Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Stewart a finalist for Honda Cup

Breanna Stewart, the leading scorer on the UConn team which went 40-0 and won the program's ninth's national time, was among the final three finalists for the prestigious Honda Cup. Alabama gymnast Kim Jacobs beat out Stewart and Dartmouth distance runner Abbey D'Agostino to win the award.

Stewart was one of the 12 candidates for the award after being named the women's basketball's Honda Award winner as she averaged 19.4 points and 8.1 rebounds and also had 122 assists and 110 blocked shots as a sophomore to earn the Honda Award for women's basketball which made her eligible for the ultimate honor.


UConn freshman's busy summer to be challenging

Today was all about celebrating Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena landing the final exhibition game on American soil before the U.S. team leaves for the FIBA World Championship for Women.

Naturally, the fact that the U.S. will play Canada, which features incoming UConn freshman Kia Nurse, was a popular topic of conversation with UConn and U.S. coach Geno Auriemma. He believes spending the summer training with the Canadian national team and playing in the World Championships will be invaluable for her much like the time spent with the Russian national team program aided Svetlana Abrosimova during her time at UConn.

There is an aspect of Nurse's participation in the World Championships which I have been meaning to bring up with Auriemma and that was how they will be dealing with the large amount of time that Nurse will be away from campus while the fall semester is in session. UConn's fall semester is set to begin on Aug. 25 and the World Championships run through Oct. 5 so Nurse will have plenty of work to do to keep up to date with her academical responsibilities. I was able to bring up the subject today and here are his thoughts.

"There really isn't anything you can do other than (offer) all the support she is getting from the University of Connecticut," Auriemma said. "We have been through this before. Through today's technology there are a lot of ways to take classes, a lot of ways for you to do work without you actually being present so we are going to be creative. The people at school have figured out a way to do this. I would be more concerned if she wasn't a great student, if she wasn't even more mature than she is because she is one of the most mature 17 year olds I have ever been around so there isn't that much of a concern as you would have for somebody else."

UConn finished sixth on the women's side and seventh among men's programs in the Capital One Cup.

Here is the release from UConn

The University of Connecticut finished among the top schools in the country in the final standings for the Capital One Cup as the Huskies were sixth in the women’s standings and seventh on the men’s side.

Here is the release from UConn

The Capital One Cup competition is based on top-10 finishes in a combination of NCAA championships and final polls and recognizes the top-achieving programs in college athletics.UConn was just one of four schools nationally, joining Oregon, Florida and Maryland, to finish in the top 10 of both the men’s and women’s standings.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments of our Husky teams this past year,” said UConn Director of Athletics Warde Manuel. “I am thankful for all the hard work and dedication of our student-athletes and coaching staffs. The results of the Capital One Cup are another example that UConn continues to be of the elite athletic programs in the country.”

The Huskies received points on the men’s side from the sports of basketball and soccer. The UConn men’s basketball team won the 2014 NCAA Championship and became the first seven-seed in the history of the tournament to win the event. In men’s soccer, the Huskies advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship for the third-straight year.The UConn basketball and field hockey teams both won NCAA Championship to earn points in the women’s standings. Along with the men’s basketball championship, UConn won three NCAA titles during the 2013-14 academic year – the first time that has happened in school history.The national title was the ninth for the Husky women’s basketball program and the third by the field hockey team. 

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It's official: U.S./Canada to play exhibition game in Bridgeport

UConn fans who want to get a glimpse of UConn incoming freshman Kia Nurse will get their opportunity on Sept. 15 when Nurse and Canada plays the U.S. team coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma in an exhibition game at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

Canada qualified for the FIBA World Championships by finishing second at the FIBA Americas Championship for Women in September. Nurse scored in double figures in three straight games and she ended up as Canada's third leading scorer averaging 10 points, 2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the six games.
The game will come after the U.S. holds a training camp in Annapolis, Maryland while Canada just completed the first of three scheduled training camps which ended with Canada sweeping a three-game series against Brazil.

The U.S. training has gravitated towards the Washington, D.C. area when it is on the East Coast but there is a history of training camps and exhibition games being held in the state of Connecticut.

In April of 2010 the U.S. national team spent a week training at either Gampel Pavilion or at the University of Hartford and in July of that year Mohegan Sun hosted an exhibition between the U.S. and Australia.
Former UConn stars Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi are expected to be on the U.S. team playing in the FIBA World Championship for women while current Huskies Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart and former UConn standout Stefanie Dolson are also in the player pool.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

UConn commit Samuelson stars again in U17 World Championships

UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson was the leading scorer for the U.S. in the second time in as many games in the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women as she had 17 points, four rebounds and two steals in an 88-40 win over France as the U.S. improves to 2-0 in Group D play.

UConn recruiting target Asia Durr added 14 points and four rebounds, UConn recruiting targets Arike Ogunbowale and Sabrina Ionescu had nine points each while UConn commit De'Janae Boykin had six points, three rebounds and three assists. Kristine Anigwe scored in double figures for the second game in a row as she finished with 10 points and UConn recruiting target Lauren Cox had seven points, a team-leading eight rebounds and two blocks as the U.S. rolled past a France team which beat then in an exhibition game exactly a week earlier. The U.S. was in command throughout but made a statement by outscoring France 26-1 in the fourth quarter. The U.S. wraps up pool play on Tuesday against Mali.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

UConn's Nurse helps Canada sweep Brazil

UConn incoming freshman Kia Nurse had eight points and one rebound as the Canadian national team defeated Brazil 68-63 to sweep the three-game series in the Edmonton Grads International Classic at the University of Alberta.

After missing the first game so she could attend her high school graduation Nurse had 18 points in the final two games against Brazil.


UConn commit Samuelson lights it up in U17 opener

After missing the three tune-up exhibitions due to illness, UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson returned to the court in a major way for the U.S. U-17 team.

Samuelson had a game-high 22 points aided by four 3-pointers and six rebounds as the U.S. defeated China 69-41  in the opening game of Group D play at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women.

Fellow UConn commit De'Janae Boykin started and finished with two points and three rebounds while UConn recruiting targets Lauren Cox and Sabrina Ionescu led the U.S. with 12 rebounds and five assists respectively. The U.S. will face France, the team which beat the Samuelson-less U.S. in an international friendly, tomorrow before wrapping up pool play against Mali on Tuesday.

Here are quotes from Samuelson and Cox courtesy of USA Basketball

Katie Lou Samuelson
On getting back in the lineup after missing the USA's three exhibition games due to illness:
It felt awesome. It's been such a long time because I had to sit out our exhibition games. It's just a great feeling to finally get out on the floor.

On the game:
I think the first half, we could have played a lot better defensively. But coming out in the second half, we definitely stepped it up and put pressure on them and played just overall a lot better.

On her 22 points:
I just was trying to score within the flow of the game without forcing anything. My teammates got me the ball. I was hitting in the second half, and they really found me. I think I can give the credit to them for finding me and coach leaving me in the game.

