Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Three ex-Huskies are fan favorites

Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm was the top vote-getter and her former UConn teammates Diana Taurasi (Phoenix) and Swin Cash (Seattle) finished in the top five as the WNBA announced the top 10 vote-getters in the fan balloting for the July 10 all-star game at Mohegan Sun Arena. They will join Tamika Catchings as members of the U.S. squad since any of the top 10 finishers in the fan balloting currently on the U.S. national team player pool are guaranteed spots on the U.S. squad.

Following Bird, who received 127,490 votes, was Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Silver Stars, Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever, Lauren Jackson of Seattle, Candace Parker of Los Angeles and the San Antonio trio of Jayne Appel, Michelle Snow and Sophia Young.

These 10 players have earned a spot in the "WNBA vs. USA Basketball: Stars at the Sun" all-star game although Parker is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Hammon has become a Russian citizen, Jackson is from Australia and Young from the West Indies so they will be ineligible to play for the U.S. team, which will be coached by Geno Auriemma.

The 11-member U.S. squad will be announced on Thursday. I'd expect Sylvia Fowles, Tina Charles, Cappie Pondexter, Angel McCoughtry and Maya Moore to make the squad which would leave two spots available. Kara Lawson and Seimone Augustus are part of the core group on the USA Basketball national team pool and could be named to complete the team although Crystal Langhorne, who is enjoying an outstanding season with Washington, could be added while Candice Dupree and Renee Montgomery, who took part in the spring training camp in Connecticut, are other contenders.

The WNBA coaches will cast their ballots on July 6 to complete the 11-member WNBA squad.

Here are the voting results (with former UConn players in bold):
Sue Bird (Sea) 127,490; Becky Hammon (SA) 116,391; Tamika Catchings (Ind) 100,248; Diana Taurasi (Phx) 93,649; Swin Cash (Sea) 85,236; Lauren Jackson (Sea) 80,392; Candace Parker (LA) 78,624; Jayne Appel (SA) 69,316; Michelle Snow (SA) 67,906; Sophia Young (SA) 65,974; Briann January (Ind) 65,164; Tina Charles (Con) 61,664; Katie Douglas (Ind) 61,075; Sylvia Fowles (Chi) 60,342; Shavonte Zellous (Ind) 60,339; Cappie Pondexter (NY) 57,169; Ruth Riley (SA) 56,281; Kara Lawson (Con) 53,538; Penny Taylor (Phx) 53,509; Shameka Christon (Chi) 53,157; Katie Smith (Was) 52,878; Camille Little (Sea) 51,385; Alexis Hornbuckle (Tul) 49,039; Angel McCoughtry (Atl) 48,838; Tina Thompson (LA) 47,972; Tanisha Wright (Sea) 47,912; Ebony Hoffman (Ind) 46,840; Plenette Pierson (NY) 46,123; Tammy Sutton-Brown (Ind) 45,206; Janel McCarville (NY) 45,016; Epiphanny Prince (Chi) 44,522; Kara Braxton (Tul) 44,253; Cathrine Kraayeveld (Chi) 43,481; Scholanda Robinson (Tul) 42,382; Taj McWilliams-Franklin (NY) 42,280; Renee Montgomery (Con) 41,372; Monique Currie (Was) 39,920; Erika de Souza (Atl) 39,620; Iziane Castro Marques (Atl) 39,546; Lindsey Harding (Was) 39,090; Asjha Jones (Con) 38,353; Crystal Langhorne (Was) 37,551; Jia Perkins (Chi) 37,457; Nicole Powell (NY) 36,540; Nicky Anosike (Min) 35,531; Candice Dupree (Phx) 34,666; Betty Lennox (LA) 34,390; Marissa Coleman (Was) 33,806; Ticha Penicheiro (LA) 33,760; Lindsay Whalen (Min) 33,640; Anete Jekabsone-Zogota (Con) 33,321; Sancho Lyttle (Atl) 30,163; Shalee Lehning (Atl) 29,452; Essence Carson (NY) 29,211; Candice Wiggins (Min) 28,767; Charde Houston (Min) 25,242; DeLisha Milton-Jones (LA) 25,232; Tangela Smith (Phx) 21,465; Temeka Johnson (Phx) 21,262; Seimone Augustus (Min) 17,439.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Connecticut Sun injury update

Connecticut Sun guard Anete Jekabsone-Zogota has a bone bruise in her right knee while guard Tan White has a sprained right thumb.

Jekabsone-Zogota returned to Connecticut after being injured in the first quarter of Sunday's loss at New York and did not make the trip to Oklahoma for Tuesday's game against Tulsa so she obviously won't be playing today. White took part in a light practice session with the team on Monday and although she is also listed as being day to day by the team, she figures to play on Tuesday,

Just a reminder, the top 10 vote getters in the all-star fan voting will be announced during Tuesday's ESPN2 broadcast of the Indiana/Washington game.

