Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, October 30, 2009

UConn preseason No. 1

This may come as a shock considering it returns six players who started games for the 39-0 national championship team, but UConn was the unanimous No. 1 team in the preseason Associated Press poll.

The Huskies were followed by Stanford, Ohio State, Notre Dame and North Carolina. Ohio State is the only one of the top five teams not on UConn's regular-season schedule.

UConn also plays No. 6 Duke, No. 12 Texas, No. 13 Oklahoma, No. 15 Florida State, No. 17 DePaul, No. 23 Louisville and No. 25 Rutgers. It should be noted that No. 16 Arizona State will play at Yale on Nov. 19 and No. 22 Vanderbilt plays at Quinnipiac on Dec. 10.

Taurasi/DUI update

Former UConn star Diana Taurasi spent a day in jail and will have to successfully complete alcohol-education classes as part of a deal her attorney worked out. Taurasi could have spent 10 days in jail but the other nine days were suspended and the charges of extreme DUI and speeding were dropped when she pleaded guilty to DUI on Oct. 12.

Taurasi was pulled over in Phoenix on July 2 as the arresting officer said she was driving erratically and more than 20 miles over the 35 miles per hour speed limit. She was given a field sobriety test and her blood alcohol content was 0.17, more than twice the legal limit in Arizona.

Taurasi was suspended for two games by the Phoenix Mercury for "conduct detrimental to the team."

Taurasi would return to lead the Mercury to its second WNBA title in the last three seasons. She is currently in Russia playing for three-time defending EuroLeague women's champion Spartak Moscow Region. Taurasi had 27 points in a 95-71 win over Frisco Sika Brno on Wednessday.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

UConn hosting 2011 subregionals

Gampel Pavilion will host the first and second rounds of the 2011 NCAA tournament, marking the 18th time Storrs will be a site of a women's NCAA subregional.

Beginning with the program's first NCAA tournament appearance in 1989, UConn opened play in the NCAA tournament on campus 15 straight years until the Huskies were forced to drive all the way to Bridgeport for the first and second round games in 2004.

This season will be the first time that UConn will not have at least one NCAA tournament game in the state of Connecticut.

Cities chosen to host 2011 subregionals are Albuquerque, New Mexico; Auburn, Alabama; Charlottesville, Virginia; Cincinnati; College Park, Maryland; Columbus, Ohio; Durham, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; Salt Lake City, Utah; Spokane, Washington; Shreveport, Louisiana; Stanford, California; Storrs; University Park, Pennsylvania; Waco, Texas; and Wichita, Kansas. Eight of the subregionals are scheduled to be played on Mar. 21 and 23 with the other eight set for Mar. 22 and 24.

The four regionals are in Dayton, Ohio, Philadelphia, Dallas and Spokane, Washington while the 2011 Final Four being held in Indianapolis.

CPTV, which has already signed up to televise 17 of UConn's regular-season games and is in negotiations to show the Florida State, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh and Syracuse contests, will offer live streams to the games it has the rights to.

The cost of subscription for the entire season is $49.95; $24.95 for a monthly pass; or $9.95 for pay-per-view broadcasts. For more information, visit and go to the keyword "hoopstreams."

Here's the schedule including the showings of CPTV's show with UConn coach Geno Auriemma.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time change for Holy Cross game

The time of UConn's game at Holy Cross on Nov. 20 has been shifted from 7:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The game will be played at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.

Head of the class

With the early signing period beginning two weeks from tomorrow, I figured this would be a good time to reflect on what could be one of the top classes ever brought into UConn.

With commitments from guard Bria Hartley, wings Lauren Engeln and Samarie Walker, forward Michala Johnson and center Stefanie Dolson, the UConn staff is understandably thrilled with the incoming freshman class. If forward/center Chiney Ogwumike, who one recruiting source told me is the best player in either this year or next year's class, bucks conventional wisdom and picks UConn rather than joining her sister at Stanford, the class goes from impressive to off the charts.

There's not much new to report on Ogwumike. Obviously, UConn is facing long odds trying to secure a commitment from the Cypress, Tex. superstar. Both of her parents want her to go to Stanford, her sister would love to play with her in college as she did in high school and Ogwumike has been accepted at Stanford. The fact that Ogwumike boarded a plane for Connecticut after playing a volleyball match for Cy-Fair High School should give an indication that Ogwumike's interest in UConn is legit. The good news for UConn is that she is being allowed to make her decision and it will be supported by her family so there will be no repeat of the Brittany Hunter situation when her step father's dislike for UConn coach Geno Auriemma clouded his judgment and he wouldn't let Brittany sign with UConn out of high school.

One thing about recruiting that has never ceased to amaze me is how some fans hang on every whim of every kid even mentioned as a recruiting target of UConn's. It is a long, arduous process that is draining for student-athletes, their families and coaching staffs.

Various names have been linked with UConn in the past year and here are where they have committed. I am only including names of the players who I have confirmed caught the eye of UConn's staff or visited campus and not including those mentioning that players would like to go to UConn because if I did that, this list could be staggering in its length.

Whitney Bays, Maryland
Olivia Bresnahan, Florida State
Shawnta Dyer, Louisville
Jennifer Hamson, Brigham Young
Cassie Harberts, Arizona State
Natasha Howard, Florida State
Laurin Mincy, Maryland
Daisha Simmons, Rutgers
Orsi Szecsi, Duquesne
Sheronne Vails, Louisville

My advice, which will likely be ignored, is to let the process play out if you are a UConn fan, I have a hunch you'll be pleased with the results.

Since that won't happen, the word I am getting is UConn is well into the process of identifying its top targets among the current group of high school juniors. The Huskies received a head start with the commitment of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

I can report that Betnijah Laney and Ariel Massengale are high up on UConn's radar but as I mentioned above, the actually list of players the Huskies are targeting right now and the ones who sign with the school next November will likely be a tad bit different.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 26, 2009

A banner day?

Getting ready to leave Gampel Pavilion after attending "A Night of Hope", the latest fundraising event of Geno's Cancer Team. Actually, the event was more about getting college students involved rather than raking in the dough.

There wasn't much basketball news to report. Auriemma said everything he has heard from UConn's marketing staff is that the 2008-09 national championship banner will be unveiled at the Nov. 14 season opener against Northeastern. The final plans have to be finalized or at least announced.

He also said that Tina Charles should be the next person affiliated with the women's program to be inducted into the Huskies of Honor since she fills the criteria of being a first-team All-American. Maya Moore will have to wait until her senior season.

Now back to the event at the Student Union.

