Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Curious onlookers

A year from now Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Samarie Walker hope to be key members of a Connecticut squad headed to its fourth straight Final Four and if all goes well in the next week, will be going for a third national title in a row.

I caught up to the three UConn incoming freshmen to get their take on the success the 2009-10 Huskies are enjoying.

"I definitely like to admire what they are accomplishing this year but when I am sitting there (at UConn games), I kind of look from the outside in about what is going on with Connecticut basketball and I pay attention to some of the things that Geno does as a coach and try to experience as much as I can so I pay great detail to that," Hartley said.

Dolson, who has seen reports speculating that she could be UConn's starting center next season, was almost speechless when I asked her to talk about the run the Huskies are on.

"It is just crazy how awesome they are," Dolson said. "It will be cool to be part of a legacy of some sort, we are going after the 88 (game winning) streak of UCLA and
that will be crazy if we get to that.

"We are all very excited but we are real nervous about the streak, we have to uphold that. We will still have the three returning (starters) but the incoming freshmen, we have to keep it up. There is a lot of pressure but I think we will be OK. I feel so lukcy and grateful that we have five freshmen coming in because Kelly Faris, she is the only freshman and I can't imagine going in by myself. At least I know that I have girls around me in the same boat."

"I am extremely excited," Walker said. "I also got to see them play in Louisville (on Feb. 7), it is very exciting and I've seen them play on TV. It is completely different watching them on TV and in person and thinking it is going to be in a few months. It is a dream come true and now I am going to put a (UConn) uniform on."

Walker said she is planning to see a doctor after she gets back from the Final Four in San Antonio next week to see if she will need surgery to fix the torn meniscus in her right knee.

"I'll get an MRI and see if I need surgery," Walker said. "If I do, I will be out for a maximum of two months and I'll be ready to go. If they say it will be 100 percent (with a surgery), I'll get (the surgery) but if not I will just have to strengthen it. The meniscus, they heal on its own so if it's going to be better on its own I'll just have to do that."

Walker said she and Dolson are talking about rooming together when they are at UConn.

All three future Huskies played for the East team which lost 84-75 to the West. Hartley had 17 points, three 3-pointers, five steals but also five turnovers. Dolson had 12 points and eight rebounds while Walker failed to score but had two rebounds and an assist.

Tennessee incoming freshman Meighan Simmons had 21 points to earn MVP honors for the West while Florida State commit Natasha Howard was the East's MVP after scoring 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Walker and Hartley are headed to San Antonio as they will play in the WBCA High School All-American Game on Saturday at the Alamodome.

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Charles USBWA Player of the Year

UConn senior center Tina Charles has been named the United States Basketball Writers Association player of the year and headlines the 10-member All-American team.

Charles, who is UConn's all-time leader with 2,316 points and 1,343 rebounds, is UConn's leading rebounder with an average of 9.4 per game and second on the team with a 18.3 scoring average.

UConn junior forward Maya Moore, who is averaging a team-best 18.4 points per game and won the award in 2009, joins Charles on the All-American team.

Charles and Moore were also named to the Wooden All-American team on Wednesday, joining Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin and the Stanford duo of Nneka Ogwumike and Jayne Appel on the squad.

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"It is Connecticut's time"

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey knows a thing about winning both as a player at Louisiana State and as the coach of the 2004-05 national championship team at Baylor so when she talks about the significance of what this current UConn squad is accomplishing, it bears mentioning.

Among the words of praise she heaped on the Huskies was the nugget "it is Connecticut's time and it is their era."

For the sake of full disclosure, Mulkey's answer was in response to a question asking whether UConn's recent success makes many forget about the Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion, Tennessee and Immaculata teams that dominated the sport at various times.

Mulkey was gracious when it came to addressing the intimidation factor some teams feel facing a Connecticut team which has won its last 76 games.

"That may be the case with some programs that the name 'UConn' is intimidating before you every hit the floor," Mulkey said. "I really want to give UConn more credit than that, I think the fact that they are just so dang talented and good is what is beating people. Having been a player myself and having gone through an era with Louisiana Tech which was the UConn of the 80s and then you had Tennessee after that, you had Old Dominion before that. The players I have played against weren't intimidated by Louisiana Tech any more than we were intimidated by other teams. I just think it is just the fact that they are good. It's not the streak or the UConn name bothers you, they are just darn good."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Huskies roll into Final Four

Even UConn coach Geno Auriemma has a bit of a hard time comprehending how his team beat an Iowa State team which tied for second place in the Big 12 and a Florida State team which shared the regular-season title in the ACC by an average of 39 points in the two games at the University of Dayton Arena.

"I was happy with the way the first half ended," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "We are up 14 and we haven't played great, Maya (Moore) hasn't played hardly at all and we are up 14 against a really good team. I said to them during one timeout that is how it is going to be the rest of the game, it is going to be a struggle the whole game and get ready for it. Then I look up and we are up 25-30. When we start defending you and you start getting a little bit quick, you start to lose your composure a little bit, the ball starts flying all around the place. I don't know that we are 40 points better than both teams (Iowa State and Florida State), that is ludicrous. I think you get caught up in this and there is nothing you can do about it. When you get on this run, I don't know how to explain it but we are good."

That they are. Even with Moore limited to seven minutes in the first half after picking up two silly fouls, UConn beat a very good Florida State team by 40 points.

Moore finished with 22 points in 20 minutes and also had eight rebounds to move by Peggy Walsh and into fourth on UConn's career rebounding list. Charles had 20 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, Greene had 15 points on 6 of 6 shooting and Tiffany Hayes added 13 points and seven assists.

"When I do that (pick up fouls), you see that they come through for me and do their part, go 100 percent from the field and dominate inside like Tina and Kalana have been doing and I would have it no other way," Moore said.

Moore was the most outstanding player of the regional and joined on the all-tournament team by Charles, Greene, Jacinta Monroe of FSU and Mississippi State's Chanel Mokango.
Oklahoma and Stanford will play in the first semifinal on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Alamodome in San Antonio. UConn and Baylor will play in the second semi, probably around 9:30 p.m.

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Charles, Moore AP All-Americans

UConn teammates Tina Charles and Maya Moore were named to the Associated Press first team All-American squad and were unanimous selections.

They were joined on the first team by Monica Wright of Virginia, Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin and Jantel Lavender of Ohio State.

It is the fourth time that UConn had two players on the AP All-American first team. Moore and Renee Montgomery were both chosen last season, Svetlana Abrosimova and Shea Ralph were first teamer in 2000 while Jennifer Rizzotti and Kara Wolters both made the first team in 1996.

Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike, Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley, Brittney Griner of Baylor, Jayne Appel of Stanford and Middle Tennessee State's Alysha Clark. On the third team were Oklahoma's Danielle Robinson, Duke's Jasmine Thomas, Victoria Dunlap of Kentucky, Xavier's Amber Harris and Elena Delle Donne of Delaware.

I should mention that I was one of the voters and my first team ballot consisted of Charles, Moore, Wright, Griffin and Ogwumike.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Monroe making her dad proud

It's hard to be around Jacinta Monroe for any amount of time and not come away enjoying the experience.

UConn teammates Tina Charles, Tiffany Hayes and Maya Moore discovered that when they were teammates on the U.S. team which won the World University Games title over the summer and the non-Florida State media got to deal with a person that Hayes calls "one of the funniest people I think I will ever meet in my life."

It didn't have to turn out that way. More than 10 years ago Monroe lost her father Jay who succumbed to cancer. Monroe, who surpassed the 1,500-point plateau in Sunday's win over Mississippi State, honored her father by having a tattoo with his name as well as a heart and a cross etched on her left wrist. But in reality, her greatest tribute to her late father is the positive manner in which she has chosen to life her life.

"I definitely had to learn how to move on," Monroe said. "I didn't want to for years and years and sometimes I still don't want to but I just have the wrap my psyche around the fact that he is not coming back but he would want me to continue on and get my education, play ball and do what I am doing."

When I asked Monroe is she feels fortunate that people tend to gravitate towards her because of her bubbly, fun-loving personality, the sense of humor I was told about emerged.

"It feels great to know they don't know my darker side, I am just kidding, don't write that," Monroe said with a laugh. "It is a good feeling."

Monroe, an athletic 6-foot-5 senior who is likely to be taken in the first round of next month's WNBA draft, certainly won over the three UConn players who barely knew her before the tryouts for the World University Games team in May.

"She has the ability to make anybody laugh," Moore said. "She is a great teammate, she cares about her teammates and she is competitive. She is herself and doesn't try to be anything else. She makes you comfortable with being yourself because she is comfortable with herself.

"That is something that changes your life. You may not understand why certain things happen but you always have the choice in the way you respond to it. She has chosen to respond to it in a positive way and she could easily have a negative atttitude and not want to engage with people but she choses to live life and make the best of her life. How hard she works on the court and how she treats people, looks out for her friends and her family ... She is very inspiring that way and is not
going to go around saying 'woe is me?' and having a pity party."

Former Olympic gold-medal winning coach Anne Donovan will be taking over at Seton Hall and UConn's Geno Auriemma, who succeeded Donovan as the U.S. senior national team coach, predictably lauded the hiring.

