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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, December 17, 2012

No introductions necessary for Rizzotti

Jen Rizzotti is certainly no stranger to UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma since the Hall of Famer to be played for Auriemma for four glorious seasons and was the point guard on UConn's first national championship team. But the veteran University of Hartford coach also knows a thing or two about many of the UConn players.

Rizzotti coached Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley on the U.S. U-18 squad back in 2010. The following year she was the head coach of the U.S. U-19 national team which featured not only Dolson and Hartley but also Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck.

“I don't know if I have anything to do with their emergence but it is kind of fun to think I was there at the beginning and to see their growth, even the difference between Stefanie and Bria from the year prior and the year (with the U-18 national team in 2010) after when I had them after a year at UConn, it was great to see their maturity and the way they were as leaders,” Rizzotti said. “Even as young players they were older on our team so they really stepped up and I love their personalities, they are good kids. Breanna Stewart is one of the nicest kids; you would never know that she gets the attention that she does. Morgan Tuck, she was probably the easiest of any of them to coach. She was like a hard worker, a great attitude.

“It will be fun. Once the game starts I don't really think about my opponent but I am always cheering for them. They are great because of what is inside of them. They go to UConn because they want to be even better and that is what drives them. It is like a present for me to be able to coach kids who are already so driven. I don't know if I can say I had anything to do with their success but I am happy to be a part of their past and it will be nice to see them on Saturday “

Saturday will be eighth time Rizzotti will be playing the school where she was an All-American and national player of the year but the first one at the friendly confines of the Chase Family Arena.

“I think it is great for our seniors,” Rizzotti said. “They have played UConn a few times in their careers but never at home. Going into the (XL) Center and playing in front of 12,000 people is exciting the first time or two but it gets kind of old. Now they have a chance to play in our own arena with a comfort level and in front of our fans, we've had people who have been season-ticket holders since they've gotten here and this game is for them. They come to every game whether we blow people out or we lose and they support our team. Now they get a chance to have a front-row seat for UConn and they can't get that when they go to UConn.

“It is a nice opportunity to celebrate the success of our program, the atmosphere we already have here and to have people who have a chance to come into our gym and see what we are all about. It is a great place to watch a game, it is going to be fun and electric and the fans are going to be on top of you. For our kids I think it will be a wonderful experience and for our fans, it is kind of a reward for them.”

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