There were about 50 UConn students on hand including 20 from a pair of UConn a capella groups called Ruby Fruit and Chordials. Auriemma was impressed enough with their performances (rightfully so as both groups sounded great) that he suggested they perform at halftime of one of UConn's games. Obviously, that was music to the ears of the two groups. Some members of Ruby Fruit wanted to make sure Auriemma wasn't joking around and he assured them he was being serious and gave them a person to contact in the athletics department to make it happen.

I just filed a story on the latest effort to move forward following the murder of Jasper Howard, a star cornerback on UConn's football team. It was ironic that the day that Howard was laid to rest in his hometown of Miami, there was a charity event inside the same Student Union Howard was inside of before an altercation led to his being stabbed to death on the early morning hours of Oct. 18.

Labels: , ,

Hartley shines

UConn commit Bria Hartley, a senior at North Babylon (N.Y.) High, had 22 points and seven rebounds to earn MVP honors in the girls' game of the sixth annual Metro Classic on Sunday at Christ the King High School.

Hartley and fellow UConn commit Stefanie Dolson helped the Long Island/Hudson Valley squad defeated the New York City team 93-75. For those who receive MSG Varsity, the game will be replayed on that station on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

It should be noted that UConn's Tina Charles and Lorin Dixon were named the girls' MVP of the event in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

Spartak Moscow Region coach Laszlo Rageber may be a tad bit biased having watched former UConn star Diana Taurasi lead his Russian powerhouse to three straight EuroLeague titles but still his comments about the greatness of Taurasi I thought were worth sharing.

Here are his kind words about the reigning WNBA MVP.

"You know what? Michael Jordan is a very lucky and fortunate person. If Diana Taurasi had been born a man, she would have been the best ever basketball player and not Michael Jordan."

Speaking of the EuroLeague, it begins on Wednesday with 10 games.

Here's a list of former UConn players competing in the women's EuroLeague
Svetlana Abrosimova, UMMC Ekaterinburg
Sue Bird, Spartak Moscow Region
Charde Houston, Tarbes GB
Asjha Jones, UMMC Ekaterinburg
Renee Montgomery, TEO Vilnius
Diana Taurasi, Spartak Moscow Region

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some recruiting info

Starting off, Lauralton Hall's Keylantra Langley has committed to St. John's over Marist, Cincinnati and James Madison. Providence was also in the mix with Langley. Here's the report from the Register's high school blog and there will be a story in tomorrow's edition of the Register about the commitment.

Speaking of Cincinnati, Norwich Free Academy's Kastine Evans visited Cincinnati in her final official visit. Evans was a one-time recruiting target of UConn when Cincinnati's coach Jamelle Elliott was on the Huskies' staff.

I located the schedules of UConn commits Samarie Walker (Chaminade Julienne, Dayton, Ohio), Lauren Engeln (Laguna Hills, Calif.), Michala Johnson (Montini Catholic, Lombard, Ill.) and Bria Hartley (North Babylon, N.Y.).

Johnson and Montini open the season first, playing at Marist High in Chicago on Nov. 17. Engeln and Laguna Hills open at Mission Viejo. Two days later, Hartley will lead North Babylon in a game at St. Anthony. The next day is a big test when North babylon plays at Christ the King at 1 p.m. Samarie Walker and Chaminade Julienne kicks off the season on Dec. 3 at Thurgood Marshall High in Dayton.

I have not seen schedules for either Stefanie Dolson's Minisink Valley HS or Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' Matei Dei teams. OK, the last part of that statement is not completely accurate. I saw four games listed on beginning with a Dec. 2 game at Chaparral HS.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Donehew anxious to get started

At first glance, it would seem as if Danielle Donehew's background at a certain women's basketball powerhouse in the SEC might have been a detriment in the Big East's newly hired Assistant Commissioner for Women's Basketball's attempt to build a relationship with the conference's most prominent women's basketball coach.

Nothing could be further from the truth. UConn's Geno Auriemma is aware that Donehew spent seven years working for Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt before spending the last two seasons as the executive vice president of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream.

Donehew, who worked side by side with Summitt and was a part of a program Auriemma dubbed "The Evil Empire" during the height of the fierce UConn/Tennessee rivalry, will be the person entrusted with all things women's basketball in the Big East's Providence, R.I. headquarters.

Donna DeMarco, a UConn grad who earned respect and admiration from Auriemma from her work when she held the job Donehew will assume starting on Nov. 16, was the one who broke it to Auriemma that Donehew was emerging at the top candidate as DeMarco was moving over to take the Assistant Commissioner/Administration job left vacant when John Marinatto was named the Big East Commissioner.

"I remember Donna DeMarco and I had a conversation when they came down to the last couple and Donna said 'I think we are going to hire her,'" Auriemma said. "She chuckled and said 'what do you think about that?' I said '99 percent of the people in Tennessee I like.' I don't have a problem with that at all. She is the best person for the job. I am happy to get her."

Donehew knew her time in Knoxville would come up in her initial chat with Auriemma, which is did. She was thrilled that while her choice of employers was good for a chuckle or two, she wants the same thing as Auriemma - whatever is best for the Big East.

"He knows, we talked," Donehew said with a laugh. "He knows I am going to be cheering for him. I am real excited that he is the Olympic coach and I am also excited about his team this year. I think they are going to be fun to watch and a great asset to our conference."

I also asked Donehew about the future of the Dream considering some rumors have been circulating about their staying power.

"I have high hopes for the Dream and for the future of the franchise. Over the last two years we built a great product. We were able to take an expansion team that only won four games in the first year to 18 wins in the second year and a playoff berth. I am really pleased with what we built. I think over the time the Dream will continue to build and be something that the WNBA will be very proud of.

"There are always rumors, in an economy such as this funding is always tough but I am excited to say that there are some new investors at the table," Donehew said. "I can't get into any details right now but I do think over time there will be some new investors that are going to come in and make a huge difference."

Auriemma and Barbara Oliver, a 22-year cancer survivor, will be speaking at an event to benefit the Kay Yow WBCA Breast Cancer Fund and The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Two student-run a capella groups performing as well at the event inside UConn's Student Union.

The event will run from 7-9 p.m. Monday at the Student Union Theatre.

UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph is among those expected to take part in the Strike 3 Foundation First Pitch Celebrity Sports Gala at the Omni Hotel in New Haven on Nov. 7.

Here's the info I have about the event.

Join Oakland A's pitcher Craig Breslow at The Strike 3 Foundation First Pitch Celebrity Gala to benefit pediatric cancer research at Yale New Haven Hospital and the Connecticut Childrens Medical Center.

