to be in the mix.

The only question I have is will any of the assistants have to take classes from Dailey on how to step in front of Auriemma when he erupts in disgust at an official?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Montgomery wins Honda Award

The first thing Renee Montgomery wanted to know was whether a brand new Honda comes with being the women's basketball winner of the Honda Award.

I guess she will find out as she beat out fellow finalists Maya Moore, Angel McCoughtry and Courtney Paris to win the award. She now goes into the pool of candidates to win the Honda Award for all collegiate sports.

"I think it is a bonus," Montgomery said. "It is exciting but everything that has happened in the last week, I didn't think anything could get better. Now to come here and I won the Honda Award, it just looks like things continuously get better so it is a blessing."

Montgomery said she will leave for Minnesota on May 11, one day after she graduates from UConn, to prepare for her first pro training camp.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was a bit emotional addressing his appointment as the U.S. women's national team coach. Born in Italy, Auriemma said he does not take the honor of being picked to represent your country lightly and as a naturalized citizen, he is moved by the chance to be the U.S. coach in the 2012 Olympics.

"I don’t know if I can adequately describe my feelings and my emotions when I was asked to do this and how I felt ever since," Auriemma said. "It’s an opportunity that if you’re very fortunate comes once in your life and I never thought I would ever have this opportunity. It’s just overwhelming, the emotions that run through you. What an incredible honor it is to be selected."

It is Auriemma's first head coaching appointment for USA Basketball since the 2001 Auriemma-coach team lost in the semifinals and finished third in the 2001 Junior World Championship.

"That trip to the Czech Republic taught me that we are USA Basketball and we do things a certain way," Auriemma said. "Had we thrown the game against the Russians, we would have played Australia in the semifinals and the Russians would have played the Czech Republic on the Czech Republic's home court. But us being USA Basketball, the thought of us doing that never entered my mind. You always had to take the hard way, you always had to take the difficult way but I learned a lot on how to manage games because I made a couple mistakes in that game. We are up nine, I sub a couple guys in and before I can get them back out, it is a tie score and it is all getting away from us. I learned a lot and the assistant I have are going to be people who have done it and hopefully I am a little smarter."

The UConn coaching staff will head out at least three exposure events this weekend. While much of the focus will be on targeting players in the sophomore class, UConn would like to bring in at least one more post player. While Orsi Szecsi out of Oak Hill (Va.) Academy and Sheronne Vails from Arundel High in Gambrills, Md. are the uncommitted post players who have been on UConn's recruiting radar, it appears as if this weekend the UConn coaches will look to identify a new post player or two to pursue. UConn already has commitments from center Stefanie Dolson, forward Michala Johnson and wing players Samarie Walker and Lauren Engeln. Guard Bria Hartley is the only other high school junior holding a scholarship offer from UConn, which would like to bring in a class of six next season.

Lastly, look for the list of invitees to the World University Games and Under-19 training camps to be released in the next week or so. Obviously the people at USA Basketball have been a little busy finalizing the details of naming Auriemma as the senior women's national team coach and now can turn their attention to the training camps for those two teams and the Under-16 squad.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New gig for Auriemma

A source confirmed that UConn coach Geno Auriemma has been named the head coach of the U.S. Senior National team and will be the head coach of the 2012 U.S. Olympic women's basketball team. The appointment will be made official at a press conference at UConn on Wednesday.

Auriemma, who was an assistant coach on the 2000 Olympic team, will begin his three-run term as the U.S. women's senior national team coach which will include the U.S. team's participation in the FIBA World Championships in 2010 in the Czech Republic from Sept. 23-Oct. 3.

Auriemma had extensive experience with USA Basketball from 1996-2001 both as an assistant to Olympic head coach Ann Donovan and head coach of the junior national team which won the Junior World Cup qualifying tournament in Argentina and earned the bronze medal at the 2001 FIBA Junior World Championship for Women held in the Czech Republic.

Auriemma just led UConn to its sixth national championship and a third undefeated season.

Former UConn stars Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi were key players on the last two U.S. Olympic teams and are expected to be in the mix for the 2012 Olympic squad. Current UConn star Maya Moore also figures to be in contention for a spot on the Olympic squad.

The Olympic basketball tournament is scheduled to be played from July 27-Aug. 12, 2012 in London.

For those who wish to see a replay of the national championship game and actually get ESPNU, the game will be shown on ESPNU tomorrow at 1 p.m. as part of the TMI (Too Much Information) Game of the Week with various informational nuggets popping up on the screen.

Also, adding a few more television viewing items for those currently at home, the WNIT Final featuring South Florida and Kansas (featuring former UConn star Tamika Raymond as one of its assistant coaches) is coming on at 4 p.m. on CBS College Sports. At 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU, a game between Findlay Prep of Henderson, Nev. and Oak Hill Academy (out of Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at the Rise National Invitational is set to be shown. Oak Hill junior forward Orsi Szecsi, a 6-foot-3 native of Hungary, has drawn some interest from UConn although she is not expected to get serious about her recruiting situation until the fall.

Time for a parade

The early weather reports for Sunday afternoon appear promising so that is good news for those planning to head to Hartford for the parade.

Here's some preliminary info courtesy of UConn regarding the parade

The parade, which will take place near the Bushnell Park, Main Street and Capitol Avenue area of the city, will begin and end at the State Capitol building. A rally will take place on the north steps of the State Capitol immediately following the parade.

“The UConn women’s basketball team has established a long tradition of success when it comes to winning BIG EAST championships and NCAA national basketball championships. In Connecticut, Husky fans want to continue the state’s wonderful tradition of giving these young women and coaches the recognition and admiration they truly deserve,” said Governor Rell.

“A parade in downtown Hartford is just one way to do just that – not only for the players, the coaches and the University, but for the thousands of women’s basketball fans of all ages who helped cheer them on to a perfect 39-0 season and a sixth NCAA Championship,” said Governor Rell. “Frankly, the people of Connecticut needed some good news at this time and the undefeated women’s team was it. Let’s return the favor by lining the parade route and showing them how much they really mean to us.”

The UConn parade planning committee is coordinated by Governor Rell’s office, the Hartford Business Improvement District and the MetroHartford Alliance. The committee consists of representatives from the Office of the Governor, State of Connecticut, City of Hartford, University of Connecticut, Hartford Hospitality Task Force and civic organizations and businesses from throughout the Greater Hartford region.

The parade is being made possible through generous donations from the City of Hartford, State of Connecticut and a variety of civic organizations and area businesses. For parade sponsorship opportunities, contact Michael Zaleski at the Hartford Business Improvement District at
(860) 728-2274.

Personally, I have no objection regarding a parade being held to honor UConn's national championship team but it will be interesting to see how things play out when the numbers are crunched. In these rugged economic times, no state or city of Hartford tax payer should be asked to help foot the bill although they likely will be asked to do just that. Regardless of my opinion, the parade will go on and hopefully the various organizations involved in the planning of the event will practice moderation to ease the burden on tax payers.

Speaking of paying taxes, it's one more day until income tax deadline. Hope not everybody is waiting until the last minute.

Changing gears, former Wallingford resident Cathy Inglese is about to be named the new coach at Rhode Island in a couple of minutes. Inglese had successful stints at Vermont and Boston College and will remain in New England to take over at URI.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Carey calls it quits

Jamie Carey, who played in 105 games over the last season for the Connecticut Sun, announced her retirement on Monday.