On the USA's poor first-half shooting:
At halftime we all knew we weren't shooting well, so we didn't want to force it. Coach's emphasis was on going inside-out, and we tried to get the ball in the paint so we could get our game going. I think we did that, and the shots started falling.

Lauren Cox
On her 12 rebounds:
I think that is part of my role on this team is to get in there and get offensive and defensive rebounds, so I really try to do that every game.

On leading by just seven points at halftime:
I don't think we were worried, we just needed to fix a few things. And we did that. We came out strong in the third quarter. We picked up our defensive intensity, which really helped. We were able to control the tempo.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

UConn's Nurse delivers for Canada

After missing the first of the three international friendlies against Brazil so she could take part in her high school graduation, UConn incoming freshman Kia Nurse returned  in time to take part in the second of the exhibitions on Friday.

Nurse had 10 points despite not shooting the ball particularly well to go with two rebounds, two assists and a team-high three steals in the 79-72 victory.

The third and final game will be played on Saturday.


Details of U.S./Canada friendly to be made official at Monday press conference

It was announced that Geno Auriemma will be among those at a press conference announcing that the U.S. Senior Women's National Team will play an exhibition game against Canada (featuring UConn incoming freshman Kia Nurse) on Sept. 15 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

The press conference is set for Monday at 1 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Geno has last laugh as he juggles UConn and USA Basketball duties

It almost seems preposterous to think that some opposing coaches have attempted to use Geno Auriemma's appointment as the U.S. coach at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics against him. However, that is exactly what has happened as there are rival coaches telling top recruits that Auriemma is too busy coaching the national team when he should be pursuing them.

Since first being named to coach the U.S. Senior Women's National Team all Auriemma has done is led UConn to a record of 183-11, the last five Final Fours and the Huskies have won three national titles during that span.

"I have read it before," Auriemma said, "USA Basketball is going to be the demise of our recruiting. I just hope it doesn't keep hurting us like it has been hurting us these past four years."

Auriemma didn't become a Hall of Famer by not being able to adjust on the fly. He knew that there were times when he should have been on the recruiting trail when his U.S. national team duties prevented that. This time around he was a little more proactive when it came to identifying top prospects in the Classes of 2015 and 2016 (the new NCAA regulations allowing earlier contact with recruits aided in this task).

"We did a lot during the spring and it paid off. We did a lot last winter and it paid off. I think the kids know that I m not going to be around in September so when I get back that first week in October, we will pick up right from there."

UConn, coming off signing an outstanding class with the additions of Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams, has already secured commitments from top 10 Class of 2015 players De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. UConn would love to add either Asia Durr or Arike Ogunbowale to the class signing with UConn in November. The Huskies are also ahead of the game when it comes to the Class of 2016 as six of the top eight players in ESPN HoopGurlz rankings (Lauren Cox, Jaelyn Brown, Sabrina Ionescu, Tori McCoy, Crystal Dangerfield and Erin Boley) are on UConn's recruiting radar. Add in  Kelly Jekot, another player UConn is very high on, and the Huskies have set themselves up to have another top-flight recruiting class.

 "Some people took advantage of it (the new rules allowing unlimited contact by way of text message, phone call and social media at the end of their sophomore year) and some people didn't," Auriemma said. "Some people thought it was a great idea and some people didn't think it was a great idea. To me the biggest advantage of the rule change is you can have contact with the kids early so you can find out at an earlier age whether there is an interest level and you are wasting all this time recruiting somebody and finding out at the last minute it was for nothing. At least now you find out right away, I want this kid or I don't want them. This kid wants us or doesn't want us. Identifying who we think we can get and working really hard to get them up to school, get them involved. For us, once we get them on campus and once they've spend enough time with our players, the rest is not that difficult."

Three of UConn's four current freshmen are on campus. The only one missing is Nurse but she has a pretty good reason as she is training with the Canadian national team.

Today, Friday and Saturday she will be in action when Canada hosts Brazil in three international friendlies. I haven't seen any links for a live stream or live stats but you can try to get updates using the #canvsbrayeg hashtag on Twitter.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

UConn freshmen making a good impression

Joining a program that has won the last two national titles and became just the second women's team to post a 40-0 record isn't the easiest of tasks but in the eyes of UConn's most experienced players, the newcomers on the 2014-15 UConn squad are handling themselves just fine.

"Sadie (Edwards) is doing a great job of getting to the hole, Courtney (Ekmark) lights it up from the outside," rising junior guard Moriah Jefferson said. "I haven't really gotten to play with Gabby (Williams) and Kia (Nurse) yet but they are doing a really good job with workouts and everything so I am excited.

""They are coming in with the same mentality of work hard and we have had no problems so far and hopefully it just stays that way. I am proud of them so far and I like the way they are approaching it. Natalie (Butler, a 6-5 transfer from Georgetown) is good, she is a good post player and really versatile in the post. She has a lot of different moves and she has a nice jumper as well. She gets the year off and the training with the coaches, I am sure it will develop her even more."

While Butler will need to sit out this season due to NCAA regulations on transfers, the quartet of Edwards, Ekmark, Nurse and Williams could all have prominent roles as the Huskies attempt to fill the void left by the graduation of All-Americans Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley.

"They all have their own different assets," Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. "Sadie is really athletic, Courtney is very smart player, a very good shooter, Gabby we haven't seen her play yet because she can't do contact (drills) but when Kia was here and played pick-up, she is smart, she is aggressive, she is really good. I am just excited for them to play. Natalie is coming and she is a strong post player, she works hard every day and she wants to get better. It is a different feeling because they don't know anything but to try to keep everybody happy, try to work hard and whatever you say they are like 'OK, OK, we are going to try to do that.' It is nice to come in and you kind of get a chance to mold them into great UConn players, show them UConn values and what we expect here at UConn and they just want to make sure they meet those expectations." 

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pair of former UConn stars leading way in WNBA All-Star balloting

The WNBA released the first batch of voting results for next month's WNBA All-Star Game being held in Phoenix.

Former UConn stars Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi are atop the Western Conference list for forwards and guards respectively.

Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky leads all players with 16,542 votes. Moore leads all Western Conference players with 16,509 while Taurasi has 10,487 votes. If voting ended at the time of the early returns the starters for the Eastern Conference would be Shoni Schimmel and Ivory Latta in the backcourt, Delle Donne, Angel McCoughtry and Tamika Catchings (who has not played a game this season due to a back injury). In the Western Conference Moore, Parker and Taurasi would be joined by Seimone Augustus and Brittney Griner.

Fans can vote for up to 10 players per day on, mobile devices, and the WNBA Center Court App presented by Boost Mobile.  Fans also can cast votes on Facebook and Twitter, voting for one player per day using the designated hashtag #WNBABALLOT. Balloting will conclude at midnight ET on Wednesday, July 2.  Starters will be announced on July 8 during the nationally-televised game between Los Angeles and Minnesota while the reserves will be announced during the broadcast of the July 15 game between Los Angeles and Indiana. The game will be played on July 19.