Celebrity attendees include Nomar Garciaparra, Andrew Bailey, Jack Cust, Bobby Valentine, Vin Mazzaro, Rajai Davis, Pete Walker, Roger LaFrancois, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Shea Ralph, Ed Randall, George Grand, Tom Verducci and Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino.

The evening includes dinner, live entertainment and a keynote address by Nomar Garciaparra. Our extensive auction item list contains golf packages, weekend getaways, dining experiences, Yankee and Red Sox field passes and countless autographed memorabilia including Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, Dustin Pedroia, John Lester and many others.

For more info, visit If you are going specifically just to see Ralph at the end, I would contact the organizers just to make sure because speakers and celebrity appearances at events such as this one are subject to change.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Big East media day in the books

Not too many surprises at Big East media day as UConn was the unanimous pick to win the regular season title and Maya Moore was once again selected as the preseason player of the year

First, some housecleaning. I picked the top seven teams in the preseason (I will take credit for having DePaul ahead of Louisville even though they tied). I also got Providence correct at No. 15. But that was it. I picked Cincinnati 14th and Seton Hall 16th while the coaches flipped that selections. I was also only one place off on Marquette and South Florida. I wasn't close on Georgetown, West Virginia, St. John's or Villanova.

As for the individual awards, Maya Moore and Skylar Diggins winning the player and freshman of the year honors wasn't exactly a stunning revelation. Because of a tie, there were 12 players named to the first time rather than 11. Nine of the 11 picks I made were so honored. I had Rutgers' Brittany Ray and Erica Morrow of Syracuse on my preseason All-Big East squad while the coaches had Notre Dame's Lindsay Schrader, DePaul's Keisha Hampton and Nicole Michael of Syracuse on the first team.

DePaul coach Doug Bruno and Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer were unable to attend because of deaths in their family.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma, as always, put on a show for the media. Perhaps his best quotes came when he was asked about how he looks at the annual trek to New York to be selected as the preseason favorite to win the conference.

"We are in a tough situation in some ways," Auriemma said. "How am I supposed to win a lot of these questions? Well, we’ll see, we don’t have this, we don’t have that. Then everybody goes you are a (jerk), you have two of the best players in the country, two of the top five players in the country. Then you say ‘I think we have a chance to win the whole thing.’ Then they say you are an arrogant (jerk), what are you supposed to say?"

I spoke to Villanova coach Harry Perretta who told me former Mercy High star Rachel Roberts approached him requesting to redshirt because of the return of three senior guards and it looks as if Perretta will go that route.

Former UConn player and assistant coach Jamelle Elliott, the first-year coach at Cincinnati, was not pleased to be picked last and hopes to use it as a motivational tool for her squad.

Couple of bits of info from Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. First, forward Devereaux Peters probably won't be back in the lineup from a knee injury until January and more than 1,500 seats are gone from the Joyce Center as part of a recently-completed renovation.

There will be much more from the day in the coming days.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A peek ahead

With the preseason poll and all-conference team being announced at Big East media day set for tomorrow morning in New York, I figured I would take a stab at how I think the vote will turn out.

Consider this a disclaimer: this (especially the all-conference list is not how I would vote but how I think the coaches will cast their ballots).

I will say this was no easy chore. Teams that usually finish near the top of the standings (Louisville, Pittsburgh and Rutgers) lost some vital cogs while second-tier teams (Georgetown comes to mind) have most of its nucleus back.

Here goes

1. UConn: that was pretty easy. Not only do the Huskies have the league's top two players in Maya Moore and Tina Charles but Kalana Greene, Tiffany Hayes and Caroline Doty would be star attractions at any other programs.
2. Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish return every single player from last season's team and welcome two freshman including Skylar Diggins, the Gatorade national high school player of the year.
3. DePaul: Deirdre Naughton and Keisha Hampton lead a veteran squad returning six of its top seven scorers.
4. Louisville: Had the Cardinals not reached the Big East and NCAA championship game, I would and should probably drop them a couple of spots lower. But out of respect for Louisville coach Jeff Walz and the return of center Chauntice Wright, who missed last season with a knee injury, to go with a solid group of returnees should have Louisville fighting for a top four finish.
5. Pittsburgh: The Panthers will miss Shavonte Zellous and Xenia Stewart but the other nine players who scored a year ago are all back.
6. Rutgers: This is another case where I go with pedigree and a history of success over what the roster looks like. Replacing Kia Vaughn, a WNBA first-round pick, and Epiphanny Prince, who bypassed her senior season to play professionally in Europe, will not be easy. Brittany Ray will assume a greater role in the offense while it is time for sophomores April Sykes and Nikki Speed to showcase the talent which made them such sought-after recruits.
7. Syracuse: If Syracuse focuses on basketball and loses the collective chip on its shoulders that it seemed to play with last season, the Orange is a team which could make some noise. There is certainly plenty of talent led by Erica Morrow, Nicole Michael and Juanita Ward.
8. St. John's: Last season former Trinity Catholic star Da'Shena Stevens made an immediate impact. Now Shenneika Smith could be the Red Storm's latest freshman phenom.
9. Marquette: With the graduation of Krystal Ellis, this should be Angel Robinson's team now. Robinson has plenty of help as six of the top seven scorers are back. I think the chemistry will be much better on this year's squad.
10. Villanova: The Wildcats lost three of their top four scorers and six of the 13 players are freshmen so it is pretty hard to get a read on when Villanova will end the season.
11. Georgetown: With six of the top seven scorers back from a team which finished 7-9 in Big East play, the Hoyas could move up in the standings very easily but a lack of offensive firepower could be an issue. The Hoyas should get some bonus points for having a player with the last name of Fuller as Shanice Fuller is the second-leading returning scorer for Georgetown.
12. South Florida: There are five freshmen and three junior college transfers on the roster. If the newcomers adapt quickly to the college game, the Bulls could make a run at another .500 season in conference play.
13. West Virginia: Mike Carey is a top-flight coach but losing high-scoring Takisha Granberry and point guard Ashley Powell leave some huge holes for a team with four freshmen among its 10 players.
14. Cincinnati: I think Jamelle Elliott will get it done in Cincinnati and the Bearcats could make immediate strides with three of their top scorers back but Elliott will have a lot of work to do.
15. Providence: The biggest shocker is that Chelsea Marandola is still on the roster. I could have sworn she was at Providence when Rebecca Lobo was playing at UConn. With the top three scorers back, the Friars figure to be better but will it be enough to move up in the standings?
16. Seton Hall: Somebody has to be picked last. With Ebonie Williams, Nicole Emery and Kandice Green back, the Pirates won't lack for offensive options but replacing rebounding maniac Noteisha Womack will not be easy.