Labels: ,

Rizzotti relishes role

Jen Rizzotti completed the USA Basketball Triple Crown by winning gold medals as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

In 1996 she was a member of the championship team at the R. Williams Jones Cup. A decade later she was an assistant to DePaul's Doug Bruno on the U.S. squad which won the 2006 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship for Women. Rizzotti was the head coach of the U.S. squad which rolled to the 2010 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship for Women title winning its five games by an average of 55.8 points per game.

"It's a great honor," Rizzotti said. "I take a lot of pride working with USA Basketball, it means a lot to me."

Rizzotti, whose agreement with USA Basketball is a two-year commitment as she will be head coach of the U.S. squad competing in the 2011 FIBA U-19 Championship for Women, knows that her role comes with significant responsibility.

"There's more pressure as a coach," Rizzotti said. "As a player you look at these events as being similar to all-star games but as the coach you want to make the players get the best of the experience."

Although Rizzotti is not on the committee which selected the U-18 squad and will select the U-19 team, she knows the squad she coaches next year will be a star-studded one as the pool of players from both teams will vie for 12 spots.

"I got to see the U-17s because they trained with us (in Colorado Springs) and it's going to be very competitive although I think the kids going (to college) could have an advantage."

Two of those players headed to college as UConn signees Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson. Hartley said she was planning to fly straight to Connecticut from Colorado Springs on Monday while Dolson is heading home on Monday before making her way to the UConn campus on Tuesday.

Rizzotti had plenty of praise for two of UConn's five incoming freshmen both as players and people.

"She's an outstanding player and she is very coachable, she wants to learn and wants to get better," Rizzotti said. "I think she is going to be a great player at UConn."
Rizzotti has similar praise for Dolson, especially her thirst to be challenged which is a must for any player going to play for UConn's Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, his equally demanding associate head coach Chris Dailey and the rest of the top-flight Connecticut coaching staff.

"She's an outstanding player and she is very coachable, she wants to learn and wants to get better," Rizzotti said about Hartley. "I think she is going to be a great player at UConn.

"I talked to her about playing hard on every possession and observe how each player plays and what they (are comfortable doing)."

As for Dolson, Rizzotti said "She is a great finisher and I am always teasing her because I expect her to make every shot. She has great hands and great footwork and I think she's going to be a good player at UConn as long as she keeps doing what they ask her to do.

"She wants to get better and wants to be an All -American and she wants them to push her. That's the right attitude for a kid to have who is going to be coached by Geno and Chris.

"She's not going to be compared Tina Charles because she is just a different type of player but think of some of the other bigger players (at UConn) like Kara Wolters, Paige Sauer and Rebecca Lobo."

I asked Rizzotti if it was going to be strange come December when there is no UConn game on the schedule since the former UConn star took her Hartford squad against the Huskies in each of the last six Decembers.

"Not really, I don't think I feel like that at all," Rizzotti said.

Rizzotti said she will play UConn again but her goal at the current time was to entice more teams from BCS conferences to sign up for home and home series with the Hawks something that was never going to happen with UConn.

"We're always going to have a tough (non-conference) schedule even though we aren't playing UConn," Rizzotti said.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Golden Girls

UConn incoming freshmen Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley will head to UConn after earning their first gold medal in international competition.

Hartley, a 5-foot-10 guard from North Babylon, N.Y., had 11 points (on 5 of 9 shooting), four assists and four steals in 21 minutes while had two points, four rebounds and three blocks in 15 minutes as the United States defeated Brazil 81-38 in the championship of the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship for Women on Sunday night.

Hartley finished third in the tournament in assists per game and was seventh in steals while Dolson was third with a 54.2 field-goal percentage (trailing teammates Howard and Ogwumike) and eighth in blocked shots.

UConn recruiting target Malina Howard led four U.S. players in double figures with 12 points, Theresa Plaisance had 11 points and Diamond DeShields, who is also on UConn recruiting radar, had 10 points and seven rebounds as the U.S. finished the tournament 5-0 and had an average scoring margin of 55.8 points.

Stanford signee Chiney Ogwumike was the leading scorer for the U.S., averaging 13.2 points per game. Hartley, who led the U.S. with 20 assists and tied for the team lead with 12 steals, was the only other double figure scorer with an average of 10.6 points per game. Dolson was second on the team with five blocks while averaging 6.2 points and 4.2 rebounds.

In my daily reports, I have been posting updates on not only Dolson and Hartley, but UConn recruiting targets Howard, DeShields and Ally Malott. While it is too early to tell if Howard, who is a rising high school junior, and DeShields, who will be a high school sophomore in the fall, will land at UConn, I can say with certainty that Malott will not be playing for the Huskies.