Here are the voting results
Guards: Shoni Schimmel (Atl) 14,635; Ivory Latta (Was) 5,974; Cappie Pondexter (NY) 5926; Briann January (Ind) 5,341; Courtney Vandersloot (Chi) 4,972; Katie Douglas (Con) 4,182; Kara Lawson (Was) 2,914; Epiphanny Prince (Chi) 2,707; Shavonte Zellous (Ind) 2,256; Matee Ajavon (Atl) 1,556; Anna Cruz (NY) 1,517; Allison Hightower (Con) 1,109
Frontcourt: Elena Delle Donne (Chi) 16,542; Angel McCoughtry (Atl) 9,736; Tamika Catchings (Ind) 8,341; Erika de Souza (Atl) 7,579; Chiney Ogwumike (Con) 6,922; Tina Charles (NY) 5,897; Jessica Breland (Chi) 3,125; Sylvia Fowles (Chi) 2,756; Sancho Lyttle (Atl) 2,525; Erlana Larkins (Ind) 2,151; Marissa Coleman (Ind) 1,794; Emma Meesseman (Was) 1,692; Kelsey Griffin (Con) 1,240;  Kelsey Bone (Con) 1,205; Kia Vaughn (Was) 1,180; Essence Carson (NY) 1,099; Monique Currie (Was) 1,044; Plenette Pierson (NY) 900
Guards: Diana Taurasi (Phx) 10,487; Seimone Augustus (Minn) 10,024; Lindsay Whalen (Minn) 8,898; Skylar Diggins (Tul) 8,447; Sue Bird (Sea) 4,506; Becky Hammon (SA) 4,216; Danielle Robinson (SA) 2,889; Erin Phillips (Phx) 2,453; Kristi Toliver (LA) 2,119; Alana Beard (LA) 1,641; Riquna Williams (Tul) 1,151; Tanisha Wright (Sea) 790 Frontcourt: Maya Moore (Minn) 16,509; Candace Parker (LA) 13,704; Brittney Griner (Phx) 10,214; Kayla McBride (SA) 6,220; Nneka Ogwumike (LA) 6,129; Janel McCarville (Minn) 5,048; Candice Dupree (Phx) 4,801; Glory Johnson (Tul) 3,329; DeWanna Bonner (Phx) 3,170; Rebekkah Brunson (Minn) 2,932; Crystal Langhorne (Sea) 2,156; Jayne Appel (SA) 2,100; Courtney Paris (Tul) 1,878; Sophia Young-Malcolm (SA) 1,611; Camille Little (Sea) 1,214; Jantel Lavender (LA) 1,181; Shekinna Stricklen (Sea) 1,027; Jordan Hooper (Tul) 996

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UConn's Moore, Stewart up for ESPY

The finalists for ESPY awards were announced today and in the Best Female Athlete category two of the four candidates are either current or former UConn stars as Maya Moore, now lighting it up for the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, and reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart are joined by UFC's Ronda Rousey and skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin. Stewart is also up for the Best Female College Athlete honor

The UConn women's basketball team joins the Boston Red Sox, Florida State football, Los Angeles Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Seattle Seahawks in the Best Team category.

Moore is predictably also up for the Best WNBA Player award while Geno Auriemma is a candidate for Best Coach/Manager along with UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie

The UConn men's basketball team is one of three finalists in Best Upset category.

The winners will be announced during the annual ESPYs awards show on July 16 beginning at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

UConn freshman Williams' promising high jump career on hold

I remember that day back in 2012 as if it just happened. I had just written a story on former Amity High star Allison Barwise qualifying to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials in the high jump so when the trials were being held I made sure to tune in.

Barwise, who just recently completed an outstanding career at Boston University, had a strong showing even if she did not advance to the finals. Chaunte Lowe, Brigette Barrett and veteran Amy Acuff were the top three finishers and the U.S. representatives in the Olympics. However, it was a 15-year-old Gabby Williams who stole the show.

I vividly recall the commotion from the other jumpers when she soared over the bar at 1.84 meters (6-0 1/2) on her third and final attempt and when she successful cleared the next night (1.87 meters/6-2 1/4) to be among the final five contenders for the three Olympic spots. She had three solid efforts at the next height before being eliminated.

Little did I know at the time that I would be writing about Williams in the coming years only not for her high jumping prowess. When Williams first started being recruited by UConn one of the stipulations was that she was going to redshirt during her true sophomore season so she could train for the Olympics. However. much has changed since that time. Williams was one of the seven members of the 2014-15 UConn team at the Hartford Golf Club for Geno Auriemma's Fore the Kids charity golf tournament. As her time speaking with the media was winding down I asked if she missed competing for the track and field team during her senior season at Reed High School. Williams said she did and then she dropped this little nugget as well.

"I decided not to track here (at UConn) so this year was supposed to be just for fun, leave my last mark," Williams said.

Naturally, I had to ask Williams if that meant she was putting her Olympic high jumping aspirations on the back burner for the time being or putting them in her rear-view mirror.

"I am going to put it on hold," Williams said. "I haven't decided yet, I still have a lot of time. training after college (to make a run at making the 2020 Olympic team) but I really want to focus on college basketball."

Williams admitted that even after she was recovering from her second torn ACL in as many years she was able to do a little high jumping.

"I was still high jumping at home, it was one of the first things I was able to do because my non-injured leg is my jumping leg and then you just land on the mat so I was high jumping a little at home but nothing competitively," Williams said.

As for basketball, Williams said "I'm ahead of where I thought I'd be, honestly. I didn't think I'd be able to cut like I am right now."

There is no set time frame for when she will be able to practice without restriction but she hopes it comes before she heads home in August after finishing up summer classes.

"I honestly have no idea," Williams said. "I am hoping before I leave in August but Rosemary (Ragle, UConn's athletic trainer) is on vacation so I am waiting for her to get back so she can give me a time frame. I am trying to be patient. It is a lot easier this time because I didn't tear my meniscus this time so I don't have to be as careful. Last year I wasn't weight bearing for a very long time. I don't have to be patient because I am already doing some stuff I didn't think I'd be doing."

So what isn't she able to do right now?

"Mostly just contact," Williams said. "I don't get to do individual practices, instead I do rehab so when I can get into the gym and shoot I do."

Williams certainly got plenty of shooting in during the last two years when she was unable to play.

"My range behind 3-point line (has improved) because it is easy for me to get to the basket being a tall guard but when they have somebody bigger on me I want to be able to pull up," Williams said. "I have been working on it because all I can really do is shooting drills. Before I got here and I was working out at home I was able to do a lot of basketball drills too so on drills I am focusing on jumping off the right foot and get it even with the other one."

When I spoke with her father during the recruiting process he made it clear that he not only wanted Gabby not to play as a senior to prevent another knee injury from occurring (which is exactly what happened) but also was in favor of her redshirting as a true freshman. Gabby Williams said there is no reason for her not to play during this upcoming season.

