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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rizzotti reflects on Hall of Fame induction

Even a week and a half after  Jen Rizzotti's induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the Hartford women's basketball coach and former UConn All-American guard is still trying to grasp the enormity of it all.

Rizzotti, the starting point guard on UConn's first national championship team, was shocked when she got the  call when she was informed that she would become the second UConn player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"It was phenomenal, we had a great time and it was a weekend I could spend with my family reflect on my playing career and really just relax," Rizzotti said after playing her round at the Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am on Wednesday. "Even being in Tennessee I still had a good time and it was nice to be able to thank the people who have been such a big influence in my life

"I was really shocked, It wasn't something I was expecting, it wasn't like I was counting down to the year where I would be eligible or anything. It was so out of the blue and I think I was shocked at first, then a little overwhelmed and then really excited for it.

"They did a phenomenal job of making us feel special, keeping it relaxed and not ever getting to the point where we felt overwhelmed so they did a great job of making all of us feel unique and special."

Rizzotti 's acceptance speech drew plenty of laughs when she admitted she was having a great time even though she was in Knoxville, Tennessee. She also spent much of it thanking UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who was at the induction ceremony.

""Obviously he has meant so much to me in my career and I talked a lot about him in my speech because everything I have done since my decision to go to UConn has impacted my life in so many great ways," Rizzotti said.

Rizzotti joined Rebecca Lobo as the former Huskies to be inducted. More UConn stars will be inducted in the coming years.

"It won't be long until there is another string of them," Rizzotti said. "Obviously some of them have to start retiring but there are so many UConn players that came after that 1995 team that have impacted the game in so many ways so it will be fun over the years to watch and see more UConn players go in.

"I wouldn't say I ever forget it but it is not something that is on the forefront of my mind anymore. Most importantly when I think back to those days, I know the winning was exciting and we reminisce about our experiences, we reminisce about the times that he had off the court, the trips that we went on and when I have the chance to reconnect not just with Rebecca but with Kara (Wolters), Carla (Berube), Colleen (Healy) and Missy (Rose) because of this kind of event it kind of makes it worth it."

Ironically, Rizzotti's Hawks will open the 2013-14 season by playing at UConn on Nov. 9.

"I am excited," Rizzotti said. "We have some turnover, sometimes that is good and sometimes that is tough and in this case it will be a good thing to have a clean slate and see what we can build on. We will be a young team but I think we will be a team that will peak at the right time. The last couple of years we have played really well early in the season and then tapered off. I think this team might hit its bumps early in the season but I see this team peaking hopefully at the end of February and into March right when you want to."

Hartford will play in Miami's tournament, hosts Vanderbilt and opens up home and home series with Boston College and Penn State by playing both of them on the road. Then there is the showdown with UConn.

"We play Nov. 9. I will call it the preseason scrimmage and we will start the following week when we go to Loyola," Rizzotti said with a laugh.

Rizzotti played in the Pro-Am with UConn AD Warde Manuel and men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie while the pro was Jonas Blixt.

"To be able to play with the pro is exciting because I am just in awe of what they can do and as competitive of a person that I am, I would love to hit the ball down the middle of the fairway every time," Rizzotti said. "We had a really friendly pro today in Jonas Blixt who I will be rooting for over the weekend and to have a chance to play with Warde and Kevin was a lot of fun, they are both really good golfers and just easy to be around."

So how did she play?

"Up and down, typical of somebody who plays five or six times a year. I had a stretch of four or five pars and then a bunch of triple bogeys so (she finished) right around my handicap."

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