Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Big East seedings update

Even with just one game remaining for all 16 Big East teams, there are too many scenarios for me to wade through them all.

This much I know:
UConn will be the top seed (like you didn't know that already)

Seton Hall will be the 16th seed unless the Pirates beat Georgetown and Villanova loses to Providence in which case Seton Hall will be the 15th seed and Villanova will be seeded 16th.

UConn, West Virginia and Georgetown have clinched first and second-round byes. Notre Dame can join them with a bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament with a win over UConn or a St. John's loss to Pittsburgh. If St. John's wins and Notre Dame loses, the Red Storm will get the fourth seed and the double bye.

West Virginia will earn the second seed with a win or a Notre Dame loss.

Georgetown seems likely to end up seeded third since it owns wins over both Notre Dame and St. John's.

Notre Dame's situation is pretty intriguing since the Fighting Irish can finish anywhere from second to fifth. If Notre Dame loses to UConn, it will be seeded either fourth (if St. John's loses to Pittsburgh) or fifth if ND loses and St. John's wins. If Notre Dame and Georgetown win and West Virginia loses, there will be a three-way tie for second. The tiebreaker with more than two teams is to put the teams in a mini-conference. Well, West Virginia, Notre Dame and Georgetown would each be 1-1 against each other so the next tiebreaker is the best quality win. Notre Dame would win that hand's down by beating UConn and would get the second seed. West Virginia would be seeded third based on its win over Georgetown during the regular season.

Rutgers would earn the sixth seed with a win over Louisville or DePaul loss to South Florida since Rutgers beat DePaul this season.

DePaul could slp down to the No. 8 seed with a loss and Providence win since DePaul lost to both Rutgers and Providence. Obviously being seeded eighth would put it in UConn's half of the bracket so a win could be huge plus it would give the Blue Demons another victory on its resume for the NCAA selection committee to look at.

South Florida would earn the No. 9 seed with a win over DePaul but since USF is one of five teams currently sitting either 6-9 or 5-10 in the conference, I'll wait until the conclusion of tomorrow's games to try to figure out where South Florida would end up with a loss.

The tournament will begin on Friday at the XL Center and here is the schedule

First Round

Game 1: No. 12 seed vs. No. 13 seed, noon
Game 2: No. 9 seed vs. No. 16 seed, 2 p.m.
Game 3: No. 10 seed vs. No. 15 seed, 6 p.m.
Game 4: No. 11 seed vs. No. 14 seed, 8 p.m.

Second round

Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. No. 5 seed, noon
Game 6: Game 2 winner vs. No. 8 seed, 2 p.m.
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. No. 7 seed, 6 p.m.
Game 8: Game 4 winner vs. No. 6 seed, 8 p.m.


Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. No. 4 seed, noon
Game 10: Game 6 winner vs. UConn, 2 p.m.
Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. No. 2 seed, 6 p.m.
Game 12: Game 8 winner vs. No. 3 seed, 8 p.m.


Game 13: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 14: Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 8 p.m.


Game 15: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

30-30 vision

On Wednesday it was Maya Moore who lit up Syracuse to the tune of 38 points and 20 rebounds. On Saturday it was Tina Charles' turn as she had 33 points and 15 rebounds in a win over Georgetown. Charles' huge game not only allowed the Huskies to clinch its 18th Big East regular-season title but put the senior center well in range of UConn's career scoring and rebounding records.

"What a great time for it to happen," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "The last (home) game of the regular season. You get your jersey, your parents are there and you have all this stuff in your head and all of a sudden you have 33 and 15 and the Big East regular season championship. How does it get any better than that?"

The answer is only if Charles hit her first career 3-pointer. Charles told Auriemma she wanted to try a 3-pointer. She does have a 3-point attempt on her resume but it was a desperation heave as the shot clock was running out against Duke earlier this season. Charles had Auriemma's blessing to hoist up a 3-pointer in a half-court set but it never happened. When Charles reminded Auriemma of that as she checked out of the game for the final time, he jokingly asked if she wanted to go back into the game.

Charles is needs 13 points to break Nykesha Sales' career scoring record at UConn and five rebounds to break Rebecca Lobo's all-time program rebounding mark. Ironically, Lobo will be the sideline reporter when UConn ends the season with a game at Notre Dame on Monday.

Auriemma was at his caustic best when he was informed how close Charles was to the marks, referencing his much criticized decision to stage a basket so an injured Sales could break Kerry Bascom's career scoring record at UConn in a 1998 game against Villanova.

"If she thinks she is going to decide that, she has another thing coming," Auriemma said with a chuckle. "If you write that, make sure you said I was laughing because if you write that and don't say I was laughing, I will get bomb threats, crazy boneheads will e-mail me."

Charles also picked up her second technical foul of the season. Here's what she had to say about it in the post-game press conference.

"I just had emotion and said "and one" and miscommunicated where I was speaking when I said it," Charles said.

Charles and Georgetown's Jaleesa Butler each received a technical foul with 12:15 to play after Charles hit a layup and was fouled by Butler. Kalana Greene, who assisted on the basket, said that Charles was directing her comments to her teammates but the officials thought otherwise.

UConn recruit Samarie Walker had 18 points as Chaminade Julienne of Dayton, Ohio defeated Oakwood 48-35 to win the Springboro Regional on Saturday.

The 6-foot-1 forward/guard helped her team win for the 15th time in the last 16 games. Chaminade Julienne advanced to the district portion of the Ohio state tournament and will play the winner of Sunday's Indian Lake/Kenyon Ridge game on Friday at Mason High School.

Labels: , , ,

Champs again

UConn's 84-62 win over Georgetown clinched the Huskies' 18th Big East regular season title and fourth in a row.

Tina Charles had 33 points as she moved by Kara Wolters and Diana Taurasi and into third place on UConn's career scoring list.

Charles also had 15 rebounds to give her 1,264 career rebounds, four shy of Rebecca Lobo's UConn record.

The Big East championships t-shirts like the ones the UConn players had on following the game are on sale at and also in person at the UConn Co-op Store in Storrs.

Among the 15,733 at the XL Center were UConn incoming freshman Bria Hartley, a 5-foot-10 senior guard at North Babylon (N.Y.) High and Brianna Banks, a 5-foot-9 junior guard from Northgate High in Newnan, Ga.

Labels: , , ,

Seniors' ultimate honor

There figure to be plenty of tears shed, a sense of accomplishment will be hard to miss at the XL Center. And that is before the game against Georgetown when the five UConn seniors are honored before their final regular-season home game. But the legacy of Tina Charles, Jacquie Fernandes, Meghan Gardler, Kalana Greene and Kaili McLaren will be on display after the game as well - assuming UConn takes care of business and beats visiting Georgetown.

When Charles, Fernandes, Gardler and McLaren arrived at UConn, the Huskies had gone two straight seasons without winning the Big East regular-season title which is an eternity at a program like Connecticut's. But a win will give the Huskies a fourth straight outright Big East regular season crown.

"They have a chance to win a Big East championship and what better way to end the regular season - you are a senior, you win the championship," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "For it to happen that way, if it does happen. It is great for them and a great accomplishment."

While a crowd of more than 15,000 is expected at the XL Center, for those not planning to attend CPTV has a full day of coverage planned beginning in a few minutes with the airing of the Geno Auriemma Show. Here's the schedule:

9 a.m. The Geno Auriemma Show (with special guests Bob Joyce and Kara Wolters from WTIC-AM 1080)
10 a.m. UConn Women’s Basketball: A Tribute to the Class of 2010 – a new CPTV original documentary that profiles the college careers of the 2010 Senior Class: Tina Charles, Kalana Greene, Kaili McLaren, Jacquie Fernandes and Meghan Gardler
11:30 a.m. UConn Senior Ceremony – live from the XL Center, Hartford
Noon UConn vs. Georgetown (XL Center, Hartford)
2:15 p.m. (approx.) UConn Women’s Basketball: A Tribute to the Class of 2010 (encore)
3:30 p.m. Witness to Perfection: UConn Women’s Basketball 2009 – CPTV’s full-length documentary on UConn’s history-making, undefeated 2008-2009 basketball season.

Today, UConn commit Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis will lead her Mater Dei High of Santa Ana, Calif. against Beverly Hills in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section 2AA semifinals. But expect Mosqueda-Lewis and her teammates to be playing with a heavy heart after news that Mater Dei highly-touted softball star Nadia Brianne Matthews apparently committed suicide. The sophomore pitcher had already committed to national power Arizona and those who follow the sport had predicted great things for the talented pitcher/third baseman who drew comparisons to former Brakettes star and Olympic gold medalist Lisa Fernandez.

Matthews did not play on Mater Dei's basketball team which is hardly surprising since a top-flight pitcher like Matthews normally focus all their time on perfecting their craft as did former Masuk High star Rachele Fico, who is now a freshman at LSU. But certainly the Mater Dei basketball players are grieving the stunning loss of the 16-year-old Matthews, who also had a 4.0 grade point average.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dolson, Minisink Valley tourney bound

Minisink Valley of Slate Hill, N.Y., powered by 6-foot-5 UConn-bound senior center Stefanie Dolson, drew the No. 2 seed in the New York Section IX Class AA tournament.

