Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Asjha Jones helps Rivas Ecopolis into EuroLeague Final Eight

Former UConn star Asjha Jones had 13 points and eight rebounds as Rivas Ecopolis defeated Bourges Basket 64-56 on Wednesday to become the final team to qualify for the EuroLeague quarterfinals. Rivas Ecopolis earned the No. 4 seed in the tournament.

UConn will be well represented in the playoffs. Top-seeded Fenerbahce is led by former Huskies Tina Charles and Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore is a star for second-seeded Ros Casares while Sue Bird and Svetlana Abrosimova play for seventh-seeded UMMC Ekaterinburg.

As I mentioned on a blog entry a few days ago, UConn's Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis are among 32 players on the midseason ballot for the Naismith Trophy. The winner of the Naismith Trophy will be announced on April 1.

Geno Auriemma is among 32 coaches up for Naismith's coach of the year award.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Take a shot at predicting Big East award winners

Trying to predict how 16 coaches, who probably couldn't agree on what time it is, will cast their ballots for the Big East all-conference honors is challenging to say the least. But I'll give it my best shot. The major awards (Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year) will be announced at a press conference on Friday at the XL Center while the other honors are expected to be released tomorrow.

First team
Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame; Bria Hartley, UConn; Tiffany Hayes, UConn; Anna Martin, DePaul; Nadirah McKenith, St. John's; Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn; Natalie Novosel, Notre Dame; Devereaux Peters, Notre Dame; Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown; Shoni Schimmel, Louisville; Da'Shena Stevens, St. John's
Second team
Kayla Alexander, Syracuse; Asya Bussie, West Virginia; Christal Caldwell, West Virginia; Jasmine Crew, Seton Hall; Iasia Hemingway, Syracuse; Dayeesha Hollins, Cincinnati; Katherine Plouffe, Marquette; Khadijah Rushdan, Rutgers; Shenneika Smith, St. John's; Jasmine Wynne, South Florida

Coach of the Year: Kim Barnes Arico, St. John's
Certainly Muffet McGraw could win this one after leading the Fighting Irish to its first outright Big East title but history has shown that league coaches tend to rewards coaches of teams which make the biggest jump from the preseason coaches' poll to the final regular-season standings. St. John's was picked seventh and tied for second so that's why I'm picking Barnes Arico. West Virginia coach Mike Carey would be another good choice.

Player of the year: Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame
Diggins clinched this thing Monday night in my eyes as she came up big when the Fighting Irish were trailing UConn Monday night. There are those who think Natalie Novosel is Notre Dame's best player while Sugar Rodgers of Georgetown  is another player who figures to be in the running.

Defensive Player of the Year: Kelly Faris, UConn
Faris doesn't put up gaudy defensive statistics as she isn't in the top 10 in either steals or blocked shots but she is the top defender on a team leading all Division I teams in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. That should count for something.

Sixth Man of the Year: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn
Mosqueda-Lewis finished ninth in the Big East with a scoring average of 14.6 points (in conference games) while starting just one game. Enough said.

Most Improved Player: Anna Martin, DePaul
This should be a three-player race. Martin went from averaging 10.8 points to 19, Seton Hall's Jasmine Crew scored 18.5 points per game which is up from 11.6 a year ago while South Florida's Jasmine Wynne made the most substantial jump as she went from putting up 3.4 points per game to averaging 15.6 points a contest.

Freshman of the Year: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn
Four freshmen averaged at least 10 points per game in Big East games but with all due respect to Pittsburgh's Brianna Kiesel, Marquette's Arlesia Morse and DePaul's Brittany Hrynko, if Mosqueda-Lewis doesn't win this award it would be a stunner of the year.

Sportsmanship Award: Keisha Hampton, DePaul
This is always the toughest award to predict because it goes much deeper than on-court performance but Hampton was held in high enough regard to address the crowd at the Big East media day, is a decorated student/athlete and it would a nice honor for a player who is forced to be a reluctant spectator because of a season-ending knee injury

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Natalie Novosel, Notre Dame
The only Big East player to be named a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, Novosel had a 3.9 grade-point average in 2011. Da'Shena Stevens, a Senior CLASS candidate who was an academic all-district pick as a junior would be another worthy choice.

All-Freshman team
Lauren Burford, Villanova; Shawnta' Dyer, Louisville; Brittany Hrynko, DePaul; Brianna Kiesel, Pittsburgh; Betnijah Laney, Rutgers; Arlesia Morse, Marquette; Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn; Apew Oluju, Marquette; Bria Smith, Louisville; Kiah Stokes, UConn

Labels: ,

Score: Notre Dame media 1, UConn media 0

The allegations that former Notre Dame forward Becca Bruszewski opened the UConn locker room door and yelled "it sucks to be you" after Notre Dame beat the Huskies in the 2011 Final Four was printed in a couple of blogs, uttered during the broadcast (without naming Bruszewski) of Monday night's UConn/Notre Dame game. Two columnists wrote about the subject with one citing a UConn source and one not.

I was aware of the allegation but felt it was inappopriate to run with it in either a blog or story unless I gave Notre Dame a chance to respond. Had Monday's game been played in the afternoon, I would have taken the opportunity to do just that but with a 9 p.m. start that simply was not an option.

So I will take this time to credit Curt Rallo from the South Bend Tribune to practicing some actual journalism by contacting Bruszewski and speaking to Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw about the subject. McGraw confirmed to Rallo that UConn coach Geno Auriemma brought up the issue to McGraw in May and she said her players denied that ever happened. In the days leading up to the game no UConn player would confirm that it this ever happened.

I have multiple issues with this whole "story." First, Bruszewski is accused of doing this back in April and no rumblings of this emerged when UConn and Notre Dame played in January. Second, Bruszewski isn't even a member of the Notre Dame so I'm not sure what this has to do the current UConn/Notre Dame teams. Finally, if this is merely a motivational ploy by the UConn coaching staff that says quite a bit about this UConn team that they needed extra motivation going into a game where they had a chance to earning a share of the Big East regular-season title as well facing a team which beat them earlier in this season and eliminated them from the 2011 NCAA tournament.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mosqueda-Lewis wins Big East Freshman of the Week for eighth time

UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis earned Big East Freshman of the Week honors for the eighth time after averaging 20 points and 3 rebounds in games against Pittsburgh, Marquette and Notre Dame.

The eight honors puts her alone in second on the Big East's all-time list trailing just the 10 earned by Maya Moore in the 2007-08 season.

Skylar Diggins was named the player of the week after averaging 19.7 points and 6 assists as Notre Dame finished off a run to its first outright Big East regular-season crown.

UConn will return to action in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament on Sunday around 8:30 p.m. The winner of Friday's Cincinnati/Marquette game will play Rutgers on Saturday with the winner moving on to meet up with third-seeded UConn.


UConn questioning its own toughness

When Candace Parker, Shannon Bobbitt and other questioned UConn's toughness after beating the Huskies in this very same building back in January of 2007, there was a collective sense of outrage coming out of the Connecticut camp.

Well after Monday night's loss to Notre Dame in the regular-season finale at the XL Center, there were more questions about the fighting spirit of a Connecticut team but this time the questioning came from the players as well as head coach Geno Auriemma.

"They put great pressure on us and we backed up, we didn't fight back," UConn sophomore center Stefanie Dolson said. "We didn't play Connecticut basketball at all. When things weren't going right, we just took it 1 on 1 to the basket. It cant be like that. When things like that happen, you have to fight back as a team. The five people who are out there (have to) know what's going on, know what we are running and execute. We didn't play Connecticut basketball."

When asked about his team's lack of fight, Auriemma didn't hold back.

"No, we have none. If they had it, it would have come out. When Maya left, she took all of it with her and we have been trying to find 'where is it?' If anybody comes from Mars lands in this room in the next five minutes and says 'man that coach must be in deep (trouble) with his bosses. They must be 4-27 and we are (26) and 4 but our team has no fight., I will tell you a lot of good things that our team does but that is not one of them, You know what kind of fighters we are? We are the kind of fighters that throws punches and if you back up we will keep punching you but if you punch us back we are going to run and hide, I don't think you win any world championships doing that."

Tiffany Hayes, the team's only senior, believes her squad does have some moxie and spunk.

"We have to not let ourselves get pushed back, we have to fight," Hayes said. "We can't just talk about it, we have to do it. It has been happening to us a lot this year, we just have to dig deep inside ourselves and learn how to fight back when somebody gets us back on our heels. I know we have it. I have seen it before, I have seen it in practice and in games, we just have to learn to dig down and get it whenever we need it."

Auriemma had seen enough when he called his final timeout with 3:11 to play. He pulled Hayes, Dolson, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Kelly Faris and Bria Hartley and finished the game with Brianna Banks, Lauren Engeln, Kiah Stokes, Heather Buck and Michala Johnson.

"If you only knew how many times we come out of a timeout and we do absolutely nothing that looks like anything that you could possibly imagine we need to be doing and you ask three guys and they have no idea what you were talking about in the huddle so at that point it is pointless," Auriemma said.

Hayes, who had a game-high 22 points, was hoping to remain on the court so the Huskies could make one last push even if UConn was down 13 at that point.

"I was just saying that we had three minutes and if we came together, we had a chance," Hayes said. "I guess the other five, he wanted to give them a chance and we had to sit and cheer."

UConn signee Morgan Tuck saw her high school career (except for the WBCA and McDonald's All-American games) end when her Bolingbrook (Ill.) team lost to Whitney Young 74-65 in 4 overtimes in the Illnois 4A quarterfinals.