"It's kind of inevitable," Williams said. "There is no point on waiting a year. If I am going to get hurt again it is going to happen, it is not something you can control."

She looks at her two previous ACLs as little more than unfortunate mishaps with the second one a result of the tendon graft not taking.

"I am really glad that I did (play as a senior) because what they are saying is my graft just didn't take so I am glad I played and found out it wasn't right otherwise I would have came here with something different about it," Williams said. "It wasn't the doctor's fault or anything but it was just the 1/1000 chance that it didn't take. I am glad they caught it and there was enough time for me to get surgery and rehab it before the season starts."

Williams said she can feel the difference in the knee this year compared to how it felt a season ago.

She is obviously excited beyond belief for the chance to get back on the court after much of her final two seasons in high school being wiped out by two torn ACLs. She is not alone. On a recent radio show UConn coach Auriemma said Williams could be as good of an athlete as he has ever brought to UConn.

"I don't want to make him look bad but coming out and not being the athlete that he says I am but it also makes me focus on being more than just an amazing athlete, I also want to be a really skillful player," Williams said. "It is a lot to live up especially when he says something about you."

Williams was the last of the four freshmen to arrive on campus as she just recently graduated from high school. Kia Nurse was here for the first two days of summer session (although she was not enrolled) before she left for the first of three training camps with the Canadian national team this summer. Auriemma mentioned the possibility of one or two exhibition games between the U.S. national team he coaches and the Canadian team that Nurse is a member of in the time after the end of the September training camp in Annapolis, Maryland and when the team leaves for Turkey for the FIBA World Championships. He said talks are underway for one of the games to be played in Delaware and the other in Connecticut but when I spoke to the folks at USA Basketball yesterday, they said nothing has been finalized for those potential exhibition games.

I will have more on fellow freshmen Courtney Ekmark and Sadie Edwards in the coming days.


Monday, June 23, 2014

UConn's Tuck gradually working her way back

Seven members of the 2014-15 UConn women's basketball team volunteered at Geno Auriemma's annual charity golf tournament earlier today at the Hartford Golf Club. Naturally the appearance of freshmen Courtney Ekmark, Sadie Edwards and Gabby Williams generated plenty of interest from the assembled media. However, the first player to speak with the media was Morgan Tuck.

Tuck had plenty to talk about since this was the first time we have spoken with her since the end of the 2013-14 season. Tuck was forced to watch the majority of the season from the sidelines after undergoing a pair of knee surgeries. Tuck isn't back doing basketball-related drills yet but she is making steady progress as she aims to be ready to go by the time the first official practice is held in October.

"It feels really good, it feels just like my other knee does," Tuck said. "I can't tell the difference when I am running, I am just tired because I am out of shape. Right now my knee feels the best it has in a very long time, it (stunk) to sit out and miss the majority of the season but I think in the end it was worth it.

"With the ACL I know how it is to be out, I know what it's like to come back from injury when you have been out for a long time. I am going to make sure I work hard during rehab so when I come back I know I am ready.

"I think it was the right decision because now I can have the whole season to try to (play). They told me six months so it would be really close to the beginning of the season. I can't do any cutting, I can do jump shots or anything like that but I do anything too crazy. I am not sprinting yet. I don't have an exact time but I hoping for the end of July where I can go back to fully playing."

While it will be a special day when Tuck is able to practice without restriction, she has other landmarks that she has attained.

"Recently I have been able to start running with my full body weight and to me that was really exciting because I hadn't run in four months, Tuck said. "Right now that is what I am trying to do, build up the amount of running I can do."

Tuck is eligible to reclaim a fifth season of eligibility but that process of having her be granted another season is still going on.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

U.S. U-17 team falls to France; World Championships up next

UConn commit De'Janae Boykin scored in double digits
in two of the three games in exhibition tournament.
The U.S. U-17 team lost to host France 78-72 in the final day of an exhibition tournament despite a huge game from UConn recruiting target Asia Durr.

Durr had 22 points (on 9 of 13 shooting) and six assists. Fellow Class of 2015 UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale added 12 points while UConn commit De'Janae Boykin and Kristine Anigwe finished with 10 points and seven rebounds each.

Durr, who led the U.S. in scoring by averaging 15 points per game, was joined on the all-tournament team by Joyner Holmes who averaged 12.7 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds a game. Boykin averaged 9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, Ogunbowale's 12.7 scoring average was tied for second on the team. UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson did not play in any of the three games due to illness. She is considered to be day for day as the U.S. heads to Czech Republic for the FIBA U-17 World Championshups.

The U.S. opens play in the World Championships on Saturday. A rematch with France will be on Sunday and preliminary round play ends on Tuesday when the U.S. meets Mali.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

UConn's Auriemma to be hitting the links

While Geno Auriemma didn't make it to the Travelers Championship this week, he does have some time set aside for golf-related activities in the coming weeks.

On Monday will be the annual Geno Auriemma's Fore The Kids charity golf tournament at Hartford Golf Club with returning starters Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson as well as freshmen Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark and Gabby Williams expected to be volunteering at the event. Then, from July 18-20 he will be playing in the prestigious American Century Championships. Auriemma will be joined by former UConn men's basketball star Ray Allen and former NFL quarterback Steve Young, a star QB at Greenwich High before he headed to BYU. There is expected to be around 80 celebrities playing in the event in Lake Tahoe.

UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale goes in for two of her team-high
16 points as UConn commit De'Janae Boykin look on in victory over China
UConn commit De'Janae Boykin started and finished with 10 points, four rebounds and two steals as the U.S. U-17 team prepared for the upcoming FIBA U-18 World Championships by beating China 89-49 in an international friendly.

UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale led six U.S. players in double figures with 16 points. UConn recruiting targets Asia Durr and Lauren Cox added 13 and 10 points respectively. UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson did not play in the game due to illness and she is considered day to day. The U.S. will play exhibitions against Canada on Saturday and host France on Sunday before heading to the Czech Republic, the site of the World Championships.

Here are quotes from Ogunbowale and fellow UConn recruiting target Sabrina Ionescu courtesy of USA Basketball.

Sabrina Ionescu
On tonight's game:
I think we played really well for our first game. We ran a lot of plays, and I think we executed like we were supposed to. I think we came out and played really well.

How can this team improve?
I think it is about keeping up the intensity throughout the whole game, even when we get tired. We need to play with a lot of effort, like we should play.

On the team's chemistry:
We are getting to know each other better and what everyone's strengths and weaknesses are, so I think throughout these next couple of days, I think we are just going to get better and better.

On playing in the team's first game:
It felt great finally playing against another team beside ourselves or our scrimmage opponent. Finally, we are executing our plays and playing in a real game, and it is just going to make us better.

Arike Ogunbowale
On tonight's game:
I was just really excited to play against another team, besides our teammates and the boy's team we scrimmaged, so it was really fun to get out there.

Did you think the team had played well?
I think we played well. We kept the intensity up the whole game, even through substitutions, so I think we did really good.