Minisink Valley will receive a first-round bye and will face either Warwick or FDR on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Minisink Valley. Minisink and Warwick split games during the regular season. Kingston, led by Syracuse signee Rachel Coffey, earned the top seed. If the seeds hold true to form, the championship game will feature Kingston and Minisink Valley on Mar. 8 at 5:30 p.m. at SUNY-New Paltz.

Former UConn star Diana Taurasi had 38 points, six rebounds and two assists and her former teammate at Connecticut had 10 points and three assists as three-time defending champion Spartak Moscow Region defeated Fenerbahce 87-85 in overtime on Friday to complete a two-game sweep in the EuroLeague women's quarterfinals. Anete Jekabsone-Zogota of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun scored four of her six points in overtime for Spartak.

Taurasi, the leading scorer in the EuroLeague, averaged 33 points in the two games.

Another Russia powerhouse, UMMC Ekaterinburg also swept into the Final Four with a 65-60 win over Good Angels Kosice. Sandrine Gruda of the Connecticut Sun had 10 points and five rebounds. Former UConn star Svetlana Abrosimova played four scoreless minutes for Ekaterinburg.

Spartak and Ekaterinburg will meet in the semifinals on April 9.

Ros Casares, led by 21 points from former Connecticut Sun center Erika de Souza, also earned a spot in the semifinals by completing a sweep of Halcon Avenida.

The only quarterfinal series which will require a decisive third game is between Frisco Sika Brno and Wisla Can-Pack. The winner will meet Ros Casares in the second semifinal on April 9.

Labels: , , , , ,

Walker fighting through the pain

There's a story in today's Dayton Daily News about UConn recruit Samarie Walker's senior season when the 6-foot-1 wing has been playing with a partially torn meniscus in her right knee.

Walker has averaged 16.2 points and 9.9 rebounds in spite of the ailing knee, helping Chaminade Julienne to 14 wins in its last 15 games. The Eagles will play Oakwood on Saturday in the championship game of the Springboro Regional.

Walker's future UConn teammate Bria Hartley continued her impressive senior season when she tied for season-high with five 3-pointers and finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and seven steals to lead North Babylon to a 70-38 win over Brentwood in Thursday's Suffolk AA quarterfinal. Hartley and North Babylon will play Smithtown West on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Farmingdale State.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quality air time

UConn fans should be in their glory in the next couple of days.

First up will be the first episode of "The Climb: UConn's Quest for Perfection" featuring some behind the scenes footage of the Huskies. The 30-minute program is set to air on Friday from 3:30-4 and 11:30-midnight on ESPNU.

It will be the first of a four-episode series about the team airing on ESPNU, enhanced by footage shot by UConn seniors Jacquie Fernandes and Kaili McLaren.

Highlights of the first episode will include a look back at the first ESPN's College GameDay at a women's basketball game which occured on Jan. 16 at Gampel Pavilion as UConn played Notre Dame, a piece of UConn sophomores Caroline Doty and Tiffany Hayes, Tina Charles' induction into the Huskies of Honor and a look at the importance the bench is playing in the Huskies' success.

Additional episodes are tentatively scheduled to air on ESPNU on March 5, March 19 and April 2. Air times for each date is 3:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

On Saturday, CPTV is planning plenty of coverages centering around the noon regular season home finale against Georgetown. Here's the CPTV schedule for Saturday:

9 a.m. The Geno Auriemma Show (with special guests Bob Joyce and Kara Wolters)
10 a.m. UConn Women’s Basketball: A Tribute to the Class of 2010
11:30 a.m. UConn Senior Ceremony – live from the XL Center, Hartford
Noon UConn vs. Georgetown (XL Center, Hartford)
2:15 p.m. (approx.) UConn Women’s Basketball: A Tribute to the Class of 2010 (encore)
3:30 p.m. Witness to Perfection: UConn Women’s Basketball 2009 – CPTV’s full-length documentary on UConn’s history-making, undefeated 2008-2009 basketball season.

Speaking of the Georgetown game, about 1,000 tickets are still available.

Labels: , , , ,

Maya, Tina on Naismith list

The list of 30 midseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy was just released and - drum roll please - UConn senior center Tina Charles and junior forward Maya Moore were on the list. Go figure.

Former Trinity Catholic star Da'Shena Stevens, a sophomore at St. John's, was also on the list. However, Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike was not among the list of 30 which is pretty hard to understand.

Speaking of Moore, on Thursday morning's Big East women's basketball conference call UConn coach Geno Auriemma had some pretty high praise for her performance in Wednesday's win over Syracuse when Moore had 38 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.

"You can't just keep Maya away from the 3-point line and say we are going to slow her down," Auriemma said. "(Wednesday) night she did what all great players do, she made 3's, she scored in the lane, she scored on put backs, she got to the free-throw line. I think that's as great an individual performance as I have seen in all the years I have been at Connecticut."

Here's the list:

Last name First Name School Position Class
Appel Jayne Stanford Center Senior
Barlow Ashley Notre Dame Guard Senior
Charles Tina UCONN Center Senior
Clark Alysha Middle Tennessee Forward Senior
Delle Donne Elena Delaware Forward/Guard Freshman
Evans Dawn James Madison Guard Junior
Grant Tyra Penn State Guard Senior
Gray-Lawson Alexis California Guard Senior
Griffin Kelsey Nebraska Forward Senior
Griner Brittney Baylor Post Freshman
Harris Amber Xavier Forward Junior
Hightower Allison LSU Guard Senior
Houts Ashley Georgia Guard Senior
Johnson Shenise Miami Forward Sophomore
Lavender Jantel Ohio State Center Junior
Marginean Gabriela Drexel Forward Senior
McCray Danielle Kansas Forward/Guard Senior
Moore Maya UCONN Forward Junior
Pedersen Kayla Stanford Forward Junior
Phillips Ta'Shia Xavier Center Junior
Prahalis Samantha Ohio State Guard Sophomore
Riley Andrea Oklahoma State Guard Senior
Robinson Danielle Oklahoma Guard Junior
Smith Jenna Illinois Center Senior
Stevens Da'Shena St. John's Forward Sophomore
Stricklen Shekinna Tennessee Forward/Guard Sophomore
Thomas Jasmine Duke Guard Junior
Thomas Bianca Ole Miss Guard Senior
Vandersloot Courtney Gonzaga Guard Junior
Wright Monica Virginia Guard Senior

Labels: , ,

Lighting it up

I chuckled when I read Geno Auriemma's quote saying that UConn junior forward Maya Moore was going to have a tough offensive night after missing a couple of early shots because in my advance I basically said that Moore would not be repeating her 40-point outburst the last time UConn and Syracuse played.

Well, I was right. Moore only had 38 points and a career-high 20 rebounds as she joined Rebecca Lobo to become only the UConn player with 30 points and 20 rebounds in the same game. It was a much different way of piling up the points as Moore got into the lane early and often. After hitting a Connecticut single-game record 10 3-pointers in last year's demolition of Syracuse, Moore had almost as many points at the free-throw line (10) as she did from 3-point range (12).

A year after the bizarre post-game antics of UConn coach Geno Auriemma and Syracuse Nicole Michael, there was another strange scene when Syracuse junior guard Erica Morrow was ejected after the three officials reviewed the footage and ruled that Morrow threw a punch at UConn's Tiffany Hayes after Hayes and Morrow collided while going for a loose ball.

Hayes did not return to the game after her head collided with Morrow's. Hayes finished with 22 points in 25 minutes.

I thought it was interesting that Caroline Doty played deep into the second half. It wasn't a matter of Auriemma attempting to run up the score but clearly a chance for Doty to regain some of her confidence as she continues to regain her shooting eye.

The anticipated showdown between UConn recruits Lauren Engeln and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis appeared set when Engeln's Laguna Hills team led Beverly Hills 51-49 in the closing seconds when Jaina Abdul-Mansour hit a desparation half-court buzzer beater to give Beverly Hills the 52-51 win and a date with Mosqueda-Lewis and Mater Dei on Saturday in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Class Division 2A semifinals.

Engeln finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Engeln averaged 19.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.4 steals as a senior. Engeln finished her career with 1,984 points, 1,108 rebounds, 256 assists and 318 steals in 113 games.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hartley a Naismith finalist

UConn incoming freshman Bria Hartley, a senior guard from North Babylon (N.Y.) High School, is one of five finalists for the Naismith High School Player of the Year Award.

Stanford signee Chiney Ogwumike, a one-time UConn recruiting target, Duke incoming freshman Chelsea Gray, Alabama commit Kaneisha Horn and Odyssey Sims, who is headed to Baylor, are the other finalists. The final ballots will be counted in early March and the winner will be announced at a March 23 banquet in Atlanta.