"It's a hard decision any time you come to that crossroad, but it's a
decision that had to be made," Carey said in a statement. "I'm just very appreciative of the opportunity I had in Connecticut, and at the same time, I'm thankful I was able to start and end my professional career in the same place. It
doesn't happen very often. I'm just very appreciative of the organization,
and everything everyone did for me the last four years."

Signed as a free agent in 2005, the 5-foot-6 Carey was a dependable backup
to point guard Lindsay Whalen. Carey shot a league-best .451 percent
from beyond the arc in 2007, and was sixth on the all-time franchise list
for made threes with 84.

"Jamie has been a huge contributor to our team the last several years,"
Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "I understand her decision, but we will miss
her leadership, her competitiveness and her three-point shooting. She's
been a great teammate and a great player to coach. She's been one of my
favorite players to coach here. As a point guard and a coach, she
understood what I was looking for as much as anybody."

Carey works for Triple Crown Sports, a sports event marketing firm which helps coordinate college tournaments like the one the UConn women's basketball team played in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2007, and she recently completed her first season as the head coach of the Legacy High School girls' basketball team in Broomfield, Colo.

The Sun are awaiting word from former UConn star Tamika Raymond, who is also contemplating retirement. With the regular season extending into mid-September and the playoffs running into October, the task of juggling a WNBA playing career and a coaching gig (Raymond just finished her frist season as an assistant coach at Kansas, helping the Jayhawks reach the WNIT championship game) is all the more challenging.

With Whalen, Erin Phillips and Ketia Swanier, the Sun still have plenty of depth at point guard.

Training camp opens on May 17 with the Sun opening the preseason with a May 22 game against New York at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Parade set for Apr. 19

A parade honoring the newly-crowned national champion UConn women's basketball team will be held a week from today (Apr. 19) at 3 p.m.

The parade will begin and end at the state Capitol, and run near Bushnell Park, Main Street and Capitol Avenue. A rally will be held after the parade on the north steps of the Capitol.

Expect more details regarding parking and best locations to view the parade in the coming days. No word whether UConn coach Geno Auriemma will promise a repeat as he did in 2000.

UConn finished 39-0 and became the first Division I team during the NCAA era to go an entire season winning every game by at least 10 points.

For those of you who still have UConn withdrawal following the parade, there are two events in the greater New Haven area that might be of interest.

On Apr. 22 former UConn stars Shea Ralph and Meghan (Pattyson) Culmo will be among the seven new inductees into the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The event will be held at Cascade Banquet Facility on 480 Sherman Avenue in Hamden. Ticket information may be obtained from Ann V. Fariss at (203) 378-6581.

On Apr. 30, Auriemma is expected to be on hand for Branford's "Play for the Cure" at Branford High School featuring four charity basketball games involving teachers from various Branford public schools, a team of Branford High students, another of News Channel 8 personalities and finally, a showdown between Branford firefighters and police. Tickets are $10 with all the proceeds going to Geno's Cancer Team, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Debbie Maloney Memorial Foundation.

As if the chance to raise money for worthwhile charities and see Auriemma isn't enough to draw people out to the event, my sources indicate that Sonia Baghdady of Channel 8 will be in attendance as a cheerleader for her station's team.
For more information, contact Dave Maloney at CIAC headquarters (203-250-1111).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Honda Award finalists

Somewhere in between covering the Final Four, returning home, attending the welcome-home ceremony at Gampel Pavilion and the WNBA draft, it escaped my radar that UConn's Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore joined Oklahoma's Courtney Paris and Angel McCoughtry of Louisville as the finalists for the Honda Award for women's basketball.

Moore was also a finalist last season when the award went to Tennessee's Candace Parker.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Moore wins Wooden Award

Maya Moore completed a sweep of the national player of the year honors when she was named the Wooden Award winner on Friday in Los Angeles.

Moore becomes the first UConn player to win the women's Wooden Award, which was first presented in 2004.

Moore, a 6-foot sophomore, set UConn's single-season record with 754 points, was tied for the team lead with 348 rebounds and also had a team-high 76 steals while ranking second with 90 3-pointers, 127 assists and 59 blocks for the 39-0 Huskies.
Moore also was named the Wade Trophy and Naismith Award winner and earned national player of the year honors from the Associated Press and U.S. Basketball Writers Association as well as being a first-team academic all-american and winning the Big East Player of the Year award for the second year in a row.

Ratings take a hit

Just received an e-mail with the ratings and it doesn't seem as if the nation was enthralled watching UConn dismantle one opponent after another.

Here's the info provided by Tilea Coleman of ESPN

ESPN’s Women’s College Basketball NCAA tournament delivered a 1.2 HH cvg rtg, 1,175 HHs, down 15% from 2008. Even though there was a ratings slide from last year, this year’s tournament is actually up significantly compared to 2007’s coverage (1.0). ESPN2’s Women’s College Basketball NCAA tournament was down 7% among HHs (0.5 vs. 0.6), averaging 525,000 viewers this year.

Tuesday night's Connecticut-Louisville Championship game on ESPN earned a 2.1 cable rating and 2,005 HHs, down 30.0%, from a 3.0 rating and 2.8 million viewers for Tennessee-Stanford last year.

J. Kelley Hall's tenure at Cincinnati was a brief one as he was let go after two seasons

Illinois State guard Kristi Cirone has been invited to the Connecticut Sun's training camp

WNBA training camps begin on May 17 and while making a roster as an undrafted player will not be easy especially with the roster maximums cut from 13 to 11, it should be noted that a year ago Kerri Gardin and Danielle Page made the Sun as training camp invitees.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Feeling a draft

Finally back home after a long day in Secaucus, N.J. and have plenty of thoughts.

First, Renee Montgomery looked emotionally drained when I left her and her parents (which Renee was nice enough to summon from the studio at NBA Entertainment headquarters so I could speak to them. I can't see why she would be tired. She only led UConn to the culmination of a 39-0 season Tuesday night, Wednesday morning she had to join her team at a press conference in St. Louis before boarding a flight home and be front and center for a welcome-home bash at Bradley Airport. Then the team climbed on a bus and made their way to Gampel Pavilion for a pep rally where she was once again in the spotlight. Then at 4:45 a.m., she climbed into a car with UConn coach Geno Auriemma and her parents to drive to the draft. I thought it was funny that by the time I spoke to Renee's parents, she had already figured out flights to Minnesota would be $400 and it was a 14 1/2 drive so it is likely they will be watching the games on TV. Speaking of TV, expect ESPN's TV schedule to come out next week.

In the hours before the draft, she was on the phone with other UConn greats who made the jump to the WNBA.

"Pretty much all of the alumni who ever went UConn I talked to today," Montgomery sadi. "They all said the same thing 'it is a big day for you, enjoy it. We'll be watching.'"

Perhaps the biggest compliment she received today came from her future teammate Rashanda McCants, who was taken in the second round by the Lynx.

"I played with her before in the McDonald's All-American game and it is going to be great," McCants said. "I think she is a great person and an even better point guard.

"Without a doubt the best point guard in the nation as far as not being selfish, knowing how to distribute the ball and knowing the game of basketball. It is a blessing that I have somebody like that on my team."

Switching gears to the Connecticut Sun picks, in my brief dealings with Chante Black and Lyndra Littles, they struck me as typical, high-quality people the Sun look for. Black made me laugh when I asked her about playing for the Connecticut fans.

"Luckily I am not from Tennessee so Duke and Connecticut been's in it but I don't see any hostilities going in there," Black said.