I spoke to Ally about an hour ago and after asking her about her experiences with the U-18 squad, I switched gears to talk a little recruiting. I started reading off the schools I thought were in the mix with the sweet shooting 6-foot-3 forward from Middletown, Ohio when she stopped me in mid sentence to tell me that she was no longer considering UConn and Xavier. She said location was the main reason as she wants to play "no more than three or four hours from home."

There will be more on Malott's decision in a story in Tuesday's edition of the Register although the focus of the article will be on Dolson and Hartley. I spoke with Bria following Saturday's semifinal win over Chile and chatted with Dolson after I got off the phone with Malott on Sunday.

Brian Agler of the Seattle Storm will be the head coach of the WNBA squad in the July 10 "WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun" All-Star game. UConn's Geno Auriemma will be coaching the U.S. squad. All-Star voting wrapped up on June 23 an the league will announce the top 10 vote getters on Tuesday. Those 10 players are guaranteed a spot in the all-star game at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Speaking of the Connecticut Sun, guard Anete Jekabsone-Zogota is on her way back to Connecticut to have her right knee examined. Jekabsone-Zogota hurt the knee in the first quarter of Sunday's loss to New York and did not return. Tan White hurt her hand in the game but is staying with the team as they head to Tulsa for the second game of a six-game road trip.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dolson, Hartley go for gold

UConn incoming freshmen Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley combined for 14 points and eight rebounds as the U.S. defeated Chile 98-28 on Saturday to earn a spot in the championship game of the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship for Women.

Hartley had an off shooting night hitting just 4 of 12 shots but finished with eight points, four rebounds, three assists and four steals in 20 minutes. Dolson had six points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot in 15 minutes as the U.S. outrebounded Chile 59-16.

Stanford signee Chiney Ogwumike led the U.S. with 17 points to go with seven rebounds. Ogwumike (14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Hartley (10.5 points, team-leading totals of 16 assists and 8 steals) are the only players averaging more than 10 points per game for the U.S., which has outscored its first four opponents by an average of 59 points. Dolson is averaging 7.3 points, while making 12 of 22 shots, and 4.3 rebounds. UConn recruiting targets Diamond DeShields (8.8 points), Ally Malott (7.8 points, 2.5 assists and a team-best seven 3-pointers) and Malina Howard (5.5 points, 5.8 rebounds) have also played well for the U.S., which will face Brazil in the championship game Sunday at 7:45 p.m. at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The U.S. has already clinched a berth in the FIBA Under-19 World Championship for Women which will be held from July 20-30, 2011 in Chile. That team, as this squad, will be coached by former UConn star and current Hartford women's basketball coach Jen Rizzotti.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tina ready to return home

Tina Charles has played at Madison Square Garden during her record-breaking career at UConn and also played in the "World's Most Famous Arena" in a preseason game against the New York Liberty. But Sunday at 4 p.m. the Queens, N.Y. native will play her first professional game at MSG.

"It will definitely be special, to play at home in New York because that is where I am from - Queens native - and I am looking forward to it," Charles said. "It is always different when you play for your home fans because you want to show them, you want to play great and show them all the hard work you put in definitely paid off."

To say her hard work is paying off would be an understatement. Her 23 rebounds in Friday's win over Phoenix was not only a franchise record but was one shy of the WNBA single-game record set by Chamique Holdsclaw in 2003. Not including Saturday's San Antonio/Minnesota game, Charles is leading the league in rebounding with an average of 12.3 per game and is also setting the pace with 10 double doubles. Charles is 13th in scoring (16.3), fifth in blocks (1.6). Only Sylvia Fowles, Lauren Jackson and Candace Parker have a better efficiency rating than Charles and she trails only Fowles in efficiency rating per 40 minutes.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Charles in charge

It isn't easy to upstage Diana Taurasi but despite Taurasi's game-high 26 points, the star of Friday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun was another former UConn star.

Tina Charles had 23 rebounds, one shy of the single-game league record set by Chamique Holdsclaw in 2003, and 19 points as the Sun held off the defending WNBA champions 82-79 to sweep the season series from the Mercury for the first time since 2005.

Charles came into the game averaging a league best 11.4 rebounds per game. If she maintains her current pace, she will not only obliterate Taj McWilliams-Franklin franchise record for rebounds in a season but she will shatter Cheryl Ford's single-season record. Ford had 363 rebounds in 2006 and Charles is on pace to pull down 418 rebounds.

"That is what I wanted from myself," Charles said. "It is the reason why I went to UConn and this is the type of player that Coach Auriemma produces over there and this is what I wanted from myself."

Taurasi, who missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds to play, was impressed with Charles' effort but not surprised with how quickly she has become a dominant pro player.

"All the really good players that come out of Connecticut, he sets you up to come here and play really well and do well so I am not surprised," Taurasi said. "She has been phenomenal so far this year."