"I think it’s a great hire for Seton Hall," Auriemma said. "You’ve got a lot of different ways to go. Go get a young, up and coming assistant, go get an established head coach from college. Now you get somebody who has been a college coach, who’s been a pro coach, who’s been an Olympic gold medal winner as a player, as a coach. You talk about filling the whole box score, the whole stat sheet with one person, Seton Hall has certainly done that."

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Faris delivers again

After scoring a career-high 13 points and posting her first collegiate double-double in a win over Temple in the second round of the NCAA tournament, UConn freshman Kelly Faris provided quite the encore.

She was 6 for 8 from the floor including 4 for 4 from 3-point range en route to a career-high 16 points in Sunday's 74-36 win over Iowa State.

Faris, who is 12 of 16 including 7 of 8 from 3-point range in the three NCAA tournament games, has shown an offensive aggressiveness in the tournament that she didn't often reveal during the season.

"I just decided I would start shooting," Faris said. "It took a little while for them to start falling. Coach (Geno Auriemma) gives us the green light if we are open and it is time to have fun with it.

When Florida State played UConn on Dec. 28, the Seminoles only trailed by six points at halftime before UConn pulled away for a 78-59 victory.

Florida State will get another shot at the Huskies in Tuesday's Dayton Regional final.

"We just didn't stay together as a team in the second half, go out and run (with UConn)," Florida State junior guard Courtney Ward said. "But it was earlier in the year so it shouldn't be a problem on Tuesday. We're not really worrying about what UConn has. We are just planning on practicing what we need to get better at so we can go out and beat them."

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Making the grade

Things are shaping up rather nicely in the life of Iowa State senior Shellie Mosman.

Mosman and the Cyclones will be on center stage when they face the undefeated and top-ranked UConn women's basketball team, she is engaged to be married, already has her college degree and a job lined up.

Mosman, the valedictorian of her high school class, has always been a driven woman. Her zest for the best in her life led her to graduate from Iowa State in three years while playing Division I women's basketball, hardly the easiest of combination. Now she is pursuing a graduate degree as her basketball career winds down.

Through it all, Mosman said the hectic juggling act was not as overwhelming at it may appear to be to the casual onlooker.

"My schedule got set up really nicely during college, I just took the average load that most students take," Mosman said. "I came into college with extra credits (from advanced placement classes) but it is a challenge, I have a class schedule that is full and a basketball schedule which takes a majority of your time and coaches who give you enough time to get your work done.

Mosman probably could have been an impact player had she gone to an Ivy League school but a life-long Iowa State fan, Mosman jumped at the chance to become a Cyclone when she was offered a scholarship when she was in the eighth grader.

Mosman only had 78 points in 72 career games - 14 coming in a Dec. 6 game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff - but she has no regrets of how things have turned out for her and is eager for the next chapter of her life as she will be a financial planner at Edward Jones Investments in her hometown of Carroll, Iowa.

"They said accounting is a really good degree to have for this and they said athletes definitely know about the competitiveness of getting new clients and build a clientele and I think I have what I need to get started," Mosman said.

Of course she would love to delay the transition to becoming a member of the work force by helping to extend Iowa State's season. Mosman still remembers the joy when Iowa State stunned UConn in the 1999 NCAA tournament and would love to experience it first hand.

"It (the 1999 Iowa State win) was pretty sweet, I have been a fan my whole life and I do remember it," Mosman said. "People still talk about it today, I know there are posters in the hallways. I know a lot of people talk about it and we won't forget that."

So can lightning strike twice?

"Whenever you go into a game, you think about the what ifs, you think about that kind of thing," Mosman said.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More air time for Auriemma

UConn coach Geno Auriemma is slated to appear on ESPN's SportsCenter Sunday around 10:40/10:45 a.m. He will also be featured on Outside the Lines on ESPN beginning t 8 a.m.

Among those select few on hand for Saturday's open practices were the parents of former UConn star Tamika Williams who were warmly greeted by the UConn players after the Huskies wrapped up their practice.

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Geno's not going casual

As is his custom, Geno Auriemma did not choose his words closely when the opening question in his press conference on Saturday was about whether the casual fan can respect (actually think the questioner meant admire but I wasn't the person putting forth the inquiry) what UConn is accomplishing.

"Does the casual fan respect what we’re doing?" Auriemma said. "I don’t know. I really don’t. The casual fan in this country at this point in time is really insignificant to me. A lot of people have tried to do a lot to attract the casual fan. I could care less about the casual fan. I care about our fans back home. I care about the people who are going to watch the game tomorrow because they’re interested to see how we do. Those people interest me. The casual fan I could care less about because I bet you they could care less about me or my team. So I don’t worry about people that don’t worry about me. As far as women’s basketball in general, it’s like ice hockey. There are ice hockey fans. Does the casual fan enjoy ice hockey? Probably not. But ice hockey fans love ice hockey, the NHL. So we are who we are. We attract who we attract and we go with that."


Easley looks back

Iowa State associate head coach Jack Easley still has fond memories of his one season coaching in the Big East.

After 19 seasons as an assistant to Oklahoma State, Easley took a job on Susan Yow's staff at Providence. Along the way Easley got a glimpse of the UConn juggernaut up close and personal as the Diana Taurasi-led Huskies beat the Friars 70-52.

With another chance to play against UConn, I spoke with Easley about his memories from his time at Providence.

"It was a totally different setting than I had been used to," Easley said. "I had always been kind of a Midwest person and had an opportunity to go out there and spent about 10 months and we really liked it.

"They had one of their better teams that year, that is when they had Taurasi and I think we played them about as good as anybody played them that year. The only way we did is we installed a different offense before we played them that we hadn't played all year long, we held the ball for as long as we could hold it before we shot it. We kind of shortened the game on them and allowed us to stay in the game a little bit. Probably what I remember most is we played them on campus at Providence and of course there is not very good seating in that facility but they are all UConn fans. It was pretty interesting to be able to play them in that setting."

Easley was rather glowing in his praise of UConn coach Geno Auriemma and the way the Huskies go about their business.

"I think they play the toughest schedule in the country year in and year out and when I looked at their team and looked at their team stats this year, they are known for their great defense, are very physical but they only had two kids foul out all year long," Easley said. "To me, to play that kind of schedule they play, that is absolutely amazing. They are tough, they play hard. When I was at Providence, that had to be one of his better teams that we played that year and I think this is the best team he has ever had ever. He may not say that but I have watched his team over the years and to me this is the most complete team that has ever been on the floor."


Making her mentor proud

After speaking to Essence coach Kimberly Davis Powell about Brianna Banks, UConn's newest commit, I asked her for a reaction of what her former pupil Tiffany Hayes has accomplished in her first two seasons at UConn.

Davis Powell hestitated for a moment and after collecting her thoughts, sounded more like a proud mom than Hayes' former AAU coach.

"She's doing so well," Davis Powell said. "I went to (UConn's game at Florida State) to see her play live. What I love about her is she's willing to play any role. She's not concerned about numbers, she wants to help her team.

"She is very confident but not in an in your face but she wants to do whatever she can to help her team."

UConn commit Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, a 6-foot junior wing, fought off foul trouble to score 21 points to lead her Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Calif. team to a 58-43 win over Carondelet in the California Division II championship game. It is the first state title for Mater Dei since the Monarchs won the Division I title in 1996.

Mosqueda-Lewis joins fellow UConn commit Bria Hartley, a 5-foot-10 senior guard at North Babylon (N.Y.) High, on Parade Magazine's All-American first team. UConn recruiting target Elizabeth Williams, a 6-foot-3 post from Virginia Beach, Va., was also a member of the 10-player first team.

UConn incoming freshman Samarie Walker, a 6-foot-1 wing out of Chaminade Julienne High in Dayton, Ohio, was named to the second team while her future UConn teammate Stefanie Dolson, a 6-foot-5 senior center at Minisink Valley of Slate Hill, N.Y., was a fourth-team selection. Also being recognized are a pair of juniors who are on UConn's recruiting radar as Christ the King of Middle Village, N.Y. guard Bria Smith was a third-team pick and Edison (Calif.) wing Bonnie Samuelson was named to the fourth team.

The entire team will be published in Sunday's Parade Magazine.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

No frills recruiting still works

Just got off the phone with the newest Husky to be, an exceedingly polite 5-foot-9 lefty guard named Briana Banks out of Northgate High in Newnan, Ga.

Besides setting an unofficial record for saying "yes, sir" during the interview, Banks said the most impressive part of her recent visit to UConn was that the coaches and players did not try to impress her.

"I think the locker room was the biggest thing," Banks said. "It was just a locker room, there were no (frills). Other places there were all flashy (decorations) but it showed what is important to the team and the coaches."

Considering that she played in the same AAU program as Tiffany Hayes, it should come as little surprise that Banks spent some quality time with Hayes when she was at UConn. However, basketball was usually pretty far down on the list of topics they chatted about.

There will be more on Banks in Saturday's edition of the Register.


Banks commits, Tina Charles ready to chat

Brianna Banks, a 5-foot-9 guard from Newnan, Ga. and a member of the same AAU program as current UConn guard Tiffany Hayes became the second member of the current high school junior class to commit to UConn.

Kimberly Davis Powell, the head coach of the Essence AAU program, confirmed the commitment.

Banks made an unofficial visit to UConn on Feb. 27 when the Huskies played Georgetown and left with a scholarship offer. She joins highly-touted California wing Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis as players in the high school Class of 2011 who have committed to Connecticut.