On the second quarter run:
Coach told us to keep the intensity up and not let down, and we did that.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Connecticut Sun's Hightower hopes to return to court next week

Normally the last thing a team on a five-game winning streak wants is an eight-day break between games. However, for Allison Hightower and the Connecticut Sun the bizarre scheduling quirk could prove to be just what the doctor ordered.

The Sun played four games in six days and won each of them. Hightower, a former all-star guard, missed the last three contests due to a knee injury. Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan said that Hightower is truly day to day so a return can't be too far away. After Tuesday's win over Indiana I caught up with Hightower to see if she has an idea of when she will be returning to the court.

"Hopefully within the next week," Hightower said. "I am doing different tests and rehab every day and hopefully I'll be playing next week. It (the eight-day break) is a perfect time for me because I am able to get myself back and see if I can get back next week."

Hightower admits that she has no idea how she suffered the knee injury but after feeling something strange while walking, she had it checked out by the Sun's medical staff.

Considering how young this Connecticut Sun team is, the fact that the Sun were also to keep winning while one of the team's best perimeter defenders and top offensive options was sitting on the sidelines was an impressive achievement.

"I am proud of this team," Hightower said, "Everybody continues to work hard every day on the court and in practice. Everybody gives that energy we need night in and night out and everybody is stepping up.

"Everybody gets along in here, we all have one goal in here, we all want to win. It feels good to win and when we are at home, we protect our home court. It feels good but we know we don't want to stop here, it is only the beginning and want to keep moving forward and continue to get better."

UConn's Dolson and Hartley candidates for NCAA Woman of Year

Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley were teammates for four years at UConn.
They are now teammates with the WNBA's  Washington Mystics and
 both made the list of candidates for NCAA Woman of the Year.
The NCAA announced the candidates for its prestigious Woman of Year award and former UConn All-American center Stefanie Dolson and guard Bria Hartley are among the recipients.

Dolson was a starter on national championship teams during her junior and senior seasons and she was a decorated student-athlete who was the winner of the Senior CLASS Award while Hartley was a two-time All-American at UConn and the co-captain of the 2013-14 team which became the second women's squad to finish 40-0.

Connecticut Sun rookie Chiney Ogwumike is also a candidate for the award. As for other Connecticut products on the list Megan Barry (Hartford cross country), Hannah Brickley (Trinity volleyball/basketball), Lianna Carrero (Albertus Magnus basketball), Hayley Moyer (Fairfield volleyball), Anna Pleban (Southern Connecticut State swimming). Also a pair of softball players from Connecticut made the list as Newtown's Kate Bowen was Manhattan's representative and Glastonbury's Johanna Clair was chosen from Tufts while Cheshire's Katharine Eddy, a women's lacrosse player from Colby, also made the list which included 446 athletes from Division I, II and III. The list will be cut to 30, 10 from each division. Three finalists in each division will be announced in September with the winner being honored at a ceremony in Indianapolis on Oct. 19.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blair Academy's Batouly Camara commits to Kentucky

Batouly Camara, who had just recently appeared on UConn's recruiting radar, committed to Kentucky according to Bret McCormick of All-Star Girls' Report.

University of Kentucky picks up 2015 verbal fromASGR#13 Batouly Camara 6-2 4/5 Blair Academy NJ. Originally from Nigeria.AAU Gauchos.

Camara was a teammate of UConn freshman Sadie Edwards at Blair Academy. When I spoke to the 6-foot-2 Class of 2015 forward at the U-18 national team trials in May she didn't appear to be in a hurry to make a college decision.

"I probably should rush that but I am going to start taking officials in the fall and that is where I am right now. haven't narrowed list," Camara said.

Three times the fun for UConn's Chris Dailey at Travelers

While a prior commitment kept UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma from making an appearance at the Travelers Championship, associate head coach Chris Dailey has made herself at home at TPC River Highlands.

On Monday Dailey took part in a Pro-Am. On Wednesday she was back in Cromwell to play in a charity mini-golf event along with UConn AD Warde Manuel and football coach Bob Diaco in the morning before playing in the Celebrity Pro-Am in the afternoon.

"Last year was easier," Dailey said after the mini-golf event. "They made the degree of difficulty harder but it was fun. I played on Monday so they let bad golfers play in a lot of events here. They give opportunities to everybody. The people are really nice and I have met a lot of great people."

Dailey said while the coaches are allowed to work with the players on a limited basis, the UConn staff doesn't plan on overworking the team during the summer.

"We have done some individuals but it is a hard balance between taking advantage of the rule and not killing them now in June," Dailey said. "It is a long season, if you are any good you play from September to April so we are trying to balance that. They are working really hard in the weight room and done some individuals which I think is really helpful for the freshmen because they don't know what to expect."

Only half of the freshman class has been taking advantage of spending most of June on campus as Kia Nurse is at Canada's training camp and Gabby Williams just arrived following graduation. It has given Sadie Edwards and Courtney Ekmark a chance to get comfortable on campus.

"I think that no matter how prepared you think you are, your head is spinning for the first two weeks trying to figure it all out," Dailey said. "I would say they have all adjusted to it pretty well."

There will be more on how the offseason work has been going when Auriemma and the players are made available at Auriemma's anual golf tournament on Monday. Dailey said that reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart will have a conflict with her summer session schedule so she will not be there on Monday. Also, Nurse will be with the Canadian national team and won't be there either. Of course, Brianna Banks will also be absent as she made the decision to transfer to a school yet to be announced.

"You are always disappointed when somebody leaves you program but we wish Bri the best," Dailey said. "Everybody deserves a second chance and hopefully with hers she will make the best of it. I think everybody has to make a personal decision and this was a personal decision by Bri and her family and I just hope it works out well."

I also asked Dailey whether Morgan Tuck was back to doing basketball-related drills as she is coming back from knee surgery which ended her sophomore season prematurely.

"She is doing some conditioning but I don't know if she if doing the whole (basketball) thing yet, running around," Dailey said..

In other basketball-related news I asked Manuel how close they were to finishing work on the basketball practice facility.

"Hopefully it will be finished this week or next week, we will get the keys and just like a new house we will have to do in there, move some things to fill it up and that is what we are working on," Manuel said. "It will be a great day."

With July being such a hectic month for recruiting we'll have to wait to see when a ceremony is held in honor of the completion of the practice facility.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Graduation day was special for Connecticut Sun's Ogwumike

A wide-eyed Chiney Ogwumike had yet to take the court as a member of the Connecticut Sun when she was part of a talented group of WNBA newcomers being addressed by Sun head coach Anne Donovan and her coaching staff.

"During rookie orientation I was lucky because Coach Donovan, Coach Steve (Key), Coach Jen (Gillom) were featured speakers of orientation and they told all the rookies to really make an attempt to go to your graduation because you will play many games but you will only have one graduation," Ogwumike said before Tuesday's game against Indiana. When she said that I said 'hey Coach I am going to hold you to it.'"