UConn incoming freshman Bria Hartley had 10 points, one of eight U.S. players in double figures, as well as five rebounds and five assists as the U.S. wrapped up preliminary play in the FIBA U-18 World Championship for Women with an 108-44 win over Puerto Rico. Diamond DeShields, who is on UConn's recruiting radar, led the U.S. with 14 points. UConn signee Stefanie Dolson had five points and five rebounds.

The U.S. won Pool B and will play Pool A runnerup Chile in Saturday's semifinals.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another strong game for Hartley

UConn incoming freshman Bria Hartley had 14 points, four rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes as the United States defeated Brazil 89-46 to improve to 2-0 in pool play in the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship for Women.

Hartley's future UConn teammate Stefanie Dolson had six points and four rebounds in 17 minutes. Stanford signee Chiney Ogwumike led the U.S. with 15 points and seven rebounds while Alexis Jones (12 points) and Kayla McBride (10 points, six rebounds) also scored in double figures.

The U.S., which already clinched a spot in the semifinals, will wrap up pool play Friday against winless Puerto Rico.

Canada is in good shape to win Pool A since it is 2-0 with a game remaining against winless Costa Rica. Assuming Canada and the United States avoid the upsets, the U.S. would play the winner of Friday's Mexico/Chile game in Saturday's first semifinal while the winner of the Brazil/Argentina game would draw Canada in the other semi. The winners would meet for the title on Sunday at 7:45 p.m.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dolson, Hartley star in opener

UConn incoming freshmen Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley were among four U.S. players to score in double figures as the hosts routed Argentina 81-32 on the first day of the FIBA America U-18 Championshup for Women in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Wednesday.

Dolson had 12 points (on 5 of 6 shooting), four rebounds, one assists, one steal and one block in 17 minutes while Hartley had 10 points to go with team-best totals of six assists and three steals. Stanford signee Chiney Ogwumike led the U.S. with 15 points and 12 rebounds while Kayla McBride had 10 points. UConn recruiting targets Malina Howard (8 points, 10 rebounds), Ally Malott (six points) and Diamond DeShields (five points) also contributed to an impressive effort by the U.S. which led 73-20 after three quarters.

The U.S., coached by former UConn star and current Hartford women's basketball coach Jen Rizzotti, plays Brazil at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday before wrapping up pool play on 7:45 p.m. Friday against Puerto Rico. Brazil defeated Puerto Rico 81-35 on Wednesday.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Overseas chatter

Spoke with Tina Charles, Kelsey Griffin and Renee Montgomery to get a sense of what their plans were regarding the European season.

Charles will play in Orenburg, Russia for Nadezhda, Griffin will suit up for Mizo Pecs in Pecs, Hungary while Montgomery will embark for Israel.

"I am definitely excited, Shameka Christon and Rebecca Hammon (are on the team) so I am going to learn a lot and looking to improve my game a little bit," Charles said. "
I wanted to be on a good team, a place where I was going to get better. It is definitely going to help me because I know I am going to have to bring my game all the time."

Charles, who is likely to be a member of the U.S. team playing in the FIBA World Championship, is expected to report to Nadezhda after the end of the tournament which will be held from Sept. 23-Oct. 3 in the Czech Republic.

"This is just my craft," Charles said. "I love playing basketball so as many times as I can handle it and as much as my body can handle it ..."

Griffin joins former DePaul star Allie Quigley on Mizo Pecs.

"I just sent my contract a week ago," Griffin said. "I will be excited and nervous. It is a big step culturally and basketball wise but I am just going to stay focused on this right now.

"I have always heard about Russia but I didn't know about Europe. I just know I am playing for a EuroLeague team and that is important and I am excited to see all of Europe from that standpoint."

Montgomery was not certain of the name of her team but said it was in Maccabi. Maccabi Ashdod has been a popular destination for WNBA in recent years. Montgomery is only playing in Israel for two months so she can resume her broadcasting career.

"I signed a two-month deal which is pretty rare because I am not an overseas type," Montgomery said. "It is very appealing to somebody like me as far as we stay in a luxury hotel, it is very Americanized. But when I come back in December, I am here for good."

Montgomery is excited about continuing her work with ESPN when she returns from Israel in time to provide color commentary on women's college games.

"People tell me I have a good feel for it," Montgomery said. "It is hard to judge something you have never done. I will be done with the game and the people who are above me, they will tell me how I did. They will say 'are you sure it is your first time?' I'll say 'I guess I did well.' But it is hard for me to judge. In a basketball game I can judge I had a good game, I had a bad game but iwth that kind of stuff I still had to work on some stuff."

I couldn't help but ask Montgomery what her reaction would be if she was assigned to broadcast a Connecticut game.

"I would pass out," Montgomery said with a laugh. "I wouldn't expect that because I only did about six games last year, I would probably pass out and (think) 'what in the world?' But it would be a good passed out but that is the goal in the future."

Labels: , ,

Auriemma honored by WNBA

UConn coach Geno Auriemma will receive the WNBA's Inspiring Coach Award on July 10 at Mohegan Sun Arena when he coaches the USA Basketball squad in the "WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun" event.


