Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, September 30, 2011

U.S. opens with easy win

Former UConn stars Swin Cash, Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery had 12 points each as the U.S. national team defeated Famila Schio77-48  in Naples, Italy on Friday.

Baylor rising junior center Brittney Griner led the U.S. with 15 points while Cappie Pondexter added 11 points.

The U.S. will play the winner of the game between host Pallacanestro Napoli and Ros Casares tomorrow at 2 p.m. (Eastern time) in the championship game of a four-team, two-day tournament. Then the squad will wrap up the Italian portion of its European tour and training camp with a practice on Sunday before heading to Spain for the next stage of training.

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Morgan Tuck will be at First Night

Updating a report on this blog from yesterday, UConn commit Morgan Tuck is planning to be at UConn for the First Night festivities on Oct. 14 as well as the first official practice on Oct. 15 according to her high school coach.

I spoke with Bolingbrook coach Tony Smith this morning and he said that Morgan will be accompanied by her parents on the official visit next month. She joins Xylina McDaniel, the only uncommitted player in the Class of 2012 being actively recruited by UConn, as the confirmed recruits (to date) at UConn's annual fan fest. As we draw nearer, I will try to update you on the underclassmen planning to be at the event.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moriah Jefferson not expected at First Night

The other day, I reported that UConn commit Breanna Stewart will be in Houston as she trains with the U.S. squad competing in the Pan Am Games on the day that UConn will be having its first official practice.

Now I can pass along that it doesn't look like Moriah Jefferson, also committed to UConn, will be in the house for UConn's First Night festivities on Oct. 14 or the first official practice on the 15th.

I reached out to her coach with the THESA Riders and here is what Alan Burt had to say about Moriah's plans for that weekend.

"At this point Moriah will not be attending on Oct 14/15," Burt said in an e-mail. "She is planning her visit at a later date, but at this point does not have an exact time."

I am still waiting to hear about UConn commit Morgan Tuck. When I interviewed her when she was training with the U.S. Under-19 national team, she said she planned on being at UConn that weekend. I reached out to Bolingbrook High coach Anthony Smith just to make sure that was still the case. I had previously reported that Class of 2013 recruiting target Karlie Samuelson was not expected to make the trip to Storrs for that weekend.

Xylina McDaniel, the last uncommitted player on UConn's recruiting radar from the Class of 2012, is expected to come up that weekend and it will be interesting to see which other recruits will be present.

Speaking of the Class of 2013, two of the top players being pursued by UConn are slated to square off on Nov. 30 when Taya Reimer and Hamilton Southeastern play at the Stephanie Mavunga-led Brownsburg squad. UConn will be hosting Towson that night so I wouldn't expect any UConn coaches at that game.

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Cash, Charles named to WNBA All-Defensive second team

Former UConn stars Swin Cash of the Seattle Storm and Tina Charles of the Connecticut Sun were named to the WNBA's All-Defensive second team.

The team is headlined by WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles of the Chicago Sky and Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever, who received the most votes for the squad. Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle and Angel McCoughtry and Rebekkah Brunson of Minnesota round out the first team.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Doty has plenty of help in road to recovery

As Caroline Doty has had to deal with yet another torn ACL, her teammates have been incredibly supportive but they are not the only ones.

When Doty met with the media on Wednesday, she was quick to credit assistant coach Shea Ralph, herself a victim of a multitude of serious knee injuries, as well as trainer Rosemary Ragle for helping her as much emotionally as physically on the long road to recovery.

"It gets better every week. During individuals with Shea, she says it looks better than last week and as long as I keep hearing that and knowing that, I will continue to get better. It is still a while to that first game so I have to keep that in the back of my mind too. If I can't do something this week, I still have next week. I am going to keep working at it, get in the gym and make as many shots as I can and working on my weaknesses so I am ready for the games come November."

As for Ragle, here is what Doty had to say.

"She's helped me keep the eye on the prize and I commend her for doing everything that she does, kind of keeping that drive within me, competing every day. Rehab this year was more of being competitive with myself, trying to push myself and get stronger at the same time. I have seen a difference through the past year because of rehab and the intense weight training.

Also, here is what she said about whether she will apply for a fifth season of eligibility, something she is eligible to do because she missed the entire 2010-11 season.

"I really haven't thought about it," Doty said. "I am going to take it day by day. I am going to focus on this season. We have a great schedule, our goal is to go to the Final Four and win a national championship and that is the main focus for now."

The Huskies scrimmages briefly, 10-15 minutes maximum and I was out there for some of it. A couple of impressions. First, Brianna Banks may not have the same range as Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis on her jumper but she is not far behind. Also, in the brief time I was out there I saw Bria Hartley drive aggressively to the basket more than I did in any practice I watched last year. If she adds that to her game on a regular season, she may end up being close to an impossible matchup for opposing teams. Hartley was also playing mostly off the ball which I see happening quite a but this year with Doty returning.

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Caroline Doty trying to take is one step at a time

Caroline Doty has been down the road of recovery before so it was easy to excuse the UConn senior guard if she was a bit of a matter of fact in talking about being fully cleared to practice.

Doty didn't even remember the exact date that she was allowed to go through basketball drills without restriction with her UConn teammates (UConn coaches can't work with the entire team at the same time until Oct. 15).

