Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mosqueda-Lewis honored by USA Today

UConn commit Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was named the national high school player of the year by USA Today and was joined on the first team by UConn recruiting target Malina Howard.

UConn commit Morgan Tuck was named to the third team while UConn recruiting target Diamond DeShields was a second-team pick although somebody might want to tell USA Today that DeShields is a sophomore and not a junior.

It can't be easy picking teams like these but it is hard to take this team seriously with UConn commit Breanna Stewart not one of the 15 players making the cut.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Seven former Huskies headed to U.S. training camp

Former UConn stars Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tina Charles, Asjha Jones, Renee Montgomery, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi are among 24 players are among 24 players planning to take part in next month's U.S. national team training camp.

Baylor rising junior center Brittney Griner and former Gonzaga star Courtney Vandersloot have accepted invites to the camp and will join 22 members of the national team pool. Alana Beard and Cappie Pondexter are the only members of the U.S. national team player pool not planning to take part in the training camp.

"I can't wait to get these guys on the court in Vegas," said UConn and U.S. national team coach Geno Auriemma in a release. "This is going to be the first time we've had this many together and healthy at a training camp, and it'll be interesting to see how bad some of these guys want to make the Olympic team, how much they hustle, fight for rebounds, I'm really looking forward to that.
"Then you add in the two new kids, Griner and Vandersloot. I'm anxious to see how they interact with some of the veterans. Certainly they're a couple of great players, but I'm excited to see them go up against our national team and try to earn their spot in our pool."

Participating in the May 10-12 training camp are national team members Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars), Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Rebekkah Brunson (Minnesota Lynx), Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Shameka Christon (Chicago Sky), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Lindsey Harding (Atlanta Dream), Ebony Hoffman (Los Angeles Sparks), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Kia Vaughn (New York Liberty), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) and Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx).

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Update on Texas A&M game

A Dallas Morning News blog is reporting that the UConn/Texas A&M game for next season will be on Dec. 6 as part of the Jimmy V Classic.

I've been able to confirm that the contract has yet to be signed but the game is expected to happen. When I spoke to Texas A&M coach Gary Blair at the Final Four, he said the major obstacle was moving the Aggies game against Purdue to free up the date to play UConn. Obviously, that appears to have happened.

Here is what Blair said about facing UConn earlier this month.

"It is a game where I have to get the return to Purdue changed," Blair said. "We are hoping it will be for the Jimmy V game. Carol Stiff is working on that for ESPN because we want to start a two-year deal with Connecticut. Always when you are the new kid on the block, you always have to go to the new place first and we will do that because it will us a stronger team and to experience playing in Hartford or Storrs, we've never played there. I would enjoy the heck out of it. I think it would make us better in the long run. We have to move some dates, make sure it works out for both teams.

"I don't think it would have happened without the platform of the Jimmy V game because television wants two teams that are going to compete later on for the national championship. We went to the Maggie Dixon last year. We were able to play Rutgers and they were able to play Ohio State. I'd love to do those games every year and eventually I'd love to get the Jimmy V game down at our place."

As Blair referenced, the game next year would be held in Connecticut with a return game played at Texas A&M in the 2012-13 season.

The original plan was for Texas A&M and UConn to meet in an exempt tournament in an exotic locale. However, UConn opted to schedule a summer trip to Italy and Greece rather than play in a November tournament out of the country. The summer trip is expected to wrap up in late August.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Loyd picks Notre Dame

Jewell Loyd orally committed to Notre Dame at a press conference at Niles West High School in Skokie, Ill. on Tuesday afternoon.

The 5-foot-9 Loyd had drawn interest from UConn but had not visited campus. She had visited Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish were considered to be the frontrunners to land to Niles West combo guard. On Tuesday she made it official.


DeShields, Reimer invited to U.S. U-16 training camp

UConn recruiting targets Diamond DeShields, a 6-1 sophomore guard from Norcross, Ga., and Taya Reimer, a 6-3 forward from Fishers, Ind., are among 35 players invited to the U.S. Under-16 training camp.

The camp will be held from May 26-30 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Online applications are being accepted for other candidates as there will be a maximum of 200 players brought to the training camp.

UConn recruiting target Jewell Loyd, a 5-foot-9 junior guard at Niles West High in Skokie, Ill. is expected to announce her college decision after school today.

I heard back from Niles West athletic director David Rosengard late last week who confirmed that the ceremony will take place around 3:30 or 3:45 p.m. local time which is 4:30 or 4:45 here in Connecticut.

Notre Dame, UConn and Tennessee are at the top of Loyd's list but it would be a bit of a stunner for the choice to be UConn.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Maya Moore wins Honda Award

Maya Moore, UConn's all-time leading scorer, has been named the winner of the Honda Award for women's basketball making her eligible for the Honda-Broderick Cup.