Also, some good news to report on the Meghan Gardler front. The senior forward suffered a relatively minor crack in her nose and won't need to wear a mask. I say relatively minor because I'm not sure there is such a thing as a minor injury when it comes to your face but sure she is relieved that she won't need to wear a mask either tonight when UConn plays at Syracuse or on Saturday when she is one of five seniors honored in their final regular-season home game. Gardler will make her second career start when UConn plays Georgetown at the XL Center.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cream of the crop

UConn junior forward Maya Moore has been named the ESPN the Magazine's Academic All-America of the Year. In the process she joined Leigh Curl and Rebecca Lobo as the only UConn women's basketball players to earn Academic first team All-American honors in consecutive years. Moore now has a chance to become the program's first three-time first team Academic All-American.

Moore is averaging 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds and is the team leader with 104 assists, 56 steals and 52 3-pointers.

She also has a 3.70 grade point average in an individualized major titled "
sport, media and promotion" which combines journalism, communications and education kinesiology.

According to a blog post, UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph is expected to be in attendance at tonight's Linn-Mar vs. Bettendorf at Tipton Middle School. Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale were reported as planning to watch highly-touted Linn-Mar 6-foot-3 junior Kiah Stokes play.

The fact that Ralph was planning to make the trip should make it clear that the Huskies are still interested in Stokes even if a scholarship offer was not immediately granted to Stokes when she made an unofficial visit to UConn earlier this month. The UConn staff considers landing a top-flight post player a priority in the next recruiting class but is still in the early stages of accomplishing that goal. Stokes of Marion, Iowa and Elizabeth Williams of Virginia Beach, Va. are still very much on UConn's recruiting radar.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jones undergoes surgery

Connecticut Sun All-Star forward Asjha Jones underwent surgery to remove debris in her left Achilles' tendon on Monday. She is expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks meaning she should not have to miss any games for the WNBA franchise.

The surgery was conducted by Connecticut Sun orthopedist Dr. Ammar Anbari at Backus hospital.

Jones averaged 16.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 23 games before being sidelined for the final 11 games of the 2009 season with a strained left Achilles tendon.

Speaking of the Sun, the team will hold an open forum with fans tonight from 6-8 p.m. at Mohegan Sun's Cabaret Theatre where head coach Mike Thibault, assistant coach Scott Hawk and general manager Chris Sienko will take questions from the studio audience.


The Mask returns?

Word I am hearing is that UConn senior forward Meghan Gardler suffered a broken nose in Saturday's win over Providence and will likely have to wear a mask to protect the nose. Not sure if she will don the same mask that freshman Kelly Faris wore earlier this season.

Gardler played just one minute before she was elbowed in the nose by a Providence player in the first half. She did not come back into the game and spent most of the second half putting ice on her nose.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Charles passes Riley

The way Tina Charles is moving up the career scoring and rebounding charts, it's hard to keep track of it all but I still am a little red-faced that I missed the fact that the UConn senior passed former Notre Dame star Ruth Riley on the Big East's career rebounding list on Saturday.

Counting play in Big East regular season games only, Charles has 548 rebounds in 61 career Big East games (not including the Big East tournament). Riley pulled down 544 rebounds in 72 career conference games. Charles currently is 13th all-time on the Big East rebounding list but doesn't figure to stay there for very long. Next up is Providence's Andrea Magnum (550 rebounds). Villanova's Shelly Pennefather (553), Kym Hope of Miami (554), Georgetown's Sylita Thomas (557) and UConn's Jamelle Elliott (558) are all within range for Charles when the Huskies play at Syracuse on Wednesday. Charles also needs 26 points - the amount she scored against Providence on Saturday - for 1,000 points in her Big East career. She would become the 22nd player with 1,000 points in Big East regular-season play.

Labels: ,

Remembering the past

In the world of UConn women's basketball last names are really not necessary. So when Maya Moore and Tina Charles had their post-game, post-press conference interviews interrupted by a request to pose with a photo with "Kerry", there was no need for them to ask "Kerry who?"

Moore swung her head around after the request came from UConn women's basketball sports information director Randy Press after Saturday's win over Providence and her eyes lit up when she spotted Kerry Bascom armed with a camera and a huge smile. Both Moore and Charles gave Bascom a huge hug and chatted for a few seconds before posing for photos.

Moore's reaction was somewhere along the lines of "of course I won't mind sharing some quality time with one of the greats in UConn history."

Bascom brought some people down from New Hampshire with her and had Charles and Moore sign a few items and take some photos for keepsakes. The funny thing is that Charles and Moore might have gotten a bigger kick out of the brief interaction with Bascom than it being the other way around.

"We know how hard it is to play here," Moore said. "I am sure it was even harder when she was here so we absolutely have respect for a woman like that. It is a family so any time we see a former player, we get excited and feel this connection because they have been where we are now."

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma was asked during the live airing of his show on CPTV who he would like to take the last shot in the closing seconds with the Huskies down by two points and his answer was either Diana Taurasi or Kerry Bascom. Yet Bascom goes relatively unnoticed when she comes to UConn games. Unlike the UConn stars who came in after her, very few of Bascom's games were on television but the star of UConn's first Final Four team and the three-time Big East Player of the Year has always been and will always be one of Auriemma's favorites.

"It's always great when the players come back," Auriemma said. "It does keep you connected, they stay connected. It helps us keep that thread back to the beginning. Having Meghan (Pattyson Culmo) around, having Kerry around, having Rita (Williams) at practice (periodically), having Sue (Bird) when she comes up, it is really gratifying for me when I see that.

"Kerry comes down a lot. I always enjoy seeing her and it always reminds me that as good a player as she was, I don't think she ever played a game in this building. She happened to come along a little too soon for all of this but just at the right time for us. Somebody asked me the other day if I had one player to make a shot with 1 second left I would either have Dee (Taurasi) shoot it or pass it to Kerry that's how much that kid meant to our program, how many big shots and how many big plays she made. It was pre-TV, pre-national rankings, pre-everything but she still feels like this is a big part of who she is and all the kids on the team know her, she is like royalty."

Switching gears from looking at one of the greats of UConn's past, here's an update on how some of UConn recruits fared last night.

Stefanie Dolson, a 6-foot-5 senior center at Minisink Valley in Slate Hill, N.Y., flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 26 points, 22 rebounds and 8 blocks in a 52-37 win over Amsterdam.

Lauren Engeln, a 5-foot-11 guard at Laguna Hills (Calif.) High, only made 1 of 7 shots but was 20 of 22 from the free-throw line in a 57-35 win over JW North. Engeln finished with 22 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Samarie Walker, a 6-foot-1 wing at Chaminade Julienne in Dayton, Ohio, had a quieter game but since the Eagles only allowed 12 in a win over Monroe, she wasn't asked to light it up. Walker's seven points helped Chaminade Julienne to a 54-12 win to set up a game on Saturday against Oakwood in the Ohio Division II Springboro Regional.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lauding the Friars

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma had lofty praise for visiting Providence which needs just one win to secure the program's first winning season since the 1991-92 campaign.

"This is the best Providence team that I have seen in the last 9/10 years without question," Auriemma said. "Providence was one of the best teams in the Big East in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and it really got away from them for a very long time. (Providence coach) Phil (Seymore) has done a pretty good job of staying with it, getting a certain kind of kid. They run some great stuff on offense, they get everybody involved and he has made them expect to win rather than 'hope we don't get killed.' You can see it in the way they play."

The play of senior guard Chelsea Marandola has a lot to do with the Friars taking a 15-10 record including a 6-6 mark in the Big East into today's game.

Much like UConn's Kalana Greene who is playing at such a higher level this season than she did last year coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL, Marandola is playing with more confidence in the second season after a knee injury forced her to sit out the 2007-08 season.

Marandola came into the game second in the Big East in scoring just percent points behind UConn's Maya Moore as both Moore and Marandola are averaging 18 points per game.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Dixon misses practice

Lorin Dixon was not at practice on Friday as she was back home in New York dealing with a family matter. UConn coach Geno Auriemma said she is expected to be back in time for tomorrow's game against Providence.


New outfits for Huskies

UConn will be showcasing some new uniforms it will be wearing at tomorrow's Providence game. The Nike Hype Elite uniforms, the lightest elite fit college basketball uniform. The back of the jerseys will feature a star for each of the six national titles.

More on CPTV and Georgetown game

CPTV sent out a release with a more detailed breakdown of its broadcast schedule for next Saturday when seniors Tina Charles, Jacquie Fernandes, Meghan Gardler, Kalana Greene and Kaili McLaren play their final home game.