"It gets better every week," Doty said before heading out for a pickup game at Gampel Pavilion on Wednesday. "During individuals with (assistant coach) Shea (Ralph), she says it looks better than last week and as long as I keep hearing that and knowing that, I will continue to get better. It is still a while to that first game so I have to keep that in the back of my mind too. If I can't do something this week, I still have next week. I am going to keep working at it, get in the gym and make as many shots as I can and working on my weaknesses so I am ready for the games come November."

That wasn't the approach she took in the past and wasn't the way she went about it one the first day she could go full speed.

"You are the ball hog and you are the person nobody wants to play with because you want to do everything," Doty said. "Coach (Geno Auriemma) pulled me aside and said 'who do you think you are, Kobe Bryant?' because I was trying to do too much. He said you are like the kid going into the candy store and eating all the candy."

Doty said she hasn't made a final decision on whether this will be her final season or if she will apply for a fifth year of eligibility.

There will be more from Doty in this blog and in a story in tomorrow's edition of the New Haven Register.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stewart named to Pan Am Games squad

UConn commit Breanna Stewart is the only high school player named to the U.S. squad competing in the Pan Am Games.

Since the U.S. training camp starts on Oct. 15 in Houston, it seems unlikely to she would be among the visitors at UConn's First Night festivities on Oct. 14 and definitely would be be taking in the Huskies' first official practice on the 15th.

Here is the rest of the roster according to the official release sent out by USA Basketball

Shante Evans (Hofstra/West Chester, Pa.); Christine Flores (Missouri/San Antonio, Texas); Tavelyn James (Eastern Michigan/Detroit, Mich.); Emilie Johnson (UC Santa Barbara/Loomis, Calif.); Marissa Kastanek (North Carolina State/Lincoln, Neb.); Kevi Luper (Oral Roberts/Adair, Okla.); Valencia McFarland (Mississippi/ Edwards, Miss.); Katelan Redmon (Gonzaga/Spokane, Wash.); Kayla Standish (Gonzaga/Ellensburg, Wash.); April Sykes (Rutgers/Starkville, Miss.); and Avery Warley (Liberty/Washington, D.C.).

Details on First Night

Here are some details on the First Night festivities on Oct. 14.

First, the most important part - admission is free and open to the public and the event will begin at 7 p.m.

There will be FanFest located outside the North entrance of Gampel Pavilion and on Fairfield Way beginning at 5 p.m. for inflatable games, food, music and fun. Gampel Pavilion doors will open at 6 p.m. featuring an autograph session with both teams, followed by performances from the band, cheer and dance squads, introductions of the players and coaches, a dunk and three-point contest and ultimate prize giveaways.

The show will end at approximately at 8 p.m. with a performance by Simon Sez.

As for the recruits expected to be there, when I spoke to Morgan Tuck during the summer, she said she was planning to be there while Breanna Stewart will be taking a wait and see approach. I will try to get an update on Tuck, Stewart and fellow commit Moriah Jefferson.

I did reach out to the players UConn is recruiting in the Class of 2013 and the only concrete info I was able to get was that Karlie Samuelson was not planning to make the trip East for the event according to her AAU coach Russ Davis.

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More on Bria Holmes; CPTV's Hoop Streams is back

I reported that Hillhouse star Bria Holmes became the third known commitment for West Virginia in the upcoming recruiting class. Well, the Mountaineers actually now have five commits.

New York point guard Darius Faulk committed after visiting West Virginia this weekend as did Holmes. I had mentioned that Maryland high school stars Jennie Simms and Lanay Montgomery had previously committed. West Virginia also has a pledge from in-state player Mackenzie White meaning that barring any transfers, the Mountaineers are done for the year and will have two open spots in the Class of 2013 since next year's roster will feature five freshmen, four sophomores, four juniors and two seniors.

Bill Dixon, one of Holmes' AAU coaches, credits West Virginia assistant coach George Porcha (a former defensive back at the University of New Haven) for doing much of the work on the recruitment of Holmes.

"They've been (recruiting) her for more than a year, they've been consistently on her," Dixon said. "She went there for a visit and solidified things. George Porcha knew the area well and did his homework."

Dixon said the final schools with Holmes were West Virginia, Rutgers, St. John's and Penn State.

"I wasn't that surprised, they wanted her bad," Dixon said of Holmes' decision.

"They like to run, jump, press and Bria has played that way at Hillhouse for last four years. It fits her pretty well. I heard they want her as a guard, to play a 2 (shooting guard) or 3 (small forward)."

Although she will be far away from her family, Holmes could seek out another former Hillhouse star if she needs somebody from New Haven to talk to. Carmella Suggs, a 2000 Hillhouse graduate, played at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W. Va. and still lives in the area.

CPTV will once again offer live streams of the UConn's women's basketball games it holds the rights to at a cost of $59.95 for the season, $34.95 for a monthly pass or or $14.95 for pay-per-view broadcasts. Oct. 1 is the first day to sign up for the program.

CPTV's release said the eighth year of the Hoop Streams program will feature clearer video and five-times-faster streaming speed.

Hoop Streams provides live and on-demand access to CPTV-aired UConn games, The Geno Auriemma Show, archived games and more. Subscribers to the service have the flexibility to watch the games live on their computer or at a later date, and as many times as they choose.

CPTV has yet to announce the schedule of games it will be televising but it could be as many as 21 since only nine regular-season games have been contracted to other networks. Among the games CPTV figures to secure the rights to include the season opener against Holy Cross as well against the ones against perennial Big East first-division teams DePaul, Rutgers, West Virginia and St. John's.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Holmes commits to West Virginia

Hillhouse senior and former UConn recruiting target Bria Holmes committed to West Virginia on Monday, a day after she returned from her official visit to the school.