UConn senior center Tina Charles will be a guest on The Back Page at 4:45 p.m. today. The show can be heard at 1300 and 1410 AM


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Geno to be featured on Outside the Lines

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma is going to be profiled by Mark Schwarz on ESPN's Outside the Lines beginning Sunday at 9 a.m.

Here's the release I received from ESPN

Outside the Lines to Feature Geno Auriemma
(Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN)
A young boy named Luigi Auriemma, who grew up in the tiny Italian village of Montella – “No phone, no TV, no radio, no heat, no electricity,” he recalls – sailed to America with his family in 1961. Since arriving at the University of Connecticut in 1985, Geno Auriemma has led the Huskies, who had previously won just one women’s basketball championship, to six national titles. This season, they have won by an average of almost 33 points per game while extending the longest win streak in women's basketball history. Reporter Mark Schwarz goes one-on-one with the coach, and the man, who leads the NCAA’s most powerful women’s basketball program.

“What I do (coaching women’s basketball) is hard to do. We make it look easy, and that's the only reason I ever contemplated even coaching a men's team, just to prove to everybody that, you know what? You guys aren't as smart as you think, that I could win games on any level.” – Geno Auriemma , on possibly coaching men’s basketball

“No. We'd ruin both programs (laughs). I'd go over there and screw that up, and somebody would come in here and screw this up. So why screw around with two programs (laughs)?” – Auriemma , on coaching the UConn men’s team when coach Jim Calhoun steps down

“I think if Coach K decides, 'I only want to be the Olympic coach, and I need somebody to coach at Duke, and Geno you're the guy,’ then (slapping his hand) I’m there in a minute (laughs).” – Auriemma , on what men’s program he’d consider coaching


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hartley is Miss NY Basketball

UConn incoming freshman Bria Hartley has been named the winner of the Miss New York Basketball award by the Basketball Coaches Association of New York.

Hartley, a 5-foot-10 guard at North Babylon High, averaged 28.8 points and had five triple-doubles as a senior as she joins current Huskies Lorin Dixon and Tina Charles and ex-UConn great Sue Bird as winners of the event.

Hartley, who was a finalist for the Naismith and McDonald's national high school player of the year awards, will be playing in the McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio and the WBCA game on Apr. 3 in San Antonio, Tex.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Charles, Moore in the running

UConn senior center Tina Charles is one of 14 semifinalists for the AAU Sullivan Memorial Award, presented annually to the nation's premier amateur athlete. Charles and teammate Maya Moore were also among 12 candidates for the Wade Trophy, the most prestigious individual award in women's college basketball.

Charles is UConn's leading scorer with an average of 18.5 points per game and rebounder (9.4 per contest) heading into Tuesday's NCAA second-round game against Temple. She was also named USA Basketball's Female Athlete of the Year after helping the U.S. win the World University Games and was then the only active college player on a United States senior national team squad which won the 2009 Ekaterinburg International Invitational title. Charles is also UConn's all-time leading scorer (2,268) and rebounder (1,316).

Finalists will be announced by April 2 and the winner will be revealed at a banquet on April 14 at the New York Athletic Club. Voting opened today on the USA Today website.

Moore, who is averaging 18 points, 8.3 rebounds and leads UConn with 141 assists and 75 steals. The winner of the Wade Trophy will be announced on April 3. Moore won the award last season.

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Leedham honored

Franklin Pierce senior Johannah Leedham, a former star at Cheshire Academy, has been named the Division II Player of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association for the second time in the last three years.

Leedham, a 5-foot-11 guard/forward from Ellesmere Port, England, is averaging 27.1 points, 8 rebounds and 4.3 steals a game this season and has been the leading scorer in 31 of the Ravens’ 32 games this season.

Leedham, a three-time Northeast-10 Player of the Year, has led Franklin Pierce to three straight NCAA Division II East Regional titles and has scored a Division II record 3,003 points heading into Tuesday’s Division II national quarterfinal game against Arkansas Tech.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Yori is WBCA Coach of the Year

Nebraska's Connie Yori has been named the WBCA Division I Coach of the Year after leading the Cornhuskers to the program's first undefeated regular season.

UConn's Geno Auriemma, a five-time winner of the award, was one of the eight finalists for the award.

Yori, Auriemma, Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Tara VanderVeer of Stanford are the four finalists for the Naismith national coach of the year. The final round of voting began on Monday at 10 a.m. and will run until 5 p.m. on Apr. 1.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Charles, Moore Naismith finalists

UConn senior center Tina Charles and junior forward Maya Moore joined Nebraska senior forward Kelsey Griffin and Stanford senior center Jayne Appel as finalists for the Naismith Trophy, annually given to the nation's best player.

Charles the leading scorer (18.5 points per game), rebounding (9.4) and with 77 blocks for the 34-0 Huskies. Moore, winner of the award last season, is averaging 18 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

The winner will be announced at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association awards luncheon April 5 in San Antonio, Texas.

Fans will be able to text their votes for the player of their choice by texting VOTE to 345345. Fans will be eligible to cast their vote for the winner until 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 3. Fans are allowed one vote per 24-hour period.

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The greatest loss

As some of you may have noticed, I have not posted an entry since Wednesday and you will not be a story coming out of me from the games Norfolk, Virginia this week.

I had a flight, hotel and was all set to embark for Virginia until my life was about to be shaken to its core and my heart broken when I received the news that my sister, who has not had an easy run in her life, died on Tuesday night at the age of 46. Naturally all my energy since that time has been focused completely and entirely on giving her the farewell that she deserved.

That came yesterday afternoon at Farwell Funeral Home in Nashua, N.H. Outside of finishing up a story on Tiffany Hayes which ran in today's paper, I have not been in UConn women's basketball mode since I received word of my sister's death. It will probably be a couple more days before I am in a state of mind when I can throw myself back into my work. I will not be in attendance at Tuesday's second-round game but have every intention of making the trip to Dayton on Friday assuming UConn wins on Tuesday and will follow UConn's quest for a seventh national title from that point on.

I don't really have much else to say at the current time but felt the readers of this blog deserved an explanation for my absence from the Norfolk subregional and lack of diligence in maintaining this blog.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Auriemma a Naismth finalist

UConn's Geno Auriemma is one of the four finalists for the Naismith national coach of the year.

Naismith voters really went out on a limb, picking the head coaches of the four No. 1 seeds in the upcoming NCAA tournament as the other finalists are Tennessee's Pat Summitt, Tara VanderVeer of Stanford and the frontrunner to win the award, Connie Yori of Nebraska.

For the sake of full disclosure, I should state that I vote for the award and my four finalists were Auriemma, Yori, Kentucky's Matthew Mitchell and Kim Barnes Arico of St. John's.

Here is the release courtesy of the Atlanta TipOff Club


Auriemma, Summitt, VanDerveer and Yori Seek Prestigious Coaching Honor

ATLANTA (March 17, 2010) – Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt, who collectively have won 11 of the 23 Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year awards, headline the 2010 final ballot for the most prestigious national coaching honor. Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, the 1990 winner, and Nebraska’s Connie Yori round out the four finalists, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. The winner will be announced in early April.

The finalists were voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s National Voting Academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The academy based its criteria on player performances this season. The vote was tabulated and certified by the accounting firm of Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP. HA&W is the largest independent accounting firm in Georgia and one of the top 50 firms in the United States.

Geno Auriemma: Auriemma, who has won six Naismith Awards, has led the Huskies to their sixth perfect regular season amidst an NCAA-record 72-game winning streak. He shared Big East Coach of the Year honors for the third straight year and won the award for the ninth time overall. Connecticut earned its 18th outright regular-season championship in 2009-10, went undefeated in league play for the eighth time in program history and became the 10th league team to accomplish the feat. In 25 seasons at Connecticut he has a 723-122 record and his squad has been ranked number one by the Associated Press for 41 straight weeks, a poll record.

Pat Summitt: The Volunteers won their 15th SEC regular season title and 14th SEC Tournament title this year, pushing Summitt’s career record to 1,035-195 (.841 overall). The five-time Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year has led UT to all 29 NCAA Tournaments, the only school to achieve that feat, and earned a number one seed for the 20th time.

Tara VanDerveer: Stanford went 18-0 to win their 10th consecutive Pac-10 regular-season title, and followed that up by winning the conference tournament. The Cardinal (31-1) is making its 23rd consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament and 24th overall. The top seed in the Sacramento region, Stanford seeks its third consecutive Final Four appearance.

Connie Yori: The 2010 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year has led Nebraska (30-1, 16-0 Big 12) to the best season in school history. The Huskers tied the Big 12 record with a 30-game winning streak, shattering the school record (23) in the process. The Huskers are also the nation's most improved team, winning 15 more games than the previous season. Nebraska became the first Big 12 Conference team to finish a regular season with an unbeaten record (29-0), and just the second Big 12 team to go 16-0 through league play. Yori’s record at Nebraska (eight seasons) is 151-98 and her overall career mark is 346-238 in 20 seasons.

For more information, visit

Naismith Women’s Coaching Finalists
Page 2

The Atlanta Tipoff Club, an Atlanta Sports Council property, is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club, founded during the 1956-57 season, has presented the Naismith Trophy every year since UCLA’s Lew Alcindor first won the award in 1969. Old Dominion’s Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women’s Naismith Trophy in 1983.