Here's the release:

UConn Senior Day on CPTV!
The Day’s Festivities Include the Premiere of the New Documentary,
UConn Women’s Basketball: A Tribute to the Class of 2010
Tune in for All-Day Coverage Saturday, February 27 starting at 9 a.m. on CPTV

HARTFORD, Conn. (February 19, 2010) – It’s one of the emotional highlights of the UConn basketball season: UConn Senior Day; the day when the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team gives their senior players a chance to play their last home game, join their family on the court for a special presentation by Coach Geno Auriemma and offer their official goodbye to the fans.

Tune into Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) Saturday, February 27 starting at 9 a.m. for an entire day of UConn programming devoted to an incredible #1-ranked team and its five extraordinary Seniors: Tina Charles, Kalana Greene, Kaili McLaren, Jacquie Fernandes and Meghan Gardler. As always, CPTV will be there covering all the special moments of the day and offering some unique programming dedicated to the extraordinary 2010 Senior Class.

9 a.m. The Geno Auriemma Show (with special guests Bob Joyce and Kara Wolters from WTIC-AM 1080)
10 a.m. UConn Women’s Basketball: A Tribute to the Class of 2010 – a new CPTV original documentary that profiles the college careers of the 2010 Senior Class: Tina Charles, Kalana Greene, Kaili McLaren, Jacquie Fernandes and Meghan Gardler
11:30 a.m. UConn Senior Ceremony – live from the XL Center, Hartford
noon UConn vs. Georgetown (XL Center, Hartford)
2:15 p.m. (approx.) UConn Women’s Basketball: A Tribute to the Class of 2010 (encore)
3:30 p.m. Witness to Perfection: UConn Women’s Basketball 2009 – CPTV’s full-length documentary on UConn’s history-making, undefeated 2008-2009 basketball season.

Throughout the day CPTV will be offering one-of-a-kind autographed UConn items for auction, including:
• A framed photo of the 2008-2009 UConn Huskies taken right before the buzzer during their NCAA Tournament Championship game
• An autographed poster of the 2009-2010 UConn Huskies
• A commemorative autographed basketball
• A signed program from last year’s Final Four
• A autographed Kay Yow T-shirt

Be sure to tune in for a day of programming devoted to this history-making team and their most experienced players.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Georgetown ticket update

Tickets are going fast for the Feb. 27 game against Georgetown at the XL Center. UConn officials announced earlier today that fewer than 1,000 seats are left for the Feb. 27 game.

Before the game seniors Tina Charles, Kalana Greene, Kaili McLaren, Meghan Gardler and Jacquie Fernandes will be honored as it will be their last home game. After the game the Huskies should be celebrating the Big East regular season title unless the Huskies slip up between now and then.

There are plenty of tickets remaining for Saturday's game against Providence, also at the XL Center.

The date when the Reality TV UConn women's basketball style will be introduced has been pushed back from tomorrow to Feb. 26. That's the date when results of the first batch of videos shot by Fernandes and McLaren will be aired on ESPNU. The times have not changed as the episodes are set to air at 3:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Now for a few other notes, UConn incoming freshman Samarie Walker had 10 points as her Chaminade Julienne of Dayton, Ohio team opened with a 73-25 win over Stivers in the Ohio Division II Springboro Regional. Chaminade Julienne plays Monroe on Saturday. I find the Ohio playoff system a bit bizarre as Chaminade Julienne is the No. 2 seed but has to play a game before meeting the No. 10 seed.

There's a nice piece on the relationship between Bonnie Samuelson, who has been offered a scholarship by UConn, and her younger sister Karlie, who accompanied Bonnie on her unofficial visit to UConn earlier this season, by the Huntington Beach (Calif.) Independent.

In the time to give credit where credit is due, former UConn commit Elena Delle Donne had the top single-game scoring performance in Division I women's basketball this season when she dropped 54 on James Madison Thursday night. Perhaps most impressive is that Delle Donne scored 54 points on 28 shots and was 7 for 8 from 3-point range. However, Delaware lost 88-83 in overtime to James Madison as Delle Donne's teammates were just 11 of 26 from the floor with 17 turnovers. James Madison's Dawn Evans had 38 points despite missing 20 of her 29 shots. Brittany Carter of Memphis had the previous high with 49 points in a 98-83 win over Sacramento State on Nov. 27, 2009.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sun announce preseason schedule

The WNBA's Connecticut Sun will kick off its preseason schedule with a home game against Atlanta on May 4 at 11 a.m.

The Polish national team will come to Mohegan Sun Arena for a game on May 7 at 7:30 p.m. while the preseason portion of the schedule will wrap up with a game at New York at 11 a.m. on May 11.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CPTV/Georgetown clarification

Harriet Unger, the executive producer of UConn women's basketball broadcasts for CPTV, wanted to clarify some misinformation being put out there regarding the Feb. 27 Georgetown game.

I'll let her tell you in her own words courtesy of an e-mail she sent out to the Connecticut media earlier this afternoon.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about CPTV’s carriage of the
Georgetown /BE Game Of The Week. It WILL be on CPTV. Each year we have been granted rights to carry the UConn BE Game. We will be carrying the ceremony live from the XL with Meghan (Culmo) and Beth Mowins. When the Senior Day/Night game is a CPTV production, the ceremony always begins at the scheduled game time and the tip is pushed back In this case, that won’t happen so the ceremony will start at approximately 11:37am. I want to make sure folks tuning into the game don’t miss this. Below is our UConn day schedule:

9:00am – Geno Show with special guests Bob Joyce and Kara Wolters
10:00am – A Tribute To The Class of 2010
11:30am – Senior Ceremony – live from the XL
12:00pm – UConn vs. Georgetown
2:15pm* - A Tribute To The Class of 2010 replay
3:30pm* - Witness To Perfection: UConn Women’s Basketball 2009
*time approximate

With Notre Dame's loss to St. John's last night, if UConn runs the table that game should clinch the Big East's regular season title. There's an outside chance that Tina Charles could break either Nykesha Sales' UConn career scoring record (although she would need to average 25 points per game against Providence, Syracuse and Georgetown to get there in three games) or Rebecca Lobo's career rebounding record (Charles needs 33 to tie and 34 to set the mark). Other than that, there's not much going on that day at the XL Center.

While we are on the topic of misinformation, let me address another subject. I usually only provide this service when I am the one making the error and usually that is more than enough to keep my busy but since I have received e-mails on the subject of Stefanie Dolson possibly sitting out next season as a non-medical redshirt, here's what I have to say on the matter.

There is no way that a healthy Stefanie Dolson will be redshirted next season. It is not going happen, no way, no how. Yes, there was some scuttlebutt when UConn was involved with Chiney Ogwumike and Cassie Harberts that if they brought in a six or seven player class that one of the players could sit out the season in an attempt to even out the classes. With a five-player class and with Dolson one of the leading candidates to fill the gaping hoping left by the graduation of Tina Charles, any talk of Dolson or Michala Johnson being intentionally sidelined is an absolute foolish notion. Of course injuries and other circumstances can take place that could change the plan but assuming Dolson is healthy and Johnson doesn't have any setbacks from her recovery from having the ACL in her right knee repaired, I expect the two of them along with classmate Samarie Walker to figure prominently in UConn's plans next season.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some breathing room

The March 1 game between UConn and Notre Dame seems to have lost a little bit of its luster tonight.

While it could be the last obstacle between UConn and an undefeated regular season, it most likely not be for the Big East title unless the Huskies stumble in its next three games. St. John's took care of that with a 76-71 win over the Fighting Irish. That coupled with Georgetown's recent loss to West Virginia means that UConn has a two-game lead in the Big East with four games remaining. Had UConn and Notre Dame both run the table, the host Fighting Irish would have had a chance to earn a share of the Big East title with a win over the Huskies.

Notre Dame's loss probably isn't as stunning as it might first appear considering how well the Red Storm played against UConn and the fact that Notre Dame's Lindsay Schrader, a heart and soul type of player for ND, missed the game with an ankle injury.

Providence, which will play UConn on Saturday at the XL Center, moved to .500 in the conference with a 59-44 win over Cincinnati.

Some dates to remember

There's plenty of UConn-related events going on in the coming days to make even the most loyal member of Husky Nation in need of a daily planner.

On Thursday from 8-9 p.m. the latest episode of the Geno Auriemma Show will be televised. It will be called "Geno Live" and will feature Auriemma and assistant coaches Chris Dailey, Shea Ralph and Marisa Moseley fielding live questions from the studio audience hence the word "live" in the title. If you don't have a ticket for the event, you aren't getting one so just tune in at home.

On Friday at 3:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. the first of the segments featuring the video shot by UConn seniors Kaili McLaren and Jacquie Fernandes will air on ESPNU.

Of course, Saturday UConn is back on the court at the XL Center for a 1 p.m. game against Providence.

Going back to Thursday, it will be the date of the postseason openers for UConn signees Lauren Engeln and Samarie Walker.

Engeln, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, leads her Laguna Hills team against Rowland in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Class 2A opener.

Samarie Walker, a 6-foot-1 wing, leads her Chaminade Julienne of Dayton, Ohio squad against Stivers in the first round of Ohio's Division II Springboro Regional.