Now for the preseason all-conference team. I will go with 11 since that was the number the league had last year. I limited it to three Huskies even though I think you could make the argument that five Huskies are among the league's top 11 players.

Here we go:
Ashley Barlow, Notre Dame
Tina Charles, UConn
Tiffany Hayes, UConn
Maya Moore, UConn
Erica Morrow, Syracuse
Deirdre Naughton, DePaul
Brittany Ray, Rutgers
Liz Repella, West Virginia
Angel Robinson, Marquette
Kayla Roudebush, Cincinnati
Da'Shena Stevens, St. John's

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quite a day

I just wrapped up a rather eventful eight hours up in Storrs.

I arrived a bit early at the request of my boss to see if there were any memorial sites set up for Jasper Howard, a junior cornerback on the UConn football team.

Then went down and went to work before sitting through a 40-minute dissertation from Barb Jacobs, the Big East's Assistant Commissioner and Director of Officials, on rules changes and points of emphasis. Not much to report other than the rules committee seems to have split personalities. First, Jacobs said that the goal was to have play "free and open" and that is why calling hand check fouls is important. But then she explained that there will be a greater emphasis on calling traveling. Sorry, but wouldn't whistling more traveling calls slow the game down rather than lead to a higher quality of play from the fan's standpoint.

When the lesson was over, UConn took the floor for practice and we waited to speak to them. There were very few basketball questions asked. The main topic was Howard, who was very close to many members of the UConn squad. Tina Charles, Kaili McLaren and Lorin Dixon had a sociology class with him every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Kalana Greene was the most emotional of the players I spoke too, a couple of times using her uniform top to wipe away tears. A story on the Charles', Greene's and Dixon's close bond with Howard will appear in Tuesday's edition of the Register.

Perhasp the biggest basketball news to come out of practice was that the team captains will be Maya Moore and Tina Charles and that UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he is giving Lorin Dixon every chance to earn the starting point guard position. If the season started tomorrow, I would predict that the starting lineup would be Dixon and Tiffany Hayes at guard, Greene and Moore at forward and Charles at center. He also said there has been no further talk of former UConn assistant coach Tonya Cardoza setting up a game with her Temple squad playing Auriemma's Huskies. He also hasbeen in contact with another former assistant coach Jamelle Elliott, in her first year as the head coach at Cincinnati. He said Elliott is not always the most patient coach and that could actually help her because her players will learn things more quickly if they realize their coach is not exactly a patient soul.

My plan of attending vigils for Howard ended when I had to chase down rumors of Bria Hartley's commitment. Thanks to the help of Hartley's high school coach Mike Petre and her father Dennis, it wasn't too much work to track them down.

Dennis Hartley is a good man, perhaps the best parent I have dealt with in the recruiting process. He would have preferred Bria committed earlier since it was not really a question of if Bria would commit to the Huskies, just when.

Talk about having all the bases covered, UConn now has a point guard (Hartley), shooting guard (Lauren Engeln), small forward (Samarie Walker), power forward (Michala Johnson) and center (Stefanie Dolson) committed to the join the program next year.

Getting the only other uncommitted senior on their recruiting radar would make a special class downright nasty. Somehow getting Chiney Ogwumike away from Stanford, however, would be one of the best coups in Auriemma's tenure with UConn. Word is she is planning to visit Stanford this weekend meaning she has been accepted into the school. Her sister Nneka is a sophomore forward on the Stanford team, both her parents want her to go to Stanford so the odds are stacked against Auriemma and his staff convincing Ogwumike to come East but what I've heard is that Ogwumike came away very impressed with her visit so Ogwumike landing at Stanford may not be as much of a slam dunk as some may think it is.

Next up is Big East media day in New York. I may be going out on a limb but I have a hunch the Huskies just may be the pick to win the conference.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hartley commits

And the hits keep on coming.

A day after highly-touted junior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis committed to UConn, one of the nation's top high school senior guards orally committed to the Huskies.

Bria Hartley, an athletic 5-foot-10 guard from North Babylon, N.Y., was considered UConn's top recruiting priority since the commitments of guard Lauren Engeln, Stefanie Dolson, Michala Johnson and Samarie Walker.

Hartley also fills a need for a point guard at UConn since the Huskies did not bring in a point guard last year to replace the graduated Renee Montgomery.

Hartley's father Dennis was hopeful that Bria would commit when she was on campus for an official visit over the weekend. But Bria wanted to wait until she got home and was able speak directly with UConn coach Geno Auriemma.

"I had a good time on my official visit so I felt like that was where I wanted to be," Hartley said.

With the commitment of Hartley, the only high school senior left on UConn's recruiting radar is 6-foot-3 forward Chiney Ogwumike of Cypress, Tex. who arrived for her official visit late Friday night.

Ogwumike, whose older sister Nneka plays at Stanford, is strongly considering joining her sister at Stanford but the word is she came away impressed with her official visit to UConn.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Huskies land a prized recruit

I have to admit that the tragic news coming out of UConn today makes me a bit conflicted and reluctant to go too nuts writing about the latest commitment to the Huskies' women's basketball program, even a special talent like Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

In the pecking order of what's important in the world, the news that one of the - if not the - best high school junior in the country has committed to the Huskies pales to what the friends and family of the late Jasper Howard must be experiencing at the current time.

I never met Howard, a star cornerback for the UConn football team, who was murdered on the UConn campus early Sunday morning. But after watching a poignant piece put together by WTNH's John Pierson which showcased the fun-loving, bubbly personality of Howard, I was overcome with a profound feeling of what a terrible loss his death was. I am not talking about who will take over his role as the Huskies' shut-down corner or who will be asked to go back and field punts but the loss of the first person in his family to go to college. The loss of a person eager to turn his NFL contract into a way to find a better life for his family. A kid who left the hard streets of Miami (where I lived for two years before heading to Connecticut) to make a better life for himself.

But my job is covering the UConn women's basketball team and recruiting is certainly news. I think sometimes that people go overboard in the excitement over players they have never seen play. I find it curious that with so many key players returning from an undefeated national championship team, every time I run into a UConn fan or get an e-mail, it is never about Tiffany Hayes, Kalana Greene or Lorin Dixon but Bria Hartley, Chiney Ogwumike and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. When I wrote a lengthy blog a few weeks back on who would be visiting UConn to take in the First Night event as well as the first official practices, my blog had as many hits that day as the previous three days combined so I do understand that the Huskymaniacs love their recruiting info.