Moore has been nominated for the Honda Sports Award for basketball all four years of her college career and won the honor last year. She also went on to win the Honda-Broderick Cup last year. She now has a chance at joining former Florida swimmer Tracy Caulkins as the only two-time winner of the Honda-Broderick Cup.

Moore was as the women's basketball winner of sophomore Brittney Griner of Baylor, senior Amber Harris of Xavier and junior Nneka Ogwumike of Stanford.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Report: Jewell Loyd to announce college decision on Tuesday

According to a blog entry in the Pioneer Press, UConn recruiting target Jewell Loyd is going to announce which college she is choosing on Tuesday afternoon.

UConn, Notre Dame and Tennessee are among the schools at the top of Loyd's list. Loyd has kept pretty quiet during the recruiting process. When I spoke to her in July following a U.S. Under-17 national team practice in Oakton, Va., she politely deflected all recruiting related questions saying it was a matter for her and her family. I haven't heard much about Loyd and UConn in recent times so it would surprise me if UConn was her school of choice but stranger things have happened in the world of recruiting.

Loyd is a dynamic 5-foot-9 guard who had six 40-point games as a junior at Niles West High School.


BC's Stefanie Murphy invited to Connecticut Sun camp

According to a report in the Manchester Union-Leader, former Boston College star Stefanie Murphy has been invited to the Connecticut Sun's training camp.
Murphy is a 6-foot-4 forward from Londonderry, N.H. (a town I lived in for six years as a kid) who will graduate as the Eagles' fourth all-time leading scorer. She was New Hampshire's Gatorade Player of the Year in both 2006 and 2007.

If my math is correct, the Sun's 15-player training camp roster is complete. Returnees Tina Charles, Kerri Gardin, Kelsey Griffin, Allison Hightower, Asjha Jones, Kara Lawson, Renee Montgomery, DeMya Walker and Tan White will be joined by 2010 first-round pick Danielle McCray, 2011 third-round pick Adrienne Johnson as well as Kalana Greene and Tahnee Robinson (both acquired with draft-day trades) in addition to Murphy and former Marist star Rachele Fitz. Sandrine Gruda could join the team after her responsibilities with the French national team are completed this summer but Connecticut has enough cap space to carry 11 players until Gruda reports.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Maya Moore's draft day advice for Kemba Walker

Right around the time that Maya Moore was being taken with the first overall pick in Monday's WNBA draft, news came out confirming UConn men's star Kemba Walker's decision to bypass his final season of eligibility and make himself eligible for the NBA draft.

So what advice would Moore give to her fellow UConn all-american?

"The NBA draft is a lot longer than ours but just enjoy the moment and just soak it all up," Moore said.

"Put on some deodorent that blocks your sweat because you are going to be sweating. It is just an exciting time, you just have to try to stay calm when your time comes."


Monday, April 11, 2011

WNBA draft is in the books

Considering that it was a foregone conclusion that Maya Moore and Elizabeth Cambage would be taken with the first two picks in the WNBA draft on Monday, there were still some surprises.

The Connecticut Sun was among the teams with a surprising pick with the selection of Texas A&M point guard Sydney Colson with the 16th overall selection. As it turned out, the pick was being made so the Sun could add another former UConn player to the equation. Kalana Greene, who the Sun was considering taking with its second-round pick in the 2010 draft only to see her plucked by New York before Connecticut got to pick, was traded from New York to Connecticut for the rights to Colson.

New York was involved in the most surprising pick of the first round as the Liberty took Alex Montgomery of Georgia Tech with the 10th overall selection.

Despite ESPN commentator Carolyn Peck's baffling declaration that the Sun (one of two teams without a first-round pick) and Minnesota (with the first and fourth picks) would be the teams which would benefit the most from the draft, you would have to consider Connecticut's moves to be little more than minor alterations to a non-playoff team.

The good news for the Sun is that the two teams which seemed to make the biggest splashes both happen to be in the Western Conference.

Minnesota's addition of Moore and Amber Harris of Xavier (taken with the pick acquired from Connecticut in last year's Kelsey Griffin trade) should make Minnesota a possible championship contender.

Tulsa added Cambage, Stanford's Kayla Pedersen as well as North Carolina guard Italee Lucas (who I thought would be a great fit in Connecticut).

I was a little surprised that Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke slid into the third round and that Dawn Evans was among those players not drafted at all.

Of course, the pick of Moore at the top of the draft was a no-brainer.

Moore was asked if she was guaranteeing a championship in her rookie year.

"Guarantee. If we don't get a playoff berth ...," Moore said. "Every year the goal is a championship. That is what I expect. I go into every team I play for expecting to win a championship especially with the amount of talent and experience we have on the team. I don't want to limit it to the playoffs, I want a championship."