For those fans who want to sit in and ask questions of a Connecticut basketball coach, Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault, assistant coach Scott Hawk and general manager Chris Sienko will field questions from fans on Monday from 6-8 p.m. at Mohegan Sun's Cabaret Theatre. Questions can also be e-mailed to

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 15, 2010

Charles is player of the week

UConn senior center Tina Charles earned the Big East Player of the Week for a fifth time this season after averaging 22 points and 13 rebounds in wins over DePaul and St. John's. Speaking of St. John's, the Red Storm's Nadirah McKenith was selected as the conference's freshman of the week.

Hard to argue too much with either choice. Charles was sensational in Saturday's win over St. John's with 25 points and a career-high 21 rebounds. McKenith had 15 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and no turnovers against the Huskies.


UConn Day at ESPN

Not only will ESPN be showing the UConn men's game at Villanova at 7 p.m. and ESPN2 broadcasting the women's game between UConn and Oklahoma at 9 but just got an e-mail saying that the UConn women's dominance and the struggles of the men's program will be contrasted on Outside the Lines which will air from 3-3:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Engeln, Mosqueda-Lewis could meet in semifinals

The California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section brackets were announced today and UConn commits Lauren Engeln and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis could be squaring off in the Class 2A semifinals next weekend.

Mosqueda-Lewis' Mater Dei squad is the top seed and will receive a first-round bye. Engeln's Laguna Hill's team drew the fourth seed and will host Rowland on Thursday.

If Mater Dei wins twice and Laguna Hills takes three games the teams would meet in the semifinals on Feb. 27.

Mosqueda-Lewis, a 6-foot junior guard, is averaging 23 points a game for Mater Dei while Engeln, a 5-foot-11 guard, is averaging 19.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.5 steals per game.

UConn recruiting target Bonnie Samuelson, who is averaging 27 points, 9 rebounds and 4.5 steals per game, led her Edison squad to the No. 3 seed in Class 2AA.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

St. John's rewind

As Geno Auriemma grabbed the microphone to give out prizes to the kids in the student section, he didn't hide his displeasure for the lack of the artistry in tonight's game.

It isn't often that UConn shoots barely over 30 percent but that was exactly what happened in the Huskies' 66-52 win over St. John's.

Here are some thoughts:

First, Tina Charles was immense with 25 points and 21 rebounds but she appeared to get tired. Something tells me you will see Charles playing more minutes from here on out because it was clear she wasn't accustomed to having to play the whole game. When Charles grabbed four rebounds in a span of 52 seconds she already had a career-high 21 rebounds. With more than 12 minutes to play, it seemed a certainty that she would make a run at the single-game team record of 25 rebounds. But she did not grab another rebound.

It was still quite an eventful night for Charles who became the 12th women's player inducted into the Huskies of Honor, became the first Husky in nine seasons to have a 20 point, 20 rebound effort, was one of eight women's basketball players recognized for attaining a 3.0 or better grade point average in either the fall or spring semestes and picked up her first technical foul at UConn after official Joseph Vaszily ruled she struck a St. John's player in the face.

A couple of surprising things. First, Auriemma is usually good at the sentimental thing (queue the Meghan Gardler start at Villanova) but he did not get seniors Kaili McLaren or Jacquie Fernandes in at all in their final games at Gampel Pavilion.

Even more stunning was that reigning Big East Freshman of the Year Da'Shena Stevens did not start and rather than being punished or any indiscretions, St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said it was because of matchups. Not sure I get that explanation. She wanted to get bigger but in doing so sat her leading scorer and rebounder? Well, St. John's did make things difficult for UConn so I guess it's hard to fault her too much for the move.

Speaking of Barnes Arico, I spoke to her for a bit about incoming freshman Keylantra Langley. The results of the interview will be a part of my notebook running in Sunday's edition of the Register including getting her take on how Langley is handling the absence of her former head coach Steve Schuler. Schuler said he was fired even though the Crusaders were 13-1 and ranked fifth in the Register's Top 10 poll.

Labels: , , , ,

Stevens not starting/visitors in the house

Reigning Big East Freshman of the Year Da'Shena Stevens, a former Trinity Catholic star, is not in the starting lineup for St. John's. Look for more on the reasons when I have more to report.

As reported previously in this blog, highly sought after junior center Kiah Stokes out of Marion, Iowa is sitting behind the UConn bench. UConn incoming freshman Stefanie Dolson is also in attendance although the two are separated by a couple of rows.

UConn commit Bria Hartley was a bit of a late arrival but she is also in attendance, sitting a few seats over from Stokes.

Labels: , ,

CPTV going on early

CPTV will be shifting from showing the "Geno Auriemma Show" to provide live coverage of Tina Charles being inducted into the Huskies of Honor before today's game. CPTV's live coverage is expected to start at 4:57 p.m. and the game is available in HD.

Also, exact replicas of the pink jerseys being worn by the UConn players today will be up for bid beginning at 5 p.m. today on and the bidding will remain open for exactly a week. Also the tie Auriemma wears today will go up for bid following the game.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Stokes visiting this weekend

A couple weeks back I reached out to the dad of Kiah Stokes and his timing couldn't have been any better in getting back to me.

In an e-mail he said that his daughter, a highly sought after 6-foot-3 junior center who plays for Linn-Mar of Marion, Iowa, is planning to visit UConn this weekend along with her mom.

Greg Stokes, a former star at Iowa, said he was not certain as to when Kiah and her mom will be arriving. However, it is safe to assume they will be on hand to check out Saturday's game against St. John's. It is going to be a busy day at Gampel as it is UConn's "Pink Zone" game with prizes being awarded to fans in the most creative pink outfits.

Shortly before tip-off, UConn senior center Tina Charles will be inducted into the Huskies of Honor. She will become the 12th women's player given the prestigious honor. At halftime all the UConn student-athletes who received 3.0 grade point averages either in the spring or fall semesters will be recognized including eight of the 11 members of the UConn women's basketball team.

When I spoke with UConn incoming freshman Stefanie Dolson earlier this week she said she was tentatively planning to make it down for the game. I haven't reached out to her to see if she has finalized those plans but don't be surprised if she shows up.

Back to Stokes, who was a member of the U.S. Under-16 national team, her dad was born in New Haven but he said he only lived in the Elm City for a few weeks before Greg's mother took him to live with her mother in Ohio. Greg said he lost contact with his father, who still lives in New Haven, and they were just reacquainted about five years ago. Kiah's grandfather is a huge UConn fan who is hoping to meet up with his granddaughter when Kiah is in Connecticut.

It is still early on in the process so don't expect any commitments coming out of this weekend's visit. Kiah is just making the rounds. She was at a Tennessee game recently and a source indication to me that she would be visiting UConn in February which is exactly what she is doing.

By the way, fewer than 200 tickets are left for Saturday's 5 p.m. game, the final women's game of the year at Gampel Pavilion. Click this link to buy tickets.

Labels: , ,

Big honor for Sun's Gruda

Sandrine Gruda of the Connecticut Sun was named the FIBA Europe Player of the Year edging out Connecticut Sun teammate Anete Jekabsone-Zogota.

Gruda, a 6-foot-5 forward, averaged 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds in leading France to the European championship and has continued her impressive play with UMMC Ekaterinburg, one of the leading candidates to win the EuroLeague women's title.

Speaking of the EuroLeague, the playoffs move into the quarterfinal round.

Three-time defending champion Spartak Moscow Region, led by former UConn stars Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird as well as Jekabsone-Zogota, are the top seeds and will play Fenerbahce in the best of three game quarterfinal series. Spartak will host game 1 on Feb. 23.

Gruda, former UConn star Svetlana Abrosimova and the rest of second-seeded UMMC Ekaterinburg will play Good Angel Kosice in the quarterfinals. The other two series are Wisla Can-Pack vs. Frisca Sika Brno and Ros Casares vs. Halcon Avenida.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Three future Huskies selected

UConn incoming freshmen Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Samarie Walker were selected to play for the East squad in the Mar. 31 McDonald's All-American Game in Columbus, Ohio.

Hartley, a 5-foot-10 guard from North Babylon, N.Y. who has 1,820 career points, and Walker, a 6-foot-1 wing out of Chaminade Julienne in Dayton, Ohio who is averaging better than 15 points and 9 rebounds, were also selected to play in the WBCA game on April 3 in San Antonio, Tex.

Dolson, a 6-foot-5 center at Minisink Valley in Slate Hill, N.Y., owns school records with 1,863 points and 1,486 rebounds and is averaging 23.8 points, 17.3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 5.2 blocks per game for the 14-2 Warriors.

I won't debate any of the choices since the only players I have seen in person are the three aforementioned UConn recruits as well as Stanford signee Chiney Ogwumike (I have seen Dolson play one game in each of the last two seasons, saw Hartley play once as a junior and saw Ogwumike and Walker at USA Basketball junior national team tryouts) but since it is my understanding that Maryland incoming freshman Laurin Mincy has not played a game this season because of a torn ACL, it was a bit surprising to see her on the list. I'd have to imagine a replacement for Mincy would have to be named.

