Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Geno Auriemma's unique take on Pledge of Allegiance

One thing about Geno Auriemma's post-game press conferences is that you are never quite sure what topic will lead to one of his wildly entertaining tangents.

Pat Eaton-Robb of the Associated Press asked a harmless question seeking Auriemma's opinion on the practice of having the crowd at UConn football and basketball games recite the Pledge of Allegiance right before the national anthem. His answer was a classic case of Geno being Geno.

"I am old enough to know when we said it in school," Auriemma said. "I think we said it right before we hid under our wooden desks in case a nuclear attack came. I always thought that was pretty cool that if the bomb is going to drop on St. Francis of Assisi grade school that I definitely want to be under a wooden desk. I know I had to say it when I became a citizen in Hartford in 1994 but after that, I am not sure the last time I had an opportunity or occasion to say it. What did I think of it? It kind of caught me by surprise. I didn't know we were doing it and I guess it is like anything else, you are going to have people who are going to complain about it and you are going to have people who love it.

"You know what I would rather see? I would rather see nobody sing the national anthem. This idea of somebody sings the national anthem, I think that is bogus. I think the band ought to play the national anthem and everybody in the audience should sing it. When I go to Europe and play with the U.S. national team, you can't hear anything other than every single voice in the building singing their country's national anthem. They don't have somebody sing it. Maybe you do have somebody come and sing it but that would be way more meaningful to me as an American to have everybody in the building sing the national anthem at the top of their lungs like they really truly believe in what it stands for. I think the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes becomes kind of rote, yeah let me just repeat what everybody is saying but do I really understand it. Then you have wackos who say 'we shouldn't bring God into this.' You have to say 'one nation under God' so Thomas Jefferson was a (jerk) for writing that so blame him, don't blame anybody else. It actually does go pretty well, one nation under God."

Although none of the UConn coaches were in attendance to watch Connecticut recruiting targets Taya Reimer and Stephanie Mavunga go head to head, it sounds like the two talented juniors put on quite a show on Wednesday night.

Reimer had 18 points and 12 rebounds as Hamilton Southeastern of Fishers, Ind. defeated Brownsburg (Ind.) 67-47 despite 26 points from Mavunga.

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Geno: Doty is fine after hard fall

Caroline Doty crashed to the court with 4:41 left in the first half as she drove in for a layup. With 4:19 left in the half, the UConn coaching staff didn't like what they saw from Doty so they pulled her from the game. Doty never returned to the bench in the second half but UConn coach Geno Auriemma said it was merely a precautionary move.

"She is fine," Auriemma said after UConn's 92-31 win over Towson. "I just talked to Doc (Tom Trojian) and said she landed on her hip, then her shoulder and her head and by the end of the game she was fine. They just didn't want to put her out there with all that noise and lights as a precaution."

UConn will not practice on Thursday so we'll have to see if Doty takes part in Friday's practice.

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Plenty of tickets left for Jimmy V Classic

An official from UConn said that approximately 5,000 tickets are left for Tuesday's game against defending national champion Texas A&M at the XL Center. It will the first time the Huskies will play the reigning national champions since hosting Notre Dame on Jan. 21, 2002. UConn won that game 80-53 but it is just 2-4 against the national champs.

Staying on the subject of tickets, Big East tournament tickets go on sale tomorrow. Go to for information on purchasing tickets. The Big East tournament will be played from Mar. 2-6 at the XL Center.

Three Huskies on Naismith watch list

The Atlanta Tipoff Club just released the players on the Naismith early season watch list and the list includes the UConn trio of senior guard Tiffany Hayes, sophomore center Stefanie Dolson and sophomore guard Bria Hartley.

UConn joins Notre Dame (Skylar Diggins, Natalie Novosel, Devereaux Peters) and Tennessee (Shekinna Stricklen, Glory Johnson and Meighan Simmons) as the only schools with three candidates. Da'Shena Stevens, a senior forward at St. John's and former Trinity Catholic star, is the only Connecticut native on the list.

The list will be cut to 30 by late February and in March the four finalists will be placed on the final ballot. The winner of the Naismith Trophy will be announced during the Final Four.

Here is the list
Barrett LaSondra LSU Sr F
Bentley Alex Penn State Jr G
Bravard Cierra FSU Sr F
Carter Brittany Memphis Sr G
Carter Sydney Texas A&M Sr G
Davis Carolyn Kansas Jr F
Delle Donne Elena Delaware Jr F/G
Diggins Skylar Notre Dame Jr G
Dolson Stefanie UConn So C
Ellenberg Aaryn Oklahoma So G
Evans Shante Hofstra Jr F
Garrison Casey Missouri State Sr G
Gemelos Jacki USC GS G
Gilbreath Briana USC Sr G
Gray Chelsea Duke So G
Griner Brittney Baylor Jr P
Hampton Keisha DePaul Sr F
Hand Whitney Oklahoma Jr G
Hartley Bria UConn So G
Hayes Tiffany UConn Sr G
Hurt Courtney Va. Commonwealth Sr F
James Jasmine UGA So G
Johnson Shenise Miami Sr F
Johnson Lykendra Michigan State Sr F
Johnson Glory Tennessee GS F
Kizer Lynetta Maryland Sr C
Lucas Maggie Penn State So G
Luper Kevi Oral Roberts Jr G
Mathies A'dia Kentucky Jr G
Novosel Natalie Notre Dame Sr G
Ogwumike Chiney Stanford So F
Ogwumike Nnemkadi Stanford Sr F
Peddy Shey Temple Sr G
Peters Devereaux Notre Dame Sr F
Prahalis Samantha Ohio State Sr G
Printy Jaime Iowa Jr G
Raterman Justine Dayton Sr F
Reid Monique Louisville Sr F
Rodgers Sugar Georgetown Jr G
Rushdan Khadijah Rutgers Sr G
Schimmel Shoni Louisville So G
Shafir Naama Toledo Sr G
Simmons Meighan Tennessee So G
Sims Odyssey Baylor So G
Standish Kayla Gonzaga Sr F
Stevens Da'Shena St. John's Sr F
Stricklen Shekinna Tennessee Sr G
Sykes April Rutgers Sr G
Thomas Alyssa Maryland So F
White Tyra Texas A&M Sr G
Williams Riquna Miami Sr G

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Two UConn recruiting targets squaring off tonight

Highly-touted juniors Taya Reimer and Stephanie Mavunga will be the centers of attention when their teams meet today.

Reimer has led Hamilton Southeastern of Fishers, Ind. to a 5-0 start but the toughest test to date will come tonight at 7:30 p.m. when they travel to meet the Mavunga-led Brownsburg (Ind.) team.

While I was unable to locate season stats for Reimer, Mavunga is averaging 21.8 points (on 63 percent shooting), 10.2 rebounds and 3.6 blocked shots.

They were teammates on the U.S. U-16 national team as Mavunga averaged 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds with Reimer contributing 4.8 and 5 rebounds as the United States squad swept through five games to win the FIBA Americas 16 title in June.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

A high basketball IQ is part of Mosqueda-Lewis' skill set

It is easy to look at the way freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis plays and focus on the near perfect shooting form and incredibly quick release. But there were two plays she made during the recently-completed World Vision Classic which impressed me more than any of the 3-pointers she drained over the weekend.

The first one happened in Saturday's game against Buffalo. Mosqueda-Lewis was on the left wing when one of her teammates put up a shot just a few feet away from where she was standing. As the ball was about to carom off the rim, Mosqueda-Lewis instinctively sprinted across the lane and was in perfect position to corral the offensive rebound.

Then on Sunday Mosqueda-Lewis was at the front of the Huskies' 2-2-1 press. She was supposed to pressure the player in the corner which she was doing. Then she quickly peeled off her responsibility and curled back into the path of the Dayton player who had just inbounded the ball. Mosqueda-Lewis stole the ball and hit an uncontested layup as part of her 23 points against the Flyers.

After the game I asked Mosqueda-Lewis about that play because it is not one every player would make.

"I just noticed that when we trapped in the corner, they passed it right back to the inbounder," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "I saw her eyes and I knew she wasn't going to pass it to my man so I was going to see if she was going to pass it to the inbounder. I got lucky that she did."

There wasn't much luck involved. Since preseason UConn coach Geno Auriemma had stated that people who talk about Mosqueda-Lewis as simply being a great shooter are selling her short. I tend to agree as she clearly can think the game.

"You have to be able to anticipate things," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "Great players are able to see things before they happen, the older you get, the better you get at it. I have a lot to learn but it is slowly coming.'


Mosqueda-Lewis honored by Big East - again

UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was named the Big East Freshman of the Week for the second week in a row.

Mosqueda-Lewis averaged 15.3 points with 11 assists, eight steals and no turnovers in a 4-0 week for the Huskies. Mosqueda-Lewis scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the victory over Stanford.   Mosqueda-Lewis scored 11 points and was just one rebound shy of a double-double against Fairleigh Dickinson and had a 23-point, six-rebound effort against Dayton, going 7-of-13 from the floor, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range.


2 future Huskies make ESPN's national player of the year watch list

ESPN picked six players as candidates for national high school player of the year honors and making the cut are UConn signees Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck as well as UConn recruiting target Diamond DeShields.

