Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

UConn women always a top draw

One of the biggest hands from the Rentschler Field crowd yesterday came when the two-time defending national champions were introduced between the first and second quarters. Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson, who recently wrapped up their rookie seasons with the WNBA's Washington Mystics were on hand for the festivities.

Before the football game began the members of the 2014-15 squad (minus freshman Kia Nurse who is training with the Canadian national team) signed autographs and the fans were lining up well before the team was set to arrive. One of the players (I believe it was freshman Sadie Edwards) showed up wearing the bucket hats football coach Bob Diaco dons at practices.

Also, as I was waiting to go on the pre-game radio show on WTIC (hosted by Bob Joyce, the voice of the UConn women's basketball program) I listened in on an interview done with UConn AD Warde Manuel. It was when he was asked about the Champions Center that I thought was worthy of mention in this blog.

"We are coming up to finalizing the furnishings but they (men's and women's basketball teams) are utilizing the courts.

"We will have a wing (for the trophies). The front of the building is designed for the trophies and the great history that we have."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

UConn's Nurse, Canada go 1-2 in Czech Republic tournament

One thing is for certain, when Canada gets to Turkey for the FIBA World Championships the team will certainly be game tested.

the squad just finished playing three games in three days in a tournament in the Czech Republic. Canada defeated Serbia 73-54 in the first game with UConn incoming freshman Kia Nurse contributing 12 points and two steals. Canada then lost to Korea 56-53 and to the Czech Republic by a 55-52 count. Nurse struggled offensively in both games as she had two points, one rebound, one assist and a steal against Korea and four points with a steal versus the Czech Republic.


Here's UConn's 2014-15 schedule

Here's a look at UConn's conference schedule for the upcoming season including four of the 18 games on ESPN2 and two others on CBS Sports Network. Since ESPN2 is doing both UConn/South Florida games including a Big Monday showdown on the final day of the regular season, I guess the Bulls are the top rival for the Huskies this season following the departure of Louisville and Rutgers.

Sat., Dec. 27                 vs. SMU                    TBD (SNY)
Wed., Dec. 31              at East Carolina          TBD (SNY)
Wed., Jan. 7                 vs, Tulsa                     TBD (SNY)
Sun., Jan. 11                 at SMU                       TBD (SNY)
Wed., Jan. 14               vs. Temple                   TBD (SNY)
Sun., Jan. 18                 vs. USF                      Noon (ESPN2)
Wed., Jan. 21               at UCF                        TBD (SNY)
Sun., Jan. 25                at Cincinnati                 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
Wed., Jan. 28               vs. East Carolina           TBD (SNY)
Sun., Feb. 1                 at Temple                     2 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tues., Feb. 3                vs. Cincinnati                 TBD (SNY)
Sat., Feb. 7                  at Memphis                  TBD (SNY)
Sat., Feb. 14                vs.Tulane                     4 p.m. (CBSSN)
Tues., Feb. 17              vs. Houston                 TBD (SNY)
Sat., Feb. 21                at Tulsa                        TBD (SNY)
Mon., Feb. 23              at Tulane                      TBD (SNY)
Sat., Feb. 28                vs. Memphis                2 p.m. (CBSSN)
Mon., March 2             at USF                        7 p.m. (ESPN2)

In case you missed it, here is the non-conference portion of the schedule

Nov. 1 vs. West Chester
Nov. 9 vs. Post
Nov. 14 at UC Davis, 10 p.m.
Nov. 17 at Stanford, 9 p.m.
Nov. 23 vs. Creighton
Nov. 28 College of Charleston, Estero, Fla. 8:30 p.m.
Nov. 29 Minnesota or Vanderbilt, Estero, Fla. 2:30/8:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 opponent TBA, Estero, Fla.
Dec. 6 at Notre Dame, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 19 vs. DePaul
Dec. 21 vs. UCLA (Mohegan Sun Arena), 5 p.m.
Dec. 29 vs. Duke, 9 p.m.
Jan. 4 St. John's (Madison Square Garden), 1 p.m.
Feb. 9 vs. South Carolina

UConn returns six of the top eight scorers from a team which finished 40-0 and won a second straight national title. Reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart, former All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and starting point guard Moriah Jefferson are the building blocks as the Huskies attempt to win three straight national titles for the second time in program history.

Former UConn star on WNBA All-Rookie team

While the big news in the world of Connecticut women's basketball was that Chiney Ogwumike of the Connecticut Sun was named the WNBA's Rookie of the Year, it should also be noted that former UConn guard Bria Hartley was named to the all-rookie team along with Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims, Kayla McBride and Alyssa Thomas.

Hartley, who averaged 9.7 points and 3.1 assists as a rookie with the Washington Mystics, finished fourth in the all-rookie team voting with nine votes (Ogwumike, Sims and McBride each were named on 11 ballots).

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New name emerging on UConn's recruiting wish list

Joyner Holmes, the fourth-leading scorer on the
U.S. U-17 World Championship team is among
top Class of 2016 players on UConn's radar

As I've mentioned earlier, it looks as if UConn is done recruiting for the current cycle and while the UConn coaches aren't able to comment on specific recruits until they receive signed letters of intent everything I've been hearing is that the UConn brain trust couldn't be happier or more excited about the potential of commits (and multiple USA Basketball gold medalists) De'Janae Boykin, Naphessa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson.

What's interesting about the Class of 2016 is that due to Geno Auriemma's duties as the U.S. senior women's national team head coach he is unavailable to recruit during key periods so UConn has sped up the process a little bit. What I've been hearing is that there are about 15 players on UConn's recruiting radar which is way up from the normal number.

Certainly talented Texan Lauren Cox is at the top of UConn and everybody else's wish list but there is a new name I've been able to confirm that the Huskies are extremely high on and that is Newark (N.J.) Academy guard Jocelyn Willoughby who averaged 23.7 points and 4.4 steals as a sophomore and has already surpassed the 1,000-point plateau heading into her final two seasons.