If you close your eyes when you speak to Littles, her voice bears an eerie resemblence to Maya Moore's.

Both Black Littles had engaging personalities which should play well in the Connecticut locker room if they make the team.

On a less than positive note, I remember one thing that used to annoy me the other times I covered the draft in Secaucus, the ESPN talent is tipped off who the pick is going to be but tries to act like they have no previous knowledge of the impending selection.

I knew Marissa Coleman was going No. 2 overall to Washington when the ESPN cameraman began to take footage of the former Maryland star before WNBA president Donna Orender announced the pick. The part that irked me the most was Carolyn Peck saying Montgomery is the best point guard in the draft and should be taken first overall. But when Chicago, which was in need of a point guard, was on the clock with the third pick with Montgomery yet to be picked, she said they should take Kristi Toliver of Maryland. Excuse me, but 10 minutes earlier you practically had Montgomery going straight into the Naismith Hall of Fame without passing go. Did she suddenly become a lesser talent in the time between the Atlanta and Chicago picks? OK, rant over.

Engeln commits

UConn's ever expanding recruiting class is now at four after the oral commitment of Laguna Hills wing Lauren Engeln on Thursday.

Engeln, who was at the Final Four with her parents to watch UConn win its sixth national title, informed the coaches of her decision today according to her AAU coach Russ Davis.

"She didn't really narrow her list but once she went to UConn, what's better than that?" Davis said.

The 5-foot-11 Engeln joins 6-5 Stefanie Dolson out of Minisink Valley in Slate Hill, N.Y., 6-2 Michala Johnson out of Montini Catholic in Lombard, Ill. and 6-1 Samarie Walker of Chaminade Julienne High of Dayton, Ohio as the high school juniors who have committed to UConn. The last piece of UConn's recruiting class could be 5-foot-10 guard Bria Hartley out of North Babylon High, who was named the Gatorade New York Player of the Year as a junior.

Hartley was hoping to visit UConn this week but those plans fell through since UConn was in the Final Four and UConn coach Geno Auriemma was in New Jersey for Thursday's WNBA draft and will leave with Maya Moore Friday for the Wooden Award banquet.

Big Day for Renee

Renee Montgomery shouldn't have to wait long to find out her new basketball home once the WNBA draft starts around 3 p.m. today.

Rumors are picking up steam that Atlanta is considering selecting the UConn senior guard with the No. 1 overall pick instead of Louisville's Angel McCoughtry. If Montgomery doesn't go No. 1, it's unlikely she will go second to Washington since the Mystics traded for a point guard - former No. 1 overall pick Lindsey Harding and also picked up Matee Ajavon in the dispersal draft.

I'm more the rest of the Eastern Conference is hoping Montgomery doesn't go third overall to Chicago. Could you imagine if the Sky adds Montgomery to a young roster including Sylvia Fowles and Candice Dupree?

My story on Montgomery didn't make it online so here it is:

By Jim Fuller
Register Staff
ST. LOUIS - Renee Montgomery admits that she needs a little bit of a WNBA refresher course.
With her undivided attention on leading UConn to an undefeated season and national championship, the senior guard hasn't had much time to contemplate where she will be drafted at today's WNBA draft.
The feeling is Montgomery could go in the top three and more than one WNBA insider believes she should be first overall to the Atlanta Dream.
Montgomery admits she would struggle to name players on Atlanta, Washington and Chicago - who have the first three picks but certainly would enjoy landing in any of those three cities.
"The top three picks are places where people like to live," Montgomery said. "I have heard a lot of people throughout life saying 'I would like to make a home there.'
"I know whoever picks me, I am going to get the roster and learn everybody's name before I get there because I don't want them to think I am a dummy so I don't really know anything about any of the teams except for the teams that UConn players are on, of course. I do know that but I am going to know when it is time to know."
Montgomery will be the 10th UConn player to be taken in the draft, which will begin at 3 p.m. at the NBA Entertainment Studios in Secaucus, N.J.
If she goes first overall, she will be the third Husky to top the draft since 2002. Sue Bird was the top pick in the 2002 draft and Diana Taurasi went first in the 2004 draft.
Montgomery, who considers Bird to be one of her closest friends, believes the four years she spent at UConn will benefit her when she embarks on her pro career.
"What you learn at UConn are basketball things, things you should know, fundamentals, how you should think when you are playing the game and there is a lot of alumni who is going to help me when I do need help in the league, as well as the coaching staff here," Montgomery said. "I am really not worried about moving to another level because I know there are so many people that are willing to help me."
The Connecticut Sun have the 10th pick of the first round.
Jim Fuller can be reached at

If the Sun could somehow get Montgomery, there is no question they would take her without hesitation but it is more likely the Sun will go big in the draft. Likely options include Duke's Chante Black, Rutgers' Kia Vaughn, Ashley Walker of Cal, Lyndra Littles of Virginia, Ashley Paris of Oklahoma and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton of Purdue. I wouldn't be surprised if the Sun with big with their picks both at 10 and 17 although if nothing else, when it comes to Mike Thibault's draft-day dealings, I have come to expect the unexpected. My gut tells me that if Kia Vaughn is available (and that's a big if), the Sun would gladly take her. Of the preceding list, Walker seems to be the long shot since I don't think she would slip to the No. 10 pick.

Speaking of the Sun, we should know more about the decisions of Tamika Raymond and Jamie Carey. With the WNBA regular season extending into mid-September and the playoffs stretching into October, it is very difficult for players who double as coaches like Raymond (an assistant coach at Kansas) and Carey (a high school coach in Colorado) to be absent from their coaching gigs. Raymond would also miss the July recruiting period even though the Sun have told the former UConn star that would be willing to give her time off during that period to hit the recruiting trail.

I will say this, I don't know where exactly the WNBA is headed. First, the league talks about expansion in one breath and in another, they cut the maximum rosters from 13 to 11 players and then slice the number of paid assistants from two to one. If they are going to cut costs, OK fine do it but spare us the expansion talk.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

All present and accounted for

For those who were wondering, yes Meghan Gardler did make it to Gampel to take part in the welcome home celebration on Wednesday.

Gardler was hospitalized after Tuesday's championship with what UConn officials called gastroenteresis.

"I don't know what happened," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I saw her at the hotel, she was out with her mom, her brother was there and her sister-in-law. They spent the night together and next thing you know she is in the hospital."

One of the most memorable experiences from the day celebrating UConn's sixth national championship was a call Auriemma received from President Barack Obama.

"That was cool," Auriemma said. "He said that he is real excited about getting a chance to meet the team and I told him trhe whole team was over at my house on election night and I have never seen a group of kids more excited in my life and that was one of the driving motivations of this team. They wanted to be the first team to meet him."

Auriemma asked President Obama if he would be willing to speak with junior center Tina Charles, a huge supporter of his and he agreed. Auriemma said that Charles was a bit tongue tied when she was given the phone.

No date has been set for UConn's trip to the White House but Auriemma said usually the earlier these things are scheduled, the better.

Auriemma and Maya Moore will leave for Los Angeles tomorrow so they will be on hand at the announcement of the Wooden Award. Moore and Courtney Paris are the finalists for the last of the national player of the year award. Moore has already won the WBCA, Naismith, Associated Press and U.S. Basketball Writers Association national player of the year award.

Montgomery will be in Secaucus, N.J. for the WNBA draft. She is one of the candidates to go first overall to Atlanta although you have to wonder if Atlanta's decision to wait 6-foot-8 Katie Feenstra today will play a role in which way the second-year franchise goes.