Donovan was not just engaging in idle chatter. With Stanford's graduation falling on that same day that the Sun hosted the New York Liberty, she gave Ogwumike her full blessing to attend the graduation ceremonies even though it meant she would miss her first game as a pro.

"She is obviously a woman of her word," Ogwumike said. "She thinks that at Stanford that is one thing you can't miss. There will be plenty of games but only one graduation from Stanford. Whole family was there, Nneka (Chiney's sister and star forward with the Los Angeles Sparks) flew in that day and flew out that night so it was special. We had a couple of hours together as a family which was rare."

Ogwumike not only became Stanford's career leader in scoring and rebounding but she was a decorated student-athlete who was recently named the Pac-12 Conference's Woman of the Year making her a candidate for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

Chiney attended her sister's graduation from Stanford two years ago but this time it was a little different for her.

"I have always been a cheerleader for Nneka when she did things first and now she played cheerleader for me which is nice to see because she was a trailblazer in that aspect," Ogwumike said. "It was cool to have my family just as excited for me and it was even more special because Bill and Melinda Gates were there, my family got to see them and also (former U.S. Secretary of State) Condoleeza Rice was there and she was warm and welcoming as always. It was a special moment, I worked so hard at Stanford and it came to fruition. She gave me purpose and a drive within the (international relations) major and it has been a perfect major for me. It has opened my horizons, allowed me to do what I want to do and know who I am so I really credit her a lot for defining my Stanford experience. If that was my last memory as a finishing student I think it was a perfect memory."

The fact that Sun playing not only without its leading scorer but also without injured guard Allison Hightower was able to beat New York 76-72 for its fourth straight win made the day all the more special.

"It was a case of everybody stepping up," Donovan said. "I really like the chemistry that is building on the floor and off the floor. We are starting to get to know how to play with each other and off of each other and that was definitely the case."

Chiney relied on her sister to provide her with scoring updates even as she prepared to graduate.

"Nneka was updating me throughout because I didn't have my phone on me all the time,' Ogwumike said. "We have something special going riht now and we can't take it for granted. I know our strength as a team was our depth so I knew we wouldn't miss a beat no matter who was out there. We played without Kelsey Griffin, we played with Allie (Hightower), playing without me, it doesn't matter who was missing it is about who is on the court at that moment. I think that energy we bring is why we have found that success. I had no worries and after that it was great because I think we are building something really special."


UConn's Nurse on Canada roster for upcoming exhibitions

While it is hardly a shocker since she is expected to play a significant role for Canada during the FIBA World Championship for Women, it is still worthy of mention that UConn incoming freshman Kia Nurse was one of 16 players named to the roster for three upcoming exhibition games against Brazil.

Canada and Brazil will play on June 26, 27 and 28 in Edmonton.


Monday, June 16, 2014

UConn commit good to go for U-17 World Championships

When the U-17 national team trials came to a close the status of UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson was up in the air due to an ankle injury she suffered on the second to last day of the event. Samuelson, the second-leading scorer on the 2013 U-16 squad, was given a spot on the squad but UConn Class of 2016 recruiting target Sabrina Ionescu was named as an alternate in case Samuelson couldn't play in the tournament.

According to an email I received from the folks at USA Basketball, Samuelson has been taking part in practices as the U-17 undergoes the final preparations at the U.S. Olympic Training Center before flying to France on Wednesday. While in France the team will hold four practices and play international friendlies against China, Canada and France. After spending nearly a week in France the U-17 team will leave for the Czech Republic. The U.S. opens play in the FIBA U-17 World Championships on June 28 against China.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Another White House trip for UConn great

During today's ceremony at the White House honoring the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx President Barack Obama had some playful banter directed at former UConn star Maya Moore, who is no stranger to visits to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue whether it is as members of two national-championship teams at UConn, being an Olympic gold medalist or a two-time WNBA champion. She even made an appearance as part of an event termed an Easter egg roll.

President Obama said Moore "has now been here so many times I’ve lost track. I mean, basically there’s like a Maya Moore wing in the White House. And when she comes, we kind of -- we’ve got all her stuff here; she’s got a toothbrush."

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was given the chance to speak at the ceremony but she deferred to Moore. Here are her remarks.

"I just can’t speak enough about this team behind me.  It’s really just been an awesome three years, going into my fourth year, and even before that.  The foundation that was being built with Seimone, Coach Reeve and all the other captains.  But every year it starts at Mr. Taylor’s house, our awesome owner, who has provided ...    

Like Mr. President said, if we don’t have opportunities to compete in sports and to play in sports, you don’t get to see us up here today.  So to have somebody that believes in us, Mr. Taylor, Becky, we appreciate you.  We have our annual dinner at their house where we all come together.  And as the rookies got to see, we’re really a family. And what you see behind me right now is very genuine, how we treat each other, the passion that we play with.  Our leaders with Coach Reeve, Jim and Shelley the tireless work that they put in, and they don’t want any credit.  They do their jobs to perfection. And last year, we didn’t start out with that hot streak that we did our first two years; we had a little trouble in the beginning. And then we also hit a rough patch towards the end of the season, losing four out of five games -- I know.  Gasp.  And it was a struggle.  We were in Chicago -- this will make you feel good playing against an awesome rookie in Elena Delle Donne, and she ended up hitting a game-winning three.  A heartbreaking loss for us on the road.  And our captain –- one of our captains, Lindsay Whalen, you wouldn’t have known this, but she took that loss on herself.  She cares so much about this team and really just took it personal and hard.  And that’s really the heart of our team and the heart of this club.  We care.  And it shows when we’re on the court, when we’re together, when we’re in the community.  And I think that’s what our nation is about.  We care, we’re leaders in that.  And that’s why this team is so special not just talent wise, but just the people that I’ve been blessed to play with.  So I think we can continue to make this an annual trip and I want to see that room you’re talking about."


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stanford announces dates of UConn games

It's been previously reported that UConn had a mid-November game at Stanford set for the upcoming season. Well, on Stanford's official site there is a release stating that the game will be played on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. (9 p.m. here in Connecticut).

With Chiney Ogwumike now lighting it up in the WNBA for the Connecticut Sun, the 2014-15 Stanford team could be more perimeter orientated but it still has the makings of being one of the more anticipated games UConn will play next season.

Also, Stanford announced it will host the UConn men's basketball team on Jan. 17 at a time to be announced.

Prestigious honor for Connecticut Sun rookie

Chiney Ogwumike, the leading scorer and rebounder on the Connecticut Sun, has been named the Pac-12 Conference's Woman of the Year making her eligible for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

Here is the release

Stanford University’s Chiney Ogwumike has been selected the Pac-12 Conference Woman of the Year for the 2013-14 academic year, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced today. Ogwumike becomes the Conference’s candidate for the NCAA Woman of the Year, presented annually to graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership.

The Pac-12 is also submitting Alyssa Hasslen, a track and field standout from the University of Arizona, for a second nomination for NCAA Woman of the Year.