Crystal Dangerfield is another guard UConn is very high on and she made it clear when I spoke to her during the U-17 national team trials in Colorado Springs, the feeling in definitely mutual. By the sounds of things UConn coaches will be spending quite a large amount of time in the states of Texas and California during the recruiting process because sources indicate that UConn has interest in the Texas duo of Natalie Chou and Joyner Holmes, members of the gold-medal winning U.S. U-17 squad, as well as Sabrina Ionescu and Jaelyn Brown, both out of California.  There have been reports that Kysre Gondrezick has been drawing recruiting interest from UConn as well. Illinois star Tori McCoy is one of the top posts available in the class and adding some size to the roster is a priority for UConn in the next recruiting cycle.

It's going to be an interesting process and I think it won't come together quite as quickly as it did a year ago when Boykin, Collier and Samuelson committed pretty early on in the process.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lofty praise for three UConn commits

USA Basketball held a conference call to discuss the naming of its player pool from which the team Geno Auriemma will coach in the FIBA World Championships will be drawn from. With not that many questions being asked I jumped in and asked Carol Callan, the director of all the women's teams with USA Basketball, about what impresses her about UConn commits De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson who won gold medals at the Youth Olympic Games earlier today.

"I call them veterans with smiles on my face but that is what it feels like to talk a little bit further about what Geno talks about in terms of the culture of winning, De'Janae and Lou were on a team last year as well as this year and sometimes we beat teams by a lot and we start to get a little full of ourselves and yet  at the world U17 championships we only won by two points so that all of a sudden makes a player grow up quite a bit," Callan said, "What is interesting about all of them and Napheesa as well is they have played for multiple years in 3x3 so they have expanded their game not only from 5 on 5 but to 3 on 3. The growth is amazing and they all still have another year of high school in front of them. I think thee is a maturity and I think what the maturity does more than anything is under pressure there is a calm that I have noticed in them. When we are in a game and we are down in the fourth quarter and we only win by two, there is a calmness to Lou and De that was very apparent and that is because they have so much experience. Napheesa just has a motor that just doesn't stop, she is not content to just shoot the ball, she then wants to get the rebound so I think Connecitcut fans will have a lot to be appy about in a couple of years when they get on campus."

UConn commits win gold at Youth Olympic Games

After waltzing their way through the field in the 3x3 competition at the Youth Olympic Game the United States squad faced a tough challenge in Tuesday's gold medal game.

Netherlands was tied with the U.S. 10-10 with 3 minutes remaining before the U.S. scored the final nine points to win the championship with a 19-10 victory.

UConn commits Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier had eight and four points respectively. Former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale had seven points and De'Janae Boykin played her typical strong all-around game as the U.S. finished with tournament with a 13-0 record.

It was the second gold medal of the summer for all four players as Boykin, Samuelson and Ogunbowale were members of the U.S. team which won the FIBA U17 Wotld Championship while Collier was a star of the U.S. squad which captured the FIBA Americas U18 title.

Earlier in the day Collier, Ogunbowale and Samuelson had seven points each in a 21-12 semifinal win over Hungary. Colllier hit all four of her field-goal attempts including a 3-pointer (worth two points in the 3x3 scoring format) and both of her free throws while Samuelson hit three long-range shots.

Collier finished with a team-leading 113 points in the tournament and was the leading scorer in eight of the 13 games, Ogunbowale had 85 points, Samuelson had 41 points despite missing seven games with a sprained ankle and Boykin had 33 points.

Here are quotes from the four gold medalists courtesy of USA Basketball

De’Janae Boykin

On her thoughts of today’s games:
Today were very tough games. Both games were very physical. But we got together before each game and said that we had to play hard. Both games were very tough, but it feels good to come out with the game

On the 9-0 spark in the gold medal game that changed the energy of the contest:
We weren’t going to come here to lose. We wanted this; we wanted to win.

On winning her third gold medal playing for the USA and first Olympic gold medal:
It feels great. This is the Youth Olympic Games and it’s pretty big. We’re all excited and very happy.

Napheesa Collier

On winning her second gold medal playing for the USA in the month of August:
This feels so good, even a little better because it’s the Youth Olympics.

On today’s games:
I think that we focused on one game at the time.  Hungary was shorter so we could post them up, but the Netherlands was taller so we had to space up our game and change it up. Everything worked out.

On having the support from all other members of Team USA today:
It felt awesome to know the crowd was behind us, and that all of those players and fellow USA athletes came to support us.

Arike Ogunbowale
On her thoughts of today’s games:
It was crazy. We knew they were good teams because we had scrimmaged them when we first got to China, so we knew it was going to be hard, but we came out strong and knocked down our free throws, which was really crucial too.

On today’s game plan, especially since going 0-for-8 from beyond the arc:
Coach Dori pointed out to us that they (Netherlands) were in foul trouble, so we had to drive at them and we continued to do that, and we knocked down those shots late too; that really changed the game.

On winning her fourth gold medal playing for the USA:
It’s such a blessing. Each year I’m grateful to be a part of USA and USA Basketball, and winning the Youth Olympics- this is the highest honor you can get as an 18-and-under player. I feel blessed to have been chosen to do this stuff.

On this whole experience:
I expected it to be great but this has been amazing. The village and the venues are incredible. Nanjing really put a lot of time into this, and it has just been so great to get he opportunity to play here and be with all of these people.

On having a big cheering section today, including USA athletes from other sports:
It’s really cool. They’re from all over the states too, so it’s nice. We have met so many new people, and they came out to support us. We’re going to support them too; we’re going to go see boxing tomorrow. We’re one big family.

Katie Lou Samuelson
On their gold medal game:
It was such a physical game. Netherlands played so hard and so well, and we finally pulled out at the end, but it was such a good game.

On her performance today:
My shooting wasn’t on today so I knew that I had to get to the basket. At that point when I got the - and one, I think all of us were just like, ‘ok, this is enough. We need to take it away right now.’

On winning her fifth medal playing for the USA and winning her fourth gold:
It’s amazing. There’s nothing that compares to this and this is an Olympic medal.  It’s so cool to be able to be on this USA Youth Olympic Team.