Finally, there are no plans to have New York Gatorade Player of the Year Bria Hartley come up for a campus visit this weekend. Auriemma won't be around and players will be scattered around but the Hartleys are working with the UConn coaching staff to come up with a time for a campus visit.

Gardler on the mend

Junior forward Meghan Gardler had to be taken to a St. Louis hospital after feeling ill after a post-championship dinner with the UConn team.

According to a release from UConn, Gardler was released from the hospital this afternoon after suffering a case of gastroenteresis.

She is expected to take part in this afternoon's championship celebration.

If all went according to plan, UConn should be touching down any minute now. Look for the players and coaches to step onto the stage somewhere around 4:45 p.m.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


For about 10 minutes, Louisville hung with UConn in the national championship game but in the end too much Tina Charles and too much defense was simply too much for the underdog Cardinals to contend with.

Charles had 25 points and a UConn NCAA tournament record 19 rebounds - the first player to have at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in the national championship game since Georgia's La'Keshia Frett in 1996.

"Tina Charles did an outstanding job of intimidating us," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "I thought she made us alter a lot of shots that we really didn't need to alter. We had no answer for her. I mean, she's the one I told you all two days ago that I was most concerned about. She's so active in the post.

"We can defend post players that like to stay on the block and just try and post up, because we've got some kids that will work and battle and fight to do that. But what she does so well is she just moves from block to block so quick that at her size we have a hard time trying to keep up with her. And then when you can't throw a 6-4 body at her, it just makes it really difficult for us to slow her down. The kid gets 25 and 19. I'm not sure you can do much better than that."

UConn's 22 point margin is the second highest in the national final.

Charles said she was motivated by the fact that she would be playing with senior guard Renee Montgomery for the last time. It certainly worked as Charles was simply unstoppable to earn Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors. Montgomery and Moore added 18 points each while Kalana Greene had nine points, leaving her one shy of 1,000. She also had the primary responsibility for guarding Louisville's Angel McCoughtry. McCoughty got her points, 23 of them, but needed 24 shots to do it.

There is some video of the celebration on the Register's website.

Here are the details of UConn's return. The Huskies are expected to land at Bradley around 3:15 p.m. and there will be a welcome home event at Gampel Pavilion beginning at 3 p.m. which wili include a replay of the championship game starting at 3:10 p.m. At 4:49 the players are expected to address the crowd and Geno Auriemma will get the microphone at 4:55.

Mission accomplished

With the words "President Barack Obama I am coming to see you" from the mouth of Final Four Most Outstanding Player Tina Charles, the coronation of UConn as the newest NCAA championship was complete.

More later


Time is ticking down as the clock is approaching 30 minutes until tip-off.

This is UConn's sixth appearance in the national championship game and the Huskies are 5-0 having won titles in 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Renee Montgomery needs 28 points to become the sixth UConn with 2,000 career points. Kalana Greene needs 10 points for 1,000.

Once the ball is thrown up, Montgomery will set an NCAA record by playing in her 150th career game. Former UConn standout Ashley Battle holds the record of 149 games.

If UConn wins by at least 10 points, the Huskies will be the first team in NCAA women's basketball history to win every game by double-digit margins.

The officials are Lisa Mattingly, Dee Kantner and Clarke Stevens with Sue Blauch the alternate.

Louisville's starting lineup is Candyce Bingham, Angel McCoughtry, Gwen Rucker, Tiera Stephen and Deseree Byrd while UConn will go with Maya Moore, Tiffany Hayes, Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery and Kalana Greene.

Auriemma wins Naismith

Geno Auriemma was named the Naismith National Coach of the Year for a record sixth time on Tuesday.

Auriemma, who was tied with Tennessee's Pat Summitt by winning the honor five times, also received the award in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2008.

Here is the release


ATLANTA (April 7, 2009) - On the eve of a potential third undefeated season and sixth national championship, University of Connecticut head basketball coach Geno Auriemma has been named winner of the 2009 Naismith Women's College Coach of the Year award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. In the 23-year history of the Naismith Coach of the Year Award, Auriemma now claims six (1995, 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2008) honors, and has won more than any other coach. He was previously tied with the University of Tennessee's Pat Summitt with five.

Auriemma was selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's board of selectors, a collection of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, based on his coaching performance this season. The Naismith Award, presented annually to the top women's college coach, is the most prestigious national award in college basketball.

Other finalists included Sherri Coale (University of Oklahoma), Nell Fortner (Auburn University) and Aaron Johnston (South Dakota State).

In his 24th season at the helm, Auriemma has led the Huskies to a 38-0 record, registering UConn's fourth consecutive 30-win season and the program's 14th in the last 16 seasons. He was named BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the eighth time while guiding Connecticut to both the BIG EAST regular season (17th overall) and BIG EAST Tournament (15th overall) titles, the 13th time in the program's history both have occurred in the same season. With the current tournament run, Auriemma has now posted 70 NCAA Tournament wins in his career - one behind Mike Krzyewski (71) for the second-most all-time in NCAA history (men's and women's). Auriemma has a career mark of 695-122 at the school.

"It's been a remarkable season for Connecticut and a continuation of the strong foundation that Geno has built throughout his career," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. "He is a tremendous ambassador of the game of college basketball and a deserving Naismith Award winner."

In 1987, Indiana's Bob Knight and Summitt became the first men's and women's college coaches, respectively, to win the award. Summitt has gone on to win four more awards (1989, 1994, 1998 and 2004).

For more information, visit

While remaining on the subject of awards, there was a United States Basketball Writers Association brunch on Tuesday where Auriemma and Maya Moore were to receive the organizations coach and player of the years awards. Obviously on a day when the Huskies are attempting to win a sixth national title, I didn't expect to see either of them at the event but considering the number of people from the UConn athletic department in St. Louis, would it have killed one of them to accept the awards on their behalf?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Seats still available

Perhaps it is a result of a rugged economy or maybe having the men's Final Four also being held in the midwest forced some to make a choice but there is no questioning that tickets are available for tomorrow night's championship game between UConn and Louisville.

The NCAA has been asking help from UConn and Louisville media outlets to publicize the fact that tickets are remaining.

"You did see some holes, particularly in the upper level last night (at the semifinals)," said Sue Donohue, vice president of Division I women's basketball. "I think it's a reflection of the difficult economic times right now."

It hasn't been the best of years for the tournament with top seeds being forced to play on the home courts of lower seeds (No. 9 seed Michigan State hosting No. 1 Duke and eliminating the top seed in the Berkeley Regional with the aid of the home crowd).

"Our numbers were slightly down," said Jacki Silar, the chairperson of the NCAA Division I committee. "But we also out of our 16 (subregional) sites we had six of them that were totally neutral sites, which didn't have a home team playing. In '04, when our attendance was the highest ever, out of the 16 only two were neutral. So it's kind of a combination."

The decision to revert back to the 16 predetermined sites for the first and second rounds came as a result of poor attendance when the move was made to eight subregional sites.

"It's difficult, there's no doubt about it," Donohue said. "You look at higher seeds playing on lower seeds' floor. And I don't think any of us that walk in the world of women's basketball want that, but where we are with the game right now, that's the reality of it. There are a lot of coaches that understand, you know what, if I'm a 2 seed and I'm playing an 8 or a 9 on their floor, hopefully a 2 seed's going to be the stronger team. Sometimes that's not always the case.