Tuck finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds but failed to score in the final three overtime sessions.

UConn incoming freshman Breanna Stewart is one of three finalists for the Miss New York Basketball award.

Joining Stewart, a 6-foot-4 senior forward for Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) High, as finalists are Shenendehowa senior guard Emily Weber and Aquinas High guard Nicole Bini. Weber is committed to Canisius while Bini will play at Saint Rose next year.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, February 27, 2012

My unofficial Big East seedings

According to my math everything is set in the seeding of the Big East tournament except for the No. 2/3 seeds.

Notre Dame clinched the No. 1 seed before the start of play, Georgetown and West Virginia will be the fourth and fifth seeds. Rutgers is No. 6 and Louisville seventh based on th Scarlet Knights' win over Louisville. DePaul and South Florida are No. 8 and 9 and will square off in the first round on Friday. Villanova jumps to 10th after beating Syracuse followed by Cincinnati and Syracuse. Providence (No. 13), Marquette (No. 14), Seton Hall (No. 15) and Pittsburgh (No. 16) round out the field.

UConn's title streak in jeopardy

UConn does not often find itself in the position it was in on Monday night.

The Huskies loss to Notre Dame in January and defeat to St. John's last week puts the Huskies in the position of needing to beat the Fighting Irish just to secure a share of the Big East regular-season title.

UConn doesn't particularly like to share Big East titles, only doing so during the 1989-90 season (Providence), 1997-98 (Rutgers) and 2000-01 (Notre Dame).

"Obviously we wouldn't want to share it because we kind of screwed ourselves on that one, we kind of lost that opportunity but this is by far our last chance," UConn junior forward Kelly Faris said. "We lost a couple others and we still had more of the season to try to fix it. This time, it is still there and still up for grabs but we have to get it right this time and there is no room for mistakes this time. It is a good feeling to know it is still there but at the same time it is very little room for mistakes."

It is an opinion shared by her head coach.

"If you are trying to win a championship, you are always trying to figure out what do we have to do to win it," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Once we lost the Notre Dame game, we have an opportunity if we win every game so it is like a playoff game. When we were undefeated we were trying to win every game to stay undefeated in the league so that is kind of like a playoff game. League games, I think should be like that, league games should be similar to playoff games."

Labels: ,

UConn's Big East seeding still up for grabs

St. John's took care of business, rallying for a 54-45 victory over Georgetown meaning that UConn needs to win tonight in order to secure not only a share of the Big East title but also the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big East tournament.

Had Georgetown beaten St. John's, UConn would have been guaranteed of having the No. 2 seed. The result also means that Georgetown will be the fourth seed. However, if Notre Dame beats UConn the Huskies will end up being seeded third since it lost its head to head meeting with St. John's.

Top-seeded Notre Dame, UConn, St. John's and Georgetown will all receive double byes into Sunday's quarterfinals. The No. 2 seed will play at 6 p.m. on Sunday with the No. 3 seed to follow likely with a tip in the 8:30 range.

Moriah Jefferson leads THESA Riders to regional title

As promised here's some info on how UConn signee Moriah Jefferson did in the Texas Home School Basketball Championships thanks to her coach Alan Burt.

Jefferson played in just the first quarter of the first two games as the Riders rolled to convincing wins over Victoria and Sulphur Springs. Jefferson had 17 points as the Riders defeated Abilene 67-47 in the semifinals. In the championship game she had 25 points, four rebounds, three assists, five steals, one turnover and three 3-pointers in a 58-39 win over the Lubbock Titans. The tournament also served as a regional qualifier for the nationals which begin on Mar. 19 in Springfield, Mo. She earned a spot on the all-tournament team and was named to the all-state and all-region teams.

Voting for the Naismith national player and coach of the year awards began today.

Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis are among 32 players on the ballot while Geno Auriemma is one of 32 coaches (including eight from the Big East) up for the national award.

Labels: , , ,

Overseas update

The website is reporting that former UConn stars Nykesha Sales and Charde Houston have been signed by SK Cesis in Latvia and Maccabi Ramat Hen in Israel respectively.

Staying on the subject of former Huskies playing overseas, if Asjha Jones can lead her Rivas Ecopolis to a victory on Thursday that would mean that half of the EuroLeague quarterfinalists will feature former UConn stars.

Jones averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds as Rivas Ecopolis split the first two games with Bourges Basket to set up a decisive third game on Wednesday. It's just one of the two first-round series needing a third game to decide things.

Maya Moore averaged 18.5 points per game as Ros Casares swept CCC Polkovice while Sue Bird averaged 19.5 points as UMMC Ekaterinburg topped Good Angels Kosice in two games. Svetlana Abrosimova is also a member of Ekaterinburg while Diana Taurasi and Tina Charles are members of a star-studded Galatasaray squad.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taking a stab at Big East scenarios

With one game left in the regular season, there's still plenty to be determined for the upcoming Big East tournament as (according to my unofficial breakdown) only top seeded Notre Dame, No. 5 West Virginia, No. 14 Marquette, No. 15 Seton Hall and No. 16 Pittsburgh are locked into their seeds.

Here's what I came up with and thankfully by the time UConn tips off tomorrow night a little after 9 p.m., we should have a clear picture of which teams will be bracketed where.

Here we go:
Notre Dame (14-1 at UConn): Win or loss the Fighting Irish will be the top seed
UConn (13-2 vs. Notre Dame): Will be second seed with a win or St. John's loss. Would be third seed with loss and St. John's win
St. John's (12-3 at Georgetown): Seeded second with win and UConn loss, No. 3 with a win and UConn win, No. 4 with loss to Georgetown
Georgetown (11-4 vs. St. John's): Seeded third with a win; fourth with a loss since Hoyas beat West Virginia
West Virginia (10-5 vs. Pittsburgh): Locked into fifth since it will lose head to head tiebreaker with Georgetown but would win tiebreaker with Rutgers and Louisville
Rutgers (9-6 vs. Marquette): Sixth with a win or Louisville loss; seventh with loss and Louisville win; eighth with loss and wins by Louisville and DePaul
Louisville (9-6 at Seton Hall): Sixth with win and Rutgers loss; seventh with loss or Rutgers win
DePaul (8-7 vs. Cincinnati):  Eighth with a win or South Florida loss; ninth with loss and South Florida win
South Florida (7-8 vs. Providence): Eighth win a win and DePaul loss; ninth with a loss or DePaul win
Cincinnati (6-9 at DePaul): 10th with a win (based on victory over Syracuse); 11th win a loss and Villanova win over Syracuse
Syracuse (6-9 at Villanova): Ninth with win and losses by Cincinnati and South Florida; 10th with a win, a win by South Florida and loss by Cincinnati; 11th with a loss and Cincinnati win.
Villanova (5-10 vs. Syracuse): Will be seeded 10th with a win and Cincinnati loss; 11th with win and Cincinnati win; 12th with loss
Providence (5-10 at South Florida): Would be 12th with a win and Villanova loss; 13th with loss or Villanova win
Marquette (4-11 at Rutgers): Locked into No. 14
Seton Hall (1-14) vs. Louisville): Locked in at No. 15
Pittsburgh (0-15 at West Virginia): Locked in at No. 16

The first half of the league was easier to figure out than the bottom half. Case in point, if South Florida, Syracuse and Cincinnati were to finish with 7-9 records the head to head tiebreaker would not be able to be utilized since each team would finish 1-1. Next would be record against team with best record in the conference. Both South Florida and Cincinnati would own wins over DePaul which would eliminate Syracuse and then South Florida would win the head to head tiebreaker. I'm hoping I addressed every scenario although it can get a little convoluted trying to address every possibility with the teams fighting it out for the 10th, 11th and 12th seeds.

Here's another scenario which could take some work to wade through. If Cincinnati loses to DePaul, Providence beats South Florida and Villanova beats Syracuse that would create a fourth-team logjam at 6-10. Villanova would jump over both Cincinnati and Syracuse based on head to head results and then Cincinnati would be placed ahead of Syracuse. Providence lost to the other three teams and could not win the tiebreaker against the other three teams.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another title for Moriah Jefferson, THESA Riders

I don't have the individual details at the current time but do know that UConn signee Moriah Jefferson led her THESA Riders to the Texas Home School Basketball Championship title.

The Riders went 4-0 in the tournament and had a margin of victory of 26.8 points. In Saturday's championship game in Frisco, Tex., the THESA Riders defeated the Lubbock Titans 58-39. Next up is the National Christian Home School Basketball Championships beginning on Mar. 19 in Springfield, Mo. The Riders are the five-time defending champions.


Notre Dame clinches No. 1 seed in Big East tournament

Wins today by Notre Dame and St. John's means that Notre Dame will have the top seed in the Big East tournament regardless of what happens in Monday night's game between UConn and ND.

Barring a second-half meltdown against Marquette, a win by UConn on Monday will give the Huskies a share of the Big East regular-season title. Head to head results since they split two games during the regular season. The next tiebreaker is record against the next best team in the conference. This is where it gets interesting. St. John's beat UConn while West Virginia owns a win against Notre Dame. If West Virginia finished ahead of St. John's, UConn would win the tiebreaker based on a better record against the Mountaineers. However, St. John's win over Villanova guaranteed that the Red Storm will finish ahead of West Virginia in the standings meaning that Notre Dame will earn the top seed.

