Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cardoza wins battle of former UConn assistants

Emotions were undoubtedly high at Cincinnati's Fifth Third Arena yesterday as Tonya Cardoza and Jamelle Elliott, who became the best of friends during their days as UConn assistants, went head to head in a highly-competitive American Athletic Conference game.

Cardoza's Owls went into Cincinnati and emerged with a 56-47 win over Elliott's Bearcats behind 17 points from Rateska Brown.

Recently I asked Geno Auriemma what he thought it was going to be like when his ultra competitive former assistants led their teams up against each other.

"Let's say Cincinnati is playing Louisville and your best friend, Tonya Cardoza is playing UConn and that phone call at the end of the night it not going to be very good for the most part so now the two of them are playing against each other so one of them is going to lose but one of them is going to win so I like to look at it as it is not ideal, it is not fun but when they get on the bus one of them is going to go 'yeah. this is good, we got a W' and the other one is going to be really (upset)," Auriemma said. "I don't think you can avoid it long term for as many people as we pass through  in our lives. The one thing is good is I think is they both are going to be battling for a bye (in the AAC tournament) at the end of the season. I think both of them are in good shape, if everybody stays healthy everybody is in good shape."

At AAC media day both Cardoza, part of five national championships in 14 seasons on the Connecticut bench, and Elliott, who won five national titles in her 12 seasons as an assistant coach and another one as a player, addressed the conflicted emotions of squaring off each other.

"One of us has to lose, that is probably the biggest thing and we have never been in that moment before," Cardoza said. "Obviously I did it against Coach (Auriemma) but with Jamelle it is a little different because we are best friends, we really do talk to each other about three times a week, we are both very competitive so I know both of us are going to do everything in our power to make sure we beat the other guy. In the end we will enjoy, we will make a bet, winner has to buy dinner."

Obviously Elliott would rather pick up the dinner tab than be on the wrong side of the scoreboard yesterday.

"We both hate to lose," Elliott said. "We are both competitors, we both are self evaluators, what did we do wrong and what do we need to do to fix it. The good thing about Tonya and the most invaluable thing about our relationship is the fact that we know each other."

Former UConn forward Michala Johnson scored a career-high 32 points for Wisconsin but the Badgers lost to Northwestern 74-58 on Saturday.

Johnson was 13 of 16 from the field and made all six of her free-throw attempts but her teammates shot 9 of 40. Johnson also had 10 rebounds but also had nine turnovers.

Johnson is averaging a team-leading 16.1 points per game for Wisconsin. She transferred to play for the Badgers after playing sparingly in two seasons at UConn.


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