Stewart, a 6-foot-4 senior forward at Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.), was the top choice and there is no surprise there. If the hype surrounding current UConn freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has been intense enough that Geno Auriemma has taken to referring to Mosqueda-Lewis to "Baby Jesus" to the media, one can only imagine what nickname he will come up with for the multi-faceted Stewart.  Next on the list is Duke incoming freshman Alexis Jones followed by Tuck, a 6-foot-2 forward at Bolingbrook (Ill.) High and DeShields, a 6-foot-2 junior wing at Norcross (Ga.) High. Former UConn recruiting target and University of Southern California commit Jordan Adams (a former high school teammate of Mosqueda-Lewis) and Nazareth sophomore Bianca Cuevas round out the list of candidates.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Putting World Vision Classic into focus

Just a few thoughts from the past three days of action from the World Vision Classic. First, the results were pretty much status quo for tournament of this type. UConn won its three games by a total of 142 points. Geno Auriemma was asked about why this field was so weak but a quick look back to the last two regular-season tournaments hosted by the Huskies shows that UConn won by a total of 134 points against Howard, Lehigh and Louisiana State in 2010 and by 138 against Hofstra, Richmond and Clemson. The only real difference is that none of the other three teams came from a BCS conference.

With Tennessee leading Baylor in the second half, UConn was extremely close from ascending to No. 1 in the national polls. Probably nobody was happier to see that top-ranked Baylor rallied for a 76-67 win than Auriemma. With a team where two sophomores start and three freshmen play key roles off the bench, the last thing Auriemma wants is the added pressure of being the No. 1 team in the country this early in the season.

"The last time I checked, you had to have some All-Americans on your team to be No. 1, don't those two things go together?" Auriemma said. "I don't think it would be fair for us to be No. 1 in the country."

Auriemma did say he'd like to have more games like the one against Stanford than the three blowouts against overmatched teams like what transpired over the weekend.

"I'd like to do more of that," Auriemma said. "I think the whole month of November and early December, there should be a tremendous amount of non-conference games against really good opponents because I do think it creates excitement for the rest of the season. Unfortunately TV wants some in January, some in February and they want to spread them around I think all those November, early December game, I know I would rather play more of them. Trying to balance how many home games you have to play, how many top 25, top 30 teams you have to play. It is not an easy juggling act but I know I would like to do more of it and look into that for the next two or three years and see how many we could put together. You can't always get people to agree. You'd be surprised how many teams who don't want to do it, There are five, six, seven, eight schools who want to do it but we already play them but then there are a bunch of schools who don't want to do it. Carol Stiff (of ESPN) has a hard time putting games together because some schools say 'I don't want to do it' which I find hard to believe."

As for the action, UConn's average margin of victory was the second most in program history for a regular-season tournament. The Huskies beat Morgan State and Rhode Island by an average of 56.5 points in the 1994 Connecticut Classic, Still, Auriemma did not come away completely pleased with what he saw from his team.

"When we are good, we are pretty good," Auriemma said. "When we are not, we are something less than good. I don't know what that is. Sometimes when you are not good, you are awful or you just kind of bad or sloppy. When we are good, we are really good but when we are not playing well and we are not in sync we throw the ball around too much, we throw it away too much. That is my biggest complaint over the last three days that we either score or throw the ball away. I don't think that is going to get it against really good teams."

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Another record streak for the Huskies

Just when UConn coach Geno Auriemma thought he had run out of streaks to talk about, he was asked about the Huskies' NCAA women's basketball record home winning streak after Sunday's game against Dayton.

UConn set the NCAA Division I record of 69 consecutive home games last year but the NCAA women's basketball record for all divisions was 88 set by Division III Rust  from Jan. 23, 1982-Feb. 21, 1989. UConn's 78-38 win was No. 89 in a row for the Huskies.

"I don't keep track of that stuff. People were talking the other day. I guess Maya Moore didn't lose a home game, her and Lorin (Dixon) in the four years they were here," Auriemma said. "That is pretty incredible to go home after every game and it is a 'W.' I don't think that happens at very many places. I love the consistency of our program, I love how we approach things every year. We kind of give you the same thing day in and day out for the most part. We are hard to play against I would hope, home or away.

"It is a long time, for sure, to not lose a game. After a while you don't even think about it. Obviously we had the best teams in the country for the past five years when you think about who we've had, whose graduated so in that respect home and away, we win a lot of games at home and a lot of games on the road. I am sure that streak will end soon, like everything else does."

Many of those wins were similar to the this weekend's games when UConn defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, Buffalo and Dayton by an average of 47.3 points but there have also been wins against national powers like Stanford, Baylor and Notre Dame.

If Auriemma had his way there would be more of those types of game earlier in the season. He loves the fact the UConn faced Stanford on Monday, Notre Dame and Duke battled down to the wire on Saturday and today Baylor squared off with Tennessee.

"I'd like to do more of that. I think the whole month of November and early December, there should be a tremendous amount of non-conference games against really good opponents because I do think it creates excitement for the rest of the season, Auriemma said. "Unfortunately TV wants some in January, some in February and they want to spread them around. I think all those November, early December game, I know I would rather play more of them. You're trying to balance how many home games you have to play, how many top 25, top 30 teams you have to play. It is not an easy juggling act but I know I would like to do more of it and look into that for the next two or three years and see how many we could put together. You can't always get people to agree. You'd be surprised how many teams who don't want to do it, There are five, six, seven, eight schools who want to do it but we already play them but then there are a bunch of schools who don't want to do it. Carol Stiff (of ESPN) has a hard time putting games together because some schools say 'I don't want to do it' which I find hard to believe."


Tuck leads Bolingbrook to victory

UConn signee Morgan Tuck had 26 points as Bolingbrook (Ill.) defeat Twinsburg (Ohio) 50-47 Saturday on day two of the Turkey Jamm in Memphis, Tenn. Former UConn recruiting target Malina Howard, who is headed to Maryland, had 10 for Twinsburg.

Tuck opened her senior season by scoring 40 points in a 72-68 win over Riverdale of Murfreesboro, Tenn.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hayes coming up big as UConn tames Bulls

Several hours before his UConn team played Buffalo on day two of the World Vision Classic, Geno Auriemma had a pretty good sense that senior Tiffany Hayes was ready to roll.

His instincts were correct as Hayes had 30 points, two shy of her career high, as well as 11 rebounds and five steals as she posted her first regular-season double-double at UConn.

"When Tiffany pays like she is playing that whole first half with that ind of aggressiveness that she had, it is awfully comforting to the rest of the team," Auriemma said. "Tonight wasn't just stand out there and shoot 3's and be one dimensional. She did a lot of things we have seen her do in the past and I think that kind of came out of shootaround this morning. I kind of got that sense from her and I was really happy for her."

Auriemma lit into his team after Friday's 46-point win over Fairleigh Dickinson as the ugly brand of basket and his team's inability to execute what they have been working on during practice irked him in a major way. Auriemma had a hunch that Hayes would respond.

"That is the kind of stuff you would like to see seniors do," Auriemma said. "I didn't talk to her about that but I kind of got a sense that there was going to be a little more of a different mindset, that we were going to try to create more and nobody creates more offense for us than Tiffany does and hopefully that was the case."

Hayes downplayed her big scoring night, saying she took more pride in posting her second double-digit rebounding game in the last three games after managing just one game of at least 10 rebounds in her first three seasons with the Huskies.

"When it is your night, it is your night," Hayes said. "It just happened to be my night and a lot of it came from something I have been working on lately and that was rebounding."

A couple of other encouraging signs were seeing UConn make more of priority to get the ball inside to sophomore center Stefanie Dolson as well as seeing Kelly Faris snap out of a shooting slump with four second-half field goals.

"The way we played up to this point, we are just kind of playing and whatever shots are there, we take them," Auriemma said. "It wasn't any concerted effort to get the ball inside or not get the ball inside, it just kind of happened. But with each game that goes, we are going to have to find other ways to score other than just shoot 30 something 3's a game or just scoring in transition. Those things are not going to happen on a regular basis. At shootaround, that was all we worked on either getting the ball into the lane or passing it into the lane, driving it into the lane. We spent the entire shootaround on that. We are not big to begin with and getting the ball into Stefanie, something good is going ot happen more times than not. She is either either going to make a shot of find somebody who is open."

As for Faris' shooting woes, Auriemma wasn't concerned even if she had missed 14 straight shots over a three-game stretch before tipping in her own missed tip in the first minute of the second half.

"People go through periods when they don't make shots," Auriemma said. "The thing you don't want to do is you don't want to get down on yourself, you don't want to all of a sudden start pressing and forcing shots. I think your mindset helps you make shots more than your mechanics. I don't think all of a sudden you lose your stroke. She has been shooting the ball really well since October. Sometimes you get a little rushed. I think she settled down a little bit, took normal shots and made a couple and still does all the things she does. Everybody goes through bad spells, even Baby Jesus (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis) didn't make a jump shot
today. Did she make one? And she was the second coming. Everybody had her already anointed after the first couple of games that she is going to score 4,000 points.

"I never said she was the second coming and I never had her scoring 4000 points and making everybody forget Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi and everybody else so all those people out there who are saying I am stupid for not starting her, I think she did it on purpose just to let everybody know that Coach has a pretty good plan."

Mosqueda-Lewis did miss all eight of her shots although she did have seven assists, three steals and two blocks, Auriemma talked to Mosqueda-Lewis about using her reputation as a lights out shooter to help her set up teammates when defenders run out at her so he was very happy to see her pass the ball and play well in other areas even if her shot wasn't falling.