Minnesota Lynx take Maya with top pick

Sure, it might have seemed anticlimactic that Maya Moore would be taken first overall in Monday's WNBA draft but the Minnesota Lynx made it official.

When Moore's name was called, she became the record 12th UConn product to be taken in the first round including the fourth former Husky to be taken in the opening round by Minnesota. She also joined Connecticut greats Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Tina Charles as top overall picks.

Moore finished with a Connecticut record 3,036 points and her 150 victories were the most of any NCAA Division I women's basketball player.

Moore will join a talented Minnesota squad which includes former No. 1 overall pick Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Candice Wiggins, Rebekkah Brunson, Monica Wright and Charde Houston, who played with Moore for one season at UConn.

Moore will make her WNBA debut on May 24 when the Lynx host Indiana in an exhibition game at Concordia College in St. Paul.

Moore and the Lynx will kick off the 2011 WNBA season with a June 3 game at Los Angeles. On August 16, the Lynx will play the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Draft day will be a special one for Maya Moore

It's pretty much a given that Maya Moore will be taken with the first overall pick in Monday's WNBA draft. Still, the all-time leading scorer in UConn history is going to bask in the moment and soak up what figures to be an emotional scene when her name is called tomorrow.

She will be the fourth UConn product to be taken with the top pick in the WNBA's college draft. Tennessee, with Chamique Holdsclaw in 1999 and Candace Parker in 2008, is the only other team with more than one top picks in the WNBA's college draft. (Tennessee grad Dena Head was taken with the top pick in the Elite Draft in 1997 with Tina Thompson taken with the top pick in the regular draft that year). She was also be the record 12th first round pick out of UConn. Making that accomplishment all more impressive is that no Huskies were taken in the first round until the 2001 draft when both Svetlana Abrosimova and Kelly Schumacher were picked in the opening round.

The two players who could hold the key to how the first round plays out could be Gonzaga's Courtney Vandersloot and Jantel Lavender of Ohio State. The scuttlebutt is that Gonzaga will be the first guard off the board but will she go to No. 3 to Chicago? Or perhaps to Minnesota to No. 4 or Los Angeles with the fifth pick? Lavender is an intriguing prospect, a very productive player for the perpetually underachieving Ohio State program. If Chicago goes big at No. 3, will Minnesota opt to grab Lavender at No. 4 to replace the recently traded Nicky Anosike. If either Vandersloot, Lavender or Xavier's Harris happen to fall out of the top five, San Antonio will be more than happy to grab them at No. 6, I would guess.

Former UConn star Charde Houston had 18 points and 16 rebounds as Elizur Ramle defeated Maccabi Ashdod 76-58 to sweep the best of five game championship series in Israel's first division. Houston averaged 20 points and 9.3 rebounds in the three games.

Renee Montgomery, her former teammate at UConn, had 61 points in the series for Ashdod including 25 in Sunday's final game.

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Torrens helps end Spartak's run

Alba Torrens, whose rights are owned by the Connecticut Sun, had 13 points as Halcon Avenida defeated four-time defending champion Spartak Moscow Region 68-59 in the EuroLeague Women championship game. Torrens was named the most valuable player of the Final Four.

Silvia Dominguez, who came into the game averaging just 5 points per game, led Halcon Avenida with 16 points while the Atlanta Dream's Sancho Lyttle had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Former UConn star Sue Bird had 16 points and former Connecticut Sun forward Taj McWilliams 17 points and 11 rebounds for Spartak.

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Maya wins Wooden Award

Maya Moore just became the third two-time winner of the Wooden Award in women's basketball.

She joins Candace Parker and Seimone Augustus, who will become her teammate when the Minnesota Lynx picks Moore with the top pick in Monday's WNBA draft, as the only multiple winners on the women's side.

The quality of the live stream of the Wooden Award gala was absolutely horrible but fortunately service was restored when she was named as the winner. She was gracious, articulate and classy as always in her acceptance speech.

"I have always like coming out here, they treat us like rock stars. We are always so welcome," Moore said.

Moore finished with 678 points followed by Brittney Griner of Baylor with 566. Courtney Vandersloot of Gonzaga (283), Stanford’s Jeanette Pohlen (198) and Nneka Ogwumike (185).

Moore also won the award in 2009 and finished one point behind UConn teammate Tina Charles in last year's voting.

Speaking of the draft, it will be held at ESPN and coverage begins at 3 p.m. ESPN will air the first round with ESPNU televising the second and third rounds.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma, Texas A&M's Gary Blair, Sherri Coale of Oklahoma and Duke's Joanne P. McCallie are among the college coaches expected to be in attendance. Tulsa Shock coach Nolan Richardson will also be on hand.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

National championship ratings are up

So much for the argument that losses by UConn and Stanford in the national semifinals would take a bite out of the ratings for Tuesday's championship game.

