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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Shields family no strangers to UConn's Auriemma

Walking through the hallways of Gampel Pavilion a couple days ago, UConn coach Geno Auriemma began to see plenty of familiar faces courtesy of the athletic department traveling staff of the Saint Joseph's squad.

His eyes lit up when he saw associate athletic director Renie Shields, who he coached when he was an assistant coach with the Hawks back in the early 1980s.

He got reacquainted with Shields' family when he recruited her daughter Kerri, who landed at Boston College. With daughter, Erin, the leading scorer on the current Hawks' team, he had a little fun at Renie's expense when they ran into each other.

"It is like never ending," Auriemma said. "When I saw Renie the other day I said 'please, I hope you don't have any other kids because I don't want to go through that anymore.' I am not at all surprised at anything those kids at Saint Joe's do and I am certainly not surprised at anything that Erin Shields does knowing her family background. They have a really good team, they are smart, they are talented, they take care of their business, they make free throws, they make shots when they have to and they are a fun team to watch."

Renie has nothing but great memories of her freshman year at Saint Joe's when the head coach was Jim Foster and Auriemma was an assistant coach.

"The one thing I remember about Geno is how much he challenged us every day and I don't think that has changed," Shields said. "He has challenged every player who has come through his program to be the best that they can be. It may not be the way that they like it but in the end that is the way it has to be done.

"As a freshman you come in and you have Jim Foster and Geno Auriemma as your two coaches and you think they know more than they do and they quickly tell you that you don't. They end up being in the all of Fame so I knew nothing.

"I see Geno a lot and we will run into each other by chance. It always neat to see Geno. He is a great guy ad you have to admire him and everything he has accomplished. Heck, who else has done it like him."

Although Erin never got recruited by UConn, she was thrilled to accompany Kerri on her recruiting trip to UConn.

"I think it was an awesome experience for both of us," she said. "I \was so young and I was just kind of following around. I didn't know much but it was a high-quality basketball."

Things went pretty well when Saint Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin came into Connecticut to secure a commitment from Ansonia's Ashley Prim. After a year with no Nutmeg State players, she will have another Connecticut product on the team as RHAM star Sarah Veilleux has signed with the Hawks.

"We were under the impression that she was down to a couple of schools and we were not one of those schools so we kind of backed off," Griffin said. "Then we got a phone call from the mother. She said Sarah is interested in coming down for a visit. It was a great game and they loved the atmosphere at Saint Joe's, they love the family feeling and we play in a great little arena and it has a lot of character."

Griffin has high hopes for Veilleux, who has scored more than 2,000 points, when she comes to Philadelphia.

"It is wonderful, I am sure she has gotten double teamed, triple teamed and score that many times with that much pressure, she is only going to get better in college like (Elena) Delle Donne at Delaware and once she got to the pros she is an all-star because they are playing one on one because of the players around her.

"I think for Sarah, I think she is one of the best shooters in the country, I think she can flat out shoot  the ball but she can score the all. She has the knack to be able to get her own shot  and use her versatility, she can play a lot of different positions, she can post up a little bit so taking advantage of that versatility is going to be the priority,"


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