If UConn loses to Notre Dame and St. John's beats Georgetown, UConn would be the third seed since both the Huskies and Red Storm would finish 13-3 in the standings and the Red Storm's win over the Huskies would make them the higher-seeded team.

The Big East tournament begins on Friday with four games. UConn would not play until Sunday. If the Huskies are seeded second they would play at 6 p.m. If they are seeded third, they would not take the court until 8 p.m. at the earliest in the fourth and last quarterfinal of the day.

With Seton Hall beating Pittsburgh today in a matchup of teams looking for their first conference win, Seton Hall clinches the 15th seed and Pitt will be seeded 16th in the tournament. I'll look closer at the other scenarios tomorrow

Friday, February 24, 2012

USA Basketball announce pre-Olympic training plans

USA Basketball announced the training schedule and exhibition games for the U.S. squad in July as the squad, coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma, will make the final preparation in the quest for a fifth-straight gold medal.

After the WNBA breaks for the Olympics the U.S. squad will gather at American University in Washington, D.C. for practices on July 14 and 15. On July 16 there will be a doubleheader between the U.S. and Brazil at American's Bender Arena with the men's game tipping at 5:30 p.m. followed by the women's contest at 8 p.m. Then the teams will leave for London, the site of the Olympics. After a day of practice the U.S. women's squad will play Great Britain in an exhibition on July 18. Among the players on Great Britain's squad is former Cheshire Academy star Johannah Leedham. Then from July 20-24 the U.S. will play in a tournament in Istanbul hosted by Turkey. The other two teams and schedule will be announced later.

Tickets for the exhibition game in Great Britain will be available starting March 6 by calling +44 (0)844 847 8000 or visit Ticket information for the exhibition games in Washington, D.C. will be released at a later date.

"I think any opportunity that we get to train is vital," Auriemma said.  "The game in Washington, D.C., against Brazil gives us an opportunity to see right away what we have. What are some of our strengths? What are some of our weaknesses? It is a great send-off. There should be a lot of fanfare for our team. These are phenomenal athletes and I want the entire country to back them. So, this will be a great opportunity to send them off.

"Going to England to play helps us find out a little more about our team, it gives us a little more recognition. It will bring a little more excitement, get people talking about and engaged in the team.

"Finally, the tournament in Istanbul is going to be huge. To be able to go there and play against some great teams, spend all that time together, really come together as a group and form those bonds that you really need to have to go forward will be very important for us. That whole experience, the games in Washington, Manchester, Istanbul, they're going to be instrumental in deciding what kind of team we're going to be."
There were no details given of plans to hold a training camp in May on the East Coast. Look for those details and the naming of the 12-member U.S. Olympic team to be coming at a later date.

I don't have any details otgher than the final score but the THESA Riders opened play in the Texas Home School State Basketball Playoffs with a 68-23 win over the Victoria Cobras on Thursday. Next up is a game today agains the CHESS Knights and with a win the THESA Riders, led by UConn signee Moriah Jefferson, will play either the Abilene Hawks of Dallas HSAA in the winners' bracket final tonight. The championship game is set for 3 p.m. tomorrow in Frisco, Tex. which is 2 p.m. here in Connecticut.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

UConn recruit honored

UConn signee Morgan Tuck has been named the player of the year on the Chicago Sun-Times All-Area team after averaging 31.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.7 steals during her senior season at Bolingbrook (Ill.) High. Making Tuck's numbers all the more impressive is she is one of eight Bolingbrook seniors who are committed to Division I programs.

She is joined on the All-Area team by her Bolingbrook team and Penn commit Keiera Ray, fellow Naismith national player of the year finalists Jewell Loyd and Linnae Harper as well as Yale commit Meredith Boardman.

Tuck had 30 points and eight rebounds to lead Bolingbrook to a 75-46 win over Benet on Thursday in the Neuqua Valley Sectional final. Now Tuck's Bolingbrook team will play against Harper and Whitney Young in the Illinois 4A quarterfinals on Monday. The game is worthy of being the state championship game since the Chicago Tribune has Bolingbrook ranked first and Whitney Young second in its girls' basketball poll. In the national poll on the USA Today website, Whitney Young is ranked second and Bolingbrook fourth. That's one heck of a quarterfinal matchup.

At a Friday morning press conference in Orlando, USA Basketball will announce its plans for training camps leading up to the Olympics. The press conference is part of the NBA All-Star Game festivities in Orlando and will be televised live on NBA TV beginning at 9 a.m.

Former UConn star Nykesha Sales, a former star with the WNBA's Orlando franchiise before it relocated to Connecticut, is scheduled to be among WNBA former and current stars taking part in some events including the "NBA Cares Hospital Visit" and "NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service" on Friday.


Geno talks about parity

Even before his team suffered a loss to unranked St. John's on Saturday, UConn coach Geno Auriemma noticed the upsets and near misses suffered by some of the nation's elite teams. So when he met with the media after Thursday's practice, he addressed the issue of parity - or at least women's basketball's version of parity that has seeming impacted every team not named Baylor.

"It is diffiuclt for Baylor to lose because they have such a dominant imposing figure (Brittney Griner) that it makes it doifficult to match up with that. Odyssey Sims and they probably have the most unique set of circumstances in the country," Auriemma said. "I think most teams are struggling trying to find that consistency day in and day out. I don't kow how many great upperclassmen are playing college basketball this year so you have a lot of young teams, some teams that are trying to find themselves and you have what has been happening that the team that is clearly the better team and they lose for whatever reason. I have noticed it, there are not a lot of great upperclassmen like there were last year or the year before."

UConn recruiting target Saniya Chong took in Thursday's practice at Gampel Pavilion and met with the players and coaching staff after the game. The junior guard at Ossising (N.Y.) has recently appeared on UConn's recruiting radar and all three assistant coaches have been her play in the last couple of weeks.

There are about 1,500 tickets remaining for Monday's game against Notre Dame, which could be for the Big East regular-season title. Also, the only WNBA team set to scout Monday's game is Connecticut.

Labels: ,

Major award for Delle Donne

Delaware junior Elena Delle Donne, a former UConn recruit who is the nation's leading scorer, was named the Academic All-American of the Year. North Carolina's Tyler Zeller was the winner of the men's award.

Delle Donne, an early education major who carries a 3.6 grade-point average, also led the CoSIDA first team Academic All-American team. She is joined on the first team by Houston's Roxana Button, Caroline Durbin of New Mexico, Oregon's Amanda Johnson and Glory Johnson of Tennessee.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A little tooth repair for Caroline Doty

Caroline Doty had one of her teeth knocked out (while committing a foul from behind) early in Saturday's loss to St. John's.

UConn just sent out a statement says that the tooth has been repaired. It is one of the same teeth she had knocked out during an AAU tournament between her junior and senior years in high school.

Doty should be in the lineup when UConn plays at Pittsburgh tomorrow night.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Welcome to the real world

Back in December I remember watching the first half of the St. John's/Baylor game at Madison Square Garden and thinking to myself that when Da'Shena Stevens comes back after her offseason knee surgery, St. John's is not going to be a fun team to play especially later in the year. Then St. John's point guard Nadirah McKenith went down with what appeared to be a torn ACL in the same game and I wondered if it just wasn't meant to be for this St. John's team.

Well, McKenith's injury was not as serious as it appeared to be. She missed just three games and Stevens is back playing to the form that she displayed throughout her remarkable career at St. John's. A team with a rock-solid point guard like McKenith, go-to scorer like Stevens and athletic wings like Shenneika Smith and Eugeneia McPherson is one that I thought could test the vaunted UConn defense and offense.

Did they ever. Other than failing to protect the 3-point line late in the first half and second half, there was little wrong with the Huskies' defensive effort but offensively, they were never on the same page.

As a result UConn lost its first home game since 2007, suffered its first loss at Gampel in six years and first home loss to an unranked team since 1993.

"There are a lot of teams that are ranked that aren't as good as St. John's so you look at it and winning that many games is hard to fathom no matter whether you are ranked, unranked, conference, non-conference," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "We have done some thing that the average person and other basketball coaches find (inconceivable). When you tell them they say that can't be possible and yet we have done it. It is a blessing and a curse. It is great that we have been able to put up those kinds of numbers, the consistency of our program day in and day out but the coaches, we don't know any of that stuff. We don't pay attention to any of that stuff. They (UConn's players) don't know that the list time St. John's beat us was 1993, what do they know. They just know that we play at home and we are supposed to win and a day like (Saturday) is a reminder of 'no you aren't supposed to win all the time, you are only supposed to win when you play really well and you beat the other team at certain parts of the game.' Well, if we don't beat you in the paint, in the turnovers and we don't beat you in the second-chance (points) then we don't deserve to win I don't care if we won 900 in a row at home. If you don't do the things you are supposed to do to give yourself a chance to win, you don't deserve to win."

The good news is that the goals that UConn began with are still attainable. If UConn wins its final three regular-season games, the Huskies will earn at least a share of the Big East regular-season title and the Huskies are still a major contender to win both the Big East and NCAA tournaments.

The big question is whether this loss will have a similar impact that the loss to Villanova in the 2003 Big East final had for the Huskies that season. That year UConn's players refocused and promptly won six straight games to win the second of three straight national titles. Or will the loss resemble what happened in 2007 when UConn's tumble to Rutgers in the Big East final served as a warning that the Huskies weren't emotionally ready to make a run at a national championship.

