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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another first for UConn?

Since the WNBA's initial college draft in 1997 no university has produced first-round picks in five consecutive years. That could change Monday

If Tiffany Hayes is taken in the first round, something that seems rather likely, it would be the fifth straight year that a former Husky had their name called before the start of the second round. There are few things that make UConn's Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma much happier than the knowledge that his players leave better and more skilled than when they arrived.


“I think that is a big part of what we do, that is one of the things we talk a lot about with kids,” Auriemma said. “We are not going to promise that you win a national championship, we are not going to promise that you are going to be player of the year, we are not going to promise that you are going to play in the WNBA but we do tell you that you are going to get a lot better.
 
“If you come here you are going to get a lot better and whatever your goals are you are going to have a chance to reach them. When you get some of the best high school players in the country to come to your school, you would hope that a bunch of them get drafted in the first round otherwise you are not doing your job.”
UConn did not have a first-round pick in the first four WNBA drafts but have had a record 12 No. 1 picks over the last 11 drafts including No. 1 overall picks Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Charles and Moore.
Hayes is expected to be taken in the second half of the first round. However, as the drafting of Ketia Swanier with the 12th overall pick in 2008 proved, it is not out of the question for a former UConn player to go higher than anticipated.
“The top teams have the best players,” Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “It is not an accident that they (UConn) have a player, Tennessee has two or three players, Stanford has a player in this year's draft (expected to be taken in the first round). The best players right now for the most part are going to the best teams. You know with a UConn kid or other players from top programs that they are been well coached and there is an expectation of being good every day. You are not allowed to have slippage days, I think that is one of the attractive parts is that these kids have learned to compete on a daily basis and I think that helps them be prepared for our league.”
Brian Agler led Seattle to the 2010 WNBA title with the aid of former Huskies Sue Bird and Swin Cash so he knows a thing or two about the aura that former UConn players bring to the pro game.
“The one thing I always say about players from Connecticut and players from Tennessee and rich in tradition type programs is that they have always hold their college coaching staffs in high regard,” Agler said. “They continue to be a big part of their lives even after they get to the pro level. I think that is important in our evaluation because they are very team orientated. Tiffany definitely is that, she has had a great career there and I see her going in the first round, she has some versatility and some length but definitely her pedigree going through that program for four years playing on the great teams she has will help her. Each team in our league has high expectations and that is where she comes from.”

The draft begins shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday. The first round will be televised live on ESPN2 with the second and third rounds being shown on ESPNU.

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