The ratings for the Texas A&M/Notre Dame game were up 8 percent from last year's UConn/Stanford game.

According to a release from ESPN, an average of 3,831,000 viewers tuned in as opposed to 3,531,000 a year ago. The 2011 final drew a 2.8 rating, a four-percent increase from the 2010 championship game.

Overall, there was a 16 percent increase in viewership during the tournament.

Maya headed to Wooden ceremony

Maya Moore is a finalist for the Wooden Award and the award will be presented at a gala on Friday in Los Angeles.

The Wooden Award Gala will be streamed live from The Los Angeles Athletic Club this Friday beginning at 10 p.m. at


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Moore among 15 invited to WNBA draft

UConn's Maya Moore is one of 15 prospects invited to Monday's WNBA draft, which will start at 3 p.m. and be held at ESPN.

It has long since been a given that Minnesota will take Moore, UConn's all-time leading scorer and the winningest player in NCAA women's basketball history, with the top overall pick.
Name College/University Position Height
Danielle Adams Texas A&M Forward/Center 6’1”
Jessica Breland North Carolina Forward 6’3”
Elizabeth Cambage Australia Center 6’8”
Sydney Colson Texas A&M Guard 5’8”
Victoria Dunlap Kentucky Forward 6’1”
Amber Harris Xavier Forward 6’5”
Jantel Lavender Ohio State Center 6’4”
Maya Moore Connecticut Forward 6’0”
Kayla Pedersen Stanford Forward 6’4”
Ta’Shia Phillips Xavier Center 6’6”
Jeanette Pohlen Stanford Guard 6’0”
Danielle Robinson Oklahoma Guard 5’9”
Carolyn Swords Boston College Center 6’6”
Jasmine Thomas Duke Guard 5’9”
Courtney Vandersloot Gonzaga Guard 5’8”

UConn finished third and picked up a first-place vote in the final ESPN/USA Today poll.

Texas A&M picked up the other 29 first-place votes and finished first followed by Notre Dame, UConn.

UConn finished first in the final Associated Press poll since the last poll come out at the conclusion of the regular season.

A replay of the UConn/Notre Dame game will be coming up at 8:30 p.m. tonight on ESPNU followed by the national championship game between A&M and Notre Dame.


Mosqueda-Lewis honored by MaxPreps

UConn incoming freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was named the MaxPreps National Player of the Year. Here's a link to the story on her getting another national award.


Adams delivers another first

On Saturday Danielle Adams became the first Texas A&M player to be named a State Farm All-American. On Tuesday, she claimed an even bigger prize - the Most Outstanding Performer in the Final Four as she led the Aggies to the program's first national championship.

Adams had 22 of her 30 points in the second half as A&M rallied for a 76-70 win over Notre Dame.

"It is a dream come true," Adams said. "I never thought I was going to work this hard just to get to this point. My teammates have been there to back me up, the coaching staff gave me a chance and I thank them for that. Now I am All-American, the first in A&M history and we have our first national championship under our belt. It's pretty exciting for me."

The Aggies appeared ready to run away from the Fighting Irish, jumping out to an 18-6 lead only to see Skylar Diggins bring Notre Dame back. Texas A&M trailed by two at halftime and with Adams doing most of her work from the perimeter, both she and her coaches knew something had to change.

"Coach Gary Blair said something," Adams said. "I was looking at him and I knew what he was saying 'don't take any more jump shots.' I really have to go in, go to work and put this team on my back and carry them.

"I can't stop myself, that is what I am thinking. I am in the zone and I am going to keep scoring every time I get it."

Now Adams can look ahead to Monday's WNBA draft. She certainly did not hurt her stock with the incredible second-half performance and Adams is ready for the next stage of her basketball career.

"I've always wanted to play in the (WNBA)," Adams said. "Deanna Nolan is my favorite player, Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker and now I am going to play against Candace Parker or play with her. It is like a dream for my family."

UConn commits Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart were honored on Tuesday.

Mosqueda-Lewis, a 6-foot senior wing from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., was named the Los Angeles Times Player of the Year while her future UConn teammate Breanna Stewart, a 6-3 junior forward at Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) High School, was named the New York AA Co-Player of the Year.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Geno on Maya - again

I am just getting around to passing on the highlights of Geno Auriemma's acceptance speech on behalf of Maya Moore when she was named the winner of the Naismith Trophy.

Moore headed home with her teammates Monday morning so she could not be on hand to receive either the Naismith Trophy or the WNBA Player of the Year awards.

Auriemma didn't have to search very long to find the right words to say on Moore's behalf.