"I think the committee made the decision a few years ago to try eight sites with eight teams. It was a risk. And after three or four years and evaluating it, it didn't do what we needed it to do. The most successful format we've been in, bar none, eight sites, eight teams, 16, top 16 seeds, the best format from an attendance standpoint, a logistical and operational standpoint, is 16 predetermined (sites). But you look at some of our sites this year that didn't have a team there, and that's not the championship experience that you want. So it's something that we've all got to keep working on together."

Maya wins Naismith

Add another major piece of hardware in Maya Moore's growing collection.

The UConn women's basketball sophomore forward was named the Naismith Trophy winner on Monday and was also named a finalist along with Oklahoma's Courtney Paris for the Wooden Award.

Here is the Naismith release.


Huskies Star Joins Elite Company To Have Won The Award on Multiple Levels

ST. LOUIS, MO. (April 6, 2009) - University of Connecticut sophomore Maya Moore was named winner of the 2009 Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T as the top women's college basketball player in the country, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today.

Atlanta Tipoff Club Chairman Barry Goheen and AT&T Senior Vice President, Architecture and Planning Kris Rinne made the announcement at the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) awards luncheon earlier today.

The two-time BIG EAST Player of the Year becomes just the sixth student-athlete to win a Naismith Trophy in both high school and college, joining the University of Connecticut's Diana Taurasi, the University of Tennessee's Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw and Candace Parker, and the University of Southern California's Lisa Leslie. A 6-4 sophomore from Collins Hill High School in Atlanta, Moore won the prep award in both 2006 and 2007.

Moore edged out Angel McCoughtry (University of Louisville), fellow Huskies teammate Renee Montgomery, and Courtney Paris (University of Oklahoma), a 4-time Naismith finalist and the 2005 Naismith National High School Girl's Player of the Year award winner.

Moore was chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, in addition to fan voting via text message, which accounted for 25 percent of the final results - more than any other national college basketball award. The board based its criteria on player performances throughout the season. The vote was tabulated and certified by the accounting firm of Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP. The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is regarded as the most prestigious national basketball award and is given annually to the women's college basketball player of the year.

"We're honored to recognize Maya for what she has achieved both individually and with her team," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. "Having watched her win a Naismith Trophy in high school it was no surprise that she would eventually claim one at the collegiate level."

"At AT&T we're glad to see so many fans engaged with text voting to support the Naismith award finalists," said Rinne. "We know that connecting sports fans with convenient ways to support the teams and players they cheer for, week after week, drives value for everyone involved. It's great to be part of such a celebrated award - and to give fans and finalists more ways to win."

Moore averaged 19.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the field and set the Connecticut single-season scoring mark.

Other notable Naismith Trophy past winners include Cheryl Miller (USC), Dawn Staley (University of Virginia), Lindsey Harding (Duke University) and last year's winner, Parker.

For more information, visit .

Tickets still available

Tickets are still available Tuesday night's national championship game. Single-session tickets costing $81 are available through Ticketmaster by logging on to, or at the Scottrade Center box office, which is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. (Central time) today and up until game time on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. Central time).

UConn's game on Nov. 17 against Texas, which is part of the ESPNU Road to the Championship, will be played at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, not the Alamodome.

Rematch hardly a match at all

I can't think too many people envisioned UConn beating a very good Stanford team by 31 points in the early part of the second half. But the lead did grow to 60-29 with 12:06 to play.

Stanford did manage to outscore UConn 19-12 in the final 7 minutes but by then, it was far too little, much too late.

If anybody was wondering why Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery were the top two vote getters in the Associated Press Player of the Year balloting, watching them exert their will on this game should show that the writers who vote (I am not one of them) know what they are talking about.

Their reward is a third meeting with Louisville in Tuesday's national championship game.

"I'm excited to have another Big East championship game," Montgomery said. "I know they definitely aren't going to be the same team we played before."

A few observations from the game.

First, Renee Montgomery was not going to let UConn lose this game. She forced the issue early on. When she didn't find the range from 3-point land, she drove into the teeth of the Stanford defense either for a pull-up jumper or she would continue straight to the basket.

When Tiffany Hayes made the first shot of the game, I had a sense that it was going to be UConn's night.

Jayne Appel was immense with 26 points but by my count she missed five layups and also missed six free throws. Tina Charles was the only UConn starter not to score in double figures but I thought she played a very intelligent defensive game. She was able to push Appel out from her normal low block position enough times to disrupt things.

Unlike last year, Stanford's role players did not knock down shots and until the final 7 minutes, they seemed reluctant to even shoot the ball. Kayla Pedersen, Jeanette Pohlen and Jillian Harmon were a combined 7 for 25 after playing understated but pivotal roles in last year's Stanford win in the Final Four.

Now Louisville is all that stands between UConn and a perfect 39-0 season.

"We know Connecticut is a great team," Louisville senior forward Angel McCoughtry said. "Big ups to the Big East. It’s going to be good for our conference and we’re glad to have two Big East teams in the national championship game. We have a lot of respect for Geno and his program. We know what to expect. We’ve played them twice. So we’re just going to come out, play hard and hope to win."

McCoughtry had 14 of her 18 points in the second half of a 61-59 win over Oklahoma.

I happen to be staying in the same hotel as Louisville coach Jeff Walz and I was headed downstairs after putting my stuff in my room. The door opened a floor before I reached the lobby and who was it? Walz, of course.

He said "I really need some sleep." I said "you'll get to sleep on Wednesday." He said "you got that right" as he got off the elevator.

For those who care about this stuff, this will be the first matchup of two male head coaches since Leon Barmore led his Louisiana Tech team over the Joe Ciampi-coached Auburn squad in the 1988 final.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Game is set to tip at 9:37 p.m.

Louisville just earned its first trip to the national championship game with a 61-59 victory despite missing its first 13 shots and falling behind 16-2. Oklahoma had a chance to win but Nyeshia Stevenson's 3-pointer at the buzz was no good.

Stanford will be starting Kayla Pedersen, Nneka Ogwumike, Jayne Appel, Jeanette Pohlen and Jillian Harmon while UConn counters with Maya Moore, Tiffany Hayes, Renee Montgomery, Tina Charles and Kalana Greene.

The officials are Eric Brewton, Melissa Barlow and Felicia Grinter

Survive and advance

The most humorous line I have heard at the Final Four was not uttered by UConn coach Geno Auriemma - although he has been his entertaining self that's for sure. No, it came courtesy of Debbie Antonelli just before the start of the 4Kay Run Saturday afternoon. Since I was there as a competitor and not a journalist, I can only paraphrase the line but it went something like "my advice to you is find a butt you like and follow it for 2 1/2 miles." Good stuff.

As I watched those people who actually run more than twice in the last five years before they enter a race and saw them preparing to start their watches that I was tempted to pull the monthly planner out of my computer bag to chart my progress.

I did manage to finish the race but it was not pretty.

I couldn't help but notice there was a 16-year-old named Samarie Walker quoted in Sunday's edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I'd have to think it was the same Samarie Walker who orally committed to UConn.

Since my notebook did not make it online, I figured I would let you know what Stanford's Jillian Harmon thought about Jess McCormack, who will be eligible to play at UConn after the fall semester ends in December.

"She is a young player, a great player," said Harmon, who was a teammate of McCormack's on the New Zealand Olympic team. "She has had troubles with injuries but it was fun to play with her. She was at Washington last year (before transferring to UConn) so we had fun talking about that and we joked about her going to UConn a little bit. She definitely has the international style, she can face up and hit the outside jump shot and she is a big girl. If she can get healthy and practice against Tina Charles every day, that will help her."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

What a day

My work, once this entry is completed, if done for the day and what a memorable day it was.