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Oklahoma State wins first game following tragedy

There are no lack of big games on the women's basketball schedule today including a showdown between Duke and Notre Dame but to me, THE game of the day had to be Oklahoma State beating Coppin State 59-35 in the first game since Cowgirls head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were among four people killed in a plane crash.

Budke's widow was among those in attendance in what must have been an incredibly emotional atmosphere. Here's a link to the write up from the Associated Press

Friday, November 25, 2011

Geno not happy despite 46-point win

Friday's game will look pretty impressive in the UConn record books with the Huskies setting a single-game record by holding Fairleigh Dickinson to five first-half points and pulling down 63 rebounds, the most since a Nov. 15, 2001 game against North Carolina.

But after letting the Huskies know now disappointed he was with how they played in the first game of the three-day World Vision Classic, Auriemma didn't pull any punches in expressing his disgust with the level of basketball he saw from his team.

"I thought it was the worst exhibition of basketball I have seen by two teams in the 27 years I have been at Connecticut," Auriemma said. "We should give everybody a refund, it was embarrassment I don't know what that was but it wasn't anything I am used to seeing. It was just two bad teams playing bad basketball.

"Regardless of the score, we ought to complete that pass, that pass or that pass, get this shot if we want that shot or that shot if we want that shot. We ought to be able to make a free throw (UConn was 8 of 19 from the foul line). We ought to be able to do some things that you go and work really hard on practice every day. You aren't really looking at what the score is. You just want your team to play some semblance of good basketball and I didn't see any of that today."

Wait, he was just warming up.

"We are a very immature bunch. We probably came out of the game Monday (when UConn beat No. 3 Stanford) and thought that was really hard and this would be real easy. It is just immature. We have too many players who aren't quite ready yet to put together the kind of consistent (effort)  you would like to see.

"You are playing to make yourself feel better. You aren't really concerned about who the opponent is or say 'oh it is only natural.' Maybe it is when you are playing somebody who is struggling as much as (FDU) is that your concentration would go away or your intensity level would drop. I tell my players all the time that we just won by (46) and you can't sit there and say 'we feel really good, we got a lot accomplished.' After tomorrow's game you want to be able to sit there and say we got a lot done Maybe it was something they ate. Maybe when you eat too much turkey, you play like a turkey."

After the game the players said they understood why they drew Auriemma's ire.

"It's just a matter of if you want to play great for all 40 minutes or not," said UConn senior guard Tiffany Hayes said. "I think some of the times we took possessions off and that is what happens.That is one of the first things we said when we got to the locker room is that it is today and we still two games to redeem

The good news is that UConn will be playing games in the next two days rather than suffer the wrath of an irate Auriemma.

"We definitely would rather play a game than go to practice tomorrow," Hayes said. "We are thankful for that, Thanksgiving just passed and we are thankful for that."

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UConn closing in on another record

The day before UConn played Stanford, Huskies coach Geno Auriemma was asked about the possibility to Stanford ending another of Connecticut's record streaks.

While Auriemma was fully aware of his team's NCAA basketball record winning streak which reached 90 before it was snapped by Stanford last year, he claimed he was unaware of where the Huskies home winning streak stood in the history of the sport. He was informed that it was at 85 (now at 86) which is the NCAA Division I record. Auriemma shrugged off the accomplishment as he tends to do with all streaks and records other than the ones involving the Final Four or national championships.

"It's going to end," Auriemma said. "It's not going to last forever. (UConn is) not going to win every game for the rest of my coaching career. Will there be a huge media contingent there tomorrow night to see us (extend) the record? Who gives a ..., that is so bad all of that stuff."
I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the Hall of Fame coach, but barring a major and I do mean major upset this week, UConn's home streak will reach another milestone on Sunday.

UConn's 86 straight home wins currently ranks third among all three NCAA divisions. Division II Nebraska-Kearney won 87 in a row from Jan. 31, 1995 to Nov. 24, 2001 while Division III Rust won 88 straight home games from Jan. 23, 1982-Feb. 21, 1989. With wins tonight against Fairleigh Dickinson and Saturday against Buffalo, UConn would go for its record 89th straight home win on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. against Dayton. For anybody wondered about the men's basketball NCAA record for consecutive home wins, the Huskies have some serious work to do to catch Kentucky's run of 129 straight wins at home from 1943-55.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Moriah Jefferson off to impressive start

With her future UConn teammates Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck have yet to play an official game this season, Moriah Jefferson has led her THESA Riders squad to an 8-0 start with five 20-point efforts to date.

Jefferson had a season-high 34 points and 12 rebounds against AAA Academy. She also had 22 steals in a two-game span.

Thanks to THESA Riders coach Alan Burt, here are her numbers through the first eight games. Jefferson is averaging 28.4 points per game while shooting 58 percent from the floor including an impressive 59 percent from 3-point range (19 of 32) and 82 percent from the foul line. Jefferson actually missed her first two free throws and had promptly hit 23 of her last 26. She is contributing 5.2 rebounds, 3 assists and 6.9 steals per game.

Getting back to Stewart and Tuck, Stewart's first game as a senior at Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) High is on Dec. 11 against Liverpool at the Carrier Dome while Tuck and Bolingbrook (Ill.) HS opens up on Friday against Riverdale (Tenn.) High in a game played at Memphis Central High School as part of the third annual Tennessee Turkey Jam.

Speaking of recruiting, I don't recall there being much buzz surrounding Jasmine Camp during the recruiting process but after watching her impressive performance for Stanford against UConn on Monday, I was curious where she was ranked. I checked ESPN's recruiting database and she checked in at No. 83 in last year's high school class. Five of Stanford's freshmen were ranked ahead of Camp on the list but she looked like not only the Cardinal's best freshman against the Huskies but the best guard for her team. I know it is just one game but she is a perfect example why people shouldn't put too much stock in any of these recruiting rankings. Something tells me four years from now it will be laughable that she was ranked so low by these recruiting "experts."

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Yale hangs with No. 1 Baylor for a while

The Yale women's basketball team traveled to face No. 1 Baylor and held the lead at the under 16, 12 and 8 media timeouts. The Bulldogs led on four separate occasions for a total of 7:29 in the first half before Baylor ended the first half on a 32-7 run. National player of the year candidate Brittney Griner had 13 points and two blocks while Odyssey Sims had six points and seven assists as Baylor broke the game open.

The Lady Bears won 109-59 as Griner had 31 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots while Sims had 13 points, 13 assists and seven steals and Brooklyn Pope finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Zenab Keita and freshman Sarah Halejian led Yale with 13 points each.

There's more to basketball than making shots

At first glance it would be easy to look at last night's UConn/Stanford box score and say that the Huskies won in spite of play of their three most experienced players. After all, Tiffany Hayes, Caroline Doty and Kelly Faris were a combined 7 of 30 from the field. Many of those shots were downright ugly as in lucky to catch iron ugly. However, the trio brought more to the table than their horrendous shooting numbers would indicate.

Hayes, who was clearly a little too ready to go early on and played a step or 10 too fast, pulled down 13 rebounds including five offensive boards and added six assists, three steals and one turnover in 35 minutes. Doty was 2 for 10 but those two were absolutely huge 3-pointers just when it looked like Stanford might charge all the way back. Although she had just one assist, she was able to be a calming influence in the second half. Faris missed all five of her shots and did not score but anybody who watched even a second of the game had to come away with the way she hung in there against bigger and stronger Stanford players. The Ogwumike sisters jostled with her all night and Faris played a key role in limiting Chiney Ogwumike to seven points on 3 of 12 shooting.

"The key is how do you beat a really good team when they don't go in and that is what we did," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. :We didn't win the game because we made every shot tonight. I think you feel better when you win games when shots don't go in

"This is Caroline's first game, I mean real game, in a long, long time but you didn't think she was going to keep missing them so she made a couple. Same with Tiffany, once Tiffany made a layup and she had 13 rebounds. You like to see 'what are kids going to do when the things they like to do aren't working for them?' All of those things are positive. I don't know if there are going to be a lot of teams that are going to score 75 or 80 against Stanford, it is not going to happen.

"I was hoping that this would be a different Tiffany this year from what we have seen in the past. In the past, when she didn't make shots she would get down on herself. It kind of happened a little bit when she lost her man defensively a couple of times. She got real frustrated because she wanted to make some plays and couldn't. She was trying too hard. Once she settled in to the flow of the game. She came over to the bench one time and said 'look, you need to contribute. I didn't say you needed to score but you need to contribute.' Those 13 rebounds, that's a hell of a contribution. She had six assists so I think Tiffany had a lot to do with us winning the game."

A day after moving up to No. 2 in the Associated Press poll, UConn jumped from fourth to second in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

Baylor continues to be the runaway No. 1 pick, garnering 29 first-place votes. UConn is second and was had two first-place votes followed by Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Stanford. Four of the top nine teams have one loss already, a signal that the top teams aren't afraid to challenge themselves with some early tests.

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Up next for Baylor is ...

the Yale Bulldogs, who travel to meet the top-ranked team in the country tonight. It will be the first time Yale will face the nation's No. 1 team. Of course, since Yale is coming off a 14-point loss to Marist and its probable starting lineup does not include a player taller than 6-0 so I'd say that matching up with Baylor's 6-8 national player of the year candidate Brittney Griner could be a bit of an issue.You do have to give credit to Yale coach Chris Gobrecht for scheduling a rugged non-conference schedule but hopefully there won't be any post-Griner Stress Disorder issues lingering over the team as the Bulldogs head into the Ivy League portion of their schedule.