Holmes told the Register that she was leaning towards Rutgers before her visit to West Virginia.

"It feels like family there," Holmes said. "I liked the campus. I connected with the players and coaches as soon as I got there."

The 6-foot-1 Holmes averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, five steals and four assists as a junior as she led the Academics to their third straight CIAC Class L title.

Holmes, who was in attendance at UConn's First Night festivities last October, had focused her attention in recent weeks and months to Rutgers and West Virginia.

"It was pretty close," Holmes said. "I weighed my options. After I learned more about each school, it came out to West Virginia."

West Virginia is coming off a 24-10 season but lost seven players to graduation including its top three scorers (Liz Repella, Madina Ali and Sarah Miles). The only senior on the Mountaineers is 6-foot-5 Australian Natalie Burton so the Mountaineers will return nearly their entire team by the time Holmes suits up at West Virginia.

West Virginia has received commitments from Lanay Montgomery, a 6-foot-5 center from Germantown, Md. and Jennie Simms, a 6-foot forward from Accokeek, Md.


Four former UConn stars at U.S. training camp

Former UConn stars Swin Cash, Tina Charles, Asjha Jones and Renee Montgomery are among the players who will be taking part in the U.S. senior national team training camp being run by UConn and U.S. coach Geno Auriemma.

Joining them for the start of the camp are Baylor rising junior Brittney Griner and former Rutgers star Cappie Pondexter, who had not taken part in the last couple of training camps. Also, San Antonio Silver Stars forward Sophia Young, who became an American citizen earlier this month, and her San Antonio teammate Danielle Robinson are planning to be at the camp. Former UConn star Diana Taurasi and her Phoenix Mercury teammate Candice Dupree are planning to join up with the squad later. Former UConn star Sue Bird is injured and will not be able to take part in the camp.

The training camp starts tomorrow and the U.S. will play five games during its tour of Europe beginning with two games on Friday and Saturday as part of a tournament hosted by Pallacanestro Napoli.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Catchings beats out Charles for WNBA MVP honors

Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings was named the WNBA MVP for the first time in her career, easiy outdistancing former UConn star and Connecticut Sun center Tina Charles.

Catchings, who averaged 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals, received 21 first-place votes from a media panel and her total of 292 points was well ahead of Charles' 209 points.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Latest statement from UConn president

For those of you who love general statements which basically say nothing, I give you the latest statement from the desk of UConn president Susan Herbst regarding the ever changing world of conference affiliations.

"The past several days have magnified the period of instability that exists today in the world of college athletics. I want to say thank you to all of our loyal supporters and fans of UConn and our athletic programs for their patience during this time.

“Please know that we will always do what is in the best interests for the University of Connecticut.

“We remain committed to our ideals and principals in intercollegiate athletics and will continue to achieve excellence academically and athletically.”


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

UConn will be represented in WNBA championship series

With Minnesota beating San Antonio to reach the Western Conference finals, there will be a UConn alum playing in the WNBA finals for the ninth straight year.

Had San Antonio beaten Minnesota, there would have had a chance of no former Huskies playing for the WNBA title for the first time since Los Angeles beat New York in the 2002 championship series. But with UConn products Diana Taurasi and Ketia Swanier on the Phoenix Mercury while Maya Moore and Charde Houston play for Minnesota, the winner out West will have a definite UConn flavor to it. However, since there are no former Huskies on either the Atlanta Dream or Indiana Fever, if the Eastern Conference champion wins the title then it will be mark the first time the WNBA champ won't have a former UConn player on the team since the Sacramento Monarchs won the title in 2005.

The WNBA's Final Four begins on Thursday when Indiana hosts Atlanta at 7 p.m. followed by Phoenix playing at Minnesota at 9 p.m. Game two is Sunday at Atlanta and Phoenix with Indiana and Minnesota hosting a winner take all game three on Tuesday if the teams split the first two games.

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Geno's take on conference chaos

With the news that Syracuse and Pittsburgh would be leaving the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, I reached out to UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma to get his thoughts on what UConn's future may look like.

Here is what he had to say in a pair of e-mails I received a short while ago.

"Everyone is trying really hard to find where the next move is and no one really knows," Auriemma said. "But the presidents are going to make this work and I'm sure (UConn) President (Susan) Herbst is fully engaged. She can be very persuasive."

A few years back, Auriemma wondered aloud about how long about what might happen in the Big East and especially with non-major college football programs in the Big East but he admits he never could see the craziness of the last few weeks, months and even years with Nebraska joining the Big 10, Syracuse going to the ACC, Texas Christian going to the Big East (although reports are that the Mountain West is trying to keep TCU from moving) and rumors of Texas and Oklahoma going to the Pac-10 or Pac-12 or maybe it will be the Pac-14 or Pac-16.

"All this stuff is really amazing when you think of it," Auriemma said. "There are moves being made that you just could never have imagined a few years ago."

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Schedule of friendlies announced for U.S. national team

The U.S. national team, coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma, will play five exhibition games during its upcoming trip to Europe.

The U.S. will play in a tournament hosted by Pallacanestro Napoli from Sept. 30 - Oct. 1. Also in the tournament will be reigning Italian champion Famila Schio and 2011 EuroLeague Final Four squad Ros Casares of Valencia, Spain. Traveling to Valencia, Spain, the U.S. will take on Ros Casares, current champion of the Spanish league, on Oct. 5; then face 2011 Czech league champion ZVVZ-USK Prague in the Czech Republic on Oct. 8; and close out the tour in Hungary against Hungarian Cup and Hungarian Championship winners UNIQA-Euroleasing Sopron on Oct. 9.