The Naismith Award has become the most prestigious award in all of college basketball, recognizing the Men’s and Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year, Men’s and Women’s College Basketball Coach of the Year, as well as awards for outstanding achievement in high school basketball, officiating, and contribution to the game.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A little broadcasting info

Here are the basics on ESPN's plans for UConn's potential games.

UConn's first-round game against Southern University will be on ESPN2 Sunday at 12:16 p.m. ESPN2 will also have the second-round game on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The Dayton Regional semifinals will be at noon on ESPN and 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2 while ESPN will televise the national semifinals at 7 and (approximately) 9:30 p.m. on April 4 and the championship game which will start a few minutes after 8:30 p.m. on April 6.

Marc Kestecher and Stephen Bardo will call the games in Norfolk, Va. Bob Wischusen, Stephanie White and Rebecca Lobo will be the broadcasting team in Dayton while Dave O'Brien, Doris Burke, Lobo and Holly Rowe have the Final Four broadcasting duties.


UConn's Big Three on national ballots

UConn senior center Tina Charles, junior forward Maya Moore and senior guard/forward Kalana Greene are among 52 candidates for the State Farm All-American team and 22 players on the ballot for the Wooden Award.

Charles, Moore and Greene are UConn's top three scorers averaging 18.4, 17.9 and 12 points respectively and were among the 12 players named to the All-Region 1 squad by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, making them eligible for the prestigious 10-member State Farm All-American team which will be announced at next month's Final Four. The Wooden Award winner will be named on April 9.

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Auriemma named Region 1's top coach

UConn coach Geno Auriemma has been named the Region 1 Coach of the Year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association making him one of eight coaches eligible for the national coach of the year award he has won in each of the last two seasons and five times overall.

The winner of the award will be announced on April 5 during Final Four festivities in San Antonio.


Monday, March 15, 2010

It's tourney time

It was business as usual for the UConn women's basketball team who were the No. 1 overall seed for the upcoming NCAA tournament.

On paper it seems as if UConn was rewarded for its dominant season drawing Ohio State, Florida State and Iowa State as the other top seeds in the Dayton Region.

Tennessee, with Duke, West Virginia and Baylor, would seem to have been given a significantly tougher list of potential foes in the Memphis Region. Stanford, the top seed in Sacramento, wasn't done many favors with a red-hot Texas A&M team as the No. 2 seed, No. 3 Xavier (one of the few teams capable of matching the Cardinal's height) and fourth-seeded Oklahoma State. In Kansas City, top-seeded Nebraska may have to contend with No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Kentucky.

Of course much of the attention was the committee's curious decision to make Tennessee to fourth overall seed setting up a potential matchup in the national semifinals. It should hardly come as a surprise considering that ESPN, which has more impact on the sport than is appropriate, recently had multiple continuous hours of memorable UConn/Tennessee NCAA tournament games on ESPN Classic so obviously the network is clamoring for the first UConn/Tennessee matchup since Tennessee coach Pat Summitt pulled the plug on the most visible regular-season series in women's basketball.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma's reaction was predictably less than enthusiastic about the amount of hype the ice-cold relationship between the two Hall of Fame coaches.

"The other two teams that are in (the Final Four) are going to be disrespected, the players are going to be disrespected," Auriemma said about the potential feeding frenzy which will take place if the UConn/Tennessee matchup materializes in the Final Four. "What can I say."

Pairings are out

The UConn women's basketball team's quest for a second straight national title will begin on Sunday when the Huskies play Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern University in Sunday's 12:16 p.m. first-round game in Norfolk, Va.
UConn, winners of an NCAA Division I record 72 straight games, will not have a game in Connecticut during the NCAA tournament for first time since UConn made its initial NCAA tournament appearance in 1989.

The Huskies (33-0) would face the the winner of the Temple/James Madison game in Tuesday's second-round game to earn a spot in the regionals in Dayton.

UConn has reached the regionals every year since 1994.
Ohio State, Florida State and Iowa State are the other top seeds in the Dayton Regional.

UConn also earned the No. 1 overall seed and if the seeds hold form, the Huskies would meet Tennessee in the national semifinals on Apr. 4 in San Antonio, Tex. It would be the first meeting between the sport's two superpowers since Jan. 6, 2007.

Too close to call

There has been a poll up on the Register's site for the last couple days asking whether the current UConn squad, the 2001-02 edition of the Huskies or the 1997-98 Tennessee squad is the best women's college basketball team of all-time.

Last time I checked, the 2009-10 squad is barely ahead of the 2001-02 Connecticut team in the voting.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bracketology revisited

With all the results in, I decided to take my second and final crack at predicting the brackets.

If recent history counts for anything, these pairings will bear only a passing resemblance to the final product which will be revealed tomorrow night between 7-8 p.m. on ESPN.

I also struggled with the final two at-large spots, giving one to North Carolina and going with Illinois State for the other. I know Michigan and Boston College are popular picks but they aren't in my field of 64. Michigan does own a win over Xavier but also has three losses to teams with RPIs outside the top 100. BC is 17-15 and no way that a team two games over .500 deserves an at-large bid.

Here's what I came up with (host teams are in bold):
Pittsburgh: 1. UConn, 8. Wisconsin, 9. Louisiana State, 16. St. Francis (Pa.)
Minneapolis: 2. Ohio State, 7. Georgia Tech, 10. Marist, 15. Cleveland State
Seattle: 3. Oklahoma State, 6. St. John's, 11. James Madison; 14. Liberty
Cincinnati: 4. Xavier, 5. UCLA, 12. Bowling Green; 13. Lehigh

Knoxville: 1. Tennessee, 8. Southern California; 9. Dayton; 16. Austin Peay
South Bend: 2. Notre Dame; 7. Middle Tennessee; 10. Vermont; 15. Northern Iowa
Norman: 3. Oklahoma; 6. Virginia; 11. Mississippi State; 14. South Dakota State
Austin: 4. Michigan State; 5. Texas; 12. North Carolina; 13. Chattanooga

Louisville: 1. Nebraska, 8. Rutgers, 9. Temple, 16. Southern
Durham: 2. Duke, 7. Vanderbilt; 10. Tulane; 15. Hampton
Ames: 3. West Virginia; 6. Iowa State; 11. Fresno State; 14. East Tennessee
Norfolk: 4. Kentucky; 5. North Carolina State; 12. Illinois State; 13. San Diego State

Palo Alto: 1. Stanford; 8. DePaul; 9. Iowa; 16. Portland State
Berkeley: 2. Texas A&M 7. Gonzaga; 10. Hartford; 15. Cal-Riverside
Tallahassee: 3. Florida State; 6. Georgia; 11. Texas Christian; 14. Lamar
Tempe: 4. Georgetown; 5. Baylor; 12. Princeton; 13. Louisiana Tech

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Southern state of mind

While there are more automatic bids left to be decided by the end of play tomorrow, I can't help but think that the Southern University squad is less than 12 minutes to earning the right to draw UConn in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

With the sub-.500 South Carolina State team losing to Hampton in the Mid-Eastern Conference Tournament, it seems quite possible that Southern with its RPI ranking in the 190s, would be the 64th-ranked team in the field if it holds on and wins the Southwestern Athletic Conference title.

Of course, if UConn gets sent to the subregional in Pittsburgh and St. Francis (Pa.) wins the Northeast Conference title tomorrow, St. Francis could land the assignment of squaring off with the nation's top-ranked team.

Staying on the subject of the NCAA tournament, there were some very unhappy individuals across the nation when the final score in the Western Athletic Conference tournament came across the wire. Louisiana Tech earned a bid with an upset win over a Fresno State team which should be able to earn an at-large spot meaning that there is now one less at-large spot left in the tournament.

Bracketology time

It's that time of the year when number crunching takes center stage and seemingly everybody takes a crack at predicting the brackets.

It's not an easy process especially with automatic bids still to be determined over the next two days but I figured I would give it a crack.

Here are a few ground rules. First, teams from the same conference can't meet until the regional final and host teams are guaranteed to be - well - hosts meaning that if Old Dominion wins the Colonial tournament, a high seed is going to have to play ODU on its home court.

Personally, I believe that if you have a losing record in your conference during the regular season, you don't deserve an at-large bid. However, I simply ran out of teams so I begrudingly put North Carolina, Maryland and Texas Tech in the field. I also assumed that the highest seeds would win the tournaments over the next couple of days. Of course that is not going to happen so I'll probably revise this before the pairings are announced on Monday. My biggest fear is putting the same team in the bracket more than once as I did with Michigan State on take one but think I have corrected that initial flaw.

