Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

UConn set for final trip to the RAC

Bria Hartley wouldn't have played again at the Louis Brown Athletic Center regardless of Rutgers' departure for the Big 10 but that doesn't mean that the senior guard isn't a little bit sentimental about her final game at Rutgers.

Rutgers has brought in top New York and New Jersey products for years and Hartley can still remember seeing some of Rutgers' great players playing for the Scarlet Knights.

"Cappie (Pondexter), I played with Exodus so I knew Kia Vaughn, Epiphanny Prince and I watched a lot of her career so I have watched them," Hartley said.

"Their fans do really, they are into the game, they are loud so you kind of tune that out when you are playing. I am sure the people watching think it is fun and enjoy it but as a player I think you are more focused on the game and we haven't really played well there so I am sure we will play a lot better."

Rutgers joins Notre Dame as the only teams to post three straight home wins at the expense of the Huskies during Pondexter's time at Rutgers. The rivalry has lost some of its luster in recent years but it is still something that UConn coach Geno Auriemma admitted he will miss when Rutgers is playing in the Big Ten.

"It is definitely one of more challenging environments to play in. I think ever since they entered the Big East, they always had a sense of going down there that was a great place to play," Auriemma said. "Their style of play, has been in the past, grind it out in the game. They are a little more open and offensive minded this year than they have been in the past but it has never been easy to go down there. It didn't matter whether they had a good team or not so good team. It has not been an easy place to play.

"I think the overriding thing is that I think their fans always wanted their team to be as good as our team and their fans always wanted Rutgers to compete for a national championship and we were the ones that got in the way for the Big East championship and we were the ones that got in the way  so just by that nature, we were the enemy and I think had we not been any good, done what we did, we wouldn't have had any of those issues but because of what we represent, it is something I think Rutgers fans want and that is natural, how they go about expressing themselves, it is in keeping with being a native of New Jersey. Everybody is giving Governor Christie a hard time but it is a product of his environment, if this was Philadelphia everybody will say 'what is the big deal?' If they acted a little differently I'd be disappointed."


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