On this whole experience:
It’s been incredible. I’ve met so many people from so many different sports that I never would have met without this opportunity.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 25, 2014

Geno dishes on 2014-15 UConn squad

This is pretty much the calm before the storm for Geno Auriemma and his staff.

While he met with the team (minus Kia Nurse who is spending the summer training with the Canadian national team), he isn't planning for much in the way of individual workouts for another week or so. With classes starting today Auriemma said he wanted to give the players a week to get their academic bearings before they start thinking about basketball.

However, that doesn't mean he can't discuss what he's looking for from his players. I sat down with him for about 15 minutes today and touched on a variety of subjects including some posted in a previous blog entry. Here's some more for those fans eager for women's basketball chatter.

I think the fact that she has had such an unbelievable start to her career as a freshman and a sophomore and has done things that you just don't see freshman and sophomores do and her history with USA Basketball, going out to Vegas and playing so well there that the committee felt like this is a part of the future of USA Basketball. I know she is really excited about it, she is anxious to test herself against pros.

She was here a little bit and the coaches got a chance to spend a little time with her and it is quite an adjustment for her. She is one of those kids who puts a lot of pressure on herself because she wants to prove to everybody that she is good enough to play here. I told her she has a whole year to prepare and don't rush it. She is going to be a great help to us in practice because she will help make Kiah better, she will help make Morgan, Stewie, she is going to give those guys a bit of a problem so she will benefit from those guys.

Coaches were talking this morning about how many things she is really good at. She plays good defense, she blocks shots, she rebounds the ball, she is not a bad passer and we go to practice and she makes shots from the perimeter, she is a good shooter. It is astonishing when you talk about all the things that she can do and why hasn't she done all those things leading up to now. You immediately star to think if she decides to put it all together and it all comes together for her, it is going to change our team dramatically. Maybe finally being a senior and finally having enough confidence in yourself to say 'what is the worse that can happen?' It is that time now. I think we are all anxious to see it.

When you talk about two kids who started every game pretty much, they were counted on right from the beginning from the first day of practice freshman year, they have been through a lot and they gave us such a huge advantage throughout their careers. You have one of the best guards in the country and one of the best centers in the country, that is a good place to start. Stefanie, being kind of the focal point of our offense last year and the year before, that is going to take some adjustment. Bria, with her competitiveness and her ability to do things at big moments, we are obviously going to miss that and we are going to miss Stefanie's personality. she became the personality of our team and somebody is going to have to replace that and right now  I am not sure who that is but I know somebody is going to step up and do that."

UConn's Morgan Tuck, Gabby Williams expected to be 100 percent before first practice

As luck would have it UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma was walking through the halls at Gampel Pavilion as I was working on some football stories and blogs and I was able to sit down with him for about 15 minutes. I got caught up with a lot of news including updates of how the rehabilitation process is going for veteran forward Morgan Tuck and freshman guard Gabby Williams, who both underwent season-ending knee surgeries last year.

First up, here is what he had to say about Tuck.

"She is just starting to do that (basketball-related activities) now," Auriemma said. "She is going to do some individuals this week and try to add to it next week and by the third week of September, she could be cleared to go. Usually these guys, they don't look forward to preseason conditioning in September, all the workouts and all the individual stuff that they are doing but I talked to her today and she said I have never been so anxious and so excited to start individual (workouts) and preseason conditioning. I think she will be pretty happy when they get started."

Tuck will bring so many dimensions to the 2014-15 UConn team with her ability to play inside and outside. She is an outstanding defense, underrated passer and can score in so many different ways.

"We didn't see it last year except for a couple of times," Auriemma said. "I went back and watched the Stanford game and the Cal game at the Garden and you really get to see Morgan playing and you say 'it is a miracle that we were able to get through the season and win the whole thing while not having her.' Losing Stefanie, you lost a couple of players so bringing Morgan back into the mix is like adding a couple of players. The other players are kind of anxious too because they know how many areas she can help us in. She is not just a one-dimensional kid."

Here is what he had to say about Williams, who suffered serious knee injuries in each of her final two high school seasons. So how is she progressing?

"Good, same thing (as with Tuck). We are starting (individual workouts) a week from Tuesday, give them a week to acclimated to everything. they went home towards the last part of August so she is going to get with Rosemary (Ragle, UConn's athletic trainer) and I would expect that by the time practice starts that she is going to be ready to do (everything)."

He was also in favor of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis not being invited to the U.S. national team training camp next month so she can focus all her energies on getting ready for her senior season.

"I think more from way her injuries and the way her season went last year, I think that in my opinion, it was better for her to be here and get herself ready for us and for herself this season," Auriemma said. "That's a position where they are loaded with pros so I think it is best that she stays here and works out with our players."

With incoming freshman Kia Nurse spending the summer training with the Canadian national team and with Nurse set to play in the FIBA World Championships, I wanted Auriemma's take on how much this summer will benefit her.

"I think the maturity that Kia has is really what separates her from most incoming freshmen," Auriemma said. "Most incoming freshmen are used to playing high school basketball and it is a huge adjustment. I think Kia, by virtue of being on the Canadian national team, has made herself almost a sophomore coming in instead of a freshman and the style of play that Canada has is very similar to what we do in more ways than one so she is somebody that because she is not here right now that few people talk about but she is probably the one who is going to be the most intriguing of all the freshmen, I am looking forward to seeing her both in Bridgeport, in Istanbul and when we get back here in October."

I also asked Auriemma for his reaction to former UConn guard Brianna Banks landing at Penn State and whether that was a good landing spot for her.

"We will see," Auriemma . I think UConn was a good spot but unfortunately there are some things you have to do (to remain at UConn). I think having a year off, getting a chance to kind of gain some perspective by being away from it, hitting the books a little bit. It is a big place and they have a really good program. I am sure having a year to practice with the team is going to help a lot. I saw her this summer. I am rooting for her, let's hope she makes it."