Here we go (host teams in bold):
1. UConn, 8. Wisconsin, 9. LSU, 16. SWAC
Ames: 2. Ohio State, 7. IOWA STATE, 10. Marist, 15. Butler/Cleveland St. winner
Cincinnati: 3. XAVIER, 6. St. John’s, 11. Vermont, 14. San Diego State
Austin: 4. Kentucky, 5. TEXAS, 12. Princeton; 13. Bowling Green/Toledo winner

Knoxville: 1. TENNESSEE, 8. Ga. Tech, 9. Temple, 16. Austin Peay
Durham: 2. DUKE, 7. Middle Tennessee, 10. Tulane, 15. Hampton
Berkeley: 3. Oklahoma State, 6. Vanderbilt, 11. James Madison, 14. Chattanooga
Louisville: 4. Michigan State, 5. Georgetown, 12. Maryland, 13. Gardner Webb

Minneapolis: 1. Nebraska, 8. Rutgers, 9. Dayton, 16. Riverside/Davis winner
South Bend: 2. NOTRE DAME, 7. Hartford, 10. USC, 15. Long Island
Tempe: 3. Texas A&M, 6. Georgia, 11. North Carolina, 14. East Tennessee
Tallahassee: 4. FLORIDA STATE, 5. UCLA, 12. TCU, 13. Lehigh

Palo Alto: 1. STANFORD, 8. Fresno State, 9. DePaul, 16. Montana St./Portland St. winner
Norman: 2. OKLAHOMA, 7. Gonzaga, 10. Iowa, 15. Lamar
Seattle: 3. West Virginia, 6. North Carolina St., 11. Illinois State, 14. South Dakota St.
Norfolk: 4. Baylor, 5. Virginia, 12. OLD DOMINION; 13. Texas Tech

Second part of this project is trying to figure out who UConn would play in the first round. As my bracket shows, I think the winner of the SWAC final between Southern University and Alabama State will draw the unenviable task of meeting the Huskies first. That could change if a 13-18 South Carolina State team wins the MEAC title or if St. Francis (Pa.) takes the Northeast Conference crown. Austin Peay has been a popular choice to draw UConn but with an emphasis on geographic considerations, I think Austin Peay will land in Knoxville to play Tennessee.

The most intriguing conferences worth watching from a bracketing standpoint are the Colonial (and not because of the Elena Delle Donne angle but because James Madison figures to get in even if they lose in the tournament), Missouri Valley (since Illinois State deserves a spot whether they win the tourney or not) and the Western Athletic Conference since Fresno State should be in regardless of the result in the championship game against Louisiana Tech. However, bubble teams from the major conferences will be sweating out these tournaments because each upset would take away an at-large spot. Other that Texas Christian losing in the Mountain West tournament, the bubble teams have gotten their wish with Tulane (Conference USA), Marist (MAAC), Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt) and Gonzaga (West Coast) all winning their conference tournaments and not requiring at-large bids to get into the field of 64.

The field will be officially announced beginning at 7 p.m. (probably more like 7:10-7:15 once the talking heads stop chattering) on ESPN. Among the highlights of the broadcast is virtual player cards featuring UConn's Tina Charles and Stanford's Jayne Appel. Something tells me ESPN is already on plan B since Baylor freshman Brittney Griner would certainly have been a focal point of the network's Selection Show festivities if not for that ugly incident when the 6-foot-8 Griner slugged an opponent and drew a two-game suspension.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hartley is New York Player of the Year again

UConn incoming freshman Bria Hartley, a 5-foot-10 senior guard at North Babylon High, has been named the Gatorade New York Player of the Year for the second straight year.

Hartley, had five triple-doubles and averaged 27 points per game as a senior, is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
Hartley was a finalist for the McDonald’s and Naismith national player of the year award which both went to Stanford signee and former UConn recruiting target Chiney Ogwumike.

Hartley had a career-high 51 points but her North Babylon team lost to Sachem East in the New York Suffolk AA championship game on Mar. 4. Hartley will be competing in the McDonald’s All-American Game on Mar. 31 in Columbus, Ohio and the WBCA All-American Game on Apr. 3 in San Antonio, Tex.

Norwich Free Academy’s Kastine Evans, who is headed to Kentucky in the fall, was named Connecticut’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
A trio of juniors on UConn’s recruiting radar (Betnijah Laney of Smyrna, Del., Kiah Stokes of Marion, Iowa and Elizabeth Williams of Virginia Beach, Va.) were winners of the Delaware, Iowa and Virginia awards.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let's go to the video

Now that my company has provided me with the video camera, there's some footage (mostly of the post-game press conferences) from the Big East tournament. So here are the videos which have been posted on the Register's website.

Kalana Greene talks about UConn's defense after the Big East final
West Virginia coach Mike Carey speaks about Greene's impact
Kalana Greene is mobbed by her teammates after she is named the most outstanding player of the Big East Tournament
Former UConn star and current ESPN women's basketball analyst Rebecca Lobo speaks about UConn's record winning streak
Maya Moore addresses the media after the semifinal win over Notre Dame
Geno Auriemma talks about UConn setting the NCAA Division I record with its 71st straight win on Monday
Maya Moore reacts to becoming the seventh UConn player to score 2,000 points
Geno Auriemma compares UConn's two marathon winning streaks

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Ogwumike wins Wootten/Naismith awards

Stanford incoming freshman and former UConn recruiting target Chiney Ogwumike, a 6-foot-3 forward from Cypress, Tex., has been named the winner of the Morgan Wootten Player of the Year award as well as the Naismith Award winner for girls' basketball.

UConn signee Bria Hartley, a a 5-foot-10 guard from North Babylon, N.Y., was a finalist for both awards.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sweet 16 celebration for Huskies

UConn captured its record 16th Big East Tournament title thanks to a suffocating defensive effort which held West Virginia scoreless for 11:23 of the second half en route to a 60-32 UConn victory.

The 32 points were the fewest for a team in the Big East championship game.

"People think we are a pretty, finesse team and we don't like to be physical but we can do a lot of little things," said UConn senior guard/forward Kalana Greene, who was named the tournament's most outstanding player. "That is what we have done all season, people don't really pay attention to that, they look at the points and the top ten plays and stuff like that. We are a team that can get down to the nitty, gritty, get tips on defense and lock teams down and get rebounds when we needed to."

West Virginia pulled with five points with 15:32 to go only to look on helplessly as UConn responded with a 27-2 run.

"We cut it to five and we had a couple of bad shots, they got a couple of offensive rebounds and a three-point play," West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. "Then the game got really physical and we are not going to win that battle with them. They are too big and strong."

Greene finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and three assists and Tiffany Hayes added 15 points and seven rebounds to help offset a combined 9 for 31 shooting effort from Tina Charles and Maya Moore.

While UConn coach Geno Auriemma and most of his players tend to downplay the current NCAA Division I record 72-game winning streak, sophomore guard Tiffany Hayes was giddy when I asked her about opening her collegiate career with a 72-0 record.

"It's pretty nice, me Caroline and Heather Buck we always talk about it, we are still undefeated, we are 72-0," Hayes said. "A lot of peopple don't get to experience that so it is a great feeling."

UConn incoming freshman Samarie Walker and her Chaminade Julienne of Dayton, Ohio team lived to play another day. Walker, a 6-foot-1 forward/guard, had 15 points as the Eagles defeated DeSales 46-37 in a Ohio Division II regional semifinal on Tuesday.

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Doty cleared to play

UConn sophomore guard Caroline Doty has been medically cleared to play in tonight's Big East championship game.

Doty, who has started 31 of the top-ranked Huskies' 32 games this season, is second on the team with 43 3-pointers, 117 assists and 43 steals while averaging 7.2 points per game.

Doty was knocked out of Monday's semifinal victory over Notre Dame after taking an elbow from the Fighting Irish's Ashley Barlow with 49.7 seconds to play.

UConn, winners of an NCAA Division I women's basketball record 71 games in a row, will face West Virginia in the Big East final at 7 p.m. at the XL Center.


Monday, March 08, 2010

A record win and a woozy Doty

While UConn's 71st NCAA Division I record 71st straight win will dominate the headlines, a potential concussion suffered by UConn sophomore guard Caroline Doty is the bigger news of the day.

Beginning with the 59-44 victory over Notre Dame, it was much more of a struggle than the final score would indicate. It was also a bit stunning showcase from a style standpoint as two of the most gifted offensive teams in the Big East and the country were locked in a defensive struggle.

"Our guys gutted it out, we made some big shots at the end, we made some big plays at big moments," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

As for Doty who had three key first-half 3-pointers, both Auriemma and Kalana Greene didn't seem to think the injury she suffered when she took an elbow from Notre Dame's Ashley Barlow to the back of her head with 49.7 seconds to play.

"She is better, she was better in the locker room," Auriemma said. "She was really sore, she was really hurt, scared all those things. She is alert, she is moving around. You guys have talked to her, how are you going to hurt her especially in the head."

UConn incoming freshman Stefanie Dolson had 21 points despite dealing with foul trouble but it wasn't enough as her Minisink Valley of Slate Hill, N.Y. team lost to Kingston 53-34 in the New York Section 9 Class AA championship game on Monday.

UConn signee Samarie Walker was named the Ohio Southwest District II Player of the Year.

Walker, a 6-foot-1 forward/guard at Chaminade Julienne in Dayton, is averaging 16.2 points and nearly 9.5 rebounds for the Eagles

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Geno's take on recruiting

I spend a lot of time on the "who" part of recruiting, updating the results of kids coming to UConn and do what I can to stay on top of the players the UConn staff is interested in. But I thought it would be a good time to trying to answer the "why" part of recruiting.

Every year I get the e-mails. Why aren't they looking at players A, B and C, they are rated higher than the ones UConn is currently recruiting. My answer is always the same, the only recruiting service I concern myself with is the one run by Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey.

After Sunday's win over Georgetown, Auriemma addressed the subject of what he looks for when he is in attendance at a high school game. I think the quotes give a pretty good indication that character is more important to Auriemma than characters.