For me personally, it started with me taking part in the 4K Run Saturday morning. It was the hardest 2.5 miles I have ever run and choose not to divulge my time because it was not pretty but considering how much Kay Yow accomplished in her life before succumbing to cancer a couple months back, I thought the least I could do was pay my respect to Kay by lumbering 1 1/2 times around the streets near the St. Louis Arch.

John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant was kind of enough to let me use his room to take a shower before I attended the State Farm All-American team and Wade Trophy press conferences at the media hotel (I am staying elsewhere to save my company about $30 a day in hotel rates) so I wouldn't show up all in my sweaty, smelly gym clothes.

But enough about me. This was a day where UConn's season was on display with a pair of press conferences in the aptly named "Majestic" ballroom since UConn has looked majestic en route to playing in the program's 10th Final Four.

Maya Moore won both the Wade Trophy and Associated Press Player of the Year awards and handled the awards with the modesty and class she goes about everything in her life. Looking for a different take on Moore's on-court brilliance and off-court demeanor, I spoke with Ohio State's sophomore All-American center Jantel Lavender, who spent two summers as Moore's teammate on two of the USA Basketball junior national teams.

I think you would like what Lavender had to say so here goes.

"I think she is a great player, she has represented our class well. She puts in the hard work, gets things out. She has had a superb year, she has been a tremendous basketball player and a tremendous teammate. I am extremely happy for her. I am happy to be in her class and happy to be up here with her knowing that I have somebody in my class who works so hard.

"It was great playing with her because she was so driven and so passionate. She wanted to win. I think it was the best experience, we had so much fun playing together and I look forward to playing together with her this summer again if she is not playing with the older (U.S. Senior National) team.

"She is one of the most humble people. Her humbleness makes you want to give her the award even more because she accepts it so well."

Lavender got me thinking so I asked Maya what her summer plans are and they are yet to be determined.

"I have been thinking about my summer a little bit," Moore said. "Nothing is for sure but all that stuff we'll be talking about it when the time comes."

UConn's trio of Moore, Renee Montgomery (who finished second to Moore in the voting for AP Player of the Year) and Tina Charles were named to the State Farm All-American team, the 2008-09 Huskies joined the 1998-1999 Tennessee trio of Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Semeka Randall) and UConn's 2001-02 threesome of Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi as the only squads to have three players from the same team on the State Farm All-Americans.

Charles' selection drew the loudest cheers from the UConn players in attendance simply because she has constantly been in the crosshairs of UConn coach Geno Auriemma and because Moore and Montgomery were locks to make the team.

Finally, Auriemma earned the AP Coach of the Year award for a record sixth time.

Tomorrow, the top award is up for grabs - a spot in the national championship when UConn meets Stanford at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Special morning for "Big Three"

There was a surprise in store for both Maya Moore and Tina Charles Saturday morning.

Moore joins former Tennessee star Candace Parker as the only sophomore to win the prestigious Wade Trophy while Charles joined teammates Moore and Renee Montgomery on the 10-member State Farm All-American team. The honor means that Charles will have her number hanging up as part of the "Huskies of Honor" program before the end of her senior season. It was just the third time three teammates were named State Farm All-Americans. In 2002, UConn's Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi and the 1999 Tennessee trio of Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Semeka Randall now have some company.

There will be more on the morning's festivies as well as updates on the Associated Press Coach and Player of the Year later in this blog and in tomorrow's Register.

Also, the date of the UConn/Texas game next season was officially announced. It is set for Nov. 17 and will be televised on ESPN2. Tennesee and Texas Tech will play in the doubleheader at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Word is UConn was holding out until being given an assurance its game would not be televised on ESPNU which many of their fans in Connecticut do not receive.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Rocking and rolling

As I was wolfing down my meal at the Hard Rock Cafe, which it were any closer to my hotel the patrons would be knocking on my door asking to use the bathroom, and if my eyes didn't deceive me - the stars of tomorrow were in the next room.

It certainly looked to me as if I saw Skylar Diggins and Kelsey Bone emerging from the back room dressed in their white warmup suits. Naturally, I am assuming coke and sprite were the preferred beverages for 20 players selected to play in tomorrow's game.

Is it just me or is there another team in women's basketball making more news today than Rutgers - and they aren't even playing in the Final Four.

Among the items out there is that head coach C. Vivian Stringer has been selected to the Naismith Hall of Fame (the entire class will officially be announced on Monday), first-year assistant coach Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil is leaving to move back to her native Texas and freshman forward Brooklyn Pope is transferring.

I actually noticed that the news of Davis-Wrightsil's resignation was put up on the Rutgers official website yesterday. On a personal note, I had the chance to sit down her Davis-Wrightsil, who was a freshman on Texas' 1985-86 team which finished the season with a perfect 34-0 record, at the Big East tournament.

Taurasi, Bird deliver

Former UConn teammates Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird won three and two national titles respectively during their days in Storrs and both have been members of WNBA championship teams. Now, they are one win shy of leading Spartak Moscow to a EuroLeague Women 3-peat.

Taurasi had six 3-pointers en route to 33 points, four rebounds and five assists while Bird had 17 points, four assists and two steals in Spartak Moscow Region's 83-74 win over their Russian rival UMMC Ekaterinburg. Asjha Jones, a team of Bird on UConn's 2000 national-championship team and Bird and Taurasi on the 2002 title-winning squad, had five points for UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Former Tennessee star Michelle Snow had 17 points and 18 rebounds while former Connecticut Sun forward Le'Coe Willingham had a team-high 20 points in Halcon Avenida's 85-78 win over MKB Euroleasing. Amber Holt of the Connecticut Sun led MKB Euroleasing with 21 points.

Spartak Moscow Region will play Halcon Avenida in Sunday's championship game

Two of the most prestigious individual awards in women's basketball will be announced on Saturday at the Final Four. UConn sophomore Maya Moore is considered to be the frontrunner for both the Wade Trophy and Associated Press national player of the year.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma could very well walk away with his sixth Associated Press Coach of the Year award and the other major deal tomorrow is the announcement of the State Farm All-American team (which is the criteria for being inducted into the "Huskies of Honor").

Moore and Renee Montgomery will certainly be members of the team but the question is whether Tina Charles will also make the cut. We should find out late tomorrow morning. If she does make the team, she should join Renee Montgomery as the only active players to have their numbers hung into the rafters.

Pointing the way

Renee Montgomery was named the winner of the Nancy Lieberman Award given annually to the nation's point guard.

Here is the release:
DETROIT, MI, April 3, 2009 -- The Rotary Club of Detroit announced today that Connecticut senior Renee Montgomery has been selected as the 2009 Nancy Lieberman Award winner. The award recognizes the nation's top collegiate point guard in women’s Division I basketball. The criteria for the award are the floor leadership, play-making and ball-handling skills that personified Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman during her career. Sportswriters from across the country determined the award winner and finalists.

The three finalists (in alphabetical order) are: Kristi Cirone (Illinois St.), Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma), and Kristi Toliver (Maryland).

Montgomery, the 5-7 point guard, has helped guide Connecticut (37-0) to the NCAA Women's Final Four for the second consecutive season and 10th time in the program's history. She has been named to the Associated Press All-American First Team and is the recipient of the 2009 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award and BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award. She is one of only three players in Connecticut history to tally 1,500 points and 500 assists in a career and is the only player in program history to rank in the top-10 in points (1,946), assists (622), steals (260) and three-pointers (249).