A live stream of the game is available at

Monday, November 21, 2011

UConn gets physical in win over Stanford

If one image (other than precocious freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis torching Stanford for 19 first-half points) will stay with me following UConn's 68-58 win over Stanford on Monday night, it is seeing Kelly Faris jostling with the larger Stanford post players possession after possession. Faris had to pick herself up off the floor countless times but she typified the attitude the Huskies displayed in beating Stanford.

UConn actually outrebounded the much bigger Stanford squad 46-45 including an 18-12 edge on the offensive glass. The Huskies won even though there was 14:33 remaining before another UConn player other than Mosqueda-Lewis or Bria Hartley hit a basket.

:Offenisively is it really hard to have any kind of rhythm (this early in the season)," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I am not surprised that we were this good defensively but I am surprised that we would be as effective as we were because I didn't know what the size disadvantage was going to be like for
us. We played so hard for 40 minutes, That is one of the best defensive efforts we've had in a long, long time and I was really pleasantly surprised by that."

The defense had to be strong because the offense was shaky for the Huskies, who missed their first 10 shots.  Starters Tiffany Hayes, Stefanie Dolson, Kelly Faris and Caroline Doty were a combined 7 of 35 leaving Mosqueda-Lewis and Bria Hartley (19 points) to carry the offense for long stretches.

"The key is how do you beat a really good team when they don't go in and that is what we did tonight. We didn't win the game because we made every shot tonight," Auriemma said. "I think you feel better when you win games when shots don't go in."

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer credited the physicality of the UConn team as being the difference.

"It was kind of like a November heavyweight fight. I thought it was extremely physical and those are the games you usually see in March," VanDerveer said. "It was really good for our team to see that and get ready for it.

"Tonight was Connecticut's night, they were on a mission. Connecticut clearly was more aggressive than we were, I don't think there is any doubt about that."

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Iowa freshmen could play key roles in UConn/Stanford game

While basking in the sun in the Dominican Republic eight months ago, Kiah Stokes and Taylor Greenfield engaged in a bit of good-natured ribbing.

The two Iowa natives and AAU rivals were among a group of friends enjoying sun and fun during spring break. Stokes, who was headed to UConn, and Greenfield, a Stanford signee, would occasionally turn the talk to their future college matchups. Tonight they will meet up for the first time as college rivals.

"There was a little bit of joking saying 'oh, UConn's better or Stanford's better' but we didn't really talk about it too much," Stokes said. "It was more about enjoying the moment for the week we were there."

Stokes is UConn's too post reserve, averaging 17.5 minutes in the Huskies' first two games and is contributing 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block for the second-ranked Huskies.

Greenfield has started all three games for the Cardinal and is averaging 5.7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.3 steals in 21.7 minutes for No. 3 Stanford.

"It is definitely going to be a big game because two players from Iowa going to the top programs to play women's basketball for UConn and Stanford so it is amazing accomplishment for not only Iowa but for Taylor and me as well," Stokes said.


UConn, Stanford now No. 2 and 3 in AP poll

The highly-anticipated showdown between UConn and Stanford, set it tip in a little more than five hours, went from being a matchup between the No. 4 and 5 teams in the Associated Press poll to being one between No. 2 and 3.

The new AP poll just came out and with the losses by previous No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Tennessee, UConn and Stanford each moved up two spots with Notre Dame falling to fourth after its loss to top-ranked Baylor and Tennessee tumbled to sixth after losing to Virginia in overtime. Baylor received 39 of the 40 first-place votes with No. 5 Texas A&M getting the other No. 1 vote. For the sake of full disclosure, I am one of the voters. I did not drop Notre Dame out of No. 2 feeling like it was hard to penalize the Fighting Irish for a loss to the top-ranked team in the country. I did move Tennessee from No. 3 to No. 6 after the loss to the Cavaliers.

Mosqueda-Lewis honored by Big East

UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was named the Big East Freshman of the Week after scoring 25 points on 10 of 12 shooting in a win over Pacific. In two games she is averaging 16 points and 7 rebounds per game. Something tells me this will not the the last time she is honored by the Big East.

Notre Dame junior guard Skylar Diggins was named the conference's player of the week after averaging 21 points, 6 assists and 4.3 steals in the first four games of the season.


Familiar face to be in the house

UConn's all-time leading scorer Maya Moore will be at the XL Center for tonight's UConn/Stanford game. She'll be there on a business trip but no, she will not be playing but shadowing another UConn legend Rebecca Lobo to get an inside look at how Lobo goes about her job as a broadcaster for ESPN.

Perhaps Sue Bird will be there as well. She was at Gampel Pavilion for yesterday's practice but I only saw her sitting under the basket for the portion of practice I was able to watch.

As previously reported, top recruit Breanna Stewart will also be on hand.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

UConn players looking ahead to big-time test

After two convincing wins against overmatched opponents, the UConn women's basketball team will get to answer some questions of the Huskies life after Maya Moore when Stanford comes into Hartford for Monday night's showdown of top five teams.

Stanford is led by the athletic Ogwumike sisters who figure to test a UConn team which figures to only start one true post player (Stefanie Dolson).

"This is obviously our first game of the season and it is going to be our first big challenge," said junior Kelly Faris, who figures to draw the defensive assignment on one of the Ogwumike sisters. "Coming back from last year, if you lose to a great team like that you want to come back and redeem yourself and prove to yourself that you can get it done. We'll see how we come out tomorrow and see what we have to offer and hopefully we get down what we have been working on practice.

All three freshmen (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Brianna Banks and Kiah Stokes) figure to play significant minutes against the Cardinal.

"I am really excited to see what our team is made of and honestly I think it is going to be positive," Mosqueda-Lewis. "I feel like our team is going to come out with a lot of energy and we are going to do all the little things.

"We've been watching them on TV playing in these big games and thinking oh my gosh, it is only going to be a matter of time before we're playing."

During our time interviewing Geno Auriemma, I couldn't resist asking him about the hug he received from Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike late in last season's game. It was a bizarre scene seeing Ogwumike, who had just fouled out of the game, walk towards the UConn bench. She received some strange looks from the UConn players as she approached Auriemma to give him a hug.

"Maybe when she was in high school she’d always dreamed of giving me a big hug after a big win," Auriemma said. "Somebody forgot to tell her that she should be on my team to do that."

Auriemma got to know Chiney and her family as UConn recruited her as a high school senior. Although he knew it was going to be a long shot to land her, he has no regrets about recruiting Ogwumike.

"They’re just really nice kids,' Auriemma said. "That was one of the more enjoyable recruiting scenarios that we had, recruiting Chiney. We knew it was a long shot but I enjoyed it. I got a kick out of her and her mom and her sisters. She’s just a great kid."

UConn signee Breanna Stewart was at Gampel Pavilion today and will be in attendance at tomorrow's game.

There wasn't an exact number of available tickets but a UConn spokesman estimated that about 3,000 tickets are available.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Another chapter in Stanford/UConn rivalry coming on Monday

Over the last few years, there may not be another non-conference rivalry in women's college basketball which could equal the Stanford/UConn series.

Three straight meetings in the Final Four added some zest to the rivalry. In the last meeting, Stanford snapped UConn's NCAA Division I basketball record 90-game winning streak.

On Monday night at the XL Center, the teams will meet for the first time since that historic game. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer was asked about the emergence of the rivalry as the best in the sport at the current time.

"I definitely think so," VanDerveer said. "We look at ourselves and Connecticut, having been to the last four Final Fours, I think we’re the only two teams that have done that. The game last year was obviously a great game with all that was riding on it. We played for the national title the year before. Connecticut has been in the conversation as far as competing for a national championship just year in and year out, and we were in it, we were out of it and now I think we’re back in it and that’s great."

There are still tickets available for the 7:30 p.m. game on Monday.

Horrible news out of Oklahoma State

I just saw the headline on yahoo about the death of Oklahoma State head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna and my thoughts go out to their families and the Oklahoma State team.

Here are the thoughts of Geno Auriemma courtesy of a statement released by UConn.

The tragedy at Oklahoma State, which has known its share of tragedy in the past, leaves you with a helpless feeling.  My heart goes out to the families of Kurt and Miranda and everyone associated with the basketball program and University.  

I spoke to him once or twice when he was at Louisiana Tech and the Lady Techsters were on UConn's schedule and seemed like a pretty good guy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

About 4,000 tickets remaining for Stanford game

There are approximately 4,000 tickets available for Monday's game against Stanford at the XL Center. It will be interesting to see if advance publicity and hype this game generates will lead to the game becoming a sellout or at least approaching that category.

This will be the first meeting between the teams since Stanford ended UConn's NCAA Division I basketball record 90-game winning streak.

Ticket orders can be placed online at or by calling 1-877-AT-UCONN

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Huge test up next for Huskies

Officially, UConn opened its 2011-12 season on Sunday against Holy Cross but in reality, the season really begins on Monday when the Huskies play Stanford at 7:30 p.m. at the XL Center.

While the first two games accomplished little other than giving UConn's freshmen and role players a chance to build confidence, the fifth-ranked Cardinal will pose a challenge that neither Holy Cross nor Pacific were able to.
“I just know we are going to be playing a really good team,” UConn sophomore guard Bria Hartley said. “It is going to be a really good game and we'll go out there and see how good we are.”