At times, tracking recruiting makes me uncomfortable as I attempt to balance my readers' desire to know what's going on with the recruit and her family's right to live their lives without unwanted intrusions from me. That is why somebody else will be reaching out to Hartley's family. I had called Bria's dad a couple of times over the last several months but haven't heard back recently. I take that as a cue that they want their space and they will get it, at least from me. When she commits, I will place a call but not before unless I hear from her family first. I know it may not be the way for you to get the latest on Bria's decision but it is the proper thing for me to do as a person.

I was in contact with somebody close to Hillhouse's dazzling sophomore Bria Holmes, who is on UConn's recruiting radar, checking to see if she was planning to come to Storrs for the First Night festivities. They pleaded with me to not turn her life into a circus. I had no problem agreeing to that. While I will be periodically checking in with my sources if UConn gets serious with the 6-foot Holmes, out of respect for her and those closest to her trying to let her live as normal a life as she can, you will not be seeing wall to wall coverage of Holmes. We will not be dropping the ball on keeping tabs on her but will also not be going overboard either.

Now if you have made it through that long-winded, rambling dissertation, I come to the point of the blog - Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

I have never seen her play but know she was the leading scorer and tied for the team lead in 3-pointers on the U.S. Under-16 national team's run to the FIBA Americas U16 Championship. I also know she was named California's Gatorade Player of the Year as a SOPHOMORE. That just does not happen in a basketball-rich state like California. I know that Mosqueda-Lewis averaged nearly 23 points per game for Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Calif. even though the team had two other players talented enough to make the U.S. Under-16 national team.

I spoke with Kaleena via phone when she was in Colorado Springs for the U-16 national team trials this summer and was immediately struck by her infectious personality. I spoke to her right around the time rumors were circulating that she had committed to UConn. She addressed those rumors head on and of course I asked her about her impressions when she was at one of UConn's practices in January. That portion of the interview was included in the story I wrote about her commitment for the Register but I was struck as much by other parts of our interview.

Her personality struck me as having a bit of the regalness of Maya Moore with some of the playfulness of a Renee Montgomery. More than anything, she came across as a good teammate and a really nice kid.

She was absolutely elated that her fellow Mater Dei teammates Alexyz Vaoiletama and Jordan Adams would be joining her in Mexico as members of the U.S. Under-16 national team competing in the qualifying tournament into the 2010 Under-17 World Championships.

"It is incredible, it makes it more comfortable to be able to interact on this team and have people here that I know are always going to be on my side and be with me," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "It is a great thing to have both of my teammates from high school here with me. At first we were all nervous, scared and we said if one of is makes it, two of us make it, if somebody doesn't we are still going to be together but when all three of us heard our names called, the looks on our faces when we saw each other after because we weren't sitting near each other but when we all came together, we all started crying and all happy that we got to do this together."

Then as I asked her if she was overwhelmed by a sense of history considering how many Olympians trained on the same facility she was practicing at when she gleefully told me the story of her securing an autograph from swimmer Michael Phelps. That was when I realized that for as talented as she was, she is still just a kid. A kid with enough gumption to approach one of the most decorated U.S. Olympic athletes of all time, but still an extremely likeable kid.

Here is the story in her own words:

"We walked around the campus and got a little tour. Michael Phelps was here the first day we were here. When you walk on the campus, you feel all the great people who have been here before you. I got his autograph when he was walking out of the dining area. I know there are a ton of great athletes out there, getting Michael Phelps, a man who got seven gold medals in one Olympic was incredible. I told everybody as soon as I got it."

While I would imagine that the fans out there will react to news of Mosqueda-Lewis' commitment with the same sense of elation they felt when Maya Moore committed to UConn, I would ask you to put things into the proper perspective. Yes, this is a great get for the Huskies but it also comes at a time where the UConn family is mourning the loss of one of its brightest stars.


Mosqueda-Lewis commits

A source has confirmed the rumors that highly-touted junior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis committed to UConn during her most recent unofficial visit to campus.

Mosqueda-Lewis, who some in California prep circles believe is the state's most talented player since Diana Taurasi, becomes the first member of the current high school junior class to commit to the Huskies.

Read more about this story in Monday's edition of the Register.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Huskymania alive and well

All you need to know about UConn basketball can be summed up by the fact that fans started lining up for tonight's "First Night" festivities several hours before the doors at Gampel Pavilion opened for the annual fan fest. I just took a quick look at the crowd and it looked like Gampel is at least 70-75 percent full even though there will be no scrimmage, just some prize giveways, some skills challenges and a pair of Hall of Fame coaches sign autographs and address the loyal fan base.

A few notes, if all goes well look for all the loose ends to be finishing and for CPTV to acquire rights to televise the four remaining available games.

Six of the seven recruits are in the house. UConn commits Stefanie Dolson, Lauren Engeln, Michala Johnson and Samarie Walker as well as top senior guard Bria Hartley and highly-touted junior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis are here ready for the festivities. Chiney Ogwumike, an uncommitted senior forward from Cypress, Tex., is expected to arrive tomorrow to take in UConn's first official practice. Ogwumike, also a standout volleyball player at Cy-Fair High School, has a match against Cy Falls tonight and being the good teammate, she will honor her commitment to her volleyball teammates before heading to Connecticut in the morning.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

TV schedule update

Just checked the CPTV broadcast schedule and saw that the Jan. 23 game at Villanova has been added so now CPTV is down to four games it is trying to get clearance to broadcast. The games in question are Dec. 28 at Florida State, Jan. 2 at Seton Hall, Jan. 30 at Pittsburgh and Feb. 24 at Syracuse. If CPTV's past success rate counts for anything, I anticipate that all four games will be shown by CPTV bringing the number of games the station is televising to 21.

Here's a funny exchange I forgot to mention yesterday. When I am not covering the UConn women's basketball team, I am the Yale football beat writer. Well, a couple weeks back UConn sophomore guard Caroline Doty was at the Yale Bowl to watch her twin brother Kevin, a tight end for visiting Lafayette.

Caroline said she was thrilled to see her brother starting and even more excited to see him getting open on Lafayette's first offensive play. Then when she saw Kevin snare the pass, she was delighted. Her mood quickly changed when Yale's senior safety Larry Abare absolutely crushed Kevin Doty, knocking him woozy. Kevin Doty had to be helped off the field by Lafayette's medical staff.

Caroline, no stranger to injuries on a field of play, said she was tempted to run onto the field to check on Kevin but thought better of it.

The good news is that Kevin Doty was not forced to miss any games. In five games, he has five catches for 55 yards.

Just a reminder that doors open for the "First Night" festivities at 6 and the event kicks off at 7.

Kelly Faris, UConn's only true freshman, admitted she is excited for tonight's event and looking forward to tomorrow's practice but she's not so thrilled about the requirement that she does a dance when she is announced.