As I have mentioned before, if UConn gets sent to the regional in Dayton as I expect will be the case, fans who opt to stay in Ohio an extra day can check out the game since the Dayton Region final is Mar. 30 and the McDonald's game is Mar. 31. By my math, it's about 70 miles from Dayton to Columbus.

Tickets for both the POWERADE Jam Fest (March 29, 6:30 p.m. ET) and the
McDonald’s All American High School Basketball Games (March 31, 5:30 p.m. for girls game, 8 p.m. for the boys game) can be purchased at, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or at the Value City Arena Box Office. Ticket prices range from $8 - $13 for the POWERADE Jam Fest and $7 - $55 for the McDonald’s All American High School
Basketball Games.

Labels: , ,

Walker draws "fundamental" praise

After watching Chaminade Julienne senior and UConn signee Samarie Walker score 27 points to lead the Eagles to a 51-44 win, Fenwick coach Donn Burrows couldn't speak glowingly enough about Walker's performance.

"She had a complete arsenal of shots," said Burrows in a story in today's Dayton Daily News. "She didn’t do just one thing. She made 3s and she went inside when she needed to. She’s a spectacular player, but that’s as fundamental a 27 points as I’ve ever seen."

Walker, a 6-foot-1 guard/forward, was selected to the play in the WBCA All-American Game and today she find out whether she was picked to compete in the McDonald's All-American game as the 24 boys and 24 girls selected to compete in the Mar. 31 will be announced during the 5:30-6 p.m. show on ESPNU.

Speaking of UConn recruits, it should be noted that three of Walker's future teammates with the Huskies have a chance to finish their high school careers with more than 2,000 points if their teams advance far enough in postseason play.

Lauren Engeln of Laguna Hills (Calif.) High has 1,931 points. Engeln and the Lady Hawks open play in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section 2A tournament a week from today. Laguna Hills will find out who it plays when the pairing are announced on Sunday.

Stefanie Dolson of Minisink Valley High in Slate Hill, N.Y. has 1,863 career points while North Babylon (N.Y.) star Bria Hartley, who was also selected to play in the WBCA game, has 1,820 points.

UConn announced that Saturday's UConn/St. John's game is nearing a sellout with fewer than 500 tickets available.

Before the game senior center Tina Charles will become the 12th women's player inducted into UConn's Huskies of Honor, at halftime UConn's top student-athletes inclding eight members of the basketball squad will be honored for academic excellence and the game has also been designated as UConn's "Think Pink" contest.

Here's the official release from UConn

The UConn-St. John's showdown will also be the Huskies' annual "Think Pink" game. All fans in attendance will receive pink "3" placards to help root on the Huskies as they continue their quest for the BIG EAST regular season title.

All fans are encouraged to wear pink and help the Huskies support the fight against breast cancer on Feb. 13 when the Huskies take on St. John's. Fans in the best and most creative "pink" outfits will receive prizes.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Checking in on Dolson

As I mentioned on an earlier blog, I headed up to Warwick High School in New York to see UConn incoming freshman Stefanie Dolson play. I went to see Dolson, a 6-foot-5 center at Minisink Valley in Slate Hill, N.Y., play once last year but it was against an overmatched Washingtonville squad. It was hard to read too much into that game although I remember saying I was impressed with Dolson's footwork and outstanding hands.

With Warwick determined not to let Dolson catch the ball in the low blocks, Dolson was being bumped and surrounded by three players each time she worked her way into the low post. I will say that seeing her snare offensive rebounds at will that she catches the ball as well as any high school post player I've seen. Other than one reverse pivot and ensuing jumper, I didn't get to see much of the footwork that impressed me so much when I saw her play as a junior.

Even though she wasn't as assertive as she could have been, Dolson still had 23 points, 19 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in a 58-37 win over a Warwick team which had beaten Minisink Valley earlier in the season.

It was the latest impressive effort for Dolson who is averaging 23.8 points, 17.3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 5.2 blocks per game for the 14-2 Warriors. She owns Minisink Valley career records (for boys and girls) with 1,863 points and 1,486 rebounds.

When I blogged about Stefanie after the game last season, people wanted to know how well she gets up and down the floor. Well, Minisink Valley tends to walk the ball up the court so it's hard to get to much of a handle of how she will thrive at UConn next season. Although she also wears No. 31 and asked to be given that number next season, she is not Tina Charles. But she won't be asked to be Tina Charles. From the graduation of Kara Wolters to the arrival of Charles, the Huskies rarely played with a true center. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out when Dolson, Michala Johnson and Samarie Walker arrive along with guards Bria Hartley and Lauren Engeln next season.

Assuming space permits, a story I wrote after speaking to Stefanie, will run in tomorrow's edition of the Register.

Labels: , , , ,

McDonald's teams announced tomorrow

Tomorrow between 5:30-6 p.m., the 48 players who will play in the McDonald's All-American High School Games will be revealed live on ESPNU.

There will be 24 players picked to play in the girls' game and 24 boys' players for the Mar. 31 game in Columbus, Ohio. It will be the 33rd annual game although this is just the ninth year that a girls' game is being held.

Considering that UConn recruits Bria Hartley and Samarie Walker were just selected to play in the WBCA All-American game, which will be held on April 3, it would not be a surprise to see them selected to the McDonald's game as well. Hartley, Walker and the other three UConn incoming freshmen (Stefanie Dolson, Lauren Engeln and Michala Johnson) were nominated but then again, if you started for your varsity team there's probably about a 30 percent chance that your name was on the initial list of nominees.

The people at McDonald's do need a little assistance in the media relations department since I happened to stumble across the announcement by doing a little checking up on UConn recruits this morning. You would think they'd be trying to get the word out there. Then again, the people at the WBCA continue to risk antagonizing those who cover women's basketball by annually releasing its list of high school all-americans a day early to USA Today, the same publication which recently laid off its long-time voice of women's basketball Dick Patrick so it's pretty evident that working with the women's basketball media to publicize these games happens to be pretty far down in the pecking order of importance.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, if UConn gets sent to the Dayton regional, the McDonald's All-American Game is on March 31, the day after the regional final so if fans are willing to stay in Ohio an extra day and don't mind a 70-mile trip from Dayton to Columbus, they can check out the all-star game.

Here's some info about tickets from an official McDonald's release
Tickets for both the POWERADE Jam Fest (March 29, 6:30 p.m. ET) and the
McDonald’s All American High School Basketball Games (March 31, 5:30 p.m. for the girls, 8 p.m. for the boys) can be purchased at, by calling 1-800-
745-3000 or at the Value City Arena Box Office. Ticket prices range from $8-$13 for the POWERADE Jam Fest and $7-$55 for the McDonald’s All American High School
Basketball Games.

Forward Kerri Gardin has been signed to a training camp contract by the WNBA Connecticut Sun. Gardin has played in 67 games over the last two seasons in Connecticut, starting 23 times. Gardin has averaged 4.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in her two years with the Sun.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, February 08, 2010

Hartley, Walker WBCA All-Americans

UConn recruits Bria Hartley and Samarie Walker are among 20 high school seniors named All-Americans and thus selected to play in the annual WBCA All-American game.

Hartley, a 5-foot-10 guard at North Babylon (N.Y.), is one of four New York players selections while Walker, a 6-foot-1 wing, is the latest in a long line of stars to come out of the Chaminade Julienne program in Dayton, Ohio.

The game will be played on April 3 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas as part of the Final Four festivities.

As is their custom, the WBCA releases the information to USA Today first so here's the list of players through that avenue and I expect the rest of us to receive an e-mail tomorrow. True to form, the WBCA release went out to the rest of the media this morning and here is the official notification

Speaking of UConn recruits, I made the ride to Warwick (N.Y.) High to watch UConn signee Stefanie Dolson and her Minisink Valley team play. Warwick was 3-0 in Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association Division II play and was supposed to give Minisink Valley a run for its money. But Minisink Valley scored the first 15 points en route to a 58-37 win.

I'll have more on my brief interview with Stefanie in the next day or two as well as my impressions on her play but I was told by one of Minisink Valley's assistant coaches after speaking with her for less than three minutes that she had to get on the bus. Funny thing is after speaking with Minisink Valley coach Judy Mottola and heading for the door about five or 10 minutes later, Stefanie was still inside the facility but such is life. I'm a pretty quick interviewer so I made the most of my limited time with Stefanie.

I can say that despite facing double or triple teams by Warwick, which seemed pretty determined not to let the 6-foot-5 center dominate, on pretty much every possession, Dolson had 23 points (on 10 of 17 shooting), 19 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks. Five of her field goals came as she missed the initial shot, grabbed the offensive rebound and scored.