Who will be at the training camp and playing in the games will be determined by the results of the WNBA playoffs. With the Connecticut Sun being eliminated by Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals, former UConn stars Tina Charles, Asjha Jones and Renee Montgomery as well as Kara Lawson are expected to be at the training camp. Since Chicago and Los Angeles missed the WNBA playoffs, Sylvia Fowles and Courtney Vandersloot of the Sky and Candace Parker of Los Angeles are U.S. core players eligible to take part as is WNBA free agent Shameka Christon and Baylor rising junior center Brittney Griner.

New York and Indiana will play in an elimination game tonight followed by a decisive third game between Seattle and Phoenix so some players in the U.S. national team player pool will have their WNBA seasons end tonight.

Auriemma will be assisted by DePaul's Doug Bruno as well as former Los Angeles and Minnesota head coach Jen Gillom. Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors has also been invited back to assist Auriemma but if the Dream advance to the WNBA finals, she will be unable to take part in the training camp.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Next step is pivotal for UConn

On the surface, it would seem as if UConn should be a sought after program in the high stakes conference movement game. Yet, Syracuse and Pittsburgh are the Big East programs who were the ones who got out while the getting was good and have been accepted as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Now UConn is in a state a limbo. There have been reports that new UConn president Susan Herbst is actively pursuing an invitation to be the next school to jump from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. My take on that is "I certainly hope so."

For all of UConn's basketball accomplishments and those accomplishments are quite extraordinary, the conference shakeups are all about football and have been for quite some time. There are those inside the Big East who could foresee the problems facing the conference with so many programs who aren't BCS football schools long before teams started leaving the conference for greener pastures. Now the remaining BCS football programs remaining in the Big East are in danger of being on the outside looking in.

Could the Big East try to get other programs to join like it did with TCU to keep the Big East a viable BCS football conference? Sure. But what guarantees that a West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati or South Florida is not the next school to see the writing on the wall and abandon ship? Sorry to say it, but the Big East seems destined to become what it was founded to be - a basketball-first conference. Even before the news that Syracuse and Pitt are leaving, there were calls that the Big East not be granted an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game. I'm not sure the conference has the ability to pull in a big-time football program to replenish the football portion of the conference and will be left trying to entice the Central Floridas and East Carolinas of the world or perhaps even an Army and Navy if it intends to remain a BCS football conference.

I am certainly not a favor in seeing the geographic boundries being blurred all in the sake of conferences trying to pilfer enough teams to have a conference championship game in football. However, that is the way the college sports world is headed as there is big money in conference title games and if Herbst truly has the best interest of her university in mind, she needs to make sure the Huskies remain in a place of prominence in the world of big-time college athletics.

This is probably the worst time for UConn to have a brand new president and interim athletic director but it will certainly be an early test in Herbst's tenure at Connecticut.

Stay tuned.

UConn president talks about Big East defectors

UConn released a statement from university president Susan Herbst about the decision of Big East founding members Syracuse and Pittsburgh to apply for admission into the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"Conference expansion and realignment has been a subject of public speculation for the last several months and will continue to be so in the future, for years most likely. It is not close to being over, so we need to have some patience. There have been new rumors every day regarding schools and conferences, and now Pittsburgh and Syracuse are leaving the Big East, which is a jolt, but not a huge surprise.

"UConn is a proud charter member of the Big East and we have taken a lead role in the league’s success over the years. However, it is my responsibility as President that we stay in constant communication and be actively involved in discussions with our counterparts from around the country to ensure the successful long-term future of our university’s athletic program. The truth is that our teams will play competitive athletics at the highest level of excellence, wherever things land, and our central goals will be academic success and compliance, always.

"To my mind, the conference realignments and incessant national gossip is distracting many presidents and athletic directors from the real conversations we should be having, about academics, the distorting role of money in sports and what it means to support student-athletes. I hope all settles soon, and we can change the national focus away from profiteering and back to student-athletes, where it belongs.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Geno Auriemma's reaction to death of Dave Gavitt

Here is a statement from UConn women's basketball coach about the death of former Big East Commissioner Dave Gavitt

"Dave was a great man; a renaissance man who was at the forefront of all that was good in college basketball. One reason I wanted to coach at UConn was so that I could be in Dave Gavitt’s league. Twenty seven years later I'm still not in his league and never will be. Without Dave there is no Big East and without the Big East there would never have been a UConn as we have come to know it. This is a sad, sad day."


Friday, September 16, 2011

Maya Moore is WNBA Rookie of the Year

Former UConn star Maya Moore has been named the WNBA's Rookie of the Year and she will be honored before tonight's San Antonio/Minnesota playoff game.

It's hardly a shock that Maya will be named the league's top rookie. She was the leader in scoring (13.2) and steals (1.4), second in rebounding (4.6) and third in assists (2.9) and blocks (0.5) among first-year players.

Moore's main competition for the award is San Antonio's Danielle Adams, who averaged 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.6 blocks but she also missed 11 games. Adams received two votes while the other 38 went to Moore.

This is the second year in a row that a former UConn star will win the award as Tina Charles was last year's winner. Diana Taurasi, who won the award in 2004, is the only former UConn player to be named rookie of the year. Moore becomes the fourth straight No. 1 overall draft pick to win the award.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Charles, Taurasi win individual titles

Former UConn stars Tina Charles and Diana Taurasi finished as the WNBA leaders in rebounding and scoring.