The last time the teams met, Stanford ended the Huskies NCAA Division I record 90-game winning streak. Now the Cardinal will be attempted to snap Connecticut’s Division I record 85-game home winning streak
Stanford, with one of the most formidable front lines in women’s college basketball, figure to test the Huskies unlike the teams UConn faced in both the early stages of the regular season as well as in the preseason.

“We are looking to see if we are the team that if things don't go right for us all the time, we can bring it out and pull each other back together,” UConn freshman guard/forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. “That is the biggest thing we have to work on. If we make one turnover, we can't make it two, three, four.”

Unlike a year ago when both teams had more than a month of regular-season games under their collective belts, the Huskies and Cardinal are squaring off even before either team has established a true identity.

 “We played in some of those preseason tip-off classics, we played right off the bat top 10 teams,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “We are both in the same boat. It is not like one of us has been practicing and playing games for a month and the other one hasn't. There will be a lot of things they are not prepared for and a lot of things we are not prepared for. "

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Box score mistake

Thanks to the readers who alerted me to the error in the box score which ran in today's paper which had Maya Moore's name where Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' should have been. I have alerted the proper parties and feel pretty certain that it was a one time mistake.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Freshmen spark Huskies

Watching his lineup of senior Tiffany Hayes, juniors Caroline Doty and Kelly Faris and sophomores Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley look a bit out of sorts in the opening minutes, UConn coach Geno Auriemma summoned his three freshmen off the bench.

When Brianna Banks, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes entered the game with 15:04 to play in the first half, UConn led 11-7. Just 39 seconds later, the Huskies were off and running - literally - on a 30-2 run to turn Tuesday night's game against Pacific into a laugher.

At one stretch the three freshmen combined for score 13 straight Connecticut points and they were a major reason why the Huskies tied a program record with 68 first-half points.

It didn't hurt that Auriemma unleashed a fullcourt press on Pacific. It was effective with the starters in the game but when Banks, Mosqueda-Lewis and Stokes were out there with Faris and Hartley, the defensive pressure simply engulfed the Tigers.

"Today was the best that they have looked," Auriemma said of his three freshmen. "We are right in that time right now where you  hope you can see some progression, you hope you can see some. We still have a ways to go but today was exacty what I hoped would happen coming off the first game. We showed a great deal of improvement from the frist game to the second game."

I asked him if the relentless attacking style UConn played allowed the three first-year players to just play since they didn't have a chance to think too much of what was going on out there and just had to rely on their instincts.

"There are two ways you can look at that," Auriemma said. "It gives us an opportunity to create some possessions. The more possessions we have, the less they don't know doesn't become as big of an issue. If you limit the number of possessions we have, then they screw up a bunch of them, it is that much more difficult for us to get done what we want to get done. We have four ballhandlers out there most of the time and it is good if we can touch the ball that we can convert defense to offense pretty quickly."

Mosqueda-Lewis had 25 points on 10 of 12 shooting (including going 5 of 6 from 3-point range) and she had a team-leading seven rebounds. Banks had 12 points, eight in a 63-second span, while Stokes had eight points, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

It was pretty evident the trio felt at ease with the way the game was played.

"Run the court, get easy buckets, play defense and get other easy buckets it is fun to play like that," Banks said.

Auriemma's press conference ended with The Day of New London columnist Mike DiMauro asked him about the irony of former UMass coach John Calipari taking his Kentucky team to a tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena.

"Coach Calipari is an amusing guy. He is an amusing guy. You ask people around the country 'what's up with cal?' and they'll say 'that's just Cal, that is what he is. It is ironic that he is coming up to New England. He is not playing at UMass, he is not playing at UConn, he is playing at Mohegan Sun where the Indians are. Back in the day, they fleeced the Indians and we got Manhattan. I can only imagine what Cal is going to walk out of there with."

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Add another game to CPTV's schedule

According to the UConn broadcast schedule on the CPTV website, you can add the Jan. 14 game at Villanova to the list of games being televised by CPTV. That brings the number of regular-season games being televised by CPTV to 19. The number figures to reach 21 as CPTV to wrapping up some loose ends in acquiring the rights to the road games against Seton Hall on Dec. 9 and Syracuse on Jan. 25.

CPTV will be broadcasting tonight's Pacific game.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Renee Montgomery releases statement about her termination

Former UConn and current Connecticut Sun guard Renee Montgomery was off to an impressive start in the EuroLeague with Uni Seat Gyor when she was abruptly let go by the Hungary-based squad. Montgomery released a statement on her official website giving her side of what led to her being fired.

I left Gyor, Hungary on November 3 after being terminated by my team for refusing to allow them to cheat me. Specifically, after completely honoring my contract, I was owed salary and penalties which my team refused to pay. My contract with Gyor is direct and straight-forward. It provides that if all due money is not paid within 15 days of being owed, 'the player, and her representatives shall be entitled to all monies due in accordance with the Agreement, but the player does not have to perform in practice sessions or games until all scheduled payments have been made.

I gave Gyor multiple opportunities to cure their repeated delinquencies. Gyor failed. As a result, I exercised my right to not practice or play until Gyor paid all money that was owed. Gyor ONLY claimed to have 'fired' me in retaliation after I sent them a legal demand letter (for unpaid salary and penalties) and sat out of practice. I have now  exercised my right, pursuant to contract, to submit the matter to the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal (BAT) in Geneva, Switzerland and have it resolved in accordance with the BAT arbitration rules.


Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis: The shot magnet

I've heard UConn women's basketball coach use various phrases to describe his players in the 10 or so years I've covered his program - some of which can not be printed in this blog - but never did I hear him utter the words "shot magnet."

However, that was how he referred to freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis even after she missed all seven of her 3-point attempts in Sunday's 77-37 win over Holy Cross.

"Kaleena missed more shots than she missed the whole time she has been here and she is not going to have a problem getting shots," Auriemma said. "This kid is a shot magnet, wherever the shots are, that is where she ends up."

If Mosqueda-Lewis' 3 for 12 shooting performance against the Crusaders bothered her, she did a good job of disguising her disgust after the first game of her college career. 

"When you are a shooter, you have to shoot," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "If you miss, you have to forget about the last shot and keep shooting until you get hot. I know our team doesn't look back, we just try to move forward."
UConn officials are encouraging fans to bring canned goods to tonight's men's game and tomorrow's women's contest against Pacific at Gampel Pavilion. The food collected will be donated to the Manchester Area Council and Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Doty welcomed back

As loud as the ovation was from the 6,548 at Gampel Pavilion when Caroline Doty was the fifth and final UConn starter announced before Sunday's season-opening win over Holy Cross, just imagine the decibel level had Doty's first shot of the game - which was the first shot taken in the contest - had found mark.

Still, Doty's first official game in 19 months was a heartwarming one for both her and her teammates.

"It means the world, all the hard work paid off," Doty said. "Having my team, my coaches, Rosemary (Ragle, UConn's trainer) and (UConn strength and conditioning coach) Amanda Kimball support me through this whole recovery, knowing the fans have my back it felt awesome and I am happy."

Doty hit a pair of 3-pointers 28 seconds apart midway through the first half as she finished with nine points, five rebounds and three assists.

"I thought she was great," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "She hasn't played in so long, it is not easy to get back into it no matter how much you practice, no matter how many days you prepare, it is not like being in a game. She did a lot of really great things, all the things I thought she would do. You can see the experience she has had pay off. I thought she stayed within herself for the most part and made the plays I expected her to make."

Doty's first moments in the game included a collision with teammate Bria Hartley as Doty attempted to corral the ball after the opening tip.

"She's been all over the floor in practice, that kind of showed up today," Auriemma said. "She was excited about being out there."

So were her teammates who reveled in the reaction she got from the fans when Doty was introduced as a starter.

"It was amazing," Hayes said. "I can't even explain it. I was waiting for it because she deserves it so much, just for her to be out there was a big (thrill) and I am glad she got to play in another game."

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Geno's Cancer Team is sidelined

If anybody's been wondering why there has been no mention of fundraising events being held under the umbrella of Geno's Cancer Team, it's because the fundraising organization has been shut down.

The issue was that Geno's Cancer Team was at a crossroads and if it was going to continue as a fundraising force it would need to become a corporation. Geno Auriemma and his wife Kathy simply did not have the time to serve as heads of a full-fledged corporation.

"We were thinking in what direction we needed to go in and how we were going to forward with it," Geno Auriemma said after Saturday's practice. "We felt like there are other things we wanted to do, Kathy and I. We needed to be able to do those things and not be tied to one thing and have everything run through the Jimmy V Foundation so we are still going to do a lot of events but it is going to be more spread out and more diverse than it was in the past. There are still a lot of people working for that cause and that hasn't changed it is just our involvement has changed a little bit.

"We had an event (Friday) night at my house and we raised $90,000 for a doctor friend of ours who was going some work on juveline cancer so we are going to have an opportunity to do a lot of things but trying to incorporate and become a corporation became a little more difficult than we wanted it to be and it was just time and we don't have the ability to do that right now."

Veteran Villanova coach Harry Perretta joined the 600-win club when the Wildcats defeated Iona 76-47 in the championship game of the Iona TipOff Classic on Saturday.
Auriemma was asked about his good friend's milestone victory.