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Breanna Stewart, 6 former UConn stars in U.S. national team player pool

USA Basketball named the 27 athletes being invited to the U.S. Senior Women's National Team training camps leading into the FIBA World Championships.

Former UConn star Bria Hartley and Connecticut Sun star Chiney Ogwumike were the players added to the player pool.

UConn's Breanna Stewart is the only current college player in the pool of players.

Here the the official release

Featuring 27 athletes, the 2014 USA Basketball Women's National Team will begin training in defense of the USA's FIBA World Championship title on Sept. 8 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Additionally, the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee has added a pair of athletes to the 2014-16 USA Basketball Women's National Team roster in four-time USA Basketball gold medalist Bria Hartley (Washington Mystics) and three-time USA Basketball gold medalist Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun), and they are scheduled to take part in the fall training camp. The final 12-member, 2014 USA Basketball Women's World Championship Team will be named prior to the start of the FIBA World Championship, which will be held Sept. 27-Oct. 5 in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey.
            Hartley and Ogwumike were extended an invitation to join the USA National Team by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee, which will also select the 2014 USA World Championship Team.
            "The 27 who have been invited represent a cross section of what the USA National Team is ultimately all about," said Geno Auriemma, 2013-16 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. "It's some of the best players in the world. It's a combination of past Olympic and World Championship gold medalists. It's also young players who have also won gold medals at various levels of USA Basketball, pros in the WNBA, college players, veterans and rookies and everything in between. I think we're going to be able to pick a 12-player roster that's going to be as good as any team we've ever had.
            "Coming out of college last year, two of the best players in college basketball, they distinguished themselves over four years playing at the highest level and now they've gone onto play in the WNBA as rookies. With Chiney in Connecticut, I've had a chance to follow her progress. She's been absolutely amazing and no one competes harder than Chiney does. Bria's gone to Washington and played a great role in helping them make the playoffs this year with such a young roster that they have. So, I'm excited about the possibility of having both of them in the camp. I know both of them really wanted to be there last fall and couldn't, so this is a great opportunity for them and I'm looking forward to seeing them out there."
            "Bria Hartley and Chiney Ogwumike were both invited to the USA National Team training camp last fall, but were unable to make it," said Carol Callan, USA Basketball women's national team director and member of the committee.  "They have remained on the committee's radar and with their USA Basketball international experience and play this season in the WNBA, the committee felt that we should extend an invitation to continue their involvement with the USA National Team."
Athletes invited to participate in the fall training camp in hopes of being named to the 2014 USA World Championship Team include: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock), Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Hartley, Briann January (Indiana Fever), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Chiney Ogwumike, Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Stars), Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) and Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx).
            Athletes listed above who are not participating in the WNBA Finals will begin training camp Sept. 8-10 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. WNBA teams still in the playoff hunt include the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky and Indiana Fever in the East and Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury in the West.
Hartley first won gold with the 2010 USA U18 National Team at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, then collected gold medals playing for USA Basketball at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship, 2012 FIBA 3x3 World Championship and 2013 World University Games. She is a two-time NCAA champion with the University of Connecticut and currently has the Washington Mystics in the WNBA playoff hunt. The No. 7 pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft, Hartley averaged 9.7 points and 3.1 assists in the 2014 WNBA season and aided the Mystics to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Chiney Ogwumike teamed up with Hartley to win gold on the 2010 USA U18 National Team and 2012 USA 3x3 World Championship Team, and she captured her third gold medal at the 2011 World University Games. The No. 1 pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft and 2014 WNBA All-Star averaged 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game during the 2014 season and is a two-time (May, June) WNBA Rookie of the Month award winner.
The USA National Team training camp roster includes three-time (2004, 2008, 2012) Olympic gold medalists Bird, Catchings and Taurasi; two-time Olympic gold medalists (2008, 2012) Augustus, Fowles and Parker; as well as 2012 Olympic gold medalists Charles, Moore, McCoughtry and Whalen.
Bird and Catchings have won two FIBA World Championship gold medals (2002, 2010); while Charles, Dupree, Fowles, McCoughtry, Moore and Whalen captured FIBA World Championship gold in 2010; and Augustus, Bird, Catchings, Parker and Thompson played on the 2006 USA World Championship Team that returned with the bronze medal.
            The USA will compete in a pair of exhibition contests during its domestic training. The first game is the USA Basketball Women's National Team Showcase, a Red versus White intrasquad game scheduled for Sept. 11 (7 p.m. EDT) at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Delaware.
            ESPN2 will televise both USA Basketball Women's National Team exhibition games, and both games will also available on WatchESPN.
            Traveling up the coast to Bridgeport, Connecticut, the USA will train Sept. 14 alongside 2013 FIBA Americas Championship silver medalist Canada in Bridgeport, prior to the two teams squaring off in a Sept. 15 exhibition contest (7 p.m. EDT) at Webster Bank Arena.         
            Tickets for the USA Basketball Showcase can be purchased through the Bob Carpenter Center box office, by calling 302-831-2257 or online via; while tickets for the USA-Canada contest can be purchased through the box office at Webster Bank Arena, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or online via
            In addition to the domestic exhibition schedule, the USA squad will play four additional exhibition games in Europe against 2012 Olympic silver medalist France, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Australia, 2010 FIBA World Championship silver medalist Czech Republic and 2013 FIBA Asia bronze medalist China, prior to the start of the World Championship.
            Finalists for the 2014 USA World Championship Team will compete in the 2014 France International Tournament in the Stade Pierre de Coubertin in Paris, Sept. 19-21. Opening against Australia on Sept. 19, the U.S. will face China on Sept. 20 and close the round-robin tournament against host France on Sept. 21.
            From there, the Americans will head to Prague, Czech Republic, for an exhibition against Czech Republic on Sept. 23, before traveling to Istanbul for their final pre-World Championship preparations.
Auriemma will be assisted on the sideline by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
The USA owns a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Championship play, while compiling an all-time 97-21 record at the event. In 2010, the most recent World Championship, the U.S. finished with a perfect 9-0 record and the gold medal.