"The energy, the passion she brought to the program, how fortunate she was to play with great teammates," Auriemma said when discussing Moore's best attributes. "How you can be best player in the country and be a team player? How you can score 3,000 points and still lead your team in assists? I think that is a quality that very, very few players have. I saw Maya when she won the high school Naismith Award and she gave a much better speech than I just did. I feel fortunate because she represents me about as well as I could ever hope to be represented."

When Moore was announced as the winner of the WBCA award, they had a video presentation with Auriemma, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, former UConn star Diana Taurasi and Orlando Magic all-star Dwight Howard among those who said a few words about Maya.

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A little recruiting talk

Just following up on the Bria Smith situation, I've been able to confirm that UConn is not actively recruiting her nor do they intend on getting involved with her.

Smith, a star at Christ the King, was released from the national letter of intent she signed with Virginia after Debbie Ryan stepped down as the Cavaliers' coach. I spoke to Bria after the WBCA High School All-American Game and she said she would deal with the recruiting situation when she got home. She has not ruled out ending up at Virginia but that could hinge on who is named the head coach.

I also heard through a reliable source that highly sought after junior guard Moriah Jefferson was in tears after UConn's loss to Notre Dame in the Final Four and was talking to another big-time recruit Diamond DeShields during the game.

Jefferson is a super quick point guard out of Glenn Heights, Texas who has come up to Connecticut a couple of times. She was up in Connecticut when the U.S. national team scrimmaged against Australia on Sept. 10 and just over a month later was at Gampel Pavilion taking in UConn's "First Night" Festivities.

I am not really a reading the tea leaves kind of guy when it comes to recruiting but it was interesting to hear of Jefferson's reaction.

Obviously the pursuit of Jefferson will be fun to watch. Just going by what I have heard about her game, if UConn were somehow able to make Jefferson (the first recruit it gets from the state of Texas) to go with commits Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck, the high school Class of 2012 has the makings of something really, really special. UConn is also very much in the mix with South Carolina forward Xylina McDaniel and Hillhouse wing Bria Holmes among others.

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Maya Moore finalist for Honda Award

Maya Moore was named a finalist for the Honda Sports Award for women's basketball along with Baylor's Brittney Griner, Amber Harris of Xavier and Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike.

Moore won the award as a junior and went onto share the Honda-Broderick Cup with Penn State volleyball star Megan Hodge.


A special evening for Jaci Daigneault

Jaci Daigneault had just finished autographing some memorabilia at the request of the WBCA officials. Her next stop was a brief photo shoot.

The former Guilford High star who led Amherst College to the Division III title as was named the Division III national player of the year, was in for a bit of a surprise when one of the women's basketball icons stepped into the holding area where the winners at Monday night's WBCA annual awards dinner came to meet with the media.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma headed right over to Daigneault and sounds almost like a proud dad as he sang the virtues of Daigneault's accomplishments and told anybody who would listen that "see, we don't just win at the Division I level at Connecticut, we win in Division III too."

Daigneault could hardly believe her latest bit of good fortune as she posed with Auriemma for photos.

"I didn't expect that at all," Daigneault said. "He came out and I didn't know what to say. That was great too, very exciting."

It was been quite the final season for Daigneault, who was the leading scorer and rebounder on an Amherst team which beat five-time champion Washington (Mo.) University to win the program's first national title.

"It's been a crazy year, it really has," Daigneault said. "We worked so hard, I wouldn't be here without my teammates. I love them, I wouldn't trade anything in the world for this experience. It's been an incredible honor and dream come true to win a national championship and then get this award, it is just unbelievable."


Geno reflects on Final Four loss

His players had headed home earlier on Monday morning but UConn women's basketball coach, who is also the WBCA President, felt it was appropriate to stay behind. Auriemma was in attendance accepting Maya Moore's latest honor, the Naismith Player of the Year Award as well as the WBCA Player of the Year.

After giving his first acceptance speech at the WBCA awards dinner, Auriemma headed back stage and took time to reflect on the 18 hours that had transpired since UConn's dream of a third straight national title was ended by Notre Dame in Sunday's national semifinal.

"As you can imagine, it was difficult," Auriemma said. "It was difficult on them, difficult on the coaches. It was a very emotional time after the game. You have some kids who this is their first loss ever in the NCAA tournament, you've got seniors who were expecting to go out winning a national championship, you;ve got freshmen who think if you go out you automatically win the national championship so there were a lot of different emotions running through the locker room. It carried over to this morning and I amm sure it will last a little bit longer after they get home."

Another topic brought up was whether Baylor sophomore center Brittney Griner would be taking part in the upcoming USA Basketball national team training camp.

"I haven't heard anything yet," Auriemma said. "I put my ace recruiter Chris Dailey on her. I don't know what's going to come out of that. Chris gives me the standard line all the time 'hey, the kid loves me.' Well, I'll believe she loves you when I see her at training camp.