Hartley to be featured on MSG Varsity

UConn incoming freshman Bria Hartley's 94 points in back to back playoff games including her Long Island girls' basketball record 51 points in North Babylon's 72-69 loss to Sachem East in the New York Suffolk County Class AA championship game in March is No. 10 on MSG Varsity's "Greatest Moments of the 2009-10 Season."

The countdown, headed by Don Bosco's third straight football championship, will be aired on the station Friday at 7 p.m.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Maya wins Honda-Broderick Cup

UConn rising senior forward Maya Moore and former Penn State volleyball star Megan Hodge were named the co-winners of the Honda-Broderick Cup, one of the premier awards for collegiate athletes, on Monday.

It is just the second time in the awards; 34 years that there has been a tie in the voting for the collegiate female athlete of the year award.

Moore, the first junior to score more than 2,000 points at UConn, averaged 18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds during the 2009-10 season to lead the Huskies to their second straight 39-0 season and second national title in a row.

Moore is the third UConn star to win the award, joining Rebecca Lobo and Jennifer Rizzotti who won it in consecutive years in 1995 and 1996.

Moore is the 12th basketball player to win the honor but just the fourth in the last 14 years. She has a chance to join swimmer Tracy Caulkins as the only two-time winner of the award if she repeats in 2011.

Former UConn star Tina Charles was named the WNBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 25.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in wins over Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Charles had 26 points and a franchise record 19 rebounds in Friday's win at Los Angeles and then had 24 points and 12 rebounds on Sunday as the Sun defeated the reigning WNBA champion Mercury, Connecticut's first win at Phoenix since 2005.

Labels: , , ,

Hartley, Dolson shine in U-18 tune-up

UConn incoming freshmen Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson combined for 16 points and nine rebounds as the U.S. Under-18 national team defeated Canada 57-39 in an exhibition game on Sunday.

Hartley, who played a team-high 30 minutes, 10 points, three rebounds and four steals while Dolson had six points, six rebounds and four blocks in 18 minutes. Chiney Ogwumike, a former UConn recruiting target who signed with Stanford, led the U.S. with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The U.S. team, coached by former UConn star Jen Rizzotti, opens play in the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship for Women on Wednesday against Argentina.

Former UConn stars Tina Charles (24 points, 12 rebounds) and Renee Montgomery (19 points, four assists) helped the Connecticut Sun wrap up its first extended road trip of the season with a 96-94 win over defending WNBA champion Phoenix on Sunday.

The Sun built up a 21-point lead in the second half and then held off a furious charge by the Mercury for Connecticut's first win in Phoenix since 2005.

Sandrine Gruda had 21 points in her first start of the season for Connecticut, which went 2-1 on the road trip to improve to an Eastern Conference best 8-3.

Former UConn star Asjha Jones had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists while Kelsey Griffin added 11 rebounds for Connecticut, which will host Chicago on Tuesday and Phoenix on Friday before embarking on a season-long six-game road trip.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, June 18, 2010

Status quo for Big East

And no I am not talking about the constantly changing conference composition but the decision for the Big East to keep home and away opponents the same for the upcoming season.

What this means is that UConn will be playing Notre Dame both at home and on the road while hosting DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Syracuse and Villanova and playing Cincinnati, Georgetown, Providence, Rutgers, St. John's, South Florida and West Virginia on the road. The dates of the games aren't expected to be announced until early September once all the television contracts and details have been finalized.

Here's the release from the Big East

BIG EAST Repeat Opponents Remain Unchanged for the 2010-11 Women’s Basketball Season

- Home/Away League Schedule Announced -

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The BIG EAST Conference has elected to keep the same repeat opponents from 2009-10 for the upcoming 2010-11 season for its 16 women’s basketball teams. It will be the same repeat opponents for the second straight year for eight of the BIG EAST teams, while the other eight will maintain the same repeat opponents for the fifth straight season.

The format for league play is a 16-game schedule, which has been in place since the 2005-06 season. Each team will play 16 conference games - seven opponents home only, seven opponents away only and one opponent both is as follows: providing additional television inventory; competitive issues/RPI implications and geographic rivalries/minimizing travel costs.

The repeat opponents for the second consecutive year are two-time defending national champion Connecticut playing Notre Dame, Rutgers facing Syracuse, DePaul matching up against Marquette and Georgetown playing USF.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Maya in select company

UConn rising senior forward Maya Moore joins Penn State volleyball star Megan Hodge and Iowa State distance runner Lisa Koll among a trio who emerged from a list of 12 individual Honda Award sport winners for the prestigious Honda-Broderick Cup.

Here is the bio for Moore courtesy of a press release I received earlier today.