In addition to Callan, members of the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee include WNBA appointees Reneé Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations, Dan Hughes, San Antonio Silver Stars head coach and general manager, and Chris Sienko, Connecticut Sun vice president and general manager; and three-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist Katie Smith, who played in nearly 200 games for USA Basketball from 1993-2008, and serves as the athlete representative.

U.S. team moves into YOG semifinals

UConn commits De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson moved two wins from another gold medal.

Collier had six points while Samuelson and Boykin had five and three respectively as the U.S. defeated Estonia 21-12 to advance to the semifinals of the 3x3 basketball event at the Youth Olympic Games. Former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale led the U.S. with seven points.

Collier had 11 points while Boykin and Ogunbowale added five points each in the 21-7 win over Venezuela. The U.S. got to the free throw line nine times and matched Venezuela's scoring output from the foul line Samuelson did not play..

The U.S. will play Hungary in tomorrow's semifinals and with a win would play for the gold medal tomorrow as well as either Spain or Netherlands.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Impressive UConn streak to continue

With Diana Taurasi's Phoenix Mercury team eliminated the Los Angeles Sparks with a 93-68 victory on Sunday night and Maya Moore's Minnesota Lynx team already in the Western Conference final, this will be the 12th season in a row at least one former UConn player will be playing in the WNBA championship series.

With the Atlanta Dream forcing a winner take all game three with a win on Sunday against Chicago, there's a chance that two former Huskies could be playing for the WNBA title since Tiffany Hayes is one of the top players for Atlanta. Here's a breakdown of the former UConn players in the WNBA finals.

2013: Minnesota (Maya Moore) def, Atlanta (Tiffany Hayes)
2012: Indiana def. Minnesota (Maya Moore)
2011: Minnesota (Maya Moore, Charde Houston) def. Atlanta
2010: Seattle (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Svetlana Abrosimova) def. Atlanta
2009: Phoenix (Diana Taurasi, Ketia Swanier) def. Indiana (Jessica Moore)
2008: Detroit (Kelly Schumacher) def. SA
2007: Phoenix (Diana Taurasi, Kelly Schumacher) def. Detroit (Swin Cash)
2006: Detroit (Swin Cash) def. Sacramento
2005: Sacramento def. Connecticut (Nykesha Sales, Asjha Jones)
2004: Seattle (Bird) def. Connecticut (Nykesha Sales, Asjha Jones)
2003: Detroit (Swin Cash) def. LA
2000: Houston (Jen Rizzotti) def. NY
1999: Houston (Jen Rizzotti, Kara Wolters) def. New York (Rebecca Lobo-injured and did not play)
1997: Houston def. New York (Rebecca Lobo)

012: Indiana def. Minnesota (Maya Moore)
2011: Minnesota (Maya Moore, Charde Houston) def. Atlanta
2010: Seattle (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Svetlana Abrosimova) def. Atlanta
2009: Phoenix (Diana Taurasi, Ketia Swanier) def. Indiana (Jessica Moore)
2008: Detroit (Kelly Schumacher) def. SA
2007: Phoenix (Diana Taurasi, Kelly Schumacher) def. Detroit (Swin Cash)
2006: Detroit (Swin Cash) def. Sacramento
2005: Sacramento def. Connecticut (Nykesha Sales, Asjha Jones)
2004: Seattle (Bird) def. Connecticut (Nykesha Sales, Asjha Jones)
2003: Detroit (Swin Cash) def. LA
2000: Houston (Jen Rizzotti) def. NY
1999: Houston (Jen Rizzotti, Kara Wolters) def. New York (Rebecca Lobo-injured and did not play)
1997: Houston def. New York (Rebecca Lobo)

Labels: , ,

UConn's Nurse, Canada fall in Zafer Cup finale

UConn incoming freshman Kia Nurse had six points and two rebounds but it wasn't enough as Canada lost to Brazil 65-56 on the final day of the Zafer Cup in Turkey.

Miah-Marie Langlois led Canada with 13 points while Taina Mayara Da Paixao led Brazil with 24 points and nine assists.

Nurse had 19 points and 10 rebounds as Canada finished 1-2 in the event with the only win coming against Australia on Friday.


U.S. finishes undefeated in pool play at Youth Olympic Games

UConn commit Napheesa Collier had 17 of the 42 points as the United States completed a perfect run through pool play at the Youth Olympic Games.

Collier had seven points while fellow UConn commits Katie Lou Samuelson and De'Janae Boykin finished with five and four points in a 21-12 win over the Czech Republic.

Collier and former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale had 10 points each in a 21-10 win over Guam. Samuelson was held out of the game.

The U.S. finished atop of Pool B with a 9-0 record and will play Venezuela in the Round of 16 tomorrow.

Collier accounted for 85 of her team's 190 points while shooting 76 percent from the field. Ogunbowale, the only U.S. play to get to the free-throw line in each game, added 59 points while Boykin had 25 points. Samuelson, who earned a bronze medal in the shootout competition, was held out of five of the nine pool play games due to a sprained ankle. In just four games she had seven of the team's 16 3-pointers (worth two points in the 3x3 scoring system) and had 21 points.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tough sledding against Turkey for UConn's Nurse and Canada

Coming off an impressive win over a talented Australia team in the first game of the Zafer Cup on Friday, things were significantly more challenging for UConn incoming freshman and the Canadian national team against host Turkey.

Nurse scored all four of her points in the fourth quarter and added four rebounds as Canada, which did not hit the 20-point mark until late in the third quarter, lost 51-33.

Tamara Tatham led Canada with 10 points while Turkey had four players with either seven or eight points.

Canada wraps up the three-day round-robin event by playing Brazil on Sunday.


U.S. team continues to roll at YOG

UConn commits Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson finished with eight and six points respectively as the United States defeated Chinese Taipei 21-5 to improve to 7-0 in pool play at the Youth Olympic Games.