Saturday night stunner

Everything was in place for a coronation. All UConn had to do was beat unranked St. John's to record the program's 100th straight home win and send senior Tiffany Hayes off with a 71-0 record at Gampel Pavilion in her four years at UConn.

However, a St. John's team which gave No. 1 Baylor and No. 4 Notre Dame tussles before fading late, had other ideas.

Shenneika Smith hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 8.1 seconds to play and Bria Hartley missed a 3 at the buzzer as UConn suffered its first loss at Gampel since a 60-56 loss to Rutgers on Feb. 7, 2006.

Smith had no attempted a 3-pointer in her last six games and hadn't made one in her previous eight games.

"The kid makes a 3, she was on a roll she might have made her last one," UConn coach Geno Auriemma deadpanned after the game.

Keeping the laugh track rolling, I asked St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico where she would rank 3-point shooting on the list of her team's attributes.

"We're terrible," Barnes Arico said with a laugh. "But we made one to win the game tonight so ... I think that was probably the weakness of our team. Nadirah has been working on it, Shenneika's been working on it, they are all working on it. We got some kids, Briana Brown made a big one for us the other night. It is something we are working hard but we know it is the weak spot of our team. If we have the ability to score in other ways and don't have to go to that then we aren't going to. I think everybody that we plays knows
that it is the weak link of our team and they try to defend us that way."

With just four team fouls going into the final St. John's possession, UConn's plan was the foul before any St. John's player was in the act of shooting to try to run off as much time as possible.

Tiffany Hayes fouled with 19 seconds to go and then Hartley did the same with 12 seconds to go but that left a little more time than the UConn coaching staff would have liked.
"We made a mistake on the second foul, Bria got a little overanxious," Auriemma said. "That is not where we wanted the foul to come and when we wanted it to come. The very last possession it was the same play they have been running the whole game. The kid goes out to the 3-point line, Kiah (Stokes) almost got there in time she was just a tad late and the kid makes her fourth 3 of the year. We shouldn't be in that situation, I thought St. John's put us in that situation the way they played, I thought they played great."

Smith asked the St. John's coaches to run the play leading to her having the 3-pointer and after the game said she was confident she would make it even if she came into the game 3 of 22 from 3-point range.

"I said to the staff at the time, should we go for the win here or should be go for the tie?" Barnes Arico said. "Why not go for the win? We had Da'Shena on the open (post) up so if we didn't hit Shenneika we were going to go inside to Da. She wanted it."

The loss did more than end some streaks, it also many have prevented the Huskies from earning the solo Big East title. Even if UConn wins out, the best it could do is tie Notre Dame for title (assuming Notre Dame wins at Louisville on Monday and beats South Florida on Saturday). If that happens, the tiebreaker will be the best record against the next best team in the conference.

St. John's is currently in third place with a 10-3 Big East record, a game ahead of both Georgetown and West Virginia. St. John's has to play West Virginia and Georgetown and if the Red Storm win out, Notre Dame would win the tiebreaker and get the top seed for the Big East tournament by virtue of being 1-0 against St. John's. If West Virginia and St. John's finish with the same conference record, it does appear as if a coin flip for the No. 1 seed would be needed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A little streak talk

With UConn going for its 100th straight home game tonight, I thought it would be a good time to reach out to the author of a women's basketball program with 122 straight wins at home.

I e-mailed Oral Roberts coach Jerry Finkbeiner on Thursday night and he was obliging enough to get back to me to talk about the NAIA record 122-game streak he was a part of as the head coach at Southern Nazarene in Bethany, Okla. in the late 1980s and through the late 1990s.

"We took a tremendous amount of pride, obviously," Finkbeiner said. "I think as the numbers increased, especially after 100, the pressure of the streak probably decreased and maybe increased in our opponents and made it an even bigger home court advantage because the momentum was so strong. I think all the opponents coming in where probably pressured to try to stop it while our girls were just steamrolling.

Finkbeiner game to Southern Nazarene when the streak was in the 20s and left when it was "at about 108" to take over at Oral Roberts.

"We were NAIA versus Connecticut being Division I but relatively speaking probably similar things were enjoyed," Finkbeiner said. "Our fan attendance was never higher, our local media's interest was never higher and it all stemmed from the big wave of excitement, pride and momentum of a home streak. I inherited a winning streak of about 25, I was there six years and we never lost while I was there so for me as a coach, I am an alumnus of that school so it was fun for me to come back and coach. 

"It has a lot of angles of fun, excitement, pride and relatively speaking when I look at UConn and what they have gone under Coach Auriemma, we enjoyed the same things. We were a big fish in a small pond at the NAIA level as UConn is, the big fish in a smaller pond so to speak because of the success they have enjoyed. To enjoy 100 game home win streaks, they are probably similar stories, similar thoughts and experiences for whatever level they are at."

Of course it would be been a similar story had UConn won tonight. Instead, the streak ended at 99 with a 57-56 loss to St. John's.

Hayes gets her moment in the sun

Since arriving at UConn, Tiffany Hayes has thrived in a supporting role. But tonight she will be the center of attention when she is honored before UConn's game against St. John's.

It will be Hayes' final game at Gampel Pavilion and she will be the only player to take part in the Senior Night festivities which begin at 6:44 p.m.

At Thursday's practice I asked junior Kelly Faris and sophomore Bria Hartley what they will think of when they reflect on their time playing alongside Hayes.

"I remember coming in as a freshman, I looked at her and she was so good, so quick," Hartley said. "One of the things she was really good at was getting to the basket and that was one of the things I wanted to improve at. I looked to her and she gave me some pointers.

The two years with her have been a pretty good time, I think we have gotten pretty close in these two years. I will be upset when she leaves but she will be going onto the next step in her life."

Faris credits Hayes for making the step from a supporting role to become a go-to player as a senior.

"When she leaves, I am really going to remember this year specifically," Faris said. "I have been here going on three years now and from last year to this year sne has done a (180) degree turnaround. I think she has changed her mentality and I think that is the kind of stuff that people may not recognize. She always does well, she has been doing well since she was a freshman. I know it is not easy for her to completely change like that so that has been big for her. That is probably what I will remember the most about her. She changed in a way that is better for the team.

"She works her butt off, everybody knows that and she has since she has gotten here but I think she has realized that 'I am senior now and I have to set the example every single day.' It is not easy to come out here and do the right thing on every play, every possession for three hours, four hours. She was like 'OK, I am at the point, it is my senior year and I the only one (senior). I have all these young guys out there and I have to be that one, I have to set that example every day. I have to come out mentally ready, physically ready.' She is doing what she needs to do, whether she scores 30 two nights in a row or whatever it may be or if she gets 10-12 rebounds every night. She has figured out where she needs to be, what she needs to do."

UConn signees Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck have started the process of leading their teams to state titles.

Stewart had 32 points, extending her New York Section III record total to 2,158 points to lead her Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) team to an 89-25 win over Rome Free Academy on Friday. Cicero-North Syracuse will face Liverpool in the New York Section III Class AA semifinals on Friday.

Tuck had a pair of 30-point games as her Bolingbrook (Ill.) High beat Downers Grove North and West Aurora by a combined score of 186-55 to win the Bolingbrook Sectional. Now Tuck and Bolingbrook plays Neuqua Valley in the Class 4A Neuqua Valley Sectional semifinals on Tuesday.

Moriah Jefferson, the third member of UConn's incoming freshman class, will begin postseason play on Thursday when the Texas Home Educators' Sports Association Riders in the regionals in Frisco, Tex.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hartley one of eight Lieberman Award finalists

UConn sophomotre Bria Hartley is one of  eight finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, presented annually to the nation's top point guard.

She is joining on the list by Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, Angel Goodrich of Kansas, Duke's Chelsea Gray, Lindsey Moore of Nebraska, Samantha Prahalis of Ohio State, Odyssey Sims of Baylor and Brigham Young's Hayley Steed.

The winner will be announced on Apr. 18 at a banquet at the Detroit Athletic Club.


Big loss for Duke

Duke is down to eight scholarship players after starting forward Richa Jackson tore the ACL in her left knee in the Blue Devils' win over Virginia Tech.

The sophomore was averaging 9.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game and had started the last 17 games for the Blue Devils. She will miss the rest of the season.

Duke has already lost promising freshman Amber Henson for the season because of a knee injury and last month announced that sophomore Chloe Wells will also not play for the remainder of the season because of a violation of team policy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Geno likes talks about Tiffany Hayes' pro potential

Geno Auriemma tends to live in the moment and is known to deflect any questions about the pro prospects of his players while they are still suiting up for the Huskies. That is why my ears perked up when Auriemma, on his weekly call-in segment on WTIC, volunteered that WNBA people have told him that they don't expect Hayes to last past the middle of the first round in April's draft.

I followed up on the subject with Auriemma today since so much of the talk centered around the growth of Hayes over the last four years as she prepares to play her final game at Gampel Pavilion.

"They say that and they could all be lying," Auriemma said. "If you are smart in that league, obviously talent is the No. 1 thing. You could be smart, you could be a great teammate and win but if you don't have the talent, then they are crazy to draft you. Somebody like that who has been consistent through her four years here, her scoring average has gone up every year that she has been here, the things that she has done have gone up, for the most part, every year that she has been here and she won't be the go-to guy whichever team drafts her so she will be kind of back in her comfort zone for a little while. I would say that if she plays her cards right, four years she is going to be really good."