I will say that I found it ironic that the one of the side streets closest to the Warwick Public School complex (which includes the middle school and high school) was named Saint Stephens street. While it did not strike my funny bone as much as former UConn recruiting target Skylar Diggins' mother's maiden name being Renee Montgomery, I thought it was rather amusing since UConn senior guard/forward Kalana Greene hails from Saint Stephen, S.C. but then again, I am easily amused.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Michala Johnson has surgery

The surgery on UConn incoming freshman Michala Johnson's right knee went well according to her high school coach.

Montini Catholic coach Jason Nichols said that the torn anterior cruciate ligament was repaired but there was no work needed on the meniscus because "they damage was not what they thought."

Johnson will begin her rehabilitation shortly and will likely finish up the rehab process up at UConn as she is planning to enroll at UConn for the second summer session in mid July.

Johnson, a 6-foot-3 forward, was averaged 18.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.9 blocks before she suffered a season ending knee injury while making a spin move in a Jan. 12 win over Guerin Prep.

Johnson tore the ACL in her left knee in the season opener of her junior season and was diligent in her recovery process which is something that Nichols expected to be the case once again.

"If she works as hard as she did on the first ACL she will be just fine," Nichols said. "I think this will be all mental which I like because mentally Michala is one of the strongest kids I have been around. Nothing fazes her. She just gets it done."


Friday, February 05, 2010

Special visitors

There were about 200 players, coaches and parents representing several school and travel programs, including squads from Guilford and Madison, taking in Friday's practice at Gampel Pavilion.

UConn likes to let groups come up to take in practice but tend to only have a few dates to play the role of gracious hosts so it is not unusual to see more than one team taking in a practice. But the turnout on Friday was one of the largest I can remember seeing in the eight years I have covered the UConn beat.

"You make it so everybody can come to practice but you can't have them here every day so we pick a few days during the year, they watch," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "The coaches get a kick out of it, the kids get a kick out it and my players get a kick out of it because I have to be laid back. I almost lost it one time."

Auriemma spoke to the assembled crowd for nearly a half hour and when he was meeting with the media, the UConn players introduced themselves to the starry-eyed youngsters in the building.

"When you are playing basketball, playing games you see a big bowl (full) of people," UConn sophomore guard Caroline Doty said. "Here you buckle down, you meet people face to face and little girls looking up to you. A couple parents thanked me for being great role models and look up to me. It puts everything into perspective and how we have to be a good role model for these girls because you never know who is watching.

"I can relate to them, it takes me back when I used to watch UConn back in the day and try to get autographs from Diana or Sue."

Doty said she is feeling fine and her lack of offense in recent games is not of concern to her. As the point guard, she is content throwing the ball to the frontcourt of Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Kalana Greene.

She said she understands why Auriemma is being cautious with her, limiting her time in both practice and games. Doty played just 15 minutes against Rutgers and 18 against West Virginia because she has been bothered by some swelling in her surgically-repaired knee.

"I respect that because it is a long season and you want to make sure everything is going well but once I get in the game, I am feeling great," Doty said. "I don't feel like I am missing that much if he is holding me back, he is making the right moves obviously because Kelly (Faris) had a great second half against West Virginia. You have to (understand) what he is trying to do because in the long run, he is going to know what is best. Hopefully I will be on the court come tournament time and make plays."

UConn seniors Kaili McLaren and Jacquie Fernandes have been given hand-held cameras to shoot footage for four upcoming "day in a life" type of segments which will run on ESPNU.

Labels: , , , ,

A little housecleaning

Just want to pass on some info from press releases that have been come into my mailbox over the last week or so.

First, CPTV will be airing a live edition of the "Geno Auriemma Show" called appropriately enough "Geno Live!" on Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. from the Hartford Club.

Meghan Culmo, a member of UConn's first Final Four team and long-time color commentator on UConn women's games aired on CPTV, will be joined by Auriemma and the rest of his staff (Chris Dailey, Shea Ralph and Marisa Moseley). Questions will be taken from the live studio audience.

The studio audience will consist of CPTV members who have made a donation/donations. There will be no tickets available at the door.

The show will be rebroadcast on Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. and Feb. 20 at noon.

The Connecticut Sun recently put mini-plans on sale starting as low as $110 per package, with all tickets in the plan discounted from the box office price, both Mini Plans include priority purchase standing for the 2010 WNBA Playoffs.

The Big Game Plan includes eight games as well as the 2010 WNBA All Star Game while the Weekender Plan allows fans who cannot attend games during the week the opportunity to see the Sun play in five games during the weekends. Two other plans, the Pick 6 Plan and the 4 for $48, will go on sale beginning in March.

Mini Plans are available for purchase by either calling 1-877-SUN-TIXX and speaking with a Sun ticket representative or online at

The Sun is inviting Connecticut students in grades 4-8 to participate in the Second Annual Women in Sports Essay Contest. Students may submit a one-page essay answering the question: Who is your favorite female athlete and why? All essays must be received by the Connecticut Sun front office by Friday, April 9. Sun players, along with members of the organization, will judge the essays.

Entry forms are now available on .

One grand prize winner will receive an exclusive school assembly with Sun mascot Blaze and/or players to recognize the winning student, essay and school. The winner will be recognized at a Sun preseason game, receive four tickets to a preseason game and have their essay posted on . Five runners-up, one from each grade level, will receive four tickets to a Sun preseason game and their essays posted on . The first 50 entrants in the contest will receive a special gift from the Connecticut Sun as well as two complimentary tickets to a Sun preseason game.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dolson, Hartley shine once again

UConn signees Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley continued their impressive senior seasons.

Dolson, a 6-foot-5 center, had 25 points, 17 rebounds and four assists to lead her Minisink Valley of Slate Hill, N.Y. squad to a 54-26 win over Valley Central on Thursday.

Hartley, a 5-foot-10 guard, had 22 points and 13 assists in Thursday's 101-24 win over West Islip.

Labels: ,

Moore makes the grade

UConn junior forward Maya Moore was one of five players named to the 2010 Academic All-District I team in the university division making her eligible for Academic All-American honors.

Moore, who has a 3.70 grade point average with an individualized major, leads the 22-0 Huskies in scoring (18.6 points per game). She also has a team-best 40 3-pointers, 42 steals and is tied for the team lead with 84 assists.

Sacred Heart junior guard Alisa Apo (16 points, 6.8 assists per a game and a business major with a 3.76 grade point average) was a second-team selection to the District I University Division squad, former Cheshire Academy star and Franklin Pierce senior Johannah Leedham (25.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 4.4 steals and a sports and recreation management major with a 3.38 GPA) was a District I College Division first-team selection while former Guilford High star Jaci Daigneault (10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds per game with a 3.33 GPA as a psychology major) who is a junior at Amherst College, was a District I College Division second-team selection.


What's in a name?

When I spoke with Christ the King coach Bob Mackey last week, we chatted about his talented junior guard Bria Smith and I also asked for his opinion on North Babylon senior guard Bria Hartley, who is headed to UConn in the fall. Mackey made a crack about having an all-Bria team. I retorted that there's a New Haven kid named Bria that the UConn staff is keeping an eye on.

Well, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was in attendance at the New Haven Athletic Center to watch Hillhouse sophomore Bria Holmes lead the Academics to a 52-35 win over Career. The link will also let those who wish to click on the video interview with Bria shot by my colleague Chris Hunn. By the way, you won't have to wait long for her reaction to Auriemma being in the stands.

The 6-foot Holmes is averaging 19.8 points per game for Hillhouse. She has scored in double figures in all 16 games including seven 20-point games. She dropped a season-high 37 on Cheshire and had 56 points in back-to-back games against Hand and Guilford.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Some advance planning

For those of you considering hitting the road to watch UConn in the postseason, I offer up these thoughts.

First, barring a remarkable turnaround by Pittsburgh, I would have to think UConn would be sent to play the first and second rounds in the Steel City. The Panthers are currently 1-7 in Big East play and no Big East team with a losing conference record has ever reached the NCAA tournament. The Panthers still have to play at Notre Dame Saturday meaning it they lose that game, they would have to win out to finish 8-8 in conference play. It's possible that Pittsburgh could run the table with wins over Georgetown, Louisville, Villanova, Seton Hall, DePaul, Cincinnati and St. John's but the Panthers have not left themselves much room for error.

If you do the math, it is 501 miles from UConn to Pittsburgh and the same distance from UConn to Norfolk, Virginia. With Old Dominion needing to win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament to get into the tournament, it would seem like those are the top options. It should be noted that Pittsburgh and Norfolk are on the same schedule with first-round games on Mar. 21 and the second round being played on Mar. 23.

Barring any unforseen circumstances, UConn will be sent to the regional in Dayton set to be played on Mar. 28 and 30. It is worth mentioning that it is little more than an hour's drive from Dayton to Columbus and the McDonald's All-American game will be played in Columbus on Mar. 31 so those willing to stay an extra day could probably see a couple of future Huskies in action.