Charles won the rebounding crown for the second time in as many seasons as she finished with 374 rebounds, 24 fewer than the WNBA single-season record she had as a rookie in 2010. Sylvia Fowles was the only other player to average more than 10 rebounds a game although she finished with 27 fewer rebounds than Charles did.

The scoring race finished in almost a dead heat. Taurasi had 692 points in 32 games, an average of 21.625 points per game. Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry had 712 in 33 games which is an average of 21.575. Had McCoughtry scored two more points or Taurasi scored two fewer points, McCoughtry would have won the title. It was the fourth straight scoring title for Taurasi and fifth of her career.

Speaking of high-scoring former UConn players, seven of the top 20 scorers in the WNBA played at UConn as Charles finished fifth (17.6), Sue Bird 12th (14.7), Renee Montgomery tied for 13th (14.6), Asjha Jones 18th (13.3), Swin Cash 19th (13.3) and Maya Moore 20th (13.2).

Among incredible statistic is that all 11 UConn graduates in the WNBA are on playoff teams. Five play for the Sun (Charles, Jones, Montgomery, Kalana Greene and Jessica Moore) who finished tied with Indiana for the Eastern Conference title although the Fever earned the top seed based on winning the head-to-head series with the Sun. Seattle (Bird and Cash), Phoenix (Taurasi and Ketia Swanier) and Minnesota (Moore and Charde Houston) each have two former Huskies on their squad.

One last UConn/WNBA stat to throw out there - there has been a former Husky on the last five WNBA championship teams and since 2003, the 2005 Sacramento Monarchs are the only title-winning squad without a player from UConn on its roster.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Connecticut Sun will face Atlanta in WNBA playoffs

With Connecticut beating New York and Atlanta topping Indiana on Sunday, the WNBA's Eastern Conference playoff matchups are set.

Connecticut will host Atlanta in game one on Friday at 7 p.m. The second game will be played in Atlanta on Sunday at 3 p.m. If the series is tied, the final game will be played in Connecticut on Tuesday.

Indiana will have home-court advantage against New York with the series slated to start on Thursday at 8 p.m.

Heading into Sunday's action, the only thing known for certain was that Indiana had secured the No. 1 seed in the East. Had Connecticut lost and Atlanta won, the Sun would have been forced to play at Indiana in the opening round. Instead, the Sun host Atlanta. While playing the talented Dream squad will not be easy, the odds are on Connecticut's side. The Sun finished with a 15-2 home record while going 6-11 away from Mohegan Sun Arena so having home-court advantage could help the Sun.

In Connecticut's win, Tina Charles had 18 points and 11 rebounds to set the WNBA's single-season record with 23 double-doubles. She finished with 374 rebounds, the second highest mark in league history behind the 396 rebounds she pulled down as a rookie in 2010.

With UConn recruiting target Taya Reimer sidelined with a sprained ankle and Rebecca Greenwell unable to play because of a knee injury, the United States squad lost to Italy in the semifinals of the 3X3 World Youth Championships on Sunday.

Linnae Harper and Tennessee commit Kaela Davis had to play 2 on 3 against host Italy and managed to take the Italian squad into overtime before losing 21-19.

"It was one of the most amazing games I've ever been a part of," said former Connecticut Sun guard Jamie Carey, the USA Basketball Assistant Women's National Team Director and girls team leader. "It was unbelievable to watch. This game is hard as it is, and then to play with two people, it was amazing to watch those two girls compete. It seemed like the entire gym was around our court watching the game. Kaela and Linnae couldn't have done anything more, and Taya and Becca were just as into it cheering from the sideline. It was an amazing team moment, and I'm very proud of these players."

The U.S. forfeited in the bronze-medal game against Japan but was awarded an honorary bronze medal for its efforts.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

U.S. won't have Reimer tomorrow

According to the release sent out by USA Basketball, UConn recruiting target Taya Reimer's injured right ankle will sideline her for the remainder of the 3X3 World Youth Championships.

Reimer, a 6-foot-3 forward from Fishers, Ind., played in the first three games for the U.S. squad and averaged 5 points per game before getting hurt.

The U.S. needed overtime to beat the Czech Republic 25-23 in the quarterfinals and advance to Sunday's semifinals against host Italy. The team will not be able to substitute and will rely exclusively on Linnae Harper, Rebecca Greenwell and Kaela Davis in the semifinals and if it wins, in Sunday's championship game.

Sidelined with a sprained right ankle suffered on Friday, Taya Reimer (Hamilton Southeastern H.S. /Fishers, Ind.) did not play on Saturday and will not return to the court on Sunday is how the release addressed Reimer's situation.

Spain and Japan will play in the other medal semifinal with the winner playing the U.S./Italy winner for the gold medal.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Reimer sits out last U.S. game

UConn recruiting target Taya Reimer injured her right ankle in the United States' win over Guam in the 3X3 World Youth Championships on Friday in Italy.

Reimer, who averaged 5 points in the first three games of the tournament, sat out the game against Italy and she will have her ankle examined to see if she can continue to play in the tournament.

Even without Reimer, the U.S. defeated Italy 16-13 to improve to 4-0 in Group 3. The U.S. wraps up pool play on Saturday against Sweden and has already secured a spot in the Round of 16. With a win in the Round of 16, the U.S. would advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday with the semifinals and championship game set for Sunday.