Ogwumike was the third player in Pdac-12 history and second in Stanford history to be selected No. 1 in the WNBA Draft in the spring. Her selection as the top overall draft pick, along with her sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike’s No. 1 draft pick, made the pair only the second set of siblings in a major American professional draft to be selected the top picks, joining the ranks of Eli and Payton Manning.

A consensus national player of the year finalist, Chiney Ogwumike was the John R. Wooden Award winner becoming the first Stanford and Pac-12 player to win the honor. She was a three-time Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-American and twice was a consensus All-American. A two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year and three-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, she led the Cardinal to four-consecutive Pac-12 regular-season titles and three Conference tournament crowns. The only player in the country to rank in the top-10 in the nation in points (26.1), rebounds (12.1), shooting percentage (60.1) and double-doubles (27), she is the Conference’s all-time scoring (2,737) and rebounding (1,567) leader, while also establishing the league’s single-season scoring record (967 points) in 2013-14. Ogwumike led Stanford to a third NCAA Women’s Final Four appearance in her four years on the Farm. The 2011 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and a four-time all-Conference selection, Ogwumike also holds the record for the most-career player of the week honors with 18, earning half those recognitions during her senior campaign. On the NCAA level, Ogwumike’s rebounding and scoring totals rank fifth and 25th, respectively, all-time.

An international relations major graduating with a 3.46 grade point average, Ogwumike has also received recognition for her outstanding performance in the classroom and in the community. This year, she was voted the Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year, becoming only the sixth Stanford recipient since 1990. She was the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Pac-12 All-Academic honoree and was named to the Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-America team for the second time in her career.

A two-time women’s basketball team captain, Ogwumike has also been a role model off the court. She was a member of the Cardinal Council (Stanford’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee), serving as the co-chair of the social committee which organized events to raise funds for Camp Kesem, a program that assists with children whose parents have been affected by cancer. She volunteered her time with several children’s organizations, including spending time at local elementary schools and children’s hospitals, while also assisting at various youth basketball camps.

Ogwumike also wrote lyrics and performed two music videos galvanizing the student-athlete community and promoting Stanford’s “Nerd Nation” movement. She also had a pair of internships, one of which led her oversees to intern with the Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum and participating with “Access to Success” which conducted basketball camps to help raise $30,000 to build a court for underprivileged youth in Nigeria.

Ogwumike was also recently awarded Stanford’s Sterling Award for outstanding service to the Stanford community, presented by the Stanford Alumni Association.

Hasslen was a four-time indoor and outdoor track & field athlete at Arizona, competing in the shot put and discus, and was an All-American. She graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of science degree, double majoring in retailing and consumer sciences and family studies and human development.

Ogwumike is the ninth student-athlete to be named Pac-12 Woman of the Year. Previous winners were: Brigetta Barrett, ARIZ (2013); Hilary Bach, ASU (2012); Annie Chandler, ARIZ (2011); Justine Schluntz, ARIZ (2010); Lacey Nymeyer, ARIZ (2009); Arianna Lambie, STAN (2008); Whitney Myers, ARIZ (2007); Kate Richardson, UCLA (2006). Barrett is the fifth Wildcat to earn the honor. Four from the Conference have won the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year honor.

The top 30 honorees, 10 from each NCAA division, will be announced in early September. The NCAA Woman of the Year is announced in October.

Also, Chiney and her sister Nneka of the Los Angeles Sparks have created a competition to raise funds to provide broader educational opportunities in Nigeria, where both of their parents were raised.


Monday, June 09, 2014

UConn heads to White House today

Just call it UConn week at the White House.

This afternoon the UConn men's and women's national championship basketball teams will be honored in a ceremony with President Barack Obama a little after 4 p.m. and on Thursday former UConn star Maya Moore will join the rest of the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx in a celebration ceremony at the White House.

My colleague David Borges, who is the beat writer of the UConn men's team, will be at today's ceremony.

It could be the final time the UConn women's team gets together as a group (although I have been told that Brianna Banks, who has announced her intentions to transfer, will not be at the ceremony).

"We have been through so much through all of these years and I think we are real excited to be all together again," All-American guard Bria Hartley said.

At last year's event, Stefanie Dolson and Kiah Stokes caused quite the commotion when they held up two fingers each behind the head of President Obama for a much-discussed "bunny ears" photo during a group shot. When Dolson and Hartley were back in Connecticut last week when the Washington Mystics played at Mohegan Sun Arena, Dolson claimed there is nothing special planned on this year's visit.

"I am going to go with the flow," Dolson said.. "I am not forcing anything."

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Saturday, June 07, 2014

No destination yet for former UConn guard

The last update I had on Brianna Banks, a member of the back to back UConn national championship teams, was that she wasn't too far away from making a decision.

Well, what I am being told is that she is taking her time and she has yet to decide which schools she is planning to visit.

Banks will have to sit out the 2014-15 season and will have one season of eligibility remaining.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Another trip to White House for former UConn star

Perhaps there are athletes who have been to the White House more frequently than former UConn star Maya Moore although I would think it is a relatively short list.

Moore will return to meet with President Barack Obama on Thursday along with the rest of the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx squad. The ceremony is scheduled for 1:50 p.m.

The appearance of the Lynx will follow Monday's ceremony honoring UConn's men's and women's national championship teams.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Dolson, Hartley happy to be back in Connecticut

Last night was all about catching up with their former UConn teammates but former Huskies Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley came back to Connecticut with one thing on their mind - teaming up for another win.

While neither one had the best of games, the mission was accomplished.

"I think we are both excited to be here and happy that we have started off OK so far," Hartley said. "Coming back here and we knew all the girls were coming back for summer school, that was another thing excited to see them and happy that they here."

The UConn team is expected to be in the stands as Dolson, Hartley and the Washington Mystics face the Sun tonight making a memorable trip all the more special.

"We went to see the girls last night," Dolson said. "The whole team and a couple of coaches will be here tonight so it is good to see everybody and feel like you are back at home since we were here for so long so it has been nice."

It has also been extremely helpful for the two of them to be on the same team as they are allowed to experience the growing pains of being a professional rookie together. 

"We understand each other so when we are on the court that helps," Hartley said.

On Monday there will be another reunion as the UConn men's and women's basketball teams will be honored in a ceremony at the White House.

"We have been through so much through all of these years and I think we are real excited to be all together again," Hartley said.

After engineering the infamous bunny ears photo last year, Dolson claims there is nothing out of the ordinary planned on this trip to the White House.

"I am going to go with the flow," Dolson said. "I am not forcing anything. I didn't say we were dancing off, I just said '(President) Obama, 'we are back.'"

Hartley started in Washington's 74-66 win and although she was 0 for 4 from the field, she was 6 of 6 from the foul line. Dolson finished with six points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.

"Obviously we played tough tonight as a team, six games in  we are learning how each other plays and starting to click," Dolson said. "Different things are getting better each game so it is good and it is nice to get a win in Connecticut."