"Six hundred wins that is pretty significant," Auriemma said. "Harry has been doing this longer than I have and he's managed to stay the same. He hasn't changed much, he hasn't changed his style of play much and I'd like to see them getting back to being one of the top teams in the league if it is possible. i know it is much more difficult now that it used to be in our league with 16 (teams) instead of eight or nine. They make playing in our league really interesting because they force you to play like nobody else plays so I am never surprised who they win regardless of who they play. They beat teams that you would say they have no business beating because of their style of play and it has been like that for 30-something years.

Of Perretta's 600 wins, none garnered more attention than a 52-48 loss to Villanova in the 2003 Big East final.

"They snapped our streak of 70 in a row," Auriemma said. "I think he knew he had a really good team and he had the right mix at the right time. I remember what a struggle that game was for us. I think we really hit the wall. We were up nine and couldn't put them away. I'll never forget (Nicole) Druckenmiller made a huge shot, they were a heck of a team then and it was probably the best thing that happened to us at that point because we went on to win a national championship. That loss kind of took the air out because those streaks, they take a lot of you. You don't realize it while you are doing it but they take a lot out of you. I am glad it was him. If it was anybody, I am glad it was him and any time you can help make somebody famous, it is a good thing so I hope he appreciates it."

Former Mercy of Middletown star Rachel Roberts had 16 points in the victory and with 31 points in wins over Michigan State and Iona, the junior guard was named the tournament MVP.

Junior Stephanie Mavunga, who was recently quoted as saying she was planning to visit UConn in the near future, had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead her Brownsburg (Ind.) to a 46-39 win over perennial Indianapolis-based power Ben Davis High on Saturday.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rebecca Lobo a Naismith Hall of Fame candidate

According to a story on the website, former UConn star Rebecca Lobo, who led the Huskies the first of their seven national titles, was named as a candidate for the Naismith Hall of Fame - the one of four nominees affiliated with women's basketball.

Lobo played at UConn from 1991-95 and was the 1995 national player of the year after leading UConn to a 35-0 record and national championship. She was the second UConn player to score more than 2,000 points and first Husky to record at least 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Lobo went onto play in the WNBA and is now a highly-recognized figure in the women's basketball world as an ESPN commentator.

Finalists will be announced in late February.


Doty raring to go

The last time Caroline Doty stepped onto the court for an official game, she was helping UConn win the program's seventh national championship back in April of 2010.

Two knee surgeries and a sprained ankle later, Doty is set to suit up for the Huskies again. Doty will start at point guard when UConn hosts Holy Cross in Sunday's season opener.

For the redshirt junior from Doylestown, Pa., dealing with the grueling rehab sessions has not been the only painful part of the process. She has also heard plenty from naysayers that wonder aloud why she continues to put herself through all of this considering the number of physical setbacks she has had to deal with.

"People were saying why don't you give up after three ACL injuries, you killed your ankle, why don't you stop, why do you keep doing it?" Doty said. "Just to prove that no matter what happens, if you work your (butt) off and keep coming day in and day out, your dream is going to come true and you are going to do whatever you want to do with it.

"I came here to play basketball so why would I quit when I have done so much for so long. It's not just for four years but as a kid and in high school when I gave up my weekends to work hard. You just can't give up when you get hit a few times unless the doctor says that 'listen, you will not be able to play because if you do your leg will fall off and you will die. All right (quitting) would be the smart thing to do to not play so if there is not a good, solid reason to say 'you should really back up and not play, you should be smart about it."

Since that is not the case, Doty will draw the starting assignment and figures to receive a thunderous ovation from the fans at Gampel Pavilion tomorrow afternoon.

Her teammates are just as fired up to have Doty back and hoping her days of being sidelined with injuries are over.

"It's been a while," UConn junior Kelly Faris said. "It is definitely a help to have her out there. It helps to have somebody who knows the plays, they know where to direct other people.

"I honestly have said over and over, I don't know how she has done it because the second I have to sit out for a day, I am like 'oh my gosh, get me out of here.' More power to her because I don't know how she has done it but better than anybody I know could have handled it."
Speaking of fans, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he is opposed to the proposed raising of ticket prices to UConn basketball games.

"I really believe that in this time, where we are right now, given the current circumstances (for) me personally, I would hate to see that happen, I really would," Auriemma said. "We are in the business right now of trying to actively (recruit) more fans. I don't know if that is going to lead us to that goal. If we sold out every single game, if there was a waiting list, a line from here to Willimantic then maybe you could make a case and say 'wow, we'll be able to do this' but that is not the case right now. I don't know if anybody is going to ask me my opinion but that is my opinion. You know the e-mails you guys are going to get 'it is to pay your (Auriemma's) salary, that is why the prices are so high. They should look at the coaches' salaries.' I am all for that. If somebody came back and said 'hey, look we just did a study and what you are getting paid, the university is not going to do that any more so you either accept it or go work somewhere else.' I'm OK with that."

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Sunday's not going to be pretty

I took in Holy Cross' season-opening game against Yale on Friday night and took the chance to ask the always quotable Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons about what the return of Caroline Doty could mean to this year's UConn squad. I'll save what he said for my advance which will run in Sunday's Register but when I informed him that both Doty and freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis are expected to play, Gibbons said "Merry Christmas to me."

Gibbons knows what he is in for when Holy Cross plays UConn on Sunday afternoon. The Crusaders just gave up 16 offensive rebounds to an undersized Yale squad, committed 23 turnovers and missed 13 free throws in a 76-71 loss to Yale. Just 41 hours after the game end, Holy Cross will have to face the Huskies and will do so without its top scorer in Friday's game as Gibbons does not want to risk star freshman Emily Parker reinjuring her knee.

"I am not going to play Parker against UConn, I'd be nuts to do that," Gibbons said. "She is coming off the knee injury and it would just be stupid. That is just a different level, we are going to need her for the Patriot League."

Parker was cleared to play on Thursday and the last thing he expected was to see her score 17 points in her first collegiate game.

Gibbons knows it would have been easier for his team had they opened with a win over Yale but the Crusaders lost their season opener for the fifth straight year and are looking at an 0-2 start to the season.

"That is why this game is so big because if you can get a win going to UConn, it is much better than having a loss," Gibbons said. "It happened last year. but we are going down there and compete and try to get better. What are you going to do, the schedule is the schedule that is why I play them and they are not going to take it easy on us. We are going to watch film tomorrow and be ready to go on Sunday."

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Los Angeles wins WNBA Draft lottery

The Los Angeles Sparks will have the No. 1 overall pick after winning the WNBA draft lottery on Thursday.

The Sparks had just 104 out of 1000 chances to win the lottery which was weighted by the record of the four non-playoff teams. Tulsa had the worst record (3-31) and had a 44.2 percent of earning the No. 1 pick but ended up falling to fourth. After Los Angeles will come Chicago and Minnesota (which acquired Washington's pick by trading Nicky Anosike to the Mystics) and Tulsa. Connecticut will have the ninth pick in the draft.

Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike is the leading candidate to be the top pick and she could be a good fit with Los Angeles since Delisha Milton-Jones and Tina Thompson are 37 and 36 years old respectively.

Doty set to return

The expected return of Caroline Doty to practice on Friday was a popular topic after Wednesday's exhibition game against Pace.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma believes Doty is the only true point guard on his team and believes her return will pay dividends for the players around her.

"Caroline is going to practice for sure and she is set to play on Sunday, thank God," Auriemma said. "That will help us an awful lot. "

When the team emerged from the locker room after halftime, Doty was taking part in warmups. Unlike freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who was not in uniform since she was forced to miss the game with a strained calf, Doty was in uniform for the game giving off the aura that she has waited long enough to get back in action.
"Caroline stepped on somebody's foot, turned her ankle and it was (black), they told her it could be two weeks, three weeks, six weeks. She is back in two weeks. Somebody stepped on Brianna Banks' toe and it was eight days so Caroline wants to play - desperately wants to play and she will do whatever she has to do to play. My job is to rein her in a little bit. I am anxious for Sunday myself, I want to see her out there, I want to see what she can do. You really need a player out on the floor kind of brings it all together, that can take different pieces that are out there and pull them all into one whole thing. Somebody like Maya (Moore) could do it or Renee could do it, you need a guard that can do it. Bria is not that yet but Caroline is. Tiffany's not that but Caroline is, those other guys who are more of scorers and Caroline is more of an organizer.

"I was talking to Diana (Taurasi) and said I am kind of getting sick of people asking who is better Diana or Maya. She said we are two different players, Maya is an impact player and I am a facilitator which I think is a great way to describe herself, she made it possible for everybody to do what they did. Caroline is like that, Caroline is a facilitator. Right now we don't have one of those. The team will look much better when we do."

Her teammates are anxiously awaiting the return of Doty, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.

"Caroline brings everything, she brings intensity, hard work and leadership," UConn sophomore center Stefanie Dolson said, "She is always in our huddles saying something. She knows the game so well, she knows what to say in the huddle. She knows what we are doing wrong, what we need to work on. We all look up to her because of how hard she's worked on the court when she has a chance to be on the court. I am really excited for her to be back on the court.

"When you don't play for that long and you have the heart that she has, you are going to go a little crazy."