Pool play for the girls team wraps up Saturday against Sweden at 1 p.m. (times listed are CEST, which is +6 hours from EDT) on Sept. 10. The top four finishing teams from each of the four preliminary round pools will advance to a playoff Round of 16 that will be held at 2 p.m. on Sept. 10, with the medal quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. The medal semifinals will be played at 1:30 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the bronze medal game at 6 p.m. and the gold medal game at 6:30 p.m.


Reimer, U.S. open with three wins

UConn recruiting target Taya Reimer had four points as the United States defeated India 21-7 on the opening day of the 3X3 Youth World Championship in Rimini, Italy on Friday.

Then, the 6-foot-3 forward from Indianapolis had a game-high seven points in a 21-6 win over Sri Lanka and added four points in a 21-3 victory over Guam. The U.S. wraps up the first day of pool play later today against Italy in a matchup of the only two undefeated teams in Pool 3.

Through the first three games, Reimer is averaging 5 points per game. Rebecca Greenwell is averaging a team-best 6.3 points per game while Tennessee commit Kaela Davis (5.3 points) is also off to a strong start as is Linnae Harper (4.3 points per game).


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Swin Cash wins WNBA Community Assist Award

Seattle Storm forward Swin Cash, a member of two national championship teams during her days at UConn, was been named the winner of the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for August.

Here's some info from the official WNBA release about Cash's charitable endeavors.

The All-Star plays a leadership role in the team’s social responsibility efforts as the spokesperson for Race for the Cure as well and through her Cash for Kids charity.

In 2005, Cash created Cash Enterprises, as a way to support children and families in need. Cash Enterprises encompasses several key components, including Cash for Kids charity; Cash Building Blocks, LP; and Swin Cash Clothing line. The centerpiece is the Cash for Kids charity, which works to educate, motivate & elevate kids. Cash Building Blocks, LP is an urban development company that renovates and offers affordable homes for low income families. Cash Clothing line works hand in hand with the Cash for Kids Charity as portions of each purchase goes directly to support the charity’s initiatives.

August was a busy month for Cash, highlighted by a two-day event that provided more than 50 underprivileged girls quality time with female leadership and mentoring. Cash partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of King County to provide the girls with speakers on topics such as nutrition, leadership and personal appearance. On Aug. 18, the girls were invited to a luncheon and were welcomed by Storm players; each girl received shopping tips and a $200 gift card. As part of a back-to-school-theme three days later, the girls went on a scavenger hunt and received back packs, school supplies and a new pair of shoes from Nordstrom.

In addition to her efforts through her foundation, Cash serves as a mentor with the White House Office of Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships.


FIBA TV to broadcast 3X3 event

For those interested in getting a look at Class of 2013 UConn recruiting target Taya Reimer or the other players competing in the 3X3 Youth World Championship which starts tomorrow, check out the tournament's official site as FIBA TV will be showing much of the action from the event.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Indiana Fever clinch top seed in East

The Indiana Fever secured home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference portion of the WNBA playoffs with Wednesday's win over Washington.

Indiana is 21-11 with two games remaining while Connecticut is 20-13 meaning that even if the Sun wins Sunday's season finale against New York and Indiana loses its final two games, the teams will finish tied with 21-13 records. Indiana would win the tiebreaker based on a 3-2 record against the Sun this season.

Connecticut could still end up with home-court advantage in the first round but will need either a win over New York on Sunday or an Atlanta loss to Indiana the same day. If Connecticut and Atlanta finish tied, Atlanta would get the home-court edge based on a better record against Eastern Conference teams. Now if New York wins out and Atlanta beats Indiana, there would be a three-way tie for second. The first tiebreaker is head to head among the three teams which New York would win on the basis of taking the season series against Atlanta while the New York/Connecticut and Atlanta/Connecticut series would finish deadlocked 2-2. Then Atlanta would earn the No. 3 seed because of a better Eastern Conference record leaving the Sun to finish fourth and having to play game two and perhaps a deciding third game at Indiana.

Needless to say, it is in Connecticut's best interest to win on Sunday especially considering how poor of a road team the Sun has been this season. Some of the variables could be settled on Friday night when New York plays Indiana. If the Liberty loses that game, it can not earn home-court advantage in the opening round.

While I haven't seen the complete schedule for the games the U.S. national team will play later this month and in early October in Europe, but Uniqa-Euroleasing Sopron will host the U.S. on Oct. 9

When I spoke to UConn and U.S. national team coach Geno Auriemma last week, he said the U.S. will be in Europe from Sep. 26-Oct. 10 so I would have to think the game against Sopron would be the last of the exhibition games the team would be playing.

Upon further review, no triple-double for Charles

The WNBA reviewed the Connecticut Sun's game against Indiana and determined that Tina Charles should have finished with seven assists instead of the 10 she was credited with meaning her triple-double has been wiped from the books.

According to the official release sent out by the league, second-quarter assists on baskets by Kalana Greene and Danielle McCray with 5:56 and 5:02 left to play, respectively, should have been credited to Renee Montgomery. A basket by Kara Lawson with 1:59 to play in the quarter should have been scored as unassisted.

Charles will be credited with 10 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists in the Sep. 2 game which is still a pretty impressive performance.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Charles honored by WNBA

Connecticut Sun center Tina Charles was named the WNBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the fourth time this season.