Maya Moore (junior, basketball) – Moore, a native of Jefferson City, Missouri, grew up in Lawrenceville, Georgia. She helped her team achieve an NCAA record of 78 consecutive wins over two seasons, as well as its sixth undefeated season and second straight NCAA National Championship. Moore ended the season averaging 18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds, and scored in double figures 34 times. She finished the 2009-2010 season with 736 points, the second most points scored in a season by a UConn player only to herself (754 pts in 2008-09). So far in her career Moore has scored 2168 points, with 963 rebounds and 243 three-pointers. She is also the first junior in the program’s history to score over 2000 points. She received both the 2010 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player and Dayton Regional’s Most Outstanding Player award and is a three-time AP First Team All-American. A Sports Marketing and Media major with a 3.85 GPA, she has been honored this year as the Big East Scholar Athlete of the Year, ESPN Academic All-America of the Year, CoSIDA Academic First-Team, 2010 Wade Trophy winner and Wooden Award finalist

The winner will be announced in a ceremony at UCLA on Monday. If Moore wins, she will become the first UConn player to receive the award since Jennifer Rizzotti earned the honor in 1996. Rebecca Lobo, the 1995 winner, is the only other UConn product to win one of the premier awards in collegiate athletics. Tennessee product Candace Parker, who won in 2008, is the last basketball player to be given the award. The list of basketball stars who have been named Honda-Broderick Cup winners (Lusia Harris, Ann Meyers, Nancy Lieberman, Cheryl Miller, Kamie Etheridge, Teresa Weatherspoon, Dawn Staley, Lobo, Rizzotti, Chamique Holdsclaw, Jackie Stiles and Parker) reads like a who's who of women's basketball. Also, if Moore wins the award, she would have a chance to join swimming legend Tracy Caulkins as the only two-time winner of the award.

Former Connecticut Sun guard Katie Douglas, who played in two games with the U.S. Senior National team in 2007, is applying for Greek citizenship which would allow her to suit up for Greece in FIBA World Championships

Douglas is eligible to become a citizen of Greece because her husband is from Greece. Douglas also has had professional playing stints in Greece. Speaking of the World Championships, Greece is in Pool B along with the United States, France and Senegal. The FIBA World Championships for Women will run from Sept. 23-Oct. 3 in the Czech Republic.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 13, 2010

U-18 national team roster finalized

UConn incoming freshmen Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley as well as UConn recruiting targets Diamond DeShields, Ally Malott and Malina Howard were among the 12 players on the final U.S. Under-18 team roster.

USA Basketball originally named 16 finalists before getting down to the 12-player maximum for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women which will be held from June 23-27 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sidney Cook, Raven Ferguson, Afure Jemerigbe and Haley Peters did not make the cut for the team which will be coached by former UConn star and current Hartford head coach Jen Rizzotti. The 12-member squad will remain in Colorado Springs for training until the start of the tournament.

Kara Lawson, who was a game-time decision after injuring her left shoulder in the Connecticut Sun's win over Indiana, started and was the first Sun player to reach double figures in scoring in the back end of the home-and-home with the Fever on Sunday.

The Sun, despite a dreadful second quarter, are heading into the fourth quarter only down by nine points.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, June 11, 2010

Renee steps up

Renee Montgomery is proving she is a quick study as well as an offensive force for the Connecticut Sun.

Montgomery, acquired in the trade which sent Lindsay Whalen to Minnesota and allowed the Sun to take Tina Charles with the top overall pick in April's WNBA draft, was just 9 for 23 from the floor and had 19 points in the first three games of the season.

Thibault decided to bring Montgomery in for a film session to drive home how he thought she should play. Montgomery's career-high 29 points in Friday's 86-77 win over Indiana was the coupe de grace.

"Coach (Mike) Thibault and I had a film session just 1 on 1 and he showed me some things on film I was doing good and bad," said Montgomery, who has averaged 16.6 points in the last five games. "It is nice to see that because now in the game you know what to look for, you know what to fix so it is a daily thing where I am getting more comfortable with everybody on the team."

While the UConn connection on the Sun has been well documented (Montgomery, Charles and Asjha Jones combined for 43 points), there was a touching moment involving former Tennessee teammates Kara Lawson and Tamika Catchings.

Lawson injured her left shoulder, the preliminary diagnosis is a dislocated shoulder,
driving the baseline midway through the second quarter. Lawson clutched her shoulder in pain as she voiced her displeasure to the officials for not calling a foul. Lawson then crumbled to the court in pain. Among the first people to attend to her was her husband, sitting underneath the basket, and Catchings, the perennial All-Star of the rival Indiana Fever.

"They said she tried to call timeout for me," Lawson said of Catchings. "I said I hope she isn't going to get in trouble by her coaches. Catch is one of my great, great friends so I know she was genuinely concerned as I would be if something would happen to her. That was a nice gesture of sportsmanship."

Catchings saw Lawson's shoulder pop out and instinctively went to check on her former teammate.