"I just watched a couple of high school games in the last couple weeks," Auriemma said. "So I go around the country and I watch the games. Player A doesn't talk to any of her teammates, they don't talk to her. They win and they win big but you could tell this kid does not have a great relationship with her teammates. Then you watch Team B and this kid is the best player and every kid on their team is like (celebrating with them) and they are interacting so you make a little bit of a rash judgment 'that kid there is unselfish, wants to win and all her teammates like her even though she is a first-team All-American. That kid right there, that kid doesn't get along with her teammates for whatever reason.'

"Once talent is equal, you try to look for those kinds of things that may separate one kid from another. Sometimes you are right, sometimes you are wrong. fortunately for us, we have been right more times than we have been wrong. We've been wrong a couple of times."

Please save your time and don't e-mail me asking who he was talking about. I don't get my kicks piling on 16 and 17 year old kids. The fact is that Auriemma and his staff like Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (who has already committed), Betnijah Laney, Kiah Stokes and Bonnie Samuelson because they have all been offered scholarships but as far as whose attitude turns Geno or his coaches off, you'll need to find another place to get that sort of info.

Former UConn star Diana Taurasi will be starting for the Rest of the World squad in Tuesday's EuroLeague All-Star Game at Gdynia, Poland while Connecticut Sun teammates Sandrine Gruda and Anete Jekabsone-Zogota will play for Europe. The game will tip at 7 p.m. in Gdynia which, if my math is correct, is 1 p.m. in Connecticut.

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Feeling her pain

Notre Dame junior Devereaux Peters has acted like a kid at a candy store during the Big East tournament. Knee injuries during her freshman and sophomore years prevented her from playing a postseason game in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.

So when Notre Dame defeated Louisville in the second round of the Big East tournament and then topped St. John's in the quarterfinals, Peters was loving life.

"I am excited to play in the postseason for a change," Peters said. "I was nuts in the lockerroom and everybody was laughing at me and saying are you serious Dev, you've never played but if you think about, I have been out."

Since Peters has suffered two torn ACLs in the last two seasons and has a similar build to UConn incoming freshman Michala Johnson, who has also suffered two season-ending knee injuries, I asked Peters about how frustrating the second torn ACL was.

"The second one was actually easier after being out for so long and you do it again, at first it was rough but I was so used to being out so it was smoother the second time," Peters said. "It wasn't that bad and I am happy to be back."

I also asked her that if she could offer Michala Johnson any advice, what would it be?

"Just go out there and give 100 percent, don't think twice about anything," Peters said. "I think a lot of people when they heard ACL they think they have to think through stuff and they are nervous but I don't think about it. I am out here so I want to give it 100 percent."

Speaking of Johnson, her Montini Catholic of Lombard, Ill. team not only won a state title without the athletic 6-foot-3 forward but were inspired to win it in her honor

Johnson's future UConn teammate Stefanie Dolson has a huge game tonight when she leads her Minisink Valley of Slate Hill, N.Y. team against Kingston in the New York Section 9 Class AA championship game. The contest tips at 6 p.m.

Another UConn recruit has had to contend with a flood of emotions in the last week or two. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, a 6-foot junior guard at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif. was devastated - as was the entire Mater Dei community - with the recent death of the school's softball staff Bri Matthews. Mosqueda-Lewis's locker at school was right next to Matthews so obviously they built a strong bond. There was a nice piece on the site about how the Mater Dei squad honored their fallen classmate
when they played Woodbridge in the CIF-SS 2A title game.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

UConn's 70-70 vision

It's a little crowded at the top of the NCAA record book as the current UConn squad matched the 2001-03 Huskies' NCAA Division I record with its 70th straight win.

UConn matched the mark with a 77-41 win over Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals at the XL Center on Sunday.

"To be honest, I personally haven't been thinking about it at all," UConn junior Maya Moore said. "It's one of those things where at the end of the season you can look up and hopefully be proud of anything or any records that get set, but right now we're really focusing on Notre Dame (UConn's opponent in Monday's semifinals). We started out just the way we wanted to, and any record or history doesn't really mean much if we don't accomplish our next goal, and that's beating Notre Dame."

UConn coach Geno Auriemma agreed with his star that it's not the Huskies' style to focus on anything but winning the next game.

"It's very difficult while you're doing it," Auriemma said. "It's like a guy throwing a no hitter. The object is to win the game and strike out as many guys as you can and get guys to swing at bad pitches and all that other stuff.
You're not necessarily thinking in the 5th inning, hey, I can't give you a hit because I'm pitching a no-hitter because sure enough the next guy is going to hit one off the back wall. You don't think about it while you're doing it. After it's over, you want to look back and say, hey, this is what we did.

"The average person out there thinks we get up every morning and like we're in a prison cell. We get up every morning, go to the wall and carve out another X and say that's one less day I've got to worry about this. It's so far from what the reality is. I don't think there's been one day that I've gone to practice thinking at all about how many games we've won, honest to God. And the average person won't understand that, but it's true. It's honest to God true."

The game was the Tina Charles show as the senior center set a Big East tournament record with 16 field goals and equaled her career high with 34 points. Maya Moore flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 16 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and one block in 25 minutes. She also became the seventh UConn player to score 2,000 points but did it faster than anybody else. It took Moore 108 games while it took the previous record holder Kerry Bascom 113 games.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Up next: Syracuse

Syracuse earned the right to be UConn's opponent in Sunday's Big East quarterfinals with a 76-71 win over Providence.

Erica Morrow led four players in double figures with 24 points and the Orange had 24 offensive rebounds. Syracuse (22-9) was buoyed by the return of Nicole Michael. Michael, who missed the first-round win over Seton Hall with an injured right foot, had 12 points and four rebounds in 18 minutes.

If Syracuse is viewing tomorrow's game as a chance to shock the world and end UConn's winning streak at 69 games - one shy of the NCAA Division I record set by the 2001-03 UConn squads - they did a good job of concealing it.

"I wasn't aware of that but I just want to come out and compete," Morrow said. "It is a great opportunity. We are going to come out and try to play a good basketball game."

Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said he didn't think UConn being on the cusp of history would be addressed in his pre-game remarks.

"I don't think it is motivation," Hillsman said. "We have to go play a basketball game, I think it adds pressure. They are a good basketball team, Geno is a great coach and he gets his players to play really hard. it is going to be a great atmosphere for a women's college basketball game. We are going to come out there as hard as we can, we are going to compete.

"You have to give them a lot of credit, when you have an undefeated team in your conference, it is a great honor to have them in our conference. We are going to come out and play. Somebody has to play them so I guess it has to be us and we have to be ready to play tomorrow."

Although she is no longer on the UConn staff, first-year Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott was quite thrilled to see Tina Charles recognized for her brilliant senior season by being named the Big East's Player of the Year.

"Tina, she really came out and played this year like she was the best player in the
country on a consistent basis," said Elliott, Charles' position coach for her first three seasons. "Last year she did that in spurts, two or three games here, two or three games there but this year she has been that player all year long and she deserved that Big East Player of the Year award and I couldn't be happier for her."

Elliott's Bearcats received plenty of support from the UConn fans at Friday's final first-round game, not surprising since she was a four-year standout at UConn and spent 12 years as an assistant on Geno Auriemma's UConn staff.

Elliott was on the losing side 11 times in her last four seasons at UConn but has already lost 17 games in her first season at Cincinnati.

"I knew going in it wasn't going to be UConn, I knew I wasn't going to win every game," Elliott said after Cincinnati defeated South Florida. "I kind of knew what I was going into although when you win for a long time, losing doesn't come easy. I am the head coach now, I have to stay positive, stay focused and continue to try to give them the confidence that when we do lose a game, next time out it is a brand new ball game and we have to play like it."

Friday, March 05, 2010

An oops for Geno

In the midst of his nearly five-minute acceptance speech after being named the Big East Coach of the Year for the ninth time, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was determined to spread the credit to his staff.

Only thing is somewhere in the midst of his dissertation, he seemed to forget that Tonya Cardoza is now the head coach at Temple and Jamelle Elliott is the head coach at Cincinnati.

Auriemma didn't even realize that he mentioned the names "Tonya" and "Jamelle", his former long-time assistant coaches, instead of current assistants Shea Ralph and Marissa Moseley.

"I did. Did I really?" Auriemma said. "My mind doesn't work real well anymore. It's funny because I was thinking that our staff has changed and I was thinking about Jamelle and Tonya. I'm (messed) up, too much going on in my mind."

Auriemma was among a group of about 10 people waiting for Elliott after the fina press conference on Friday although he neglected to mention his slip of the tongue earlier in the day.

"I didn't know that," Elliott said. "I told him I was the swing vote, he owes me. He is just so used to saying our names and we've been together, Tonya 15-16 years, me 15-16 years (four as a player, 12 as an assistant coach), it is hard to get that out of your system."

Elliott led the Bearcats to a 63-51 win over South Florida although it was a costly win as starting guard Carla Jacobs hurt her knee and she is not expected to play when Cincinnati plays Rutgers on Saturday.


UConn incoming freshman Samarie Walker had 16 points and 17 rebounds as Chaminade Julienne defeated Kenton Ridge 56-51 in double overtime to help the Eagles advance to Tuesday's regional semifinal against the winner of St. Francis DeSales/Hilliard Bradley game.

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Charles, Moore, Auriemma honored

Tina Charles was named the Big East Player of the Year, unseating her teammate and close friend Maya Moore, who won the award as a freshman and sophomore.