The U.S. finishes pool play on Sunday with games against Guam and the Czech Republic.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Memorable summer for UConn's Nurse continues

In terms of preparing for your freshman season of Division I basketball it is pretty hard to top what Kia Nurse is doing this summer.

She will be taking part in multiple training camps with the Canadian national team and will face the U.S. in an international friendly next month in Bridgeport as well as competing in the FIBA World Championships beginning on Sept. 27. Currently she is in Turkey playing in the Zafer Cup, a three-day round-robin event featuring games against Australia, Turkey and Brazil.

The action kicked off today against an Australia team featuring WNBA players (who took the 2014 season off) Liz Cambage, Leilani Mitchell, Rachel Jarry as well as Belinda Snell, who played for three WNBA teams from 2005-11 and Laura Hodges, a member of the Connecticut Sun during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. The game occurred around the same time that many of her classmates were moving their belonging into their dorm rooms.

Nurse finished with nine points and four rebounds in a 62-55 win over Australia. Canada will play Turkey on Saturday and Brazil on Sunday.

Former UMass star Tamara Tatham led Canada with 14 points while UCLA"s Nirra Fields added 10. Cambage had 16 points and Rebecca Allen 13 for Australia.


UConn commit Samuelson hits the court at YOG

A day after earning a bronze medal in the shootout competition at the Youth Olympic Games UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson was able to make her debut in the 3x3 basketball event.

Samuelson missed the first four U.S. games due to a sprained ankle but she returned in a major way in a showdown for first place in Pool B.

Samuelson hit four of five shots behind the 3-point line (worth two points in this competition) and finished with a team-leading nine points in a 21-6 win over previously undefeated Belgium. UConn commit Napheesa Collier, who led the U.S. in scoring in each of the first four games, finished with six points.

In the team's final preliminary round game of the day it was former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale who had a team-high nine points in a 22-4 win over Andorra. UConn commits Collier and Boykin finished with seven and five points respectively while Samuelson had the other point.

The U.S. is now 6-0 heading into the final two days of pool play.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Seattle Storm wins WNBA Draft lottery

Could UConn's sweet-shooting wing Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis be teaming up with former Husky Sue Bird in Seattle?

Well, the Storm won the WNBA Draft lottery and has first dibs at Mosqueda-Lewis if Seattle is inclined to go that way. Tulsa, which was tied with Seattle for the worst record in the WNBA, once again finished second best in the lottery and will have the No. 2 overall pick. The Connecticut Sun will pick third and fourth in the draft which is being projected as one of the weakest in recent memory.

Seattle took Bird with the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft and certainly have no complaints on how that turned out.

As for Connecticut, the Sun would like to improve itself in the post. Chiney Ogwumike was brilliant as a rookie and Kelsey Bone had a pretty solid season. The question is whether Duke's Elizabeth Williams will be on the board when the Sun gets ready to pick or if 6-foot-1 Crystal Bradford fits what they are looking at or if more of a true post player would be on the radar like Cal's Reshanda Gray (who averaged 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds as a junior).

It should be noted that among rising college seniors, Bradford was the top rebounder in Division I averaging 12.2 per game. Wake Forest's Dearica Hamby (who averaged 22 points, 11 rebounds while contributing  61 assists, 65 steals and 33 blocks in 31 games) is another draft-eligible player who put up pretty impressive numbers as a junior. Hamby also outplayed Williams in last season's Duke/Wake Forest tilt finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds while Williams finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison could also be rising up the draft boards. Coaches love players who improve over the course of their careers and she went from averaging 3.3 points on 36.7 percent shooting as a freshman to putting up 13.6 points a contest and shooting 57.7 percent last season (in just 23 minutes per game). She also pulled down 9.3 rebounds per game and already has more than 100 career blocked shots. With the recent news that Mercedes Russell is expected to redshirt this season, Harrison could be primed for a huge season for the Lady Vols.

Penn State officially announces arrival of former UConn guard

Penn State made it official by putting out a release on the transfer of former UConn guard Brianna Banks, a member of two national championship teams with the Huskies.

Banks will need to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer regulations and will play her final season for the Lady Lions during the 2015-16 campaign.

While UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson hasn't gotten onto the court for the undefeated U.S. team at the Youth Olympic Games due to a minor ankle injury, there is nothing wrong with her shooting form.

Samuelson emerged from a field of 62 to advance to the finals in the shootout competition. Samuelson, who made six 3-pointers in the preliminary portion of the event, hit four treys in 32 seconds to finish third.

Spain's Lucia Togores Carpintero won the competition with seven 3-pointers.

UConn commit De'Janae Boykin made four 3-pointers to finish 19 in the preliminaries.

Former UConn star Moore named WNBA MVP

To the surprise of just about nobody former UConn star Maya Moore was named the WNBA's most valuable player.

Moore received 35 of the 38 first-place votes to easily beat out fellow former Husky Diana Taurasi to win the award for the first time finishing second in the voting last year and fourth in 2012.

Moore led the league by averaging 23.9 points per game, the third highest total in league history. Moore opened the 2014 season by scoring 135 points over her first four outings, marking the most prolific four-game scoring stretch in WNBA history. Moore also became the first player in league history to post four consecutive games of 30 or more points after pouring in 34 points at Washington; 33 vs. Connecticut; a then-career-high 38 at Tulsa; and 30 vs. New York.  She went on to finish the regular season with a league-record 12 games of 30-plus points, topping the previous mark of 10 set by Taurasi in 2008.

 Moore also finished the season ranked atop the WNBA in made field goals (295) and was second in minutes (34.7 mpg) and free throws made (160).  Moore placed eighth in rebounding (8.1 rpg), tied for third in three-point field goals made (62), fourth in free throw percentage (.884, 160-of-181), tied for fourth in steals (1.88 spg), sixth in double-doubles (10), and 20th in assists (3.4 apg).  In addition to leading her club in scoring, Moore placed second on the Lynx in rebounding and assists, and third in blocks (0.82 bpg).