"It's not that much different that what the policy has been up until that point, we send out invitations, we talk to coaches about their players and see who responds back. I think anybody who wants to be a part of the team will come to the camp. I think if you come to training camp, you are going to end up having a great experience with the best players in the world. If you don't come to training camp, I don't think that means you don't have a chance to play in the Olympics. I do think training camp is a head start in that direction, no question. If Brittney can make it, if she is there, we'll get a chance to evaluate her beside some great players."


Monday, April 04, 2011

Maya Moore wins Naismith Award

UConn senior forward Maya Moore was named the winner of the Naismith Trophy. Moore headed back to Connecticut with her teammates this morning so UConn coach Geno Auriemma accepted the award on Moore's behalf.

UConn/Texas A&M in talks to play next year

There are still some details to be ironed out, but officials at UConn and Texas A&M are trying to set up a two-year home and home deal possibly beginning next season.

Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said on Monday that the sticking point is clearing a spot on the schedule for the upcoming season.

"It is a game where I have to get the return to Purdue changed," Blair said. "We are hoping it will be for the Jimmy V (Classic). Carol Stiff is working on that for ESPN because we want to start a two-year deal with Connecticut. Always when you are the new kid on the block, you always have to go to the new place first and we will do that because it will us a stronger team and to experience playing in Hartford or Storrs, we've never played there. I would enjoy the heck out of it. I think it would make us better in the long run. We have to move some dates, make sure it works out for both teams.

"It depends on the powers that be. The two ADs are talking because Purdue moved last year for us to let us play at Duke in the Jimmy V game and then they came to our place and were very good about it. It's the same thing next year and they can not afford to lose the weekend date and they do not want to play on the Saturday when the men are playing. I don't want to play there on Saturday and play Connecticut on Monday. That is a death wish and we don't want that to happen. We are hoping it works out."

With Texas A&M one game away from winning the national title and adding highly-touted transfer post Kelsey Bone coming in next season, Texas A&M figures to be a top 5 or 10 team in next season's preseason poll. ESPN, always looking to match up top teams. UConn and Texas A&M certainly fit that description.

"It's new," Blair said of the talks between the two schools. "I don't think it would have happened without the platform of the Jimmy V game because television wants two teams that are going to compete later on for the national championship. We went to the Maggie Dixon last year. We were able to play Rutgers and they were able to play Ohio State. I'd love to do those games every year and eventually I'd love to get the Jimmy V game down at our place."

Blair joked that he wouldn't even mind if UConn let Maya Moore suit up when the teams do meet.

"I'll let Geno keep using Maya Moore if I can keep using Danielle Adams," Blair said. "That would be good because I'd love to see those play against each other. My gosh, what a career Maya Moore had. It is just so, so special and so humble too. It is so good to see kids of that magnitude, how she handled herself after that ball game."

Notre Dame is a win away from its second national title and the scariest part is that it's entirely possible that Becca Bruszewski could be the only player Notre Dame loses off this year's team.

Devereaux Peters and Brittany Mallory are eligible to come back for a fifth season of eligibility. Peters left no doubt that she will return next season.

"I already told the coaches I was coming back," Peters said with a laugh. "I think they would try to fight me if I changed my mind."

Mallory also filed paperwork for a fifth season but it still pondering things.

"I am going to see how we finish off this year, seeing what happens with our team in the summer and just kind of taking it day by day," Mallory said. "For Dev and I, what would be better than knowing we could help this team get to another national championship.

"I have already turned in my fifth-year application so it is just a matter of me just thinking about it. I think I have this whole summer to decide. I think I will step back and do an internship and be focus on what I want to do."

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Rough ending for Maya

Maya Moore, the picture of strength for a young UConn team all season long, let the finality of it all get to her.

Despite scoring 36 points including 16 straight UConn points in one furious stretch of nearly 6 1/2 minutes, Moore could not singlehandedly shoot the Huskies into Tuesday's national championship game.

With 1.1 seconds to go and victory no longer attainable, UConn coach Geno Auriemma took Moore out of the game for the final time.

"It was an overwhelming feeling. I am disappointed and wanted to win the game obviously.

"Some of the inexperience and immaturity our team has tried to grow through came out. Sometimes you have to go through those growing pains. It hurts for it to happen in the Final Four."

Moore, who passed Cindy Blodgett, Cheryl Miller and Chamique Holdsclaw to finish as the fourth all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I women's basketball history with 3,036 points, was forced to go it alone for stretches against Notre Dame.

The two most experience starters (Tiffany Hayes and Kelly Faris) were a combined 4 for 13 in the game and when Stefanie Dolson was limited to 25 minutes because of foul trouble, it basically became Maya Moore and Bria Hartley against Notre Dame.