Moore earned the women's basketball scholar-athlete of the year award, normally reserved for seniors while UConn coach Geno Auriemma earned the Big East coach of the year for the third straight time and ninth overall. West Virginia's Mike Carey shared the conference coach of the year award with Auriemma while Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers was named the Big East Freshman of the Year.

"It definitely means a lot just with what I've went through and how I have had to grow, it was all worth it," said Charles, who enters the Big East tournament with 2,184 points and 1,272 rebounds.

Moore won the award in each of the last two seasons, becoming the first freshman - either men's or women's - to be named the Big East Player of the Year back in 2008. She won the honor again last season and had a season worthy of making it a 3-peat if not for the brilliant season enjoyed by Charles.

"Maya certainly hasn't played any less outstanding than she did the first two years and certainly hasn't done anything to say 'OK, she shouldn't be player of the year," Auriemma said. "The difference is that the two years previous Maya just overwhelmed the league and everybodfy and this year Tina took over that role."

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Lighting it up

UConn incoming freshmen Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson had huge games on Thursday night but only one of the New York products' season was extended.

Hartley followed up her 43-point effort with 51 points but her North Babylon team lost to Sachem East 72-69 in the Suffolk AA championship game as Hartley's teammates had as many field goals (5) as she did 3-pointers. If my math is correct, Hartley finished 23 points shy of 2,000 in her career.

Dolson had 25 points, 27 rebounds and six assists to lead her Minisink Valley of Slate Hill, N.Y. team to a 54-32 win over Warwick in the Section IX Class AA semifinals. Minisink Valley will play Kingston on Monday at 6 p.m. in the finals at SUNY-New Paltz.

UConn commit Samarie Walker will lead her Chaminade Julienne of Dayton, Ohio team against Kenton Ridge on Friday at 5 p.m. in the Ohio Division II district tournament.

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Geno weighs in on "The Punch"

Late in his half hour give and take with the media after Thursday's practice, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was asked for his take on the events which transpired in Lubbock, Tex. on Wednesday night when Baylor's highly-touted 6-foot-8 freshman Brittney Griner was ejected for punching Jordan Barncastle.

Griner, a leading candidate for national freshman of the year, was thrown out of the game and will be suspended for Baylor's next game since throwing a punch is a mandatory one-game suspension according to NCAA regulations.

"I was out recruiting so I didn't see it even when I did see it, all I did see was the scuffle and the punch," Auriemma said. "I didn't see the aftermath, I didn't hear what anybody said about it and I am sure people are going to weigh in 'what's this world coming to? Women fighting in basketball.' It is going to be the typical crap about 'they shouldn't do that, they shouldn't be like that.'

"Every school has their own way of dealing with those issues and every conference has their way of dealing with those things and the NCAA ultimately has a way of dealing with those things. As far as I know, the NCAA rule (on) fighting is you throw a punch, you are out the next game, what the school and the conference do beyond that, I don't know. I still don't know what precipitated it. I don't know what was going on between those two during the game but either way but obviously the kid lost her composure. Something happened and I am sure if you asked her now and said 'hey, Brittney what do you think about that?' She is probably devastated right now saying 'I can't believe I did that. I can't believe I put myself, my school, my basketball program, my family in that situation so in the heat of the moment ...'"

Not only is Auriemma the head coach of the six-time national champion UConn program but he is also the president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and also the head coach of the U.S. national team. As is his custom, he did not hold back in offering his opinion.

"People should be surprised it doesn't happen more often given the nature of the game," Auriemma said. "These kids are pretty disciplined and they restrain themselves pretty well not that it is asking a lot 'hey look, don't punch anybody.' Even saying that, there is some stuff that goes on during the game where you feel like punching somebody but you can't.

Auriemma didn't think there's much that could be done at the WBCA level to regulate something like fighting in basketball.

"What can you do about it?" Auriemma said. "Every coach talks to their players and says 'you can't do that.' Every coach says 'you can't leave the bench, don't be out there if something happens. There's not a coach in America who doesn't do that. Tina Charles the other night getting in the kid's face against Georgetown (forward Jaleesa Butler). We talk about that all the time 'Tina what are you thinking?' if you want to celebrate with one of your teammates, that is different."

Auriemma doesn't think the reaction or punishment should be any different if the events transpired in a men's game.

"I think it would be the same," Auriemma said. "Everybody would be like 'I can't believe a college kid punched another college kid in a basketball game.' The fact that it is a women's game, everybody is going to come out and weigh in on it from a sexist perspective not just college player punching another college player."


Let's talk a little recruiting

A recruiting source confirmed that Kiah Stokes, a 6-foot-3 junior center at Linn-Mar High in Marion, Iowa has been offered a scholarship by UConn.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma went to see Stokes play earlier in this week and although he is precluded from speaking directly to Stokes, the source indicated that he made it clear to Stokes when she took her unofficial visit to UConn last month that a scholarship offer could be forthcoming assuming Auriemma liked what he saw when he took in one of Stokes' high school games. Obviously that is the case meaning that UConn has offered California stars Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Bonnie Samuelson as well as Stokes and gifted Delaware high star Betnijah Laney among the current group of high school juniors.

The source also indicated that Auriemma is planning to catch another highly touted junior post player next week when he goes to see Elizabeth Williams out of Princess Anne High in Virginia Beach, Va. in action.

At Thursday's practice, UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey and assistant coach Shea Ralph were not in attendance. Dailey was scheduled to take in the New York Section IX AA semifinal as UConn incoming freshman Stefanie Dolson's Minisink Valley squad played Warwick High. Ralph headed out to SUNY-Farmingdale to see UConn incoming freshman Bria Hartley in action. Hartley's North Babylon team is playing Sachem East in the Suffolk AA championship game tonight at 7:30 p.m.

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Big East honors

The Big East released its all-conference teams and some of its awards on Thursday. The player of the year, coach of the year, freshman of the year and scholar-athlete of the year awards will be announced tomorrow.

UConn's Tina Charles and Maya Moore were the only unanimous selections and they were joined on the first team by teammate Kalana Greene as well as former Trinity Catholic star Da'Shena Stevens, a sophomore at St. John's. UConn's Tiffany Hayes was a second team selection while Kelly Faris was named to the all-freshman team.

Here's the list courtesy of the Big East

Sarah Miles, West Virginia (Jr., Guard, San Antonio , Texas )

Monique Reid, Louisville (So., Forward, Louisville , Ky. )

Maria Getty, Villanova (Sr., Guard, Centerville , Ohio )

Laura Sweeney, Villanova (R-Fr., Forward, Marlton , N.J. )

School Class Position Hometown

*Tina Charles Connecticut Sr. C Jamaica , N.Y.
Kalana Greene Connecticut Sr. G Saint Stephen, S.C.
Jessica Lawson USF Sr. C Orlando , Fla.
Chelsea Marandola Providence Sr. G Johnston , R.I.
Nicole Michael Syracuse Sr. F Queens , N.Y.
*Maya Moore Connecticut Jr. F Lawrenceville , Ga.
Monique Reid Louisville So. F Louisville , Ky.
Liz Repella West Virginia Jr. G Steubenville , Ohio
Sugar Rodgers Georgetown Fr. G Suffolk , Va.
Lindsay Schrader Notre Dame R-Sr. G Bartlett, Ill.
Da’Shena Stevens St. John’s So. F Stamford , Conn.

School Class Position Hometown

Ashley Barlow Notre Dame Sr. G Indianapolis , Ind.
Skylar Diggins Notre Dame Fr. G South Bend , Ind.
Keisha Hampton DePaul So. F Philadelphia , Pa.
Tiffany Hayes Connecticut So. G Lakeland , Fla.
Monica McNutt Georgetown Jr. G Suitland, Md.
Sarah Miles West Virginia Jr. G San Antonio , Texas
Sam Quigley DePaul Jr. G Joliet, Ill.
Brittany Ray Rutgers Sr. G Bronx , N.Y.
Angel Robinson Marquette Jr. G St. Paul, Minn.
Kahla Roudebush Cincinnati Sr. G Noblesville , Ind.

School Class Position Hometown

Korinne Campbell West Virginia Jr. G/F Princeton , N.J.
Chelsea Cole Pittsburgh Jr. F Lumberton , N.J.
Maria Getty Villanova Sr. G Centerville , Ohio
Jania Sims Pittsburgh R-Jr. G Newark , N.J.

School Class Position Hometown

Kayla Alexander Syracuse Fr. C Milton Ontario, Canada
*Asya Bussie West Virginia Fr. C Randallstown , Md.
*Skylar Diggins Notre Dame Fr. G South Bend , Ind.
Kelly Faris Connecticut Fr. G Plainfield , Ind.
*Katherine Harry DePaul Fr. F Columbia , Mo.
Nadirah McKenith St. John’s Fr. G Newark, N.J.
*Sugar Rodgers Georgetown Fr. G Suffolk , Va.
KaNeisha Saunders USF Fr. G/F Delray Beach , Fla.
Sarina Simmons Marquette Fr. F Milwaukee , Wis.
*Shenneika Smith St. John’s Fr. G Brooklyn , N.Y.
Laura Sweeney Villanova R-Fr. F Marlton, N.J.
Carmen Tyson-Thomas Syracuse Fr. G Philadelphia , Pa.