Charles led the Sun to a 2-1 record and kept Connecticut in the hunt for the top seed in the East, just half a game behind leader Indiana. For the week, the 2010 WNBA Rookie of the Year led the league in blocks (2.67 bpg) while ranking second overall and tops among Eastern Conference players in rebounding (12.7 rpg). She also ranked fourth in the conference in scoring (16.7 ppg, eighth in the WNBA) and tied for third in assists (5.0 apg).

The former University of Connecticut star became just the fifth WNBA player to record a triple-double when she logged 10 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a key win over conference rival Indiana on Sep. 2. Sandwiching that effort was a 16-point, seven-rebound, three-block outing at San Antonio, and a 24-point, 15-rebound peformance in a road win at Washington.

Charles, the league-leader with 21 double-doubles, is just one short of the WNBA record she set in that category a year ago. She also is the WNBA’s leading rebounder (11.0 rpg), ranks second in blocks (1.72 bpg) and is tied for fifth in scoring (17.7 ppg).


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Former South Florida AD and NFL legend passes away

See the news of Lee Roy Selmon's death being officially confirmed a few minute ago had me taking a trip down memory lane.

It was back in December of 2002 and I was in Tampa to cover the UConn women's basketball team's game against South Florida. The USF men's basketball team included a freshman named Danny Oglesby, who starred at Hamden Hall so I took in the men's basketball game so I could speak with Danny and USF men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg.

Press row was relatively empty when I grabbed a steal near midcourt. About 15 minutes later, a large, distinguished man sat down about two seats away from me. He leaned over and introduced himself by saying "hi, I'm Lee Roy Selmon."

As a Buccaneers fan dating back to 1983 when I lived in South Florida, no introduction was necessary. I knew he was the athletic director at South Florida and I thought it would be pretty amazing to see one of my all-time favorite athletes up close and in person at the USF basketball games. Here I was shaking hands with the player who was the reason I became a Buccaneers fan in the first place. For the next 30-45 minutes, I was in absolute heaven. He told stories, not of his incredible individual achievements but of being a part of great teams at the University of Oklahoma, thr joy he gained by playing alongside his brothers at Oklahoma. When we talked about the NFL, I could see how thrilled he was seeing the Buccaneers become one of the best teams in the NFL. We talked about the current state of college football, the upcoming NFL playoffs and what it would be like if the Buccaneers would win the Super Bowl (which they did a month later). I spent several minutes entertaining questions from him about the UConn women's basketball program. He was extremely excited to have the defending national champions coming into USF for what promised to be a festive atmosphere. He mentioned that he'd love to meet UConn coach Geno Auriemma. I told him that Geno is a huge sports fan and believe me, he would be absolutely beside himself with joy if he had a chance to talk with you.

I was struck by the dignity in which he carried himself with and the modesty he showed in talking about his Hall of Fame careers at Oklahoma and Tampa Bay. I have read so many stories of sports legends crossing paths with fans and the result being a disenchanted former fan left wishing they had never met up with their childhood idols. I was fortunate enough to see that Lee Roy was as much a champion off the field as he was on it.

Reading some of the stories on Lee Roy since he suffered a massive stroke on Friday showed me that I am far from the only person who viewed him in this way.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Kerry Bascom-Poliquin honored

Former UConn star Kerry Bascom-Poliquin will be inducted into the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame on Nov. 13.

Before heading to UConn and becoming a three-time Big East Player of the Year, Bascom was a star at Epping High School leading her team to the Class S title as a sophomore and to the Class M finals as a junior and senior.

Bascom helped UConn win its first Big East title in 1989 as the Huskies won both the regular season and tournament titles and became the first of Geno Auriemma's teams to play in the NCAA tournament. Two years later Bascom would lead the Huskies to the Final Four. She graduated as UConn's all-time leading scorer and second on the career rebounding list.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Geno will take different approach on next European trip

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma loved the idea that he was able to conduct 10 practices in Connecticut before heading over to Italy to play four games last month.

However, the level of competition left a little to be desired especially after two scheduled opponents had to pull out of scheduled contests with the Huskies.

"That was a big downside, the fact that the competition wasn't as good as we hoped it would be," Auriemma said. "We knew we were taking a chance when we go at this time of the year. A lot of kids are playing in the WNBA or teams are just getting started so that part of it wasn't all that it could have been. The other part, getting a chance to practice, getting a chance to teach them during the games, I think it will help us going forward. Now we have to make sure it doesn't get lost and it kind of sticks with them a little bit. It was interesting to see.

"I am happy we did it, for sure. The next trip we take of this kind, we have to identify the teams first and then decide where are are going to go instead of (vice versa)."

UConn opened up by beating the Netherlands national team and an Italian Select squad, as scheduled. But when the Saarlouis Royals bailed, an overmatched TDT Slammers team filled in and promptly lost 112-36. When the Nigerian national team had some red tape preventing it from coming into Italy, the tour ended with UConn playing the TDT Slammers for a quarter and then Castellanza for three quarters. The result was a predictable 116-33 win by the Huskies.

UConn's top returning players made their presence felt in the four games but so did the three freshmen.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was UConn's leader with 67 points and 14 3-pointers in the four games. She also averaged 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3 steals per game. Banks was the freshman to get the starting call and she averaged 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals a game while Stokes averaged 7.5 points on 13 of 19 shooting, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

"Freshmen are freshmen," Auriemma said. "Brianna Banks did what I thought she would do. She struggled with things I thought she'd struggle with. She is going to be a factor. Kaleena obviously comes here with the reputation that she is going to score and make shots and she did that and she did a couple of other things to make you think she is not going to come out here and just shoot the ball. Kiah Stokes had her moments. She looked great. She had nine rebounds one night and after the second game I told her 'you are averaging 4.5 rebounds a game. You had nine the first night, none the second night (Stokes actually had four rebounds in the second game).' That is kind of what happens."