Labels: ,

Unchartered territory

I always find it somewhat comical asking UConn players about any losses they have dealt with as basketball players because the taste of defeat is just not something they have much if any experience win.

Case in point, today I asked Tiffany Hayes and then Kelly Faris about the last time they lost a home game since it hasn't happened during their time at UConn.

Hayes paused for a couple of seconds before answering.

"I don't think ...," Hayes said. "They (the four losses she suffered while in high school) were all away. I only lost four games, two were in other gyms and two where at (neutral sites)."

She was asked whether she thought that was a remarkable achievement never having lost a home game as either a high school or college player.


As for Faris, she knows her Heritage Christian team lost to Bolingbrook (Ill.) when she was a senior but is fuzzy on the location of the game.

"I am trying to remember if I lost one in my senior year? I don't know, it might have been my senior year at home but I don't remember."

Hayes was accompanied by a cameraman as well as reporter Dianna Russini today and will be the subject of a piece on the senior guard during NBC Connecticut's 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. telecasts.

Labels: ,

Some number crunching on UConn's home dominance

Here are a couple of charts I compiled to run with my story tomorrow as UConn goes after its 100th straight home win on Saturday.
Record at Gampel: 50-0
Record of XL Center: 49-0
Huskies to play during streak: 26
Wins against ranked teams: 32
Closest game: UConn 65, Baylor 64 Nov. 16, 2010
Most lopsided game: UConn 117, Holy Cross 37 Nov. 14, 2010
Last home loss: Rutgers 55, UConn 47 (Big East final) at Hartford Civic Center, Mar. 6, 2007
Streak began: UConn 82, Maryland-Baltimore County 33 (NCAA first round) at Gampel, Mar. 18, 2007
Games decided by single digits: 2
Games decided by at least 40 points: 35
Points scored: 8161
Points allowed: 4697

Here’s a look at the home winning streaks in the other NCAA Division I team sports (no record is available for baseball)
Men’s basketball: 129 Kentucky (1943-55)
Women’s volleyball: 94 Penn State (2006-11)
Women’s soccer: 84 North Carolina (1986-94)
Men’s volleyball: 83 UCLA (1975-82)
Softball: 70 Arizona (2000-02)
Field hockey: 70 Old Dominion (1980-85)
Men’s hockey: 63 Cornell (1967-72)
Football: 58 Miami (1985-94)
Women’s lacrosse: 58 Northwestern (2004-10)
Men’s soccer: 39 Tulsa (1988-92)
Men’s lacrosse: 37 Syracuse (1982-87) and Johns Hopkins 2001-06)
Women’s hockey: 25 Harvard 2002-04)

Some info on Senior Night

The Senior Night ceremony will begin at 6:44 on Saturday with Tiffany Hayes being honored along with senior managers Will Aloia of Wyckoff, N.J., Annie Backofen of Glastonbury, Berlin's Kelly Foy, Oakville's Katie Lafferty, Maddie Marks of Fairfield, Rocky Hill's Justin Paluch and Danielle Upham of Chichester, N.H.
The game is set to tip at 7:06 p.m.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DeShields returns to action

UConn recruiting target Diamond DeShields was back on the court for her Norcross (Ga.) team on Tuesday night after missing the final six games of the regular season with an injured left wrist.

The junior wing did not start but did have 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots as Norcross defeated Mountain View 52-38 in the 7-AAAAA quarterfinals. With the win Norcross advances to Friday's regional semifinals. Norcross will play the winner of tonight's game between Collins Hill (yes, the same school where UConn's all-time leading scorer Maya Moore played her high school ball) and Mill Creek.

UConn signee Morgan Tuck and her Bolingbrook (Ill.) team also opened postseason play on Tuesday. It wasn't much of a game as Bolingbrook defeated Downers Grove North either 92-19 or 92-17 depending on which website you happen to visit. Bolingbrook will play West Aurora on Thursday in the final of the Bolingbrook 4A regional.

Finally, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was in attendance at the Ridgeview/Mira Monte game on Tuesday night. Auriemma was there to see 6-foot-3 Ridgeview junior Erica McCall play. McCall had 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, February 13, 2012

Three UConn signees are Naismith finalists

UConn incoming freshman Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck are among five finalists for the Naismith National High School Player of the Year.

They are joined as finalists by Notre Dame signee Jewell Loyd and Linnae Harper, a junior who plays for Whitney Young High in Chicago.

The winner will be announced on Mar. 22.

Labels: , ,

Auriemma proud to see seven former Huskies as Olympic finalists

Geno Auriemma is aware of the skeptics out there who scoff every time a senior national team roster is released with a heavy UConn representation. Although he dis not actually cast a vote for the team he coached to the gold medal in the 2010 World Championships or the one he will pilot in the Olympics later this year, he does have the chance to make his feelings known.

That is what makes Auriemma choose his words carefully when he is asked about the contingent of former Huskies in contention for the Olympic squad. USA Basketball announced the 21 finalists and a third of them played their college ball for Auriemma as UConn led by two-time Olympians Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. Swin Cash, a member of the 2004 Olympic squad, is on the list along with Tina Charles, Asjha Jones, Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore.

"I have a very delicate situation here as a coach because I am trying to step away and look at it objectively," Auriemma said. "I'm trying to appreciate them as someone who is looking at it from the outside, really be amazed at what they've done since they left UConn and how happy I am for them, how proud I am for them and how they have represented themselves, their families, the University of Connecticut and USA Basketball. I am trying to look it that way and as a coach I am trying not to let it cloud my view looking at them any different than I look at any of the other kids that are finalists.

"I am trying to look at them as a coach and trying to evaluate 'are they the best we have to offer' and then step back and say 'wow, I can't believe these guys have done what they have done.' The one thing I am proud of is if I step back and remove myself from the situation, I can honestly look at them and say that no matter who the coach was these guys would be finalists, they have earned it, they have proven it, they deserve it."

Auriemma spoke specifically about Bird and Jones. Barring injury, Bird is a lock to make the team and Auriemma believes she is "the best point guard in the world. We start with that and that gives us an advantage over most teams at that position, I would say over every team at that position - me being biased or not biased, it doesn't matter. Everybody else thinks the same thing."

As for Jones, Auriemma considers her one of his favorite players for the blue-collar, no-frills approach she brings to any team she is on.

"Asjha Jones, obviously I am biased coaching her in college and watching her career. She is a consummate pro and Asjha has been there and done that. Some injuries have prevented her from doing all the things that she has wanted to do for USA Basketball but she has been tremendous at the World Championships in helping us win. I love Asjha, I love what she brings to teams. Every team she is on she brings a level of professionalism and you can't underestimate that."

Auriemma also addressed the difficult next step of getting down to the final team of 12. USA Basketball National Team Director Carol Callan said that the 12 players and alternates could be named by the time that the U.S. will hold a training camp in May since "we certainly don't want to pull players away from WNBA teams that would not be on the (Olympic) team."

"It is going to be a very difficult decision," Auriemma said. "Getting down to 12 is going to be an arduous task to say the least. I am not looking forward to being in that room when that decision is made because it is going to be very difficult. Some people are going to be left out that is going to break your heart not to have them on the team."

Auriemma was also asked about the excitement level he feels about the Olympics even though he is in the middle of trying to coach his second-ranked Huskies to another Big East title and run at another national title.

"It's fun, it's draining, it's exhausting, it's exciting, it's pressure, it's all the things that you would want," Auriemma said. "There is no way to get around it. I don't go to practice or I don't go to work at UConn thinking about necessarily what I want to do with the Olympic team and I don't spend time when I am with the national team players thinking about what I am going to do at UConn. Even though those things do happen, they are not conscious decisions that I make. Coaching my team is one thing here at Connecticut but for me, it is such an incredible rush. It is so exciting to be around the best players in the world and to watch them execute, watch them do the things from a coaching standpoint that you can only sometimes dream about.

"It takes it toll, no question about it. It is a long, grueling experience. I understand that. I went through that with the World Championships and it was the most pressure, the most tired, the most exhausted I've ever been after a competition but I am also more excited that the energy level and adrenaline level. When it starts going, I think all of us are going to be swept up in it."

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Geno reacts to hiring of new AD at UConn

While Geno Auriemma was answering questions on a teleconference about the naming of the 21 finalists for the U.S. Olympic basketball team he will be coaching, I asked him for his reaction of the hiring of Warde Manuel as UConn's new athletic director.

"I heard about it yesterday the same as everybody else so I have not had a chance to speak to him," Auriemma said. "I do not know him but from everything I hear, he is exactly what we need. I am sure I'll get a chance to catch up with him at some point."


UConn to host 2013 NCAA subregional

Gampel Pavilion is one of the 16 sites to host the first and second rounds of the 2013 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament, the NCAA announced today.

The subregionals will be played on either Mar. 23 and 25 or Mar. 24 and 26.

It will be the 23rd time in the last 25 years that the first and second rounds have been played at a Connecticut arena. Only in 2006 (when the regionals were held in Bridgeport) and in 2010 have there not been subregionals played in the state.

Seven former Huskies are among U.S. Olympic finalists

Seven former UConn stars including two-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi were among 21 players named as finalists for the 2012 Olympic team.
Also making the cut were former Huskies Swin Cash (a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic squad), Tina Charles, Asjha Jones, Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore while UConn head coach Geno Auriemma is the U.S. senior national team coach through the end of the Olympics.