It tears me apart inside. She is such a strong person so to see her breakdown it stinks because she knows how much she wanted it, how much we wanted it for her.

"It was Maya, that is what she does," Dolson said of Moore's late offensive flurry. "That is why she is the player she is but she needed help in the end and we weren't there. It (stinks) because we made the shots and we just needed some stops."

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Texas A&M beats Stanford in wild finish

In a game featuring five lead changes in the final 53 seconds, Tya White's layup with 3.3 seconds lifted Texas A&M to a 63-62 win over Stanford in Sunday's first national semifinal.

White finished with 18 points, Danielle Adams had 16 points and six rebounds and Sydney Carter had 14 points for the Aggies.

"It was hectic," Carter said. "Everybody was saying '30 seconds for the rest of your lives.' This is something that we've never done. It's time to make history. Forget that you're tired and just push through. I think that's exactly what we did."

Nneka Ogwumike had 31 points and seven rebounds, Jeanette Pohlen had 11 points but also had seven of the Cardinal's 22 turnovers. Melanie Murphy gave Stanford a spark with eight points, four assists and three steals in 27 minutes.

Today Show broadcasting from Gampel tomorrow

Here is some news I just received from UConn that might interest UConn fans.

NBC’s Today Show will be doing a live national television shoot tomorrow morning inside of Gampel Pavilion.

The live shots will run from 6:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and fans are encouraged to come out in to be part of the broadcast.

The first 500 UConn students in attendance will receive a FREE UConn Basketball t-shirt.

No substitute for experience

The morning of her team's season-ending loss to Texas A&M, Baylor's Kim Mulkey sounded more like a prophet than one of the nation's best women's basketball coaches when she wondered aloud if her freshmen and in particular freshman point guard Odyssey Sims would play like a freshman. Well she did and Baylor's dream of returning to the Final Four ended against a team the Lady Bears had beaten three times during the regular season.

With a freshman point guard of his own in Bria Hartley, here is UConn coach Geno Auriemma's take on the anxiety of having freshmen in key roles in the NCAA tournament.

"For sure, I think any coach that's relying on freshmen and doesn't feel that way is probably not being honest," Auriemma said. "I come to practice every day and I just watch Bria and Stefanie (Dolson) and see what their body language is, how they're feeling, emotionally where are they. No matter how much you try to prepare them for it and work on certain things and talk to them or what their teammates say to them, when the opening tip goes up at 9:30-something tomorrow night, you're going to have two kids out there that are going to be a little bit jittery. If they're not, then we're not going to win. So part of that is going to be normal and encouraged. But whether or not it stays throughout the game, you always worry about that. You always worry about that."

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Proud moments for Dixon/Moore's former coaches

Angie Hembree headed into the Wade Trophy award presentation knowing her former player Maya Moore was going to win the award for an unprecedented third time and promised herself she would not get overly emotional.

Yet, watching Moore accept the honor with her usual amount of dignity, grace and humility, Hembree got a little misty eyed.

"I had the honor of coaching her freshman and sophomore (at Collins Hill High School)before I left for the college ranks," Hembree said. "I told myself I wasn't going to get emotional but I did. She is anybody coach's dream, absolutely if you pick all the qualities of a person and an athlete that who it is is. UConn is lucky to have her because she is a dream to coach and a dream to be around, she is the epitome of what you'd want your children to be. She has done this game well so far and she is going to continue to do that. She is going to continue to make huge waves in the women's basketball arena and I think probably the broadcasting arena and probably whatever she decides she wants to do."

"You guys can't give her enough accolades in my opinion. Her ability to be humble and real and that goes a long way to her mom and what her mom has done. Her ability to see the bigger picture, her spirituality, how important that is to her. Her ability to live in the moment, love where she is and what she is doing."

Also in attendance was Lorin Dixon's high school coach Lorin Dixon. Bob Mackey, who has enjoyed remarkable success at Christ the King, has seen the Lorin Dixon he remembers from her junior and senior seasons at Christ the King.

"I have seen in the last five games the glimpses of Lorin Dixon that I was used to seeing in high school," Mackey said. "It has been tremendous to see. It is just wonderful, she has been filling the void and doing just a great job. She is so talented and it is really wonderful."

Hembree is currently the head coach at Norcross High where she coaches talented sophomore Diamond DeShields, who is very much on UConn's recruiting radar. Hembree doesn't anticipate DeShields to make a college decision any time in the near future.

"I think she is going to take her time, I don't think you'll hear anything this summer," Hembree said. I don't know for sure but my guess is it won't be this summer. She's a great kid, she has a great sense of humor. She plays above the rim, I swear."

Hembree's Norcross team also played against UConn incoming freshman Brianna Banks and Hembree had words of praise for the 5-foot-9 Banks.