She will now try to buck a trend as no regular-season MVP has led her team to the title since Lauren Jackson powered Seattle to the 2010 title. Diana Taurasi (2009), Lisa Leslie (2001), Sheryl Swoopes (2000) and Cynthia Cooper (1997 and 1998) are the only other players to win the WNBA title the same year they were named the league's MVP.

The lottery to determine the order of the top four picks in the 2015 WNBA Draft will be held during halftime of tonight's Indiana/Washington playoff game (approximately at 8 p.m.).

The Connecticut Sun has two of the four lottery picks thanks to finishing with the third-worst record in the league and also holding the New York Liberty's No. 1 pick but by winning the final game of the regular season the Sun's chances to earn the No. 1 pick for the second year in a row dropped dramatically. Tulsa and Seattle each have a 35.9 percent chance of picking first while the Sun's probability to earning the top pick is 28.2 percent.

UConn sweet-shooting wing Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is among the top prospects available in next year's draft.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Another big game for UConn commit at YOG

UConn commit Napheesa Collier continues to be the go-to player for the U.S. in the 3x3 basketball competition at the Youth Olympic Games.

The rising high school senior from O'Fallon, Missouri made 10 of 11 shots from the field and both of her free throws to account for 13 points in a 21-5 win over Thailand as the U.S.improved to 4-0 in pool play. Former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale had the other eight U.S. points.

Collier has scored between 11-13 in each of the four games as she has accounted for 46 of her team's 84 points. She is shooting 77 from the field during the tournament.

 UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson continues to be held out of the competition due to a minor ankle injury.

The big test could come Friday when the 4-0 U.S. team meets 4-0 Belgium. Pool play runs through Sunday. The round of 16 and quarterfinals are scheduled for Monday with the semifinals and finals on Tuesday.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

UConn commit Collier continues to shine at YOG

UConn commit Napheesa Collier, fresh off an impressive showing at the FIBA Americas U18 Championships, is putting on a show for the United States team in the 3x3 competition at the Youth Olympic Games.

Collier had 23 of the team's 42 points in a pair of wins in preliminary round play on Tuesday.

Collier had 12 points (going 11 of 15 from the field) in a 21-2 victory over Indonesia while former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale had six points and UConn commit De'Janae Boykin three points.

In the 21-6 win over Egypt Collier had 11 points on 8 of 14 shooting while Ogunbowale and Boykin added seven and three points respectively.

They were both (Indonesia and Egypt) very tough teams, so we can't come out slacking; we played pretty hard," Boykin said. "Our second game was physical. We just have to come out and do our best."

UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson continues to be held out of the competition as she recovers from a sprained ankle suffered in a scrimmage shortly before the tournament began.

Former Bridgeport Central star Nadine Domond posted on her Instagram account that she has been named the head coach at Grambling.

Domond has been involved with basketball since her playing days ended and has been a well respected trainer with Duke rising senior Elizabeth Williams, who is expected to be a lottery pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft, among her most prominent clients.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 18, 2014

UConn commit Collier leads U.S. to win in YOG opener

UConn commit Napheesa Collier was 11 of 12 from the field to the U.S. to a 21-3 win over Romania in the team's opening game in the Youth Olympic Games. Women's

UConn commit De'Janae Boykin and former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale added five points each for the U.S. in the 3x3 event in Nanjing, China.

UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson sprained an ankle during a team scrimmage and although she was taped up and likely could have played, the decision was made to sit her out of the game.

"I think we played really well, especially with Katie Lou being out," Collier said. "We had to play really smart, and I think we did. I think we adjusted pretty well. We rebounded really well, which is what we've been working on and trying to do."

The U.S. will play Indonesia and Egypt on Tuesday as play continues in the preliminary round portion of the event.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rookies from UConn come full circle

Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley have been involved with so many glorious moments on basketball courts in the state of Connecticut so it seemed rather fitting that when it came time to help the Washington Mystics clinch a WNBA playoff spot, that special event would occur within state limits.

Hartley had 13 points, her 18th double-digit scoring game of the season, and Dolson added four points as the Mystics defeated the Connecticut Sun 71-67 on Friday night to clinch the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The win erased much of the drama from the final weekend of the regular season. If Washington lost to Connecticut, Washington could have been knocked out of the playoffs with a loss to the New York Liberty today and a New York win over Indiana on Sunday. Now the Mystics can start preparing for the postseason.

Hartley admitted after the game that it was a bit ironic that the playoff clinch took place in Connecticut.

"I used to play for UConn and Coach T (Mike Thibault) going against Connecticut and he used to coach here," Hartley said.

"I think it is really important (making the playoffs as a rookie). It is a great experience. There are some rookies who don't get this opportunity but you are playing and gaining experience that you can take with you for the next few years."

Hartley, who was in the starting lineup, and Dolson predictably got warm receptions from the Mohegan Sun Arena crowd.

"It is nice when you come back here and you have a bunch of people who want you to sign stuff or want you to take pictures," Hartley said. "I always stop and do that. Just the fans showing love, it is always nice to come back to your college and where your college is and have the fan support."

Wins by Washington and San Antonio on Friday allowed the Mystics and Stars to clinch the final two playoff spots. Half of the eight playoff teams feature former UConn stars as Diana Taurasi is the leading scorer for Western Conference regular-season champion Phoenix, Maya Moore is not only the top scorer for playoff bound Miunesota but is the league's top scorer as well. In the Eastern Conference, Tiffany Hayes is the No. 3 scorer for an Atlanta team which will be the top seed while Dolson, Hartley and Kalana Greene are all members of playoff bound Washington.

Labels: , , , , ,

Former UConn guard Banks lands at Penn State

Brianna Banks, a member of two national championship teams at UConn, announced via her Twitter account that she will be enrolling at Penn State.

Shortly after the conclusion of her junior season it was announced that Banks was transferring and the desire to be closer to home was given as one of the reasons. Turns out that playing for the Lady Lions turned out to be the perfect fit for her.

