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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, February 28, 2014

It's been a crazy ride for UConn seniors

There are few things that Geno Auriemma cherishes more in his players that reliability and accountability which is going to make bidding adieu to seniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley all the more emotional.

Some of that emotion figures to be on display when Dolson and Hartley take part in Senior Day festivities before tomorrow's game. They will also be inducted into the Huskies of Honor since Hartley earned All-American honors as a sophomore and Dolson did the same as a junior.

"I hear people talking about it all the time, this person is special, that is a special person, that is a special player and anybody who gets 20-10 one night is a special player. I think you prove who you are and what you are over a period of time," Auriemma said. "Bria and Stefanie have proven over the course of four years how special they are in the way they carry themselves, how they come to practice every day and what they have brought to our games, how much they have done from day one. It is not to say anything negative about anybody else, we have three guys right now who are coming off the bench and you look at their situations and look back at Bria and Stefanie's and you go those are what normal people do and what Stefanie and Bria did was special."

When Auriemma thinks of the two seniors, joy and exuberance is what he thinks of when Dolson's name is mentioned while passion and competitiveness are the attributes he admires the most in Hartley.

"There may have been times when Bria came to practice, very few and didn't feel right, was upset about something that happened and it carried over," Auriemma said. "There were some days like that but given normally what you face, Bria's been pretty consistent that's why the numbers are what they are. With Stefanie, I don't know how many practices we've had but how ever many practices we've had and however many days that she's had, that is how many good days that she has had and I am going to miss that."

Dolson and Hartley originally came in as part of a five-player class. Samarie Walker transferred to Kentucky midway through her freshman season while Lauren Engeln and Michala Johnson left for Boston College and Wisconsin after their freshman seasons.

"Of the court, whenever either of us had down moments or anything was going on in our head we had each pother to lean on and talk to," Dolson said. "It has helped us a lot and helped us on the court. We have grown a lot closer and because of that we have a better chemistry on the court, we make better decisions. This year we can help each other lead, we complement each other well and we can bounce ideas off of each other and that translates onto the court."

Dolson will move into a tie for ninth place on UConn's list for career games played and she will move into a tie for fourth with her 142nd game started. She needs five rebounds to become the fifth Husky with 1,000 career rebounds and the fourth with 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds.

"I think a lot of people have different stories," Dolson said. "I think a lot of girls come in with confidence and they know I am going to be an All-American, I am going to be on that wall and I am going to do this, this and this. For me, yes I wanted those things but I wasn't sure. I had doubts in my mind."

Hartley needs to play 32 minutes to move by Tiffany Hayes and into fourth place on UConn's career minutes played list. She is currently 10th in scoring, 10th in assists, 13th in assists and sixth in 3-pointers.

Still, she is doing her best not to think about the finality of it all since she could still play 10 more games AFTER Saturday.

"I want to stay focused on the game and what I have to do instead of all that senior stuff because I don't want to get too focused on that and get distracted during the game," Hartley said.

"You have to go through the hard time to get to the good times and even last year when I went through you kind of have to work through that stuff, it builds character, makes you become a better person and a better player. I try to keep that mindset. Me and Stef both went through that and we both have those values and even when things aren't going our way we aren't going to give up and we are going to keep working towards it and in the end we usually do well."

Usually do well is putting it mildly. UConn is 132-11 in games Dolson has played,131-11 when Hartley is on the court.

Fittingly, they have a chance to secure at least a share of their first conference title since their freshman year with a win against Rutgers.

We will be running a live blog during tomorrow's game against Rutgers.

The blog will go live at 3:30 p.m.

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