The UConn team sat behind one of the baskets and Kiah Stokes caught some t-shirts during a timeout in the game and she walked up two rows to give a couple of them to some kids sitting behind them.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

White House visit set for Monday

UConn's championship men's and women's basketball teams will be recognized by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House on Monday at 4:05 p.m.

We'll see what surprises All-American Stefanie Dolson has planned during this year's trip after her "Bunny Ears" photo stunt drew quite the reaction in last year's trip to the White House

Sadie Edwards and Courtney Ekmark are on campus and enrolled in summer classes but I've been told that Gabby Williams is still in school in Nevada so she will be coming in later this summer. Kia Nurse's responsibilities with the Canadian national team is going to keep her away from campus for most of the summer but she is currently here as I just watched her walk by as I transcribe my interview with UConn football coach Bob Diaco from earlier this afternoon. She is not enrolled in summer classes and won't be here long as the first Canadian national team training camp is set for Monday.

Air time for UConn coaches on Wednesday

UConn basketball coaches Geno Auriemma and Kevin Ollie will be featured on the ONE2ONE interview series on the CBS Sports Network on Wednesday at 10 p.m.

Reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart and former UConn star Diana Taurasi are among the others interviewed for the show.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Four former UConn stars on WNBA All-Star ballot

Former UConn stars Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, Tina Charles of the New York Liberty, Maya Moore of the undefeated Minnesota Lynx and Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury are among the 60 players on the WNBA All-Star ballot.

Fans can vote for up to 10 players per day on, mobile devices, and the WNBA Center Court App presented by Boost Mobile. Fans also will be able to cast votes on Facebook and Twitter, voting for one player per day using the designated hashtag #WNBABALLOT. Balloting will conclude at midnight ET on Wednesday, July 2.

Each team had five players on the ballot and write-in candidates will be accepted as well. The Connecticut Sun nominees are Kelsey Bone, Katie Douglas, Kelsey Griffin, Allison Hightower and Chiney Ogwumike.

The WNBA All-Star game will be played on July 19 in Phoenix.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Hayes adjusting to new coaching staff

When Tiffany Hayes played at UConn there were no concerns about having to learn to play under new coaches as Hall of Fame Geno Auriemma ran things pretty much the same way for each of her four years.

However, Hayes is playing for her third head coach in the last two seasons with the WNBA's Atlanta Dream and it is taking some time for her to get accustomed to how the new coach, Michael Cooper, does things.

In the first four games of the regular season Hayes had more turnovers than field goals. Hayes bounced back in a major way after failing to score in a 27-minute stint against Indiana on May 25. In the last two games, including yesterday's loss at Connecticut, Hayes averaged 18.5 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists while committing just one turnover in 58 minutes.

"It is always good being able to held your team out and you are playing better than you were playing it is a big confidence booster," Hayes said.

"It is a lot (different) but it is not. Me and him (Cooper) just talked about it the other day, he still wants me to be a scorer and definitely be one of the best defenders on the team. Hopefully, if I know that is what my team needs I am going to try to bring that."

Hayes was obviously thrilled to see former teammates Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley cap their collegiate careers by winning a national title.

"They came in, they set goals for themselves, they led their team," Hayes said.

"It was great. I was able to watch all the games, I was cheering for both of them. The men came out of nowhere again just like when Kemba was here and the women,I had no doubt in my mind that they were going to win. Once a Husky always a Husky. If they win, all the alumni we win. "


Sunday, June 01, 2014

UConn commits win 3x3 title

UConn commits Napheesa Collier and De'Janae Boykin teamed up with UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale as well as Natalie Chou to win the U.S. 3x3 U18 national title.

Collier was named the tournament MVP as her team went 8-0 to clinch a spot in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games from Aug. 16-28 in Nanjing, China, after downing Southern Stars (5-3) 21-14 in the championship game and finishing the weekend undefeated.

"I feel so good, this is such a relief," Collier said. "I think we played really hard, and I tried to leave it all on the court. Something just clicked when we started making the baskets. Natalie (Chou) had a really sick spin move, and I think that really got us going. We can't wait to go to China and meet the other teams and just have fun and go through that cool experience."

The toughest game might have been the first one as Defend defeated the Southern Stars 21-20. Defend rolled to two wins each against the other two teams in preliminary play, giving up a total of 15 points in the four games. In the semifinals Defend defeated No. 4 seed Grind Repeat 21-4 before winning the title against the Southern Stars.

Boykin, Chou and Ogunbowale are members of the U.S. team which will play in the FIBA U-17 World Championships from June 28-July 6 in the Czech Republic while Collier is a part of the squad playing in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships, being held in Colorado Springs from Aug. 6-10.

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Cash adjusting to a new role in Atlanta

At each of her previous three WNBA stops former UConn star Swin Cash knew that she would be in the starting lineup and playing somewhere around 30 minutes per game. However, her first season in Atlanta has been a much different scenario for the second overall pick in the 2002 draft.

Cash has started just once in the first five games and three times has not cracked the double-digit mark in minutes played.

"You are talking about 13 years of starting, (playing) 30 minutes a game and contributing but I am a very faith-based person so I know I am in a situation and I have to make the best out of it and control what you can control," Cash said before Sunday's game against Connecticut. "I think at my age that is the one advantage I have because as a younger player it could be a lot more frustrating but right now it is just controlling what I can control and wait to see what happens. We are still early, the coaches are learning the players, the players are learning the coaches and the system, I just don't know.

"Obviously I have won titles and I understand how it works and that is definitely an advantage to have but it is going to take all 12 people on the team. The one thing I can say is that this team is very hungry, they have been there, they are a core (group) of girls who are ready to raise that trophy and you feel it in practice and I want to help in any way that I can. I don't know if I can complete all of it but I think the coaching staff, he has won championships so his experience and with his team, being hungry. We have the right recipe but we have to kind of stir it."

Cash was bracing herself for the possibility of not playing at all if her rights were retained by Chicago so when she was traded to Atlanta, she was ready to contribute in any way possible.

"There were a lot of things that were going on behind the scenes so I am just happy to be playing," Cash said. "There was a time period when I didn't know if I would play this season because Chicago had my rights per the CBA and I was really fortunate that Atlanta wanted to bring me in, they were able to cut a deal and I am happy to be here."

One part of her basketball career she bid adieu to was USA Basketball. After being a member of the 2004 and 2012 gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic teams, Cash made the decision to retire from the national team after the '12 Olympics.

"I am at the point right now where I really want to focus on television and doing other things," Cash said. "That is a heavy commitment with USA Basketball. I had a great conversation with Carol (Callan, USA Basketball's Women's National Team Director), she was amazing. I hope to still be around to see Sue (Bird), Dee (Diana Taurasi), Catch (Tamika Catchings) get one more but at the end of day, I told Carol I hope to be there covering you guys on the TV side of it but at some point when you make this transition, it is transition I want to make."

Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan said that forward Kelsey Griffin won't play today and she is understand when she will be back

"We are not really sure what she has. We are checking for a gall bladder, stomach issue," Donovan said.