Also on the list are Jayne Appel, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Tamika Catchings, Candice Dupree, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner (the only active college player on the list), Lindsey Harding, Kara Lawson, Angel McCoughtry, Candace Parker, Cappie Pondexter, Lindsay Whalen and Sophia Young.

Augustus, Bird, Catchings, Fowles, Lawson, Parker, Pondexter and Taurasi were all members of the 2008 team.
Taurasi and Bird started all eight games during the 2008 Olympics. Taurasi was the United States’ third-leading scorer averaging 10.9 points per game. She led the team with 12 3-pointers and was second with 19 assists. Bird tied for the team lead with 14 steals and also averaged 3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.
The list of finalists was narrowed down from an original list of 27 who were in the U.S. player pool as Alana Beard, Shameka Christon, Ebony Hoffman, Courtney Vandersloot, Kia Vaughn and Candice Wiggins failed to make the cut. The final 12-player roster will be announced during the summer before the U.S. heads over for the Olympics, which run from July 28-Aug. 12 in London.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Mosqueda-Lewis named Big East Freshman of the Week

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was named the Big East Freshman of the Week for the seventh time this season, tying her with former UConn star Rebecca Lobo for the second most in conference history.

Mosqueda-Lewis averaged 14 points, 4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in leading UConn to victories over ranked teams Louisville and Georgetown.

Maya Moore's record of 10 conference freshman/rookie of the week selections is safe for another year as there will be only two more weekly awards given out by the conference.

Asya Bussie, who played a starring role in West Virginia's stunning win at Notre Dame, was named the Big East Player of the Week.

Labels: , ,

DeShields expects to return to action soon

According to an Atlanta Journal Constitution blog post, UConn recruiting target Diamond DeShields could be back soon after missing six games with an injured wrist.

"She sees the doctor today (today) and we’ll just have to see,’’ Norcross coach Angie Hembree said in the blog post. “We’ve played six games without her. We’ve lost to two pretty good teams (North Gwinnett and Mill Creek). We’re going to get her back this week. I think we’re going to be fine. It’s a marathon, not a (sprint). We’re hanging in there."

Keeping on the subject of the state playoffs, UConn signees Morgan Tuck and Breanna Stewart will begin state tournament play this week.

Tuck will lead her Bolingbrook (Ill.) High team against either Downers Grove North or Plainfield North in the semifinals of the Naperville (Neuqua Valley) Sectional tomorrow.  If Bolingbrook wins tomorrow, it would advance to the regional finals on Thursday.

Stewart's Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) team also received a first-round bye and will play the winner of the Rome Free Academy/Nottingham game on Friday in New York's Section III Class AA tournament. The section final is set for Mar. 2 at the Carrier Dome.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Buffalo's Warde Manuel named AD at UConn

UConn has hired Warde Manuel to be its new athletic director.

Warde has been the athletic director at Buffalo since 2005 and also had a stint as an associate athletic director at Michigan.

During his tenure at Buffalo, he oversaw a department that made tremendous strides in improving the APR numbers, something that figures to be a priority at UConn since the three-time national champion men's basketball team is currently ineligible for next year's NCAA tournament because of substandard APR numbers.

He will sign a five-year contract and be officially introduced at a press conference tomorrow.

"I am so honored and excited to come to the University of Connecticut," said Manuel in a statement. "UConn is synonymous with greatness, excellence and achievement. It is without a doubt one of the legendary schools that is at the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics. The opportunity to be the athletics director at UConn and lead this extraordinary division is the role of a lifetime. You have remarkable coaches, great leadership, outstanding student-athletes and a wonderful base of fans, alumni and supporters. Our focus will be on academic success, compliance, ensuring great relationships with our fans, friends and supporters and, without a doubt, victory on the field and the court. My family and I are so happy to call UConn home."

UConn has been without a permanent athletic director since Jeff Hathaway retired in August. Paul Pendergast has been serving as the interim AD since Sep. 19.

"We are incredibly proud and thrilled that Warde will be joining the Husky family," UConn president Susan Herbst said in a statement. "UConn is one of the great American universities, and our athletics program is the envy of many. It’s because of this that we were able to attract an amazing pool of candidates from across the nation – and an ideal, stand-out candidate of Warde’s exceptionally high caliber. He will play an integral, and even transformational, role in the future of UConn athletics. It’s a great day for this university."

Here's a link to his bio as well as a link to the official release

Put those coins away

With West Virginia's stunning upset of Notre Dame today, UConn can win the Big East regular-season title  by winning out.

The Huskies wrap up its non-conference portion of its schedule tomorrow at Oklahoma. Then UConn hosts St. John's on Saturday, plays at Pittsburgh (Feb. 21) and Marquette (Feb. 25) before hosting Notre Dame on Feb. 27.

Before this unexpected turn of events, UConn would have needed to win out and then the top seed in the Big East tournament would have been determined by a coin flip since UConn and Notre Dame would have finished tied for first with 15-1 Big East marks and there would be no other way to break the tie other than a coin flip.

UConn honors its best and brightest

Maybe it's all the years I have spent covering a variety of sports at Yale but there are few things I enjoy honoring more than academic achievement.

At halftime of Saturday's Georgetown/UConn women's game more than 300 UConn student-athletes were honored for attaining grade point averages of 3.0 or higher in either the recently-completed fall semester or during last spring's marking period. That included women's basketball players Heather Buck, Stefanie Dolson, Caroline Doty, Kelly Faris and Kiah Stokes. I wrote a story focusing on the academic challenges faced by Buck and Faris. But the real stars in my eyes are the 20 student-athletes who had 4.0 GPAs. That is truly an achievement worth highlighting and although none of them play for Geno Auriemma's squad, I thought they deserved mention.

Allison  Angulo (field hockey) Sociology Fall 11' Senior   Mount Bethel, Pa.
Alexandra  Aserlind (women's swimming) Sociology Fall 11' Senior  Coral Gables, Fla.
Michelle Bashaw (women's track) Elemen. Education Spring 10 & 11, Fall 10 & 11 Senior   Salisbury, Mass.
Corrine  Blidstein (women's soccer) 4.10 Sports Management Fall 11' Grad Student   Stockton, NJ
Charles Boliek (men's swimming)  Allied Health Fall 11' Freshman  Greenville, SC
Amy  Christensen (volleyball) Pre-teaching Fall 11' Freshman  Ashburn, Va.
Meghan Cunningham (women's cross country) Soc. Science of Sport Spring 11' 5th year Simsbury
Brianna Datti (volleyball) Environmental Engineering Fall 11' Freshman   Durham, NC
Kaiche Ho (women's soccer) Engineering Fall 11' Freshman   Glastonbury
Julianne Hubbard (women's soccer) Allied Health Fall 11' Junior  Waverly, Pa.
Hillary Lackman (women's soccer) Psychology Fall 10' and Spring 11' Junior  Storrs
Scott McCummings (football) Mngment- Sch of Bus. Fall 10',Spring 11' Sophomore Natick, Mass.
Sharon  Scott (women's swimming) Environmental Engineering Fall 10', Spring 11' Sophomore
Stephen Vento (men's cross country) Undecided Fall 11' Freshman   Weston
Jacqueline Wattles (volleyball)  Journalism Spring 11  Sophomore  Liberty Hills, Tex.
Kimberly Weber (women's rowing)  Neag (Curriculum & instruction) Fall 09', Spring 11' 5th year    Ridgefield
Ashley West (women's rowing) Pre-pharmacy Spring 11' Sophomore   Dudley, Mass.
Hillary Wiles-Lafayette (women's rowing) Ecology & Evolutionary Bio Fall 10', Spring 11' Junior  Litchfield
Heather Wilson (women's track) Exercise Science Spring 11' Senior  Homer, NY   
Kyungsoo Yoon (men's swimming) Accouting Fall 11' Junior  Toronto

Teammates aiding Mosqueda-Lewis

It's not always easy being a freshman with loads of talent and potential.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was on the receiving end of a stern lecture from UConn coach Geno Auriemma at Thursday's practice for tending to pout when things aren't going her way. Two days later Mosqueda-Lewis broke out of a shooting slump with 23 points in a win over Georgetown. Following the game Mosqueda-Lewis talked about what the last couple of weeks have been like.

"Getting yelled at is not embarrassing, you should have enough pride and enough care for our teammates to not want to let them down," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "That is biggest part about being here at UConn, your team is first before anything.

"That is what everybody says in this program, that if you are not getting yelled at then that is when you should start worrying."

Her teammates have been there before as they have drawn Auriemma's ire as he pushes them to reach a level of play that they didn't know they were capable of.

"He just always expects big things from you, he wouldn't be on you if he didn't think you could do it," sophomore guard Bria Hartley said. "You just have to fight back. If he is telling you not to turn the ball over, then don't turn the ball over. You just have to make a shot, make a play or do something to make our team better."

So which player has helped Mosqueda-Lewis the most in dealing with Auriemma's tough love?

"Caroline Doty has been a big (supporter) of mine," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "Whenever I am getting yelled at and taking me out, Caroline is always there talking to me on the sideline telling me 'OK, I know you are better than this, you can't get down on yourself, he just wants you to be better, he wants you to respond in a positive way.' She is like 'prove him wrong if you want to get mad about it but don't pout, don't give up on us, just keep going.'"

Monday's game will be the fourth straight season that Oklahoma and UConn will meet in the regular season. However, there are no plans for the teams to play next season.