"I am excited about it but not about the whole dancing part," Faris said with a laugh. "I am not one that dances a lot but ... It will be fun."

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Media day musings

Other than the music blaring out of the loud speakers as the media attempted to conduct interviews, it was a pretty uneventful media day.

Caroline Doty said she was cleared to practice fully about two weeks ago. However, having gone through the grueling rehabilitation process following a torn ACL has matured Doty knowing it will be a couple of months before she shakes the rust off and plays to lofty standards she holds for herself.

She was raring to go when give the OK to practice without restriction.

"(It's been) full throttle for a couple weeks," Doty said. "At the beginning of the preseason, I was still limited. I was doing all the running and lifting, just not as much playing. I think for three or four weeks, I was doing individual (workouts). I am feeling good."

Auriemma raved about the team's only true freshman Kelly Faris.

"You hate to jinx kids but Kelly Faris is really, really, really, really good. Nobody knows her but she is really, really, really good. She never plays bad, ever. I have never seen her play bad."

I asked Auriemma how unusual that is for a freshman and he laughed.

"It just doesn't happen very often. Don't get me wrong, you get special kids come along. That is not to say that Kelly plays (like an) All-Big East first-team (player) every night but I am telling you right now, you will not see that kid ever play a bad game."

Auriemma also raved about the improvement he has seen in erratic junior guard Lorin Dixon.

Doors open for "First Night" at 6 p.m. and get there early if you want autographs because both Auriemma and men's coach Jim Calhoun will be among those signing autographs from 6-6:45 p.m.

Among those planning to attend tomorrow as six of the top high school players in the country. Stefanie Dolson, Lauren Engeln, Michala Johnson and Samarie Walker previously committed while Bria Hartley and Chiney Ogwumike are considered to be among the best uncommitted players in the class. Highly-touted junior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis will also be on hand.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 12, 2009

Simmons headed to Rutgers

Daisha Simmons, a 5-foot-9 guard from Jersey City, N.J. committed to Rutgers on Monday according to a report on the site.

Simmons made an unofficial to UConn last month but the speedy Simmons was a long shot to join UConn's next class of incoming freshmen.

With Simmons' commitment to Rutgers and Cassie Harberts verballing to Arizona State, the recruiting picture is pretty clear cut for the Huskies. UConn already has commitments from Stefanie Dolson, Michala Johnson, Lauren Engeln and Samarie Walker and are very much in the picture with two of the most highly-touted prospects in the current group of high school seniors. Guard Bria Hartley from North Babylon, N.Y. and forward Chiney Ogwumike of Cypress, Tex. are expected to be on hand Friday night along with Dolson, Engeln, Johnson and Walker to UConn's "First Night" festivities. Doors open at 6 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, October 11, 2009

USA rolls to title

UConn, oops I mean the U.S. senior national team, went 3-0 to win the Ekaterinburg (Russia) International Invitational title.

Former Louisville star Angel McCoughtry was the U.S. squad's leading scorer, averaging 15.3 points (on 62.5 percent shooting). She was also the team's leading rebounder, averaging 7.3 per game, and had eight assists, six steals and four blocks in the wins over ZVVK USK Prague, Euroleasing Sopron and host UMMC Ekaterinburg.

UConn senior Tina Charles (12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds) and former Husky Asjha Jones (12 points, 4.5 rebounds) were the only other double-digit scorers for the U.S., coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma.

Charles and Jones were joined by former Huskies Swin Cash (7.7 points), Sue Bird (6.3 points and a team-best 14 assists) and Renee Montgomery (4.7 points to go with eight assists and four steals).

The 13-member squad was missing many of the players expected to represent the U.S. at the 2010 World Championships as former UConn star Diana Taurasi as well as fellow 2008 Olympic gold medalists Cappie Pondexter and Tamika Catchings were unavailable because they were playing in the WNBA finals. Seimone Augustus and Kara Lawson, also members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic squad, were injured and unable to compete.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, October 09, 2009

CPTV schedule announced

Among their other positive qualities, Harriet Unger and the people at CPTV are punctual.

One of the first things I did when I saw UConn's national television schedule was to fire off an e-mail to Harriett, the executive producer of CPTV's broadcasts of UConn women's basketball games. She told me the plan was to release the schedule at the end of next week. Well, "next week" ends tomorrow so right on cue, the CPTV schedule arrived in the e-mail in-box a few minutes ago. First, this is not the complete schedule as negotiations are underway to carry all the games not contractually obligated to another station or network. But a minimum of 16 games will be televised
on CPTV in the upcoming season.

Getting through the red tape to carry road games is never an easy task but CPTV officials will do everything in their powers to carry to Dec. 28 Florida State, Jan. 2 Seton Hall, Jan. 23 Villanova, Jan. 30 Pittsburgh and Feb. 24 Syracuse games.

Here's the schedule straight from the release put out by CPTV

CPTV’s UConn Broadcast Schedule for 2009-2010 (Subject to Change)
Tuesday, November 10 at 8pm The Geno Auriemma Show: You Make the Call (live call-in show)
Saturday, November 14 at 2 pm vs. Northeastern (Gampel Pavilion)
Friday, November 20 at 7:30 pm at Holy Cross
(The Geno Auriemma Show precedes the game at 7 pm)
Friday, November 27 at 7:30 pm 2009 WBCA Classic Tournament – UConn vs. Hofstra (Gampel Pavilion)
Saturday, November 28 at 7:30 pm 2009 WBCA Classic Tournament – UConn vs. Richmond (Gampel Pavilion)
Sunday, November 29 at 4:30 pm 2009 WBCA Classic Tournament – UConn vs. Clemson (Gampel Pavilion)
Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 pm vs. Vermont (Gampel Pavilion)
(The Geno Auriemma Show precedes the game at 7 pm
Thursday, December 10 at 7 pm vs. Hartford (XL Center)
(The Geno Auriemma Show precedes the game at 6 pm)
Sunday, December 20 at 6 pm vs. Iona (Gampel Pavilion)
(The Geno Auriemma Show precedes the game at 5 pm)
Monday, January 4 at 7 pm vs. University of South Florida (XL Center)
Thursday, January 7 at 7:30 pm vs. Cincinnati (Gampel Pavilion)
(The Geno Auriemma Show precedes the game at 7 pm)
Wednesday, January 13 at 8 pm at Marquette
Tuesday, February 2 at 7 pm vs. West Virginia (XL Center)
Wednesday, February 10 at 8 pm at DePaul
Saturday, February 13 at 5 pm vs. St. John’s (Gampel Pavilion)
(The Geno Auriemma Show precedes the game at 4 pm)
Saturday, February 20 at 1 pm vs. Providence (XL Center)
(The Geno Auriemma Show precedes the game at 12 pm)
Saturday, February 27 at 12 pm vs. Georgetown (XL Center)
(The Geno Auriemma Show at 10 am precedes A Tribute To The Class of 2010 at 11 am)


Thursday, October 08, 2009

ESPN headed to "First Night"

UConn is one of the stops for ESPNU's Midnight Madness whiparound coverage on Oct. 16.