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

UConn's recruiting class is now official

UConn has received the letters of intent from the three recruits and just handed out a press release about the class of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck.
Jefferson, a 5-foot-7 guard from Glenn Heights, Tex., is a home-schooled athlete who plays for the Texas Home Educators Sports Association Riders. Jefferson has led the Riders to four straight National Christian Home School Basketball Championships. Playing with the team since she was in eighth grade, Jefferson headed into Tuesday’s season opener with 2,541 points, 646 rebounds and 488 steals.
Stewart, a 6-foot-4 forward who is ranked as the top player in all the major recruiting services in the Class of 2012, has also been playing varsity basketball since she was in the eighth grade, has 1,668 points, 996 rebounds, 220 assists, 219 steals and 515 blocks in 93 career games at Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) High. She was a member of the United States’ U-19 and Pan Am Games squads over the summer and was the top scorer and rebounder for both teams.
Following the game, UConn coach Geno Auriemma didn't pull any punches in verbalizing the potential impact of the class.
Tuck, a 6-foot-2 forward, was a teammate of Stewart’s on the gold-medal winning U-19 World Championship team, has 1,539 points, 652 rebounds and 97 assists in 90 career games at Bolingbrook High. As a junior, she led Bolingbrook to its third straight Illinois 4A title and the No. 2 ranking in the USA Today’s final national high school poll.
"This year what we are going to add is as good a threesome as we've had here in a long, long time," Auriemma said. "You can never tell what people are going to do when they get to college but these three, at least two of them have played enough USA Basketball that they are mature enough to know what it's like to play on a good team with really good players. Moriah hasn't had the opportunity to do that but she has played on an AAU that was the best in the country. These three are going to be the difference moving forward. What we have is significant but these three are going to be what puts up back in that category where we can win a national championship."
WIth all due respect to Jefferson and Tuck, who are among the top players in the class, Stewart is being touted as the next big thing at UConn.
"She has something that a lot of kids don't have, she has an incredible competitive spirit about her. She is one of the great competitors I have ever seen," Auriemma said. "Certainly Maya was a competitor, Diana was a competitor, Jen Rizzotti a competitor, Swin Cash a competitor. We've had a ton of competitors. This kid is in the mold of th ebest competitors we have ever recruited here at Connecticut, how hard she plays, how great she wants to be when she wants to impact the game.  I would say based on her her high school career and some of the things she has done in high school, she is as good as any high school player we have ever recruited."
UConn sophomore center Stefanie Dolson played with Stewart and Tuck on the U.S. U-19 team this summer and she spoke about her future teammates.
"I am excited for all of them. Moriah, she is that quick little guard that is going to annoy people on defense and hopefully being a really good point guard for us, pushing the tempo," Dolson said. "Morgan, she is going to be a real key player. She is going to be that hard working Kelly (Faris) type of player, getting rebounds, playing defense and making smart plays all the time. Breanna, she is going to be good. She is going to come in and really go crazy. She will get rebounds, she can block every shot and when she finishes around the basket, she has a great hook shot. She is a really great player.
"It was fun. We know a little bit of how they play so now we just have to get out there and get a feel for how we play. She can play at amy level and be the best player or if not, in the top three. She is a hard worker, she knows her role on every team she plays on and she knows it so well. She is so humble, I love her."

Familiar names doing UConn's ESPN games

ESPN just announced its announcing teams for the regular-season games being televised. Obviously they like the job former UConn star Rebecca Lobo does on UConn games because she is scheduled to be on the broadcasts for all six of UConn's games being shown on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Nov. 21 Stanford (Beth Mowins, Rebecca Lobo) ESPNU, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 6 vs. Texas A&M (Dave O'Brien, Doris Burke, Rebecca Lobo) ESPN2, 7 p.m.
Jan. 16 North Carolina (Pam Ward, Rebecca Lobo) ESPN2, 7 p.m.
Jan. 30 at Duke (Pam Ward, Rebecca Lobo), ESPN2, 7 p.m.
Feb. 13 at Oklahoma (Pam Ward, Rebecca Lobo), ESPN2, 9 p.m.
Feb. 27 Notre Dame (Dave O'Brien, Doris Burke, Rebecca Lobo) ESPN2, 9 p.m.

Doris Burke, who will do the Texas A&M and Notre Dame games, was selected to receive the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award at a ceremony in Indianapolis on Jan. 13.

Hillhouse senior Bria Holmes signed her letter of intent with West Virginia today, on the first day of the early signing period.

In an official release put out by West Virginia announcing its five-member play, Mountaineers coach Mike Carey said “Bria is a great sized guard that can play several positions. She is one of those players that with her size, at 6-foot-1, can go inside out, shoot the three and also take it off the dribble on the fast break. The flexibility of someone like her also gives us a lot of things we can do on both sides of the court. She is highly recruited and we are very excited to have her. She gives us a type of player that we haven’t had here in a very long time.”


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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Injuries making for challenging practices

At this rate, UConn may have to consider running 3 on 3 drills in practice rather than the normal 5 on 5 stuff.

Not only has Caroline Doty been sidelined with an ankle injury, but Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has not practiced since Wednesday's exhibition opener against Assumption with a strained calf. Then Brianna Banks hurt her left ankle while attempted to make a back-door cut on Saturday and two days later she had four wisdom teeth out.

Doty and Mosqueda-Lewis will not play in tomorrow's exhibition game against Pace and Banks, who returned to practice today, isn't guaranteed to be able to go either.

"We are all thinking that we are dropping like flies," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "We need make sure we get ourselves better."

Banks admitted that she wondered what the heck was going on when she followed Doty and Mosqueda-Lewis on the list of gimpy Huskies.

"At practice with eight players it was really different," Banks said. "Saturday I had rehab. I came in at the end of practice and they were struggling a little bit. We felt kind of bad that we couldn't go out there and contribute."

If they were feeling bad, just imagine what UConn coach Geno Auriemma was thinking.

I asked him who would be starting alongside Bria Hartley, Tiffany Hayes, Kelly Faris and Stefanie Dolson when UConn plays Pace tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the XL Center.

"Put on a wig," Auriemma deadpanned. I said I was already injured. "Already injured, you will still move faster than ... That's a good question, I have no idea. That's going to be, if I had a definite fifth starter ...

"What are you going to do. It's par for the course. When these things happen, they happen and you have no control over it. Sometimes they are the oddest things. Fortunately they are nothing that's really serious and long term so in that respect, you have look at the bright side. It is temporary and they haven't missed any regular-season games and hopefully everybody will be ready by Sunday (when UConn opens the regular season against Holy Cross).

Auriemma talked about the decision to start a home and home series with Oregon beginning next season.

"(Nike founder) Phil Knight had talks and thought that the University of Connecticut could play the University of Oregon and that was kind of how the discussion started," Auriemma said. "We thought this would be the time to do it, let's go out there like we did last time when we played Pacific (while out in California to play Stanford), stay out there and play another game. Right now, I am under the assumption it is just one game (and not part of a tournament)."

UConn is also planning to play in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands next year.

"There aren't very many places that are as attractive as that is It just seems like such an easy trip I can't imagine that there's anything that compares to it," Auriemma said.

Auriemma was also asked about the responsibility a head coach assumes for whatever takes place in a program in the wake of some disturbing reports of the actions of a former Penn State assistant football coach. Here's a video off Auriemma's reaction on the situation

Caroline Doty, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis won't play tomorrow

Caroline Doty and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis will not play in UConn's exhibition game because of ankle and calf injuries but both are expected to play Sunday in the Huskies' season opener against Holy Cross.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Moriah Jefferson to sign with UConn on Thursday

I've reached out to the coaches of UConn commits Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck to get an update on when they plan on signing their national letters of intent.

Alan Burt, who coaches Jefferson on the THESA Riders squad which has won five straight National Christian HomeSchool National Championships, said that Moriah is planning to have a signing party on Thursday at 11 a.m. local time (noon here in Connecticut). The event will take place at Crossroads of Life Assembly of God Church in Duncanville, Texas.

Speaking of the THESA Riders, they will open the season on Tuesday at Brock High School.

According to Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) coach Eric Smith said that no ceremony is planned at the school for Stewart to sign her letter and that she will sign the letter at home. He was uncertain which day she will sign the letter.

"To be honest with you I think they will do it when they have a chance at home, they don't have a certain day in mind," Smith said in an e-mail to the Register.

I haven't heard back from Anthony Smith of Bolingbrook (Ill.) High yet but he told me several weeks back that the school is planning to have a signing-party for all the athletes who are signing letters including Tuck.

What this means is that there will likely be no comment from UConn coach Geno Auriemma about the recruiting class after Wednesday's exhibition game against Pace since he prefers to reserve comment until all the letters have been received.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Mosqueda-Lewis makes strong first impression

As 18th birthdays go, it was not a perfect day for UConn freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis but it was pretty close.

The highly-touted 6-footer hut five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, three rebounds, three assists and four steals as UConn defeated Division II Assumption 89-30 in the first exhibition game for the Huskies. Mosqueda-Lewis would have likely added to those number had she not felt some discomfort in her left calf leading to her playing just the first 1:40 of the second half.

"At some point in the game, my calf started hurting," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "It just felt like a pull, I don't know yet. I was out there for a while and told Rosie (UConn trainer Rosemary Ragle) it was bothering me. She said to go out and see if you can play and I played for a couple more minutes and Coach (Geno Auriemma) took me out."

As for the game, Mosqueda-Lewis had her first shot blocked but once she found the range, there was no stopping her.

"In the beginning it was a little rocky but I started to get into a rhythm," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "We were playing good defense as a team and it got rolling from there."

As for her birthday, she did have a full class schedule but her teammates did not forget her special day.