"With Texas A&M, Baylor, we get top heavy on certain conferences," Auriemma said. "Last year it was the ACC, we have to spread it out. We have to get more variety, some Big 10, some Southeastern Conference teams."

Auriemma will be going to watch talented junior post Erica McCall play on Tuesday when McCall's Ridgeview squad plays at Mira Monte in Bakersfield, Calif. McCall joins Saniya Chong as new  recruiting targets for the Huskies.

UConn has been involved with Diamond DeShields, Taya Reimer and Karlie Samuelson (who will miss the rest of her junior season with mononucleosis) for quite some time and there is still some interest in Maryland guard Jannah Tucker.

It will not be an easy year of recruiting for the Huskies with a highly-touted class of Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson joining a talented nucleus. Teams are using the "you're never going to play on that team" line that has been used before. It should be noted after the Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones, Keirsten Walters and Tamika Williams came in, UConn only signed one player the following season. With six played on the radar, there's a better chance of preventing a situation where UConn misses out on some recruits.

USA Basketball will be announcing the finalists for the U.S. Olympic team in a teleconference on Monday afternoon.

Former UConn stars Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tina Charles, Asjha Jones, Renee Montgomery, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi are among those in contention to make the Olympic team which will be coached by UConn's Auriemma.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

UConn's defense is dominant again

All you need to know about the 2011-12 UConn women's basketball team at the current time can be summed up by the following numbers 7 and 34 as is that the Big East's top three scorers coming into Saturday's games have shot 7 of 34 against UConn.

Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers, who came into the game averaging a conference best 19.9 points per game, was held to 10 on 4 of 13 shooting. That Rodgers actually got to double digits did not sit well with Kelly Faris, the Huskies top defensive player.

"We have said that we take a lot of pride in our defense and if they one of their best players and we don't stop them we are going to hear it, those are the types of things that we focus on and go over in film, scouting," Faris said. "The more and more we see it, they expect us to stop it every single time. For Sugar Rodgers to get 10 points, it is not as much as she usually gets but at the same time she still got 10 points off us somehow so we have to go into film tomorrow and see where we didn't stop her."

Rodgers has plenty of company as DePaul's Anna Martin was 0 of 6 and Seton Hall's Jasmine Crew 3 of 15 against UConn.

On Saturday it was more than just Faris locking up on the opposing team's top scorer. Bria Hartley, Tiffany Hayes, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Brianna Banks all had turns guarding the electrifying Rodgers.

"We take it very serious," Auriemma said. "We say we have to do this, this and this. They listen and they try to do it. I don't think there has been more than once or twice where I have really questioned our team's effort this year or questioned our intensity level or our willingness to outwork people and maybe that is why our defense is where it is right now. If you are just going to go out there and think you are going to get your average on Kelly Faris, you have another thing coming. It is not going to happen.

"She softens them up a little bit, gets them tired a little bit and then we bring in the other guys. Kaleena loves the challenge, Tiffany is rising to the challenge so we have a number of players. We even had Brianna Banks out there and usually she is the poster girl for what a defensive player should look like. She is in her stance, her arms are out, her knees are bent, she has her game face on and she's got you and then when the guy dribbles, she goes right by you. She is like in the Indiana Jones one when the guy is doing the whole thing, Harrison Ford is watching and then he shoots him. That is Brianna. Even she was playing it. I think it is contagious. I think we can do more defensively this year than we could last year."

Auriemma admitted that he voiced his displeasure in a rather boisterous manner at halftime. Auriemma wasn't enamored with how the Huskies responded to Louisville's roughhouse tactics and after seeing UConn not respond as well as he would have likes when Georgetown began to get physical in the first half, Auriemma let the Huskies know he was not very happy.

"I probably get it out of my system with the coaches before I go in there," Auriemma said. "Mostly that is what happens, I get it out of my system - 90 percent of it. By the time I get into the locker room there isn't much left. Some days I only get about 20 percent out and there is 80 percent left. I actually feel good because it means I still have my fastball, I don't have to throw curves or changeups."

Labels: ,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Turnovers irking Auriemma

Geno Auriemma was not a happy camper as practice wore on Thursday afternoon. With a game coming up against Georgetown, it was a perfect time to get some work done against pressure and trapping defenses. He had his starters working against male practice players who were being coached up by associate head coach Chris Dailey to make things as difficult as possible.

If Auriemma didn't have to be in Rocky Hill later that evening for a special taping of his show on CPTV, he may had been there all night long until his team had gotten it right. Finally, an exasperated Auriemma brought an end to practice after yet another turnover.

When the subject of turnovers was brought up by during Auriemma's time with the media, Auriemma's response was dripping with sarcasm.

"I am (thrilled) that we have more turnovers than field goals," Auriemma said. "I want to even out the playing field, we've won so many games in a row, we've won so many Big East championships in a row that I think it's an opportunity for us to give other teams a chance to win is something I think we owe to the rest of the league so Saturday we are going to continue to throw the ball away and make dumb ass mistakes because we feel like it is good for the game. It keeps the game competitive and helps us build parity in our league and around the country. We are instructing our players to throw it away as (often) as they can and they are listening to us.

"I said when the season started if we don't turn the ball over, we have a chance to be a really, really good team. If you are a young and immature team, when you are going good, it just keeps getting better and better and when you start throwing it away, it keeps getting worse and worse. We'll go through games when we'll have seven or eight and we'll go through games when we have 27. I can't explain it."

UConn had more assists than turnovers in 12 of the first 13 games of the season but in the last 11 games, the Huskies have more turnovers than assists four times and in two other games managed just one more assist than turnover. In Tuesday's win at Louisville, the Huskies had an uncharacteristic 22 turnovers versus 11 assists.

"It's a huge concern, even in practice we are turning the ball over," UConn junior guard Caroline Doty said. "It get frustrating when you are turning the ball over and it gets contagious and it just deflates your confidence. Your other teammates get mad, you get mad and frustrated and it is not pretty. The fact that we had 27 turnovers in a game (in an overtime loss to Notre Dame), that is unacceptable. We need to work on it. That is our No. 1 thing because we are our biggest monsters right now."

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Upcoming Senior Night game to be strange for Doty, Buck

Had circumstances played out differently, Caroline Doty and Heather Buck would be a mere nine days away from their final game at Gampel Pavilion.

However, the combination of Doty's battles with ACLs and Buck needing an extra year of seasoning means that neither will be taking part in Senior Night festivities before the Feb. 18 game against St. John's leaving Tiffany Hayes as the only player to be honored before the Huskies' final game of the season at Gampel.

"The fact that I can't walk with Tiffany, we came in together ...," Doty said. "I think we had like (four) girls come in together and now it is just Tiffany walking. It is going to be an emotional time because we did grow up and we have been through so much together. I will probably cry, it will be a special moment. I know she is going to do great things in the future but we still have the whole postseason but just to know it is going to be that last (Gampel) home game is going to touch our hearts."

Although the persistent knee issues have forced Doty to miss 61 games since arriving at UConn, she has no second thoughts about leaving at season's end.

"I want to try to milk this for as long as I can," Doty said. "It is too much fun not to stay."

Doty certainly had fun in her most recent game, playing a season-high 35 minutes against Louisville even though she was in pain and limited in the practices leading up to the game.

"It felt to play again, it's been a while since I played that much in a game," Doty said. "I felt good, I felt fresh on the court. We went on the lockeroom and put ice on that knee. I was definitely exhaused after it. During the game I didn't feel anything, I felt great. The whole adrenaline just kept the mind right in terms of staying focused on doing the right things on the court.

"I was going to play no matter what. These games are getting crucial now towards the end of the season, we want to keep getting better and keep improving. To go up against a physical team like that, other teams are going to be as physical and just to be able to prepare and come out and play the way we did get a litle taste of it."

Doty did not practice on Thursday but it was more of a precaution and a chance for her to rest the knee with games cpoming up against Georgetown on Saturday and at Oklahoma on Monday.

"It is nice, it was much needed rest," Doty said. "We need to get our minds right and get the kinks out of the way and get reasy for Georgetown which is a really good team. Definitely my body's not the same as it was freshman year but I feel good. I am ready to go. If they told me to practice today, I would be ready to practice. I am going to follow the rules and see what my body gives me and go with it."

Doty figures to be a key part of the 2012-13 Huskies but Buck's situation is a little more unclear. With the emergence of freshman Kiah Stokes, Buck has failed to hit double-figures in minutes played since a Jan. 10 game against Providence. Add in the arrival of highly-touted recruits Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck, playing time next season is going to be difficult to earn but Buck never wavered in her decision to stay at UConn for five seasons.

"They will be honoring just one senior, Caroline and I will be back and the original class of 2012 has slowly dwindled," Buck said. "As soon as Coach presented it as an idea, I was all for it and have been ever since."

Labels: , , ,

Three future Huskies, Hillhouse star to play in McDonald's game

UConn incoming freshmen Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck as well as Hillhouse's Bria Holmes were selected to play in next month's McDonald's All-American game.

Jefferson, Stewart and Tuck brings the total of future Huskies selected to play to 23. Since McDonald's played its first girls' game in 2002, there was been a player who would go onto play for the Huskies every year.

"I would say that it was expected," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "It is always great that it happens. I am sure they are really proud of their accomplishments in high school. If you ask all of them, I am sure they would tell you that it is more important that they keep playing and keep winning. There is nothing like finishing your high school career with a state championship so I am sure that is probably the next thing on their list. I think they are probably really proud of themselves because they have worked really hard and they certainly deserve it, no question about it."