Here's the list of announcers providing live coverage from various campuses.

Connecticut/Gampel Pavilion: Doug Gottlieb
Duke/Cameron Indoor Stadium: Jay Williams
Georgetown/McDonough Arena: Lou Canellis and Bill Raftery
Kansas/Allen Field House: Dave Armstrong and Fran Fraschilla
Kentucky/ Rupp Arena: Dave LaMont and Jimmy Dykes
Michigan State/Breslin Center: Stephen Bardo
North Carolina/Dean Smith Center: Rob Stone and Hubert Davis
North Dakota State/Bison Sports Arena: Jim Barbar
Washington/Bank of America Arena: Steve Physioc and Steve Lavin

The doors for UConn's "First Night" festivities open at 6 p.m. and will include autograph sessions headed by the Huskies' Hall of Fame basketball coaches Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun.

The four players who have orally committed to the UConn women's program (Stefanie Dolson, Lauren Engeln, Michala Johnson and Samarie Walker) as well as two players currently being recruited by the Huskies (Bria Hartley and Chiney Ogwumike) are also expected to be in attendance. Any hopes of getting a campus visit from highly-touted forward Cassie Harberts ended when the San Clemente, Calif. High star committed to Arizona State earlier in the week.

Connecticut Sun assistant coach Bernadette Mattox and guard Lindsay Whalen obvioulsy left quite the legacy at their respective alma maters.

Mattox was inducted into the University of Georgia Circle of Honor late last month. Mattox had two brilliant seasons at Georgia in the early 1980s. Whalen, a star at Minnesota earlier this decade, will be one of six grand marshals in the University of Minnesota Homecoming Parade this weekend.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 05, 2009

How time flies

It's hard to comprehend that next weekend the UConn women's basketball team will hold its first official practice. It just seems like I returned from St. Louis after documenting the Huskies' run to a third perfect season and sixth national title.

A few items to report from my phone interview with Geno Auriemma on Sunday.

First, if he knows when the national championship banner is being unveiled, he is not saying. I asked him if it would happen during the "First Night" festivities on Oct. 16 or if they would wait until the season opener on Nov. 14 against Northeastern.

"I haven't really talked to anybody back there about that," Auriemma said. "I am sure we will have that decision soon but I haven't really thought that much about it. I'll let the marketing people decide that."

Speaking of First Night, here are some details about the annual fan fest. The doors open at 6 p.m. with the event expected to run from 7-8.

Auriemma had high praise for his U.S. national team assistant coach Jen Gillom even comparing her to Jamelle Elliott. Anybody who knows anything about the high esteem he holds Elliott, his former player and assistant coach who is going into her first season as the head coach at Cincinnati, should be impressed by the following quote.

"Jen's unbelievable, she reminds me a lot of Jamelle," Auriemma said. "She is high energy, high intensity, she was a great, great player and she things she's doing with some of our post players, I can see the results already. She is wonderful, she was like that as a player when I doing some ESPN games and she is like that here. I don't think there could have been a better choice."

The other assistant coach, DePaul's Doug Bruno, is one of Auriemma's closest friends so it goes without saying that Auriemma is thrilled to be working with him as well.

If space permits, the story I wrote on Auriemma's first training camp as the U.S. national team coach should appear in Tuesday's edition of the Register.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Working her way back

Part of Asjha Jones wanted nothing more than to be going full speed ahead for the start of the U.S. national team training camp.

But before she headed down to Washington, D.C., Connecticut Sun trainer Jeremy Norman cautioned Jones not to push it or she could find herself on the sidelines once again. With a bitter taste in her mouth after a sore Achilles' tendon forced her to miss the final 11 games of the WNBA season, forcing the all-star forward to watch the Sun flounder without her.

So Jones heeded Norman's advice.

"I had to start slow. I was in a boot for seven weeks, hadn’t played in five or so it has been kind of a slow process for me," Jones said. "Jeremy cautioned me to make sure I start slow and not overdo it. It is like waking up the ankle, waking up everything that goes into the foot. It is not just the Achilles. I was just trying to take it slow, jogging a little bit and started to do some sprints, shooting. I was just out of shape, there is nothing like simulating going to a real practice. I am getting there, every day is a little bit better.

"It is hard but I have gotten a little older now and know that if I don’t go slow, if I hurt myself I will have to sit out a little longer so I really have tried to stay patient. If I feel a little pain, not overreacting and knowing that it is part of the process of waking everything back up. Right now I understand what I am feeling and it is a pain that is Ok and there is a pain that is bad. Right now, any time you don’t do something for a while, you have to wake your muscles back up.
I think day to day we add a little more, every day is pretty much a different drill. The offensive drills are usually the same. "

U.S. national team coach Geno Auriemma coached Jones for four seasons at UConn and knew she would not be 100 percent during training camp. But he also felt that 80 percent of Asjha Jones is better than 100 percent a lesser player.

"Asjha's kind of getting back into shape, not playing for the longest time," Auriemma said. "She is not 100 percent but Asjha is Asjha. She knows how to play, she is a good basketball player, she is smart and skilled and she gets things done that other people can't get done because she is just a pro. She has a tremendous knowledge of the game, it helps her even when she isn't 100 percent to know what to do and when to do it."

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Let's get to the point

One of the most intriguing sidebars from my coverage of UConn's methodical march to the national title last season was the relationship between Sue Bird and Renee Montgomery.

One day at the end of an interview session, the irrepressible Montgomery mentioned that she is in contact with Bird on a regular basis. I never got around to writing the story. Bird being in Russia may have had something to do with that. Well, with Montgomery and Bird both being at the U.S. national team training camp, I was granted a reprieve so there will be a story in Sunday's edition of the Register about the common bond the two former Huskies share even though this week marked the first time they played on the same team.

I also spoke with former UConn star Asjha Jones on a variety of topics and will include some of those tid bits at some point in this blog. My last interview on Friday was with
Carol Callan, USA Basketball's women's national team director.