"I think for me any time anybody goes down, it is definitely one of those things you don't want to see happen," Catchings said. "K-Law and I go way back, she is one of my great friends obviously. Definitely seeing her down 'oh God, what do I do?' I can't do anything. I am not a doctor. I am trying to comfort her and make she was OK.

"I am not worried about it (trying to call the timeout). When you see it like that, it is different. When it is one of your friends and I saw her shoulder out. It was something where I felt like I needed to do something and I tried."

The win combined with Atlanta's loss to New York moved Connecticut into a tie for first place in the East with Atlanta. The Sun (6-2, .750) would actually win the tiebreaker with a better winning percentage than 7-3 Atlanta.

Labels: , , ,

Dolson, Hartley are U-18 finalists

,UConn incoming freshmen Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley were among 16 finalists selected for the U.S. Under-18 national team after three days of trials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. UConn freshman to be Samarie Walker did not make the cut which could aid Walker in the long run as she can return to UConn to continue getting treatment on her knee.

UConn recruiting targets Ally Malott, Malina Howard and Diamond DeShields also made the cut.

The 16 finalists will remain in Colorado for training and four players will be cut by June 14 with that 12-member squad representing the U.S. at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women being held from June 23-27 in Colorado Springs.

UConn commit Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis along with UConn recruiting targets Betnijah Laney, Elizabeth Williams, Breanna Stewart, Jordan Adams, Imani Stafford and Morgan Tuck were selected to the U-17 national team. The squad will play in the U17 World Championship July 16-25 in Rodez and Toulouse, France.

Kiah Stokes, on a short list of post players UConn is looking at in the current crop of rising high school seniors, was selected to represent the U.S. in the World Youth Olympic Games, a 3 on 3 tournament. The team will make a stop in Springfield, Mass. from Aug. 6-9 for training before leaving for the event in Singapore.

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

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Heinsohn to call Friday's game

With Rebecca Lobo heading to Knoxville, Tenn. this weekend to be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, Comcast SportsNet pulled in a replacement with Hall of Fame credentials. NBA Hall of Famer Tom Heinsohn will provide color commentary along side Mike Gorman, who he has worked with for years on Boston Celtics broadcasts.

Here is the release from the Sun

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (June 8, 2010) – NBA Hall of Famer Tom Heinsohn will provide color commentary during Friday night’s Comcast SportsNet broadcast of the game between the Connecticut Sun and the Indiana Fever at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Heinsohn will be joined by longtime Celtic broadcast partner Mike Gorman, who has handled play-by-play duties for local Sun broadcasts since the team relocated to Connecticut in 2003.

“Tom is a legend, especially here in New England, where he has been a part of our sports fabric since the fifties,” Sun Vice President and General Manager Chris Sienko said. “We’re honored to have Tom and Mike Gorman, who have been such a distinguished broadcasting team for so long, help us showcase the best women’s basketball players in the world.”

The NBA Rookie of the Year in 1957, Heinsohn was a six-time All Star who helped lead the Boston Celtics to eight NBA championships from 1957 through 1965. The former Holy Cross star finished his NBA career with 12,194 points, 5,749 rebounds and 1,318 assists, and his number 15 was retired by the team in 1965.

Heinsohn went on to a successful coaching career, leading the Celtics to championships in 1974 and 1976. Honored as the NBA Coach of the Year in 1973, Heinsohn had a 427-263 career record with the Celtics.

Before he coached the Celtics, however, Heinsohn called play-by-play of their games from 1966-69 on local radio. He resumed his broadcasting career after retiring from coaching. In 1981, he was paired with Gorman in a partnership that has become a New England sports institution.

Friday night will be the second of seven high definition broadcasts on Comcast SportsNet, which reaches four million homes throughout New England.


Sunday, June 06, 2010

Remembering a legend

Before the game the Connecticut Sun held a moment of silence in honor of John Wooden, the former UCLA men's basketball coach who died on Friday at the age of 99.

Following Connecticut's 81-68 win over San Antonio on Sunday, Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault and veteran forward DeMya Walker reflected on Wooden's passing.

"I went and worked his camp every summer for four or five years," Thibault said. "I worked for six or eight weeks of his camp, I had a chance to sit down and talk to him frequently about the game and about his life. He didn't like to drive back and forth to camp so he'd have the young counselors and college kids pick him up. Every once in a while I would just ride in with whoever the fellow was who was driving that day so I could sit in the car and talk with him for a half hour or so. A lot of the stuff we still do footwork wise, balance wise on the court are still stuff he did every day in his kid's camp. One of the things I kind of learned from him is that most of your work as a coach has to be done on the practice court. In a game you have to make adjustments by subbing and help your team with timeouts but the actual on-court stuff."

Thibault can still remember his emotions the first time he was able to ride in a car and talk basketball with Wooden.