"It was a good day. I had four classes but other than that, I had a good day. It wasn't that bad. Caroline got me first beanie (hat). She said I needed to cover my ears (in the winter). They sang to me and made me skip around the room - tradition."

It was pretty well known that Mosqueda-Lewis is an outstanding shooter but the intensity in which she got after it on the defensive end really impressed me. Apparently, I was not alone.

"The high school that she comes from (Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif.), they picked up full court every possession so their coach did a really good job of instilling in them a certain attitude of how to play defense and she has brought that with her," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "She wants to be a good defender and she is smart. She is in the passing lanes a lot and she is a really good passer. I don't want to make it sound like she is already an All-American. She has a long, long way to go but she has basketball stuff, she knows how to play. She wants to be great, that is the best way to say it  but at the same time, she is going to keep growing because right now she doesn't know how to handle how it is not great for her. That is going to take a little bit of a adjustment.

Senior Tiffany Hayes led UConn with 18 points and was quite proud of getting a double-double with 10 assists. Bria Hartley had 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals, Stefanie Dolson 12 points and 10 rebounds while Kelly Faris had 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Michala Johnson had nine points in nine minutes while freshman Kiah Stokes added seven points and six rebounds.

After the game Hayes was asked about the frame of mind of Doty, who has dealt with a lifetime's worth of injuries in her time at UConn. Doty missed the game with a sprained ankle.

"No matter what, she is such a fighter," Hayes said. "She is definitely going to come back stronger than ever. I just talked to her and she said maybe another week or so. Once she gets back, I just hopes that she stays healthy."

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

HoopHall Classic tickets on sale

Fans who want to see UConn commit Breanna Stewart play in New England, tickets are now on sale for the HoopHall Classic at Springfield College.

Stewart will lead her Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) team against West Springfield (Mass.) High on Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. at Blake Arena. That game will be followed by a contest featuring Christ the King out of Middle Village, N.Y. and super sophomore Sierra Calhoun playing East Longmeadow High at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults and are available by calling (413) 781-6500 or by visiting the Hall of Fame during regular business hours.

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Freshmen looking forward to first "game"

Tomorrow night's contest against Assumption will not go down as an official game for the UConn women's basketball team but don't try telling that to the three freshmen.

For 2 1/2 weeks Brianna Banks, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes have been going through grueling practices, both physically and mentally, under the watchful eyes of Hall of Fame head coach Geno Auriemma and his coaching staff.

Finally they will get to see how they react under game conditions when Division II Assumption meets the Huskies in the first of two exhibition games.

"I am ready for a game," Stokes said. "It's tough going against everybody in practice.
"I feel pretty good. Kaleena is doing amazing in practice, Brianna has definitely gotten a lot better so we are looking forward to playing in our first real game situation."

Perhaps nobody is more anxious for Thursday's game than Mosqueda-Lewis, the first of the trio to commit to UConn and the one freshman expected to start against the Hounds in place of the injured Caroline Doty.

"I am finally going to be able to play out there with the team after being committed for so long," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "It is kind of like a dream come true that I am finally playing for Connecticut and getting a chance to start."

Mosqueda-Lewis committed to UConn before the start of her junior year so it's easy to excuse for her if she feels like she's spent a lifetime waiting for this moment.

"It does feel like forever," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "It feels like I committed when I was 3 years old and now I am finally getting the chance to play when I am 50."
With Doty out with a sprained ankle, Banks could see even more time at point guard against Assumption.

Having not played there before arriving at UConn, it's been a challenge for feel comfortable.

"At times it has been overwhelming but I am sure I will get used to it," Banks said. "I am little nervous but excited at the same time.

"I have come a long way since summer. I can actually stand up at practice without dying."

Banks said she has been able to limit the number of turnovers with the more time she has spent playing the point in practice. But it is still a long process getting adjusted to the speed of the college game.

 When we played in Italy, I figured that out, I figured that our big time," Banks said. "In high school, it is a slow pace, we are jogging. Here, it is so quick, everything is so fast."

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Geno Auriemma gives his thoughts on latest Big East rumors

With word leaking out of the meeting of the Big East presidents that the conference plans to extend invitations for Houston, Central Florida and Southern Methodist to join in all sports while Boise State, Air Force and Navy could be added as football-only schools, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was asked for his opinion on the matter.

As is his custom, he did not hold back especially when the talk turned to West Virginia trying to bypass the 27-month waiting period to leave the Big East.

"I don't know what you can do about people leaving a conference or anything. You can make the exit fee $5 million, $10 million, $20 million, $30 million," Auriemma said. "If somebody doesn't want to be a part of something, they are not going to be a part of it. They are going to leave. You are kind of at their mercy. The only thing you can do is try to stay ahead of the game and position yourself so that you are acting proactively instead of reacting to what is going on. What are you supposed to do? Constantly be on the lookout to grab somebody? Is that going to be your whole focus of running your conference? You go to work every day and say 'How are our football programs? How are our basketball programs? What are we going to do when we have the men's tournament or the women's tournament? Are you going to try to get this school or that school? Who are we looking to steal right now.' I don't know if that is the way you are supposed to do things but certainly it has come to the point when nothing is safe anymore. There is nothing that is out of bounds.

"If that is the rule, 27 months or 50 million. What's the number? If you sign a contract and it says 27 months, it is 27 months. Those are decisions that are in a different office from where I live so I don't know what the answer is."

When Auriemma looked back at the Big East's history, he sounded like a proud family member.

"The Big East must be incredibly good if everybody is always trying to take our schools. We must have had an unbelievable conference so every other conference in the country is like 'we can't allow this to go on any longer. This has the chance to be the greatest basketball conference in history? Now under the auspices of football, let's break up this basketball league, let's destroy the Big East basketball league. If this kept going, this whole basketball thing, I don't think there's anybody in America who would ever have anything remotely close to what we had going "


Caroline Doty won't play against Assumption but Tiffany Hayes sure will

The biggest news to come out of UConn's open practice on Tuesday is that Caroline Doty sprained her ankle last week and will not play in the Huskies' exhibition opener against Assumption (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.).

Unlike her knee injuries which have kept her sidelined quite often, the ankle injury is relatively minor.

"She landed on somebody's foot," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "It just takes a long time to come back form the ACL thing and you get a little gingery. You are taking it one step at a time and you aren't sure. She was just starting to really go hard and she stepped on the kid's foot but she was out there today dribbling and moving around so hopefully it won't be too much longer.
"With those things, you keep icing it, keep doing the rehab and do what you do and when it is good it is good. You just don't know exactly how many days it is going to be. I am thinking a week or so."

In Doty's place, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is expected to start. Auriemma said that Mosqueda-Lewis has been the most consistent of the three freshmen. Mosqueda-Lewis, the top-rated recruit in the country, is excited for the opportunity.'

"Coach doesn't just give the starting spot away," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "There is pressure to be that person. I am excited to be able to start. If I didn't start, I wouldn't be upset about it but if I get a chance, I am going to try to do my best."

While Auriemma was quite complimentary of Mosqueda-Lewis, he was downright glowing in his praise of senior Tiffany Hayes.

"I think the best player in practice since practice started has been Tiffany Hayes, no question about it," Auriemma said. "Tiffany Hayes right now as a basketball player is 50 percent better than she was at any point in her career. No question about it. It's not one thing, it's everything. She just has complete command in what she is doing and what we are doing.
"We were just saying this the other day, how would you describe Tiffany Hayes. She has become a
way better basketball player, way better, a real complete basketball player. It has been really good to see."

Hayes has taken motivation from her mediocre performance in a season-ending loss to Notre Dame in the Final Four.
"The last game last year definitely was motivation," Hayes said. "That game, sometimes looking back on it, you don't dwell on it but at the same time I look back on it an you want to get better from that point on.
"After I got over it, in a couple of weeks, I thought  about it that I want to be the one helping my team, not hurting it so that was why whatever aspect of the game they wanted me to work on, I tried to work on this summer."

Among those in attendance at Gampel Pavilion were former Huskies Sue Bird and Kalana Greene.

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UConn fourth in coaches poll

The ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll was just released and it is nearly identical to the Associated Press poll released on Saturday.

Baylor is No.1 is both polls and the top five is the same in both polls including UConn checking in at No. 4 in both polls.

Baylor is followed by Notre Dame, Tennessee, UConn and Stanford in both polls (although UConn did pick up two first-place votes from the coaches). The top nine teams are the same in both polls as defending national champion Texas A&M, Miami, Duke and Louisville are ranked sixth-ninth. The only difference in the top 10 is that Georgetown is 10th in the AP poll while Maryland is No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

No UConn players on AP preseason All-American team

Baylor junior center Brittney Griner, selected by all 40 voters, led the preseason Associated Press All-American team which featured no UConn players.

Griner was joined on the squad by Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, Nneka Ogwumike of Stanford, Shenice Johnson of Miami and Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen.

Griner joins former UConn stars Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi, Tennessee products Chamique Holdsclaw and Candace Parker, Duke's Alana Beard, Oklahoma's Courtney Paris and Seimone Augustus as unanimous preseason All-Americans with Moore accomplishing the feat twice. Five of those seven (Moore, Taurasi, Holdsclaw, Parker and Augustus) ended up being No. 1 overall picks in the WNBA draft.

UConns Tiffany Hayes and Stefanie Dolson did receive honorable mention status.

For the sake a full disclosure, I am one of the 40 AP voters and my ballot ended up being the team listed above.