During her storied career at Connecticut, Montgomery has been integral in leading the team to a 137-11 record that includes two trips to the NCAA Women's Final Four, four NCAA Regionals, four BIG EAST regular season titles and three BIG EAST Tournament crowns. She has also registered 146 career starts, 138 of which have been consecutive – the most by any player in UConn program history and the most nationally.

"Renee Montgomery is one of the best, hardest working, and smartest leaders that I have seen in the game. It is an absolute pleasure for me to add her to the list of great UConn point guards who have won the award. She is on to something very special this year with Connecticut being undefeated. The award couldn't go to a finer player," said Nancy Lieberman.

For further information visit the official Nancy Lieberman Award website, or contact Chris Flynn (Award Co-Chair) at 313-824-4264 or via e-mail at .

Thursday, April 02, 2009

No respect for AB

Just looking through the NCAA record book and happened to notice that former Tennessee star Chamique Holdsclaw is credited as having played in the most games in NCAA Division I history, appearing in 148 games. However, Ashley Battle appeared in 149 games for the Huskies. Renee Montgomery will play in her 149th game on Sunday and would become the first player to hit the 150-game mark if the Huskies advance to Tuesday's national championship game.

This will not be the only "Final Four" in the coming days. Tomorrow four former UConn stars, all with at least one national championship ring, will square off in the EuroLeague Women semifinals.

Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird will lead two-time defending champion Spartak Moscow Region against Asjha Jones, Svetlana Abrosimova and fellow Russian powerhouse UMMC Ekaterinburg in the first semifinal. Halcon Avenida and MKB Euroleasing, a
A pair of teams in the Final Four for the first time, will meet in the second semi. The championship game is set for Sunday. Live webcasts are available by visiting the FIBA Europe page.

Now for a couple of WNBA related notes
Individual tickets for Connecticut Sun games will go on sale on April 9. Individual tickets for the 2009 WNBA All-Star Game, held at Mohegan Sun
Arena on July 25, will also be available beginning at that time.

Tickets will be available through,, by calling 1-877-WNBA-TIX and will also be sold at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office.

Connecticut Sun season tickets, mini plans and group packages are already available for purchase. For more information call 1-877-SUN-TIXX or visit

The Sun tip off their seventh season at Mohegan Sun Arena on June 6 with
a 4 p.m. game against the Washington Mystics.

The WNBA is planning a fanfest at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue and ESPN Zone in Times Square on Wednesday, the day before the WNBA draft is held in Secaucas, N.J.
Top prospects will be at the events from 5:30-6:30 p.m at the NBA Store and 7-9 p.m. at ESPN Zone. An auction will be held on, where one lucky fan can bid for the chance to have dinner with a top prospect at ESPN Zone in NY during the event, two tickets to the WNBA Draft, and a photo with the No. 1 Draft pick.

Montgomery, Moore honored again

The honors continue to pour in for UConn's Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore who were named to the John R. Wooden women's All-American team on Thursday.

Montgomery and Moore become the first set of teammates to be named Wooden All-Americans in the six years a team has been selected.

They were joined by Oklahoma's Courtney Paris, the first four-time Wooden All-American, Angel McCoughtry of Louisville and Kristi Toliver of Maryland.

I may be missing some but here's a look at the honors the Huskies' dynamic duo have won - so far.

Maya Moore
Two-time Big East Player of the Year
Trenton Regional and Big East tournament Most Outstanding Player
United States Basketball Writers Association Player of the Year
Only unanimous selection to the Associated Press All-American team
Associated Press first team All-American
One of four finalists for Naismith Trophy (winner will be announced on Monday)
One of 12 finalists for Wade Trophy (winner will be announced on Saturday)
Finalist for State Farm All-American team (will be announced on Saturday)
First-team ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-America

Renee Montgomery
Named to the USBWA and Associated Press All-American teams
One of four finalists for Naismith Trophy (winner will be announced on Monday)
Big East Sportsmanship Winner
Finalist for Lowe's Senior Class Award (winner will be announced at Final Four)
Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award winner (as nation's top player 5-foot-8 or under)
Finalist for Nancy Lieberman Award given to nation's top point guard
One of 12 finalists for Wade Trophy (winner will be announced on Saturday)
Finalist for State Farm All-American team (will be announced on Saturday)
First active player to be inducted into the "Huskies of Honor"
First three-time captain at UConn during Geno Auriemma's tenure

Montgomery gets invite

UConn senior guard Renee Montgomery is one of 15 players who have been invited to the WNBA draft which will be held on Apr. 8 at the NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J.

Here's the release from the WNBA.


NEW YORK, April 2, 2009 - Fifteen of the top women's basketball prospects have been invited to the 2009 WNBA Draft presented by adidas on Thursday, April 9 at the NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J. The list is highlighted by Renee Montgomery (Connecticut), Courtney and Ashley Paris (Oklahoma), Angel McCoughtry (Louisville), Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman (Maryland) and Kia Vaughn (Rutgers).

ESPN2 will provide live coverage and analysis of the first round of the draft beginning at 3 p.m. ET while ESPNU and NBA TV will broadcast the second and third rounds. In addition, will cover all three rounds, providing complete analysis and comprehensive information on all 13 teams’ selections.

The players invited to attend the 2009 WNBA Draft are as follows:
Name College/University Position Height
Chante Black Duke Center 6-5
DeWanna Bonner Auburn Forward 6-4
Marissa Coleman Maryland Forward 6-1
Briann January Arizona State Guard 5-8
Lyndra Littles Virginia Forward 6-1
Rashanda McCants North Carolina Forward 6-1
Angel McCoughtry Louisville Forward 6-1
Renee Montgomery Connecticut Guard 5-7
Ashley Paris Oklahoma Forward 6-3
Courtney Paris Oklahoma Center 6-4
Kristi Toliver Maryland Guard 5-7
Kia Vaughn Rutgers Center 6-4
Ashley Walker California Forward 6-1
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton Purdue Forward 6-2
Shavonte Zellous Pittsburgh Guard 5-10

Destination: St. Louis

If all goes according to plan, I should be at my hotel in St. Louis by this time tomorrow. Where did all the time go? It just seems like last week that I was on the phone with Alexis Hornbuckle as part of my preseason feature on Renee Montgomery. Now I am making the final arrangements for my trip to the Final Four.

Speaking from experience since this will be the sixth Final Four I am covering in the seven seasons I have been the UConn women's basketball beat writer for the Register, Saturday is always the most hectic day of the Final Four for reporters. Not only do you have press conferences for all four teams but it is awards day as well. It appears as if the St. Louis set up isn't as media unfriendly as past Final Fours so getting to the State Farm All-America team announcement, Wade Trophy winner press conference and the get together for the revealing of the Associated Press player and coach of the year awards seems like it will be doable.

In the "it sounds like a good idea at the time" department, I am intending to run in the 4Kay Run which figures to be an emotional event considering that North Carolina State coach Kay Yow lost her gallant fight against cancer in late January. That is what spurred me on at attempt to do this. The biggest concern for me isn't how I plan to bring my computer, a change of clothes and find a place to shower and change between running in the 8 a.m. race and being at the press conference announcing the State Farm All-America team (which is the criteria for UConn stars getting their numbers displayed in the "Huskies of Honor" program) and Wade Trophy winner at 9:45 a.m. No, it is the fact that I have run exactly two times in the last year for a grand total of about four miles. It should be interesting. I tried to get my fellow UConn women's beat writers to run with me with no success. It seems the only time they prefer to run, it involves chocolate chip cookies or pizza in the media hospitality area.