"(She) has a great first step, is lefthanded knows how to create off the dribble. She is going to be a big asset. I love her game. She flew under the radar and I don't know why, somebody wasn't watching the radar. She can go, she can scoot."

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A busy day for Maya

The awards starting coming in for UConn senior Maya Moore, who was named a State Farm All-American for the fourth time and then moments later became the first three-time winner of the Wade Trophy.

"I am glad I have been healthy enough to play for four years and represent as best as I could," Moore said.

Moore was presented a special poster from WBCA CEO Beth Bass commemorating what Bass called a Wade Trophy "3-pest."

"That was special, they didn't have to do that. I was personally touched and it will help me remember the season," Moore said.

Among those in attendance where her teammates and coaching staff, former high school coach Angie Hembree, her mom and grandfather and several other family members.

Kathryn Moore respectfully declined to be interviewed saying "we are just going to enjoy the moment right now."

Moore was joined on the State Farm team by Danielle Adams of Texas A&M, Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, Baylor's Brittney Griner, Amber Harris of Xavier, Miami's Shenice Johnson, Ohio State's Jantel Lavender, Nneka Ogwumike of Stanford, Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen and Gonzaga's Courtney Vandersloot.

Moore is expected to be named the Associated Press Player of the Year later today.

In other notes, UConn recruit Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was limping noticably and is not expected to play in the WBCA High School All-American Game later today.

Bob Mackey of Christ the King was also in attendance and said he had no updates regarding senior Bria Smith. Smith has been focuses solely on the whirlwind tour of playing in the McDonald's and WBCA All-American games.

"We're just worrying about our game, we just did the McDonald's and we are going to move forward from that," Mackey said. "We'll think about it next week."

Smith, a senior guard who is a top 10 recruit, recently was released from the national letter of intent she signed with Virginia after head coach Debbie Ryan stepped down. UConn is one of the schools which flashed across the screen as being in the mix with Smith during the McDonald's All-American game broadcast.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

A trip down memory lane

When Jeff Goldberg began the process of writing "Bird at the Buzzer" a book about the showdowns between UConn and Notre Dame a decade ago and the various subplots from both teams, probably the best he could have hoped for was a rematch in the Big East tournament to increase the interest in his recently-released work.

But the prospects of the Huskies and Fighting Irish meeting again in the national semifinals as they did back in the 2001 was simply too much to ask for - or was it?

Well, thanks to Notre Dame's win over Tennessee in the Dayton Regional final on Monday and UConn's demolition of Duke the following night, Notre Dame and UConn will meet for the fourth time this season in Sunday's semifinal.

Goldberg couldn't quantify how another matchup between the Big East rivals would impact book sales but there is no doubting that other than the players, coaches and inner circles of the Connecticut and Notre Dame programs, there probably wasn't a happier person on earth when Notre Dame and UConn advanced to the Final Four than Goldberg, a former UConn women's basketball beat writer for the Hartford Courant.

"I couldn't possibly have scripted it any better," Goldberg said. "As much as I am sure people wanted to see UConn/Tennessee, I amm more than happy with the way this has played out. History is repeating itself. It's been kind of a magic carpet ride. Maybe it's all destined to happen this way, I don't know. We'll have to see what kind of an outcome we get on Sunday night, if history will repeat itself again. If anybody's going to knock them off, I think it would be Notre Dame which is kind of the whole them of 2001. The similarities are pretty striking."

When Notre Dame beat Tennessee, Goldberg might have thought he was in the clear considering that UConn had beaten Duke by 36 points in the regular-season meeting between the teams. But when it was a 23-20 game late in the first half, Goldberg was understandably anxious.

"I had so much emotion invested in it and it is 23-20 with a couple of minutes to go in the half and I am thinking 'is this dream scenario not going to happen,'" Goldberg said. "I don't think I ever agonized over a UConn women's game quite the way I did (Tuesday). Now it is great. I am happy for the book but I just think it is good for the sport. I hope that's the one thing people got out of the book, it is an opportunity to open a new door for the sport. As much as the sport looks forward, it is a chance to look back on this great event 10 years ago. I am sure a lot of attention will be paid to it this weekend and that is good for the sport. I think it needs more moments like that. There has been a lot of great history built up, we have seen it. Everybody who has covered Connecticut since 1991 has seen this great history with all these great players and it would be a shame to see all that history go by the wayside because the sport is so focused on moving forward. Maybe we'll be writing about Maya Moore in 20 years, doing a book about the 90-game streak because it is a great story. (Those) 48 hours have been about as satisfying as you can get."

I'll be chatting today at 3

I will be holding a live chat today beginning at 3 p.m. For those who wish to join, here is the link to the chat

Keeping with the theme of self promotion, here is a link to a story I did on Kelly Faris' return to Indiana for the Final Four