Among the highlights were Callan saying she was optimistic that the WNBA schedule in 2010 will end in time for there to be a national team training camp before the U.S. team heads to Czech Republic in September for the World Championships. She also said that playing exhibition games against college teams in 2010 was never the plan so the fact that the training camp will be held about a month before college teams can hold their first official practice is irrelevant. She said the hope is to schedule an exhibition game against another squad or squads competing in the World Championships is the goal. She said it's too early to think about setting up exhibition games with college teams in 2011.

Callan was fired up about the quality of play in the WNBA finals.

"We've all been talking about it, it's been so exciting to watch," Callan said.

Seeing the roles that U.S. national team core players Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter and Tamika Catchings "reinforces that we made the right decision (in making them among the eight core players).

Callan also said there is no rush to name the final assistant coach for the World Championship squad to go with head coach Geno Auriemma and assistants Doug Bruno and Jen Gillom.

Kevin Doty, the twin brother of UConn's Caroline Doty, had a 14-yard reception on the Lafayette football team's first offensive play. However, he took a devastating hit from Yale's hard-hitting safety Larry Abare and needed to be helped off the field. I didn't notice if Doty was able to come back into the game. The visiting fans sit all the way across the field so I couldn't tell how many members of the Doty clan or if any of Doty's UConn teammates made it to the game but I would anticipate that Kevin Doty had a sizeable cheering section just knowing how tight knit the Doty family is.

Lafayette won 31-14.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 02, 2009

Hardly lost in translation

In the midst of my telephone interview with Renee Montgomery this afternoon, the former UConn star had a hard time holding in the laughter. It was not from my latest line of questioning but some good-natured ribbing from former Maryland star Crystal Langhorne.

Langhorne was one of the non-UConn products having some fun at the expense of Montgomery, one of six former or current Huskies at the first U.S. national team training camp being run by UConn coach Geno Auriemma.

"She said everybody else just stands there looking and all of us know what is about to happen and they look confused," Montgomery said with a laugh. "That's a quote from Crystal Langhorne. I try to explain everything, there are a lot of plays being thrown out and I already know the names and what they are and try to help as much as I can."

"Seeing as how we have been doing a lot of UConn stuff or should I say everything UConn, it’s simple for me to play in the system because I’ve been playing in the system for four years. That has been a comfort to me, just knowing what Coach wants to be run. It’s a lot of the same stuff, the same concepts. Coach is going to be Coach so I kind of know what he wants and know how he likes to have the offense run."

Montgomery and the other UConn products (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones, Tina Charles and Maya Moore) at the training camp in Washington, D.C. have been happy to serve as translators and also make it clear that nobody is safe from Auriemma's legendary caustic wit.

"I feel like the old wise person because you know what he wants, what is going to make him mad and what is OK," Jones said. "You just help out everybody else who hasn’t had the pleasure of playing for him, when he tells you to do something he wants it exactly the way he said it. There is not a lot of mixing it up. He is pretty particular, he does things for a reason."

Candace Parker arrived at training camp on Friday, bringing the number of attendees who can practice to 14. Of the 23 originally invited, Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter and Ebony Hoffman are still playing in the WNBA finals, Jayne Appel, Seimone Augustus, Alana Beard, Kara Lawson and Lindsay Whalen are injured and can not practice.

An official with USA Basketball said there is no minimum or maximum number of players they will bring to Russia for three international friendlies. The quartet of players vying for the WNBA title will not be there and UConn's Maya Moore won't be able to go because of a conflict with her school work. The other 12 players could all be a part of the trip but if any of them have lingering injury issues, it is possible the number could be smaller than that.

Speaking of UConn products, former Duke star Alana Beard had some praise for the two active UConn players.

"Tina Charles. I’ve never seen her play and I’m very impressed by her," Beard said in a story on the USA Basketball site. "As a big girl she’s very agile and in control of everything that she does. She impresses me a lot. And then Maya Moore, I’ve really never gotten the chance to see her play either. Both of them are very impressive to me in what they can do. They’re very poised, considering they are among a lot of older, experienced players. "

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 01, 2009

More on the TV schedule

There's still some red tape to be cleared before CPTV releases its schedule. It is looking like it could happen by the end of next week but rest assured, the folks at CPTV are doing everything in their power to bring every game not contracted out to another station into your homes.

Another bit of info that might be interesting to some is that is it rather unlikely that any of the players invited to the USA Basketball trials who are playing in the WNBA finals (Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter, Tamika Catchings and Ebony Hoffman) will be able to join the U.S. team for the three international friendlies in Russia. That would especially be the case if Indiana hold on and wins tonight to even the championship series at 1-1.

With the 2010 World Championships starting on September 23, the WNBA will need to use to the same scheduling blueprint the league used in 2007 when the regular season ended on August 19 and the championship series wrapped up on September 16. If that is the case and there is a U.S. national team training camp, it will likely not be able to include any players in the WNBA finals just like the one currently being held in Washington, D.C. The good news is that the EuroLeague Final Four will end on April 11 so if the 2010 WNBA season begins in early May as it did back in 2007, most of the players should be be finished with their European playing commitments in plenty of time for the start of the regular season.

For those dreaming of the U.S. national team facing UConn in an exhibition game in 2010, the fact that the U.S. squad would likely be leaving for the Czech Republic in mid September, about a month before college teams hold their first official practice, should put an end to those thoughts. With the 2012 Olympic women's basketball tournament set to run from July 27-August 12, it appears as if the only time the U.S. team could square off against the best college teams in exhibition games would be in 2011.


TV schedule is out

The television schedule is out.

One of the ESPN stations will carry seven UConn games (not including the Big East tournament) while CBS and CBS College Sports Network will air one game each. The UConn/Georgetown game is the Big East Regional Sports Network Game of the Week. Last year UConn's lone Big East Game of the Week was carried on live on several stations including CPTV. The CPTV schedule should come out shortly.

Here are the television games
Nov. 17 UConn vs. Texas, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Dec. 23 Stanford at UConn (XL Center), 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Jan. 9 North Carolina at UConn, 4 p.m (CBS)
Jan. 16 Notre Dame at UConn, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Jan. 18 UConn at Duke, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Jan. 26 Rutgers at UConn (XL Center), 7 p.m. (CBS College Sports)
Feb. 7 UConn at Louisville, noon (ESPNU)
Feb. 15 UConn at Oklahoma, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Feb. 27 Georgetown at UConn (XL Center), noon (Big East TV)
Mar. 1 UConn at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Mar. 6 Big East tournament second round (Big East TV)
Mar. 7 Big East tournament quarterfinals at XL Center (ESPNU)
Mar. 8 Big East tournament semifinals at XL Center, 6/8 p.m. (ESPNU)
Mar. 9 Big East tournament final at XL Center, 7 p.m. (ESPN)