I would encourage anybody in St. Louis Saturday morning to give serious consideration to taking part in the race. The entry fee is $25 and the course is just 2.5 miles. People can walk the course if they aren't ambitious enough to run it.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Faris, East fall just short

UConn signee Kelly Faris had a chance to send the eighth annual McDonald's All-American girls' games into overtime but she missed a free throw with one second left as the West held on for a 69-68 victory Wednesday at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

Faris, a 5-foot-11 guard from Plainfield, Ind., grabbed a loose ball after Skylar Diggins had her 3-point shot blocked. Faris was fouled and hit the first two foul shots before her third attempt was long and bounced off the back rim.

Faris had four points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.

North Carolina recruit Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the victorious West squad, and Notre Dame bound Diggins, who led the East with 18 points and five assists, were named co-MVPs of the game.

Faris, who led her Indianapolis-based Heritage Christian team to four straight Indiana 2A championships, was named to Indiana's Associated Press' All-State team.

During Wednesday's McDonald's All-American former UConn recruiting target Kelsey Bone, a 6-foot-5 center from Sugar Land, Tex. orally committed to South Carolina picking the Gamecocks over Texas, Texas A&M and Illinois.

More love for the Huskies

It's a pretty safe assumption that the nation's sports writers have taken note of Maya Moore's impressive body of work this season.

The day after Moore was the only unanimous selection to the Associated Press All-American team, she was named the player of the year by the United States Basketball Writers Association. UConn's Geno Auriemma was also named the coach of the year while senior guard Renee Montgomery joined Moore on the 10-player first team while Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen was selected as the freshman of the year.

Here's the complete All-American team
Jayne Appel, Stanford, F/C, 6-4, Jr., Pleasant Hill, Calif.
Chante Black, Duke, C, 6-5, Sr., Winston-Salem, N.C.
DeWanna Bonner, Auburn, G, 6-4, Sr., Fairfield, Ala.
Marissa Coleman, Maryland, G/F, 6-1, Sr., Cheltenham, Md.
Jantel Lavender, Ohio State, C, 6-4, So., Cleveland, Ohio
Angel McCoughtry, Louisville, F, 6-1, Sr., Baltimore, Md.
Renee Montgomery, Connecticut, G, 5-7, Sr., St. Albans, W. Va.
Maya Moore, Connecticut, F, 6-0, So., Lawrenceville, Ga.
Courtney Paris, Oklahoma, C, 6-4, Sr., Piedmont, Calif.
Kristi Toliver, Maryland, G, 5-7, Sr., Harrisonburg, Va.
Ashley Walker, California, F/C, 6-1, Sr., Modesto, Calif.

Dress rehearsal

You know the Final Four is around the corner when Geno Auriemma is asked about his restaurant of preference on the pre-Final Four teleconference.

Things got a little more serious than having Auriemma comment on which St. Louis area Italian he would be frequenting when he arrives in town.

He was asked about the impact on the allegations of recruiting improprities against the Final Four-bound UConn men's program.

"It hasn't impacted our team because they know it's an issue that involves -- right now they've certainly heard about it on TV and they've certainly read about it
whenever they've read anything, online or not online," Auriemma said. "Our men's basketball program, they're not naive enough to not know what's going on in the
world. So I know they're aware of it. I haven't discussed it with them. Not one word. I know that it affects, obviously, the people that work here and
the University of Connecticut and all that, because it's a topic that from the first day that it came out to now hasn't gone away. And we probably know
that it won't until it's over. So our focus, with our players, is who is
playing next, who we have to prepare for. And we've kind of kept it at that and not anything else. That's it.

Then came the predictable, how is your relationship with the other Hall of Fame basket coach in Storrs.

Q: Following up on that, there's been some conversation over the years about your relationship with Coach Calhoun. How is it for two great national programs to co-exist in the same sport on the same campus?
Q. Yes, how does -- I know it's a very general question, but how does that work?
Because you're both so great, so well known nationally, such success, of course, on the same campus.

COACH AURIEMMA: It is kind of unusual in that respect. You know, you don't see that very often. I think you see it in some other schools maybe on the, let's say, football/men's basketball side, where you may have -- like Florida first where you've got a national championship football and a national championship men's basketball program.
So it does happen at other schools. So it's not unusual. It is unusual here at Connecticutbecause it's basketball and it's men's and women's basketball. And it draws so much attention during basketball season, and certainly NCAA tournament
time. And it's been great in the sense that our university has benefited so much from it.
So many things have happened on this campus since 1995 when we won our first national
championship that would never have happened had the two basketball programs not been as dominant as we've been for such a long period of time. And I think in anything, when you've got all that on a college campus, the excitement, the attention, the things that are said, the things that are written, the stuff you see on TV, all that gets magnified. And for the last 15 years we've managed to work it out and here we are, both two games away from winning another national championship."

The way it should be

Back in Connecticut - for a little bit - and time to reflect on UConn's 10th regional championship.

This is my third year back on the beat after a four-year hiatus and for the first time since my return, basketball was the top priority which is just fine for me.

Two years ago you had the mess at LSU with former coach Pokey Chatman forced out and NCAA moderators doing everything they could to shield the LSU team from the assorted media who naturally where going to write about what led to Chatman's ouster. You also had the heartwarming North Carolina State team pushing on even though their Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow was fighting a battle with cancer - one she would lose earlier this year.

Last year you had the drama involving UConn and Rutgers being placed in the same bracket and having to play each other in the regional final. I firmly believe the emotional toll of having to play against the only team to beat the Huskies during the regular season drained the Huskies.

In the recently-completed Trenton Regional, the focus was solely on what happened on the court with no off the court diversions stealing the spotlight. I didn't really deal with Texas A&M's Gary Blair but Cal coach Joanne Boyle and Arizona State's Charli Turner Thorne handled themselves with tremendous dignity - as did their players - and both are outstanding quotes (trust me, from my end of things that is important). Now UConn heads to St. Louis to play the same Stanford team which knocked them out of the 2008 Final Four. OK, so it is not the "same" team. Candice Wiggins is now playing professionally and JJ Hones is out for the season with a torn ACL. But the rematch will - and already has been - a popular subject.

For those going to Final Four, practices will be open to the public. Here is the schedule (times are Eastern).

Oklahoma 11 a.m.-noon
Louisville 12:05-1:05 p.m.
UConn 1:10-2:10 p.m.
Stanford 2:15-3:15 p.m.

Here's a list of the teams with both men's and women's basketball teams advancing to the Division I Final Four the same season.

2009 Connecticut
2006 LSU
2005 Michigan State
2004 Connecticut*
2003 Texas
2002 Oklahoma
1999 Duke
1983 Georgia
* - UConn won both the men's and women's NCAA National Championships

I've had a request to list the Trenton All-Regional team, which was at the bottom of my game story today. So here it is:
Maya Moore (Most Outstanding Player)
Renee Montgomery
Tina Charles
Danielle Orsillo (would win the award for best quote of the tournament if such an honor existed)
Briann January.
Personally, I thought Cal's Ashley Walker should have been on the team.

I'll leave you with this: anybody who thinks President Obama actually filled out a women's bracket probably believes UConn coach Geno Auriemma will place a call to his good friend Pat Summitt of Tennessee (sarcasm intended) to get a scouting report on Stanford.