"I was kind of in awe. I was a young coach and it was Coach Wooden. He was getting near the end of his career. He was probably coaching, two years or so before his last
championship. Most of the time it was when he was retired and he wasn't bogged down by the day by day coaching and recruiting. We just talked the game. If you grew up
on the West Coast, I know the people on the East Coast it is a little different, it is probably for some people on the East Coast it was Dean Smith from North Carolina. when you are on the West Coast, Coach Wooden was the game."

Walker didn't have the close relationship with Wooden, who led UCLA to 10 national titles including seven in a row, but having played the last seven seasons in California with the Sacramento Monarchs gave Walker an appreciation for the essence of Wooden.

"He is one of the main reasons why we all can play this game and why we love it so much," Walker said. "He has inspired the people who have taught the game and it is sad that he passed but I appreciate everything he did for this game. He inspired it to be what it is, he inspired winning, he inspired getting after it and going for it. There are never too many championships, never too much of anything. He also inspired character. Everybody loves John Wooden, who doesn't. It is sad that he passed but you have to say your moment of silence, say a prayer because somewhere in the cosmos he knows that you appreciate everything that he did for the game.

"He was fundamental and our game was fundamental, he appreciated that. when you have somebody who is so well respected saying 'I like the women's game, I like the way
they play. It inspires other people to support and go with it and get us some more fans."

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Passing of a true legend

The word "legend" gets thrown around far too frequently but in the case of John Wooden, it is absolutely fitting.

Wooden, who led the UCLA men's basketball program to 10 national titles including seven in a row, died on Friday at the age of 99.

Wooden's name surfaced in connection with the UConn women's basketball since the Huskies are closing in on the Division I college basketball record 88-game winning streak Wooden's Bruins posted. UConn coach Geno Auriemma wanted no part of the comparison believing it was like comparing apples and oranges.

At the request of my boss, I asked Auriemma to speak about Wooden last year. It is part of the business to be prepared when a legendary figure like Wooden passes on. I took the chance to ask Auriemma about Wooden when I was at an event put together by the college initiative offshoot of Geno's Cancer Team in October. Here's what he had to say:

"Growing up and being in high school during that time when they won most of those championships in the late 60’s, early 70s, where I lived there was basketball and then there was UCLA and when you thought of UCLA, you thought that they never lose, they are champions in every way," Auriemma said. "It took so long for him to establish himself as a great coach, people don’t realize that, they don’t realize he was there 20-25 years before they started winning championships. When you say to a person who thinks they know a lot about basketball ‘What do you think, you are John Wooden.’ It’s like Kleenex and Coca-Cola, whenever you say John Wooden, you know you are talking about coaching and the epitome of coaching.

"I have had the good fortune of meeting some of his former players and the way they talk about him, the way they revere him as more than a coach and the way they go out to visit him on a regular basis, it just transcends coaching, be built lives as much as he built the program at UCLA."


Friday, June 04, 2010

More on Hall of Fame jerseys

Just want to follow up on my previous blog entry regarding UConn incoming freshman Stefanie Dolson having her jersey hanging in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

I e-mailed Karen Tucker, the Director of Basketball Relations at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, to check on other players with connections to UConn with jerseys being displayed and she informed me that fellow incoming freshmen Samarie Walker and Bria Hartley, graduated seniors Tina Charles and Kalana Greene and rising senior Maya Moore all have their uniforms in the Hall of Fame.

Our Ring of Honor exhibit features the jerseys of high school and college (all levels, NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA, NJCAA, etc.) All-Americans from the 2009-10 season as our way to “celebrate the present.” The jerseys will remain on display for an entire year and then will be graciously returned to their donor.

Here's what Karen said in an e-mail to me

"We currently have three jerseys displayed: Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Samarie Walker’s. Kalana Greene’s jersey is also in this year’s Ring of Honor. Tina Charles and Maya Moore’s jerseys are included in the Player of the Year case, which is an extension of the Ring of Honor exhibit."

Labels: , , , , ,

Dolson's Hall of Fame bound - sort of

According to a story in her local paper, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. has asked for and been sent UConn incoming freshman Stefanie Dolson's high school game jersey so it can be displayed at the Hall of Fame for a year. Minisink Valley coach Judy Mottola has already sent Dolson's No. 31 jersey.

Also, the Purdue website has a write up on UConn recruiting target Ally Malott that might be of interest to people.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Charles is WNBA's Rookie of the Month

Tina Charles of the Connecticut Sun was named the WNBA's Rookie of the Month for May after posting team-high marks of 16.6 points and 9.6 rebounds. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 WNBA draft and UConn's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, Charles has two 20-point efforts and three double-doubles in her first five pro games.

In another WNBA note, the New York Liberty announced that Foxwoods Casino has been named its Premier Partner. In an ironic twist, the new Liberty uniform which will feature Foxwoods Casino etched into the fabric, will be debuted on Friday when the Liberty play the Sun inside the Mohegan Sun Casino, Foxwoods' rival.