* - unanimous selection

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Big East predictions

The Big East awards are expected to be announced on Thursday (with the all-conference squads) and Friday (when the major awards come out).

Here's my take on how the awards could shake out although bear in mind that I don't have a vote (thank God for small miracles)

Tina Charles, UConn, Sr. C
Kalana Greene, UConn, Sr. G/F
Jessica Lawson, South Florida, Sr. F/C
Chelsea Marandola, Providence, Sr. G
Nicole Michael, Syracuse, Sr. F
Maya Moore, UConn, Sr. F
Monique Reid, Louisville, So. F
Liz Repella, West Virginia, Jr. G
Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown, Fr. G
Lindsay Schrader, Notre Dame, Sr. G/F
Da'Shena Stevens, St. John's, So. F

Player of the Year: Charles, UConn. A tough call between Charles and teammate Maya Moore but I am leaning towards the inside dominance of Charles over the all-court brilliance of Moore.
Coach of the Year: Kim Barnes Arico, St. John's and Geno Auriemma, UConn. The first five times Auriemma led the Huskies to an undefeated regular season, he received at least a share of the award so it's hard to imagine he won't at least share the award. But with who? West Virginia's Mike Carey, Georgetown's Terri Williams-Flournoy and even Providence's Phil Seymore deserve to be included in the conversation. I went with Barnes Arico.
Defensive Player of the Year: Kalana Greene, UConn. I don't think she will get the award and you won't see her name anywhere near the leaders in steals and blocks in the Big East database. But it should be noted that the players who received votes in the Big East preseason all-conference team were 29 for 116 against the Huskies this season and since Greene typically draws the assignment for guarding the opposing team's top player, she would be more than deserving of the honor.
Sixth Man of the Year: Kelly McManmon, St. John's. Not sure if she is eligible for the award since she started five Big East games but Ketia Swanier won the award back in 2008 after starting in four conference games so I would think she would make the cut. Anybody who hits 54 percent of her 3-pointers in a conference as good as the Big East deserves some sort of hardware. If she is not eligible, I would lean towards Syracuse freshman Kayla Alexander who gives the Orange 10.2 points and 4.8 rebounds off the bench.
Most improved: Monique Reid, Louisville. The Big East's scoring champion (in conference games) averaged 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds after posting 5.9 points and 3.8 rebounds as a freshman.
Freshman of the Year: Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown. In a field including Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins and Shenneika Smith, it's hard to overlook the season the high-scoring Rodgers enjoyed when she averaged 18.1 points.
Sportsmanship Award/Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Melissa Lechlitner, Notre Dame/Maya Moore, UConn: Without being privy to not only the players nominated but their resumes, it's almost impossible to accurately handicap these awards. The Scholar-Athlete Award normally goes to a senior but it should be noted that the only Academic All-District first team selections from the Big East were juniors Maya Moore of UConn and Liz Repella of West Virginia. Personally, I would go with Moore but if it has to be a senior, the likely options are DePaul's Felicia Chester and Notre Dame's Lechlitner, who were both second team All-District All-Academic selections.

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Huskymania USA Basketball style

Twelve players including five with ties to UConn were added to the player pool for the U.S. senior national team meaning seven of the 20 players in the running to represent the U.S. at the FIBA World Championships either attended or are attending UConn.

Current Huskies Tina Charles and Maya Moore are joined by former teammate Renee Montgomery as well as Swin Cash and Asjha Jones, teammates on UConn's 2000 and 2002 national championship teams. Former UConn stars Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are among the eight previously named as core players.

The other core players are Seimone Augustus, Tamika Catchings, Sylvia Fowles, Kara Lawson, Candace Parker and Cappie Pondexter while the players named to the player pool on Wednesday are Alana Beard, Shameka Christon, Candice Dupree, Lindsey Harding, Angel McCoughtry, Lindsay Whalen and Candice Wiggins.

The 2010 World Championship team as well as the 2012 Olympic squad will be coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma.

Speaking of Auriemma, he did not return with the team after Monday's win at Notre Dame as he headed out to Iowa to watching highly-touted 6-foot-3 junior center Kiah Stokes of Linn-Mar High in Marion, Iowa play in the state tournament. Stokes had 17 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists as Linn-Mar defeated Johnston 60-38 in the Iowa 4A quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Tuesday.

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Hartley a McDonald's finalist

UConn incoming freshman Bria Hartley, fresh off scoring 43 points in her most recent game, was one of six high school seniors named as a finalist for the Morgan Wootten Player of the Year award given to the McDonald's national high school player of the year.

Hartley, a 5-foot-10 guard at North Babylon (N.Y.) High, is joined on the list of finalists by Duke commit Chelsea Gray, Alabama incoming freshman Kaneisha Horn, Stanford signee Chiney Ogwumike, Florida State bound Natasha Howard and Baylor commit Odyssey Sims. Hartley, Gray, Ogwumike, Horn and Sims are also finalists for Naismith national player of the year.

The winner of the Morgan Wootten Award will be announced on Mar. 10.

Hartley is competing in the McDonald's All-American Game on Mar. 31 in Columbus, Ohio along with fellow UConn commits Stefanie Dolson of Minisink Valley of Slate Hill, N.Y. and Samarie Walker of Chaminade Julienne of Dayton, Ohio.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Johnson honored

UConn signee Michala Johnson, a 6-foot-3 forward at Montini Catholic in Lombard, Ill., was named to the Illinois 3A all-state team.

The 6-foot-3 forward averaged 18.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.9 blocks in 19 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.


Charles honored again/Big East announcers

In what could be a precursor to the Big East awards coming out later this week, UConn senior center Tina Charles and Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers were named the conference's player and freshman of the week respectively. They are also considered frontrunners to be named the Big East Player and Freshman of the Year.

Charles earned the award for a sixth time this season after becoming UConn's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. Charles averaged 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks in three games.

Figured I would also pass on the info on the game announcers during ESPN's coverage of the Big East tournament.

Beth Mowins and Brooke Weisbrod will be on the air for Sunday's first two quarterfinals including the 2 p.m. game involving UConn while Justin Kutcher and former West Virginia star Meg Bulger will handle the 6 and 8 p.m. quarterfinals.

Dave O'Brien will be joined by Doris Burke and Lobo in Monday's 6 p.m. semifinal while Mowins and Weisbrod will call the 8 p.m. semifinal.

Tuesday's 7 p.m. Big East final will feature Mowins, Weisbrod and Lobo.

The quarterfinals and semifinals will be aired on ESPNU while the final is on ESPN.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Big East pairings update

Now that UConn finished off the program's sixth undefeated regular season with a 76-51 win over Notre Dame and in the process Tina Charles became the Huskies all-time leading scorer and rebounder, it is time to focus on the Big East tournament.

The Big East just released the Big East bracket and seedings.

1. UConn 16-0
2. West Virginia 13-3 (won tiebreaker with win over Georgetown)
3. Georgetown 13-3
4. St. John's 12-4 (won tiebreaker with win over Notre Dame)
5. Notre Dame 12-4
6. Rutgers 9-7 (won tiebreaker with win over DePaul)
7. DePaul 9-7
8. Providence 7-9 (won tiebreaker with win over Syracuse)
9. Syracuse 7-9
10. Marquette 6-10 (won tiebreaker with win over South Florida)
11. South Florida 6-10
12. Pittsburgh 5-11 (won tiebreaker with win over Louisville)
13. Louisville 5-11
14. Cincinnati 4-12
15. Villanova 3-13
16. Seton Hall 1-15

The top eight seeds receive first-round byes while UConn, West Virginia, Georgetown and St. John's get two byes and advance into the quarterfinals by finishing in with the top four seeds. The Big East tournament kicks off with four first-round games on Friday at the XL Center.

UConn will play either Providence, Syracuse or Seton Hall in the quarterfinals on Sunday at 2 p.m. as the Huskies attempt to match the NCAA Division I record 70-game winning streak set by UConn from 2001-03.

Here is the tournament schedule (at games are at the XL Center in Hartford):

First Round

Game 1: Pittsburgh vs. Louisville, noon
Game 2: Syracuse vs. Seton Hall, 2 p.m.
Game 3: Marquette vs. Villanova, 6 p.m.
Game 4: South Florida vs. Cincinnati, 8 p.m.

Second round

Game 5: Pittsburgh/Louisville winner vs. Notre Dame, noon
Game 6: Syracuse/Seton Hall winner vs. Providence, 2 p.m.
Game 7: Marquette/Villanova winner vs. DePaul, 6 p.m.
Game 8: South Florida/Cincinnati winner vs. Rutgers, 8 p.m.


Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. St. John's, noon
Game 10: Game 6 winner vs. UConn, 2 p.m.
Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. West Virginia, 6 p.m.
Game 12: Game 8 winner vs. Georgetown, 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.


Hoophall Classic update

As previously reported in this blog, UConn commit Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis's California powerhouse Mater Dei of Santa Ana will be competing in Springfield's Hoophall Classic for the second time in the three years.

The Springfield (Mass.) Republican is reporting that Mater Dei will face Murry Bergtraum out of New York in the event which will be held in mid January of 2011 at Springfield College.

Mosqueda-Lewis and Mater Dei played in the event when the sweet-shooting 6-foot wing was a sophomore. While she was in New England, Mosqueda-Lewis took in one of UConn's practice and must have liked what she has seen because she was the first member of high school graduating class of 2011 to commit to UConn.