I asked Auriemma for his reaction on Holmes' selection to the game as she is the first Connecticut native to play in a McDonald's girls' game, an event which had its first girls' game back in 2002.

"I think if there was a little more emphasis put on girls' high school basketball in this state, you would probably have that happen more  often but for her to be in that game I think says a lot for her," Auriemma said. "She might be the first (high-school All-American) since Nykesha (Sales) or Nadine Domond from the same class so that is a long time. Good for her."
The McDonald's  will be played at the United Center in Chicago on Mar 28. The first game will be played at 7 p.m. followed by the boys' game. The girls game will be televised on ESPNU with ESPN carrying the boys' game.

Student-Athletes to be honored on Saturday

More than 300 UConn student-athletes (including women's basketball players Heather Buck, Stefanie Dolson, Caroline Doty, Kelly Faris and Kiah Stokes) will be honored at halftime of Saturday's UConn/Georgetown game for attaining a 3.0 grade-point average either in spring of 2011 or fall of 2012 semesters.

Hartley, Mosqueda-Lewis named to USBWA Midseason Watch List

UConn sophomore Bria Hartley and freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis were among 20 players named to the United States Basketball Writers Association's midseason national player of the year watch list.

Hartley is UConn's second-leading scorer, averaging 14 points per game and has dished out a team-high 104 assists. Mosqueda-Lewis, the only freshman on the list, is third on the team with a 13.6 scoring average and leads UConn with 59 3-pointers.

The winner will be announced during the USBWA's awards banquet on Apr. 3 at the Final Four in Denver.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Jefferson, Stewart, Tuck to play in WBCA game

UConn's entire incoming freshman class has been selected to play in the WBCA High School All-American Game, which will be played on Mar. 31 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Moriah Jefferson, a 5-foot-7 guard from Glenn Heights, Tex., Breanna Stewart, a 6-foot-4 forward from North Syracuse, N.Y., and Morgan Tuck, a 6-foot-2 forward from Bolingbrook, Ill. are among the 20 players named to play in the game. Also, Stewart has been named the WBCA National High School Player of the Year. This is the fifth time in the last seven years that a Connecticut signee has won this award as Stewart joins Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne (who never played for the Huskies) and last year's winner Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis as winners of the award.

Barring a stunning turn of events, all three should be named to play in the McDonald's All-American game. That announcement is coming tomorrow from 5-5:30 p.m. during a special on ESPNU.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Torrens is European Women's Player of the Year

Former Connecticut Sun third-round draft pick Alba Torrens was named the European Women's Player of the Year.

Torrens was named the MVP after leading her Avenida team to the EuroLeague Women's title. During the season, she averaging 15.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

With Spain failing to qualify for the Olympics, the Connecticut Sun hierarchy had hoped to bring the 22-year-old Torrens over to make her WNBA debut this season however Torrens suffered a serious knee injury last month.


Monday, February 06, 2012

Connecticut Sun sign former Duke star

The Connecticut Sun announced the signing of former Duke forward Mistie (Bass) Mims.

The 21st pick in the 2006 WNBA draft, Mims played in 78 games for the Houston Comets from 2006-2008. She spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons with Chicago. Mims started 25 of the 42 games she played in for the Sky, averaging 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. During the 2010 season, Mims scored in double figures in five games and two of them came against Connecticut.

Mims is playing for Challes-Les-Eaux in the French league and is leading the league with a 19.7 scoring average.

Mims, signed to a two-year contract, is expected to compete for a reserve post role as former UConn forward/center Jessica Moore is currently working her way back from a knee injury and has not been signed as of yet for the upcoming season.

Hartley, Smith share more than a first name

Before UConn sophomore Bria Hartley and Louisville freshman Bria Smith went onto make waves in AAU circles with the Exodus and Philly Belles programs, they were occasional teammates in Long Island basketball circles.

Tomorrow night they will square off for the first time in college when Louisville hosts UConn. Hartley is the Huskies' second-leading scorer with an average of 14.3 points per game although that number jumps to 16.5 against ranked teams. Smith, the only Louisville player to start every game this season, is averaging 10.3 points per game.

"I have known her since we were really young probably fourth or fifth grade and I played with her a couple of times," Hartley said. "We are actually pretty close friends so it will be fun playing against her. She is a good player, we even had the same trained we worked out with Jerry Powell. She is a good player and I know she is going to do well there."


Saturday, February 04, 2012

Another impressive defensive effort by UConn

Even if Rutgers had the services of senior point guard Khadijah Rushdan, the Scarlet Knights weren't going to come in and make a run at the highest scoring output for a Connecticut opponent in Gampel Pavilion's history. Still, after holding No. 5 Duke to 45 points on Monday, the Huskies had another stellar defensive effort.

The game turned in the first half when UConn outscored Rutgers 17-0 over a 5-minute span. The Scarlet Knights only attempted two shots because of four turnovers.

In the second half Rutgers missed 17 of its 21 shots and had nine turnovers.

"We rely on our defense and we try to turn our defensive stops into points," UConn senior guard Tiffany Hayes said. "Coach (Auriemma) said we had a great defensive effort tonight so hopefully we can keep it up.
We usually want to hit teams first, it took us a little. Usually they hit us first from what I remember in the past games, they were really tough games. I was glad that we were ale to come out and hit them first instead of being hit first."

Auriemma was extremely pleased with the defensive effort.

"I thought defensively we were really, really good," Auriemma said. "One thing that maybe doesn't get as much notoriety is the scouting reports that our guys (assistant coaches) come up with - Chris, Marisa and Shea.They take it real seriously and those guys are real serious about that stuff and all three of them when it is their turn, they are really into the scouting report and they make the players are really into it. By the time that game time comes around, there is very little that our players don't know about what we are going to do and how we are going to defend them. Preparation is a big, big part of it.

"I don't know if you can have anywhere near the kind of success that we had without us playing the kind of defense that we played. I think those two things go hand in hand with the number of games, Big East championships or tournament championships or national championships, none of those would be possible if weren't a real good defensive team. You have to be a good defensive team every year, you can't be (good) some years you are and some years you are not. We probably don't get the credit that some other people get because we don't talk about it, we don't have any special presses, we don't have fancy names for what we do defensively. We've had so many good offensive players play for us that it is easy to overlook that they are good defensive players because everybody is fixated about how good they are offensively. I don't mind that."

Labels: ,

Pretty interesting Q&A with Svetlana Abrosimova

Becky Hammon's website includes a link to a wide-ranging question and answer session with former UConn star Svetlana Abrosimova which includes her future basketball plans and relationship with her mom among other topics. Enjoy.


Friday, February 03, 2012

Big test for Breanna Stewart, Cicero-North Syracuse

Just out of curiousity, I checked the Cicero-North Syracuse schedule to see how many games were left in the regular season for UConn signee Breanna Stewart when I saw an entry on the schedule I had not seen before.

On Feb. 12 at the Gauchos Gymnaium in the Bronx, Stewart and Cicero-North Syracuse will face perennial New York powerhouse Christ the King. The game is set for 2 p.m.

The two teams played in the HoopHall Classic in Springfield with both Stewart and Christ the King sophomore Sierra Calhoun having impressive performances.

One thing I noticed when I visited the Christ the King home page was very disturbing. It was a link to the New York Post story which ran on Thursday about former Christ the King star and one-time UConn recruiting target Clare Droesch, who is battling Stage IV cancer. The Post ran a follow-up story today about Droesch


Thursday, February 02, 2012

UConn expecting Rutgers' best shot

UConn won't know if Rutgers senior guard Khadijah Rushdan will be able play in Saturday night's game until shortly before the opening tip but the Huskies are expecting to see the Scarlet Knights have an extra bounce in their step coming off a pair of losses.

"It is Rutgers," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Year in and year out you are going to get the same kind of game, it is going to be a defensive struggle, it is going to be hard to get good shots, it is going to be hard to get points, it is going to be very physical. Regardless of who is in the lineup. who is starting and who is not starting, who is hurt and who is not hurt, it is still Rutgers."

Rutgers started four freshmen in Tuesday's loss to Notre Dame and the starting lineup could be a different one than Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer used against the Fighting Irish but as Auriemma said, the style of play won't change.

"They like to pressure and we are going to have to handle their pressure, be smart and make sure we play hard and run our offense," UConn sophomore guard Bria Hartley said. "Today we worked on our defense so we can keep people in front of us. Our main thing is our defense, getting turnovers and try to run in transition."

Labels: ,

Report: Rutgers' Rushdan "highly unlikely" to play against UConn

The Newark Star Ledger is reporting that Rutgers' senior guard Khadijah Rushdan is "highly unlikely to play" when the Scarlet Knights play at UConn Saturday night.

Rushdan, who leads in assists and ranks second in scoring, steals and minutes, suffered a concussion during last week's game against Georgetown. She missed the game against Notre Dame.

Rutgers game nearing sellout status; Louisville game not so much

As I mentioned previously on this blog, Saturday's game at Rutgers is close to a sellout. The last time I received an update from UConn there were about 500 tickets available for the Rutgers game.

Out of curiousity, I reached out to Louisville to see how many tickets are remaining for Tuesday's game againsr UConn at the Yum Yum Center and Louisville women's SID Kim Pemberton said about 9,000 tickets are left. It should be noted that Louisville's home arena holds 22,000 so the Cardinals have sold more than half the tickets for the game.