Speaking of all-star games, the WBCA announced that the WBCA High School All-America game will be played on April 3 at 5:30 p.m. (eastern time) at the Alamodome in San Antonio as part of the Final Four festivities.

West Virginia: a look back

Just a few observations off last night's game against West Virginia.

First of all, UConn fans crack me up. The story line of the season is that UConn's dominance is bad for the sport (which might just be the most absurd notion imaginable) and yet many of those at the XL Center Tuesday night were on the verge of hyperventilating because UConn was up by "only" seven points early in the second half. I guess when you are accustomed to seeing UConn up by 30 and sometimes 40 points at halftime, it's hard to know what to do when a team actually decides to play against the Huskies rather than ask for their autographs.

UConn's margin of victory was smaller last season than it was last night but there was no comparing the efforts of the West Virginia teams. I can still remember sitting in the West Virginia post-game interview room when I heard this commotion coming down the hallway shortly after last year's game ended. It was West Virginia coach Mike Carey absolutely lighting into his team for a sub-standard effort. The locker room was not particularly close to the interview room but I imagine Carey's rantings could have been heard back in Storrs. While many of the words Carey uttered are best not repeated in this blog, the synopsis of his "chat" was that why are you afraid to play against the nation's No. 1 team? Well, on Tuesday there was no fear in the eyes of the Mountaineers.

Few things annoy me more than post-game questions directed as the coach of the losing team about how his/her team played "hard." I'm sorry but that should be a given. I don't think asking a team to give some effort is really that huge a request but the fact is that few teams who have played UConn competed as hard as West Virginia did in the first half. That is unfortunate and hard to understand. If I were an athlete and given a chance to play the top team in the country, I would be raring to go and would have no problem bringing a maximum effort but too many times opponents are beaten before they walk onto the court.

The truest sense that Kalana Greene has made it as a player came with the fact that her 18-point effort was pretty much an afterthought. Much of the focus (including the story I wrote) was on Kelly Faris' three-point play early in the second half and of course the 15 points and 14 rebounds from Maya Moore was also hard to miss but there was a time when an 18-point effort by Greene against a ranked opponent would be the dominant topic for discussion in the post-game interview. Now it is pretty much expected that Greene is going to deliver the goods.

Changing gears, I figure I should address the Kara Lawson signing by the Connecticut Sun. I don't know if Lawson's addition will make the Sun a championship contender or if the backcourt of Lawson and Renee Montgomery will be the best in the WNBA. However, it may be the most quotable backcourt in WNBA history.

I like what the Sun have done (although I will miss seeing Lindsay Whalen, who has to be one of the top five most competitive athletes I have ever covered, play on a nightly basis). If the Sun can come up with an answer as to who will be the point guard when Montgomery and Lawson are out of the game, they should be good. I think Anete Jekabsone-Zogota and Sandrine Gruda will be much improved players and the eight-player rotation of Asjha Jones, Gruda, Jekabsone-Zogota, Lawson, Montgomery, DeMya Walker, Tan White and Tina Charles looks pretty solid. However, Lawson made a great point yesterday, with only 12 teams in the league each of the WNBA franchises should have rosters who look pretty good on paper. There's more pom-pom waving from the media who cover the Connecticut Sun beat than any assignment I have ever had so I'd take the chatter of planning the championship parade route with a grain of salt. That being said, I do think the Sun could be a tougher team considering that the new additions to the team are all gamers who are accustomed to winning and Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault will have more reliable options to go to than he has had in the last couple of seasons.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thibault finally lands Lawson

With each passing year, Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault's conversations with his Sacramento Monarchs counterpart would get progressively shorter.

Thibault would ask John Whisenant what it would take for Kara Lawson to get dealt to Connecticut. It got to the point that when Whisenant saw Thibault's number on his phone he would answer "we're not trading her."

When Sacramento folded, there was nothing standing between Thibault and signing Lawson as an unrestricted free agent.

With the Sun in need of more consistent perimeter shooting from the guard position, Lawson seems like an ideal fit for the rebuilt Connecticut Sun.

Lawson and Thibault got to know each other when Thibault was an assistant coach and Lawson a reserve guard on the gold medal winning U.S. Olympic basketball team. That familiarity along with the fact that the Sun have the same head coach and general manager since the franchise relocated from Orlando in 2003 appealed to Lawson. So did what she sees as championship potential and the team-first atmosphere of the players on the Connecticut roster.

"I think that is really important and that is another thing I think I looked at the roster and these players get it," Lawson said. "At the pro level, depending on the teams some players are worried about other things. The players in my experience with all of them, they are worried about winning and that was important. I wanted to be around those type of players and that type of environment and coaching staff. That is going to be key especially with the league going to 12 teams, every team is talented now, every team looks good on paper. The teams that get it and are the tightest knit groups are the ones who I think are going to make the playoffs."

With the addition of Lawson, Renee Montgomery and DeMya Walker and Tina Charles set to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick, the Sun will have a different look from the squad which missed the playoffs last season.

Thibault is feeling pretty good about his nucleus featuring Asjha Jones, Sandrine Gruda, Anete Jekabsone-Zogota, Tan White, Lawson, Montgomery, Walker and Charles. Tamika Whitmore could also be a part of the nucleus assuming she shows up to training camp in better shape than she did a year ago.

Don't expect reserve point guard Kiesha Brown to be back and the status of Erin Phillips is also up in the air.

"With the cap issues, I don't know if we can sign her (Brown)," Thibault said. "She has a veteran salary and the other one hanging up in the air is Erin. I don't know what's going to happen on that one. She is a reserve player, she qualifies for the veteran minimum. She hasn't signed (a contract). Right now it is at kind of a standstill."

It could make for an interesting battle for the final two or three roster spots with Amber Holt, Kerri Gardin, Chante Black, the Sun's second-round pick and possibly Whitmore fighting to make the cut.

Taurasi named All-Star starter

Former UConn star Diana Taurasi was voted in by the fans as one of the starters for the "Rest of the World" team in the EuroLeague Women All-Star game which will be played on March 9 in Gdynia, Poland.

Taurasi, who plays for three-time defending league champion Spartak Moscow Region, is the EuroLeague's leading scorer averaging 22.8 points per game heading into the game.

Sandrine Gruda of the Connecticut Sun, who plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg, was selected as a starter for the Europe squad.

Spartak and Ekaterinburg figure to be in contention for the EuroLeague title. The playoffs began today with Spartak facing Lotos Gydnia while Ekaterinburg is playing Galatasaray.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 01, 2010

Another triple-double for Hartley

UConn signee Bria Hartley had her fifth triple-double of her senior season at North Babylon (N.Y.) High with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 12 steals in a 60-32 win over Francis Lewis


A little bit of this and some of that

Just a few things to address following Monday's practice.

First, the Feb. 13 game against St. John's is going to be all about recognizing achievements. Before the game, Tina Charles will be inducted into the Huskies of Honor. At halftime when the best student-athletes at UConn are recognized for making the dean's list, 8 of the 11 players on the women's basketball team will be among them.

Speaking of academic excellence, UConn sophomore guard Tiffany Hayes mentioned a couple weeks back that the Huskies where broken into teams for a competition seeing which one could get the best GPA. It was the team of Maya Moore, Lorin Dixon and Jacquie Fernandes which won that competition.

Charles will also be honored before Tuesday's game against West Virginia for becoming the sixth UConn player to score 2,000 points.

Staying on the subject on West Virginia, Auriemma couldn't help but laugh when I asked him to recall the state of mind of Mountaineers' coach Mike Carey after UConn went to Morgantown and won by 30. Carey could be heard screaming at his team in the locker room after the game and when he made it to the media interview area, he was still hot under the collar.

"We played really really well and I was walking towards the media (room) and I ran into him. I said 'look, I'll be right out.' He said 'don't worry about I'm done.' I said 'you're done what?' He said 'I already talked to the media, I don't have a lot to say. I already talked to my team. I'm out of here. I'm going to get a beer.' I don't think he was very happy that night."

Beginning with Tuesday's game, the tie Auriemma wears during each regular-season game will be put up for auction immediately at the conclusion of each game at

"I think we made $5,000 (donating ties last year), I forget what the number is," Auriemma said. "You'd be surprised at some of the bids on it. It is a good cause, it is a lot of fun. I am not saying it is going to look as good on everybody else as it does on me."

Labels: , , , , ,

One streak is over for Huskies

While UConn's winning streak is going strong at 60 with a chance at No. 61 tomorrow against West Virginia at the XL Center, the run of UConn players being named the Big East Player of the Week ended at five when South Florida's Jessica Lawson was named the winner of the award.

UConn's Maya Moore and Tina Charles combined the win the honor the previous five weeks.

Speaking of streaks, UConn will set the new standard when the Huskies are the No. 1 team in the latest Associated Press poll. It will be the 37th straight week UConn tops the charts, breaking the mark it shared with Louisiana Tech.

Labels: ,