Auriemma raved about the rapid development of Hartley saying she has made remarkable progress from a year ago. Her shooting was a little off in the four games in Europe but she averaged 13 points per game while leading the Huskies with 29 assists and 13 steals.

"I think it was great to build our team chemistry for 10 days," Hartley said. "We get to play a lot and get to know what somebody is good at, their strengths and weaknesses and just play together to build that team chemistry so we know how to play together."

Hartley believed the freshmen will benefit greatly from getting an early introduction to the coaching of Auriemma and his staff.

"They got to play under coach's system for the first time so when they come back when the season starts, they won't be as nervous," Hartley said.

While UConn won't be able to take another trip overseas for four more years, Auriemma will be going back to Italy later this month.

Auriemma will run the U.S. national team training camp beginning on Sep. 26 and will return on Oct. 10 so he be back in plenty of time for the start of official practice at UConn. The camp will take place in Naples, Auriemma said and the U.S. will play tournaments in Spain and the Czech Republic. Look for the official details to be coming shortly.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Huskies giving back to those in need

UConn freshmen Kiah Stokes and Brianna Banks greet residents impacted by Hurricane Irene as they head into Coventry High School on Thursday night.

When UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma told his oldest daughter Jenna his idea for helping out those impacted by the loss of power after Hurricane Irene, Jenna merely rolled her eyes and after a suitable pause came up with an alternate course of action.

"She said 'people want to eat' and she said 'why don't you throw a pasta dinner?'" Geno Auriemma said. "And she said 'you pay for it. You have enough money.' So we made a couple of phone calls and here we are."

Score a win for Jenna as she was the one who suggested giving out hot meals to those who have been unable to cook since the storm took out so many power lines and left thousands of Connecticut residents without power.

"He wanted to put all of our old clothes together and send it somewhere," Jenna (Auriemma) Stigliano said on Thursday night as she joined her parents and the UConn women's basketball team in cooking and handing out food to storm victims at Coventry High School. "I said why don't we go somewhere where people are closest to where we are. Why don't we do something in Coventry and we could have a pizza thing or something where people could eat."

A steady flow of residents came through the doors at Coventry High on Thursday as pasta meals were being prepared by the Huskies and bottled water was also being handed out.

"They are all excited about it because they are the kind of kids that usually they have a lot of stuff given to them since they don't really want much," Geno Auriemma said. "It is good for them to kind of feel like they are doing something for the people who support them. People make a lot of sacrifices to watch them play so it is good for them."

The players knew they would be helping out those in need but they were a little stunned at the number of those who came out looking for a meal and a chance to mingle with the UConn coaches, players and fellow members of the community.

"This is great," UConn sophomore center Stefanie Dolson said. "Giving back to the community and the whole power outages, the storm and everything, just to be able to give food to everybody, I know we all love it and love helping out.

"It's crazy. There are so many people here. I didn't think it would have affected this many people but did. We are just glad to help and I can't believe how many people are here."

It wasn't lost on the UConn players that many of those who came out Thursday night are the same people who attend the Huskies' home games.

"A lot of people are struggling with no power," UConn sophomore guard Bria Hartley said. "We have a lot of people who come and support us all the time so we are here to support them as well to be here to help them if they need anything."

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Maya Moore finalist for Sportswoman of the Year

Former UConn star Maya Moore, who graduated as the Huskies' all-time leading scorer is one of 10 finalists for the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year Award in the team member category. The top three finalists in each of the categories will be notified by September 16 and invited to attend the annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards Gala on October 19 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, where the winners will accept their awards.

Other finalists in the award Maya is in contention for are Argentina field hockey star Luciana Aymar, Stanford water polo star Annika Dries, Team USA and University of Wisconsin hockey player Meghan Duggan, Brazilian beach volleyball players Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca, German bobsledder Sandra Kiriasis, Sweden's two-time gold-medal winning curler Anette Norberg, Northwestern University and U.S. lacrosse standout Shannon Smith, three-time U.S. Olympic volleyball player Stacy Sykora and U.S. World Cup soccer veteran Abby Wambach.

You can read more about the finalists via this link

Each year, the Women’s Sports Foundation recognizes an individual sport athlete and team sport athlete whose performances over a 12-month time span has been exceptional. Past winners include Venus and Serena Williams, Nastia Liukin, Jessica Mendoza and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Fans can follow the link above to vote until midnight on September 5 through facebook by visiting

The winners will be determined by a combination of a public vote (50%) and the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Awards Committee’s vote (50%). The winners will be the two athletes – one individual finalist and one team finalist – who receive the highest combined share of a public vote and the Awards Committee vote.


Maya Moore named WNBA Rookie of the Month

Former UConn star Maya Moore was named the WNBA's Rookie of the Month for August
as she led all rookies with a 12.3 scoring average and also was No. 1 in rebounding (4.6), steals (1.8) and minutes played (27.2). She was also in the top three in assists (2.2) and with a .424 mark from 3-point range.

It is the second straight month in which Moore, who the Minnesota Lynx took with the top overall pick in April's WNBA draft, was named the league's top rookie.

Perhaps the most important statistic in Moore's eyes is that she is a major reason why Minnesota is in first place in the Western Conference with a 24-6 record.