Last year Banks appeared in 37 of UConn's 40 games, starting eight times. Banks scored in double digits three times in a five-span stretch when she moved into the starting lineup after injuries sidelined Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Morgan Tuck. However, by season's end she played infrequently.

She played in 90 games during her three seasons at UConn. She had 397 points, 112 assists and 84 steals during her time at UConn.

Banks will need to sit out the current season due to NCAA transfer regulations before playing her final season at Penn State.

I think a year off would help her with the mental part," said Kim Davis Powell, Banks's former AAU coach said shortly after Banks announced that she was transferring. "She is a cerebral kid even though she is stone faced, she is taking it all in and hopefully she can get past all of those injuries and get back to where she wants to be."


Friday, August 15, 2014

After a season of inactivity, Gray eager to return to court

In a perfect world Chelsea Gray would be suiting up for the Connecticut Sun rather than taking over the team's Twitter account for the evening.

But after seeing her junior and senior years at Duke end prematurely due to serious knee injuries, Gray has needed to proceed slowly in the rehabilitation process.

Her plan is to return to the court playing somewhere in Europe beginning in either December or January.

"I am not rushing to process, last time I rushed it a little bit," Gray said before Friday's game against Washington.

"I am working every week traveling to Beverly Hills every week and I have done a little bit of 5 on 5 so I have had some contact and my knee feels better than ever," Gray said.

Gray said she has been doing the 5 on 5 drills for about a month or perhaps a little less.

Now she is eager to hit the court running.

"I am excited for that day to come," Gray said. "It feels a lot better, my quad feels a lot stronger, my knee feels more stable."

While the injury she suffered as a senior was similar to the one she dealt with as a junior, they were not identical and she believes there will be no third knee injury in her future.

She is looking forward to joining a young nucleus of Sun players including rookies Chiney Ogwumike and Alyssa Thomas, her ACC rival for four years.

"We got past that, we are good friends now," Gray said with a laugh about her relationship with Thomas. "We are at a new level, a new horizon. I got past that and we are both excited for me to come here next year and for us to be teammates."

The Sun already has one of the four lottery picks and would be a second one if it were to lose to Washington since Connecticut owns the New York first-round pick acquired in the trade sending Tina Charles to the Liberty. Elizabeth Williams, Gray's former teammate at Duke, is among the top prospects available in the draft.

So what does Gray like about Williams' game?

"Athleticism all the way. I have never seen anybody do certain things, grab certain balls that she does and get up in the air like she does, she is quick off the ball, has a knack for the ball when she goes to rebound. She gets a lot of bumps and bruises out there but she tries her best to finish."

Although Williams wants to become a doctor down the road, Gray feels like she is committed to pursuing a professional basketball career first.

What would it be like if she were to team up with Williams in the pros?

"That would be great, you see that all of the time happen throughout the WNBA, two people who played in college play in the WNBA, what else can you ask for? You know them already, it is not like you have to adjust."

UConn has top-ranked recruiting class

In the eyes of Bret McCormick, who runs the All-Star Girls Report, UConn has the top recruiting class among current rising high school seniors.

UConn commits Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and De'Janae Boykin are rated as the No. 1, 3 and 6 players respectively in the class. Also, Meriden's Kiah Gillespie out of Capital Prep, who recently committed to Maryland, is the No. 24 rated player in the class while Shelton's Stephanie Jones, a Boston College commit who attends Loomis Chaffee is ranked No. 156 and New Haven's Alyssa Alston checks in at No. 166.

The three UConn commits will join former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale (ASGR's No. 4 rated player) as members of the United States team playing in the 3x3 basketball event at the Youth Olympic Games. The U.S. opens pool play against Romania on Monday. Preliminary round play runs through Aug. 24. The round of 16 and quarterfinals are scheduled for Aug. 25 with the semifinals and finals planned for Aug. 26.

Labels: , ,

Ogwumike sisters honored by WNBA

The WNBA announced that Chiney Ogwumike, the leading scorer and rebounder for the Connecticut Sun, and her sister Nneka of the Los Angeles Sparks were named recipients of the July WNBA Cares Community Assist Award.

Here is the release from the WNBA

Chiney and Nneka’s parents are originally from Nigeria, and the family maintains deep ties to the country.  The sisters teamed up with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to launch a fundraising competition which helps raise funds to support UNICEF programs, such as the Girls’ Education Project, that focuses on education and empowerment for young women in Nigeria.  The Girls’ Education Project aims to give one million girls in Nigeria access to quality learning, provide scholarships for female teachers and establish safe spaces for girls.  The goal of the competition is to engage middle school, high school and AAU basketball teams across the country.  Competition participants can enter as a team or individually by logging on to Chiney and Nneka’s fundraising page:  Winners of the competition will receive a private basketball clinic with the Ogwumike sisters.

They also recently hosted a basketball clinic for local athletes at St. Bernard’s High School in Uncasville and educated the group about the Girls’ Education Project.  The clinic included basketball drills and friendly competition, with the sisters serving as team captains.

"We've always wanted to make a difference, and our Nigerian culture is a huge part of who we are," said Chiney Ogwumike.  “Basketball has empowered us to educate people about this cause – that’s a lot bigger than what we do on the court.”

“These girls have a right to an education and to live without fear,” said Nneka Ogwumike.  "We hope that by making others aware of the situation in Nigeria that it will help make a difference in these girls’ lives.”

In recognition of their efforts, the WNBA and State Farm will donate $7,500 to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.   The WNBA Community Assist Award presented by State Farm is awarded monthly during the season to the player that best reflects the WNBA’s passion to make a difference in the community.  Please visit for more information on the award and its recipients.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

WNBA Draft lottery set for August 21

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has a chance to become
fifth UConn player to be taken No. 1 in WNBA draft
The WNBA announced that it would hold its annual draft lottery a week from today in Secaucus, New Jersey at approximately 8 p.m.

The Connecticut Sun and Tulsa Shock are the only teams guaranteed to have a spot in the lottery. Seattle would also become a lottery team if it loses one of its final two games or if San Antonio wins at least one more game. New York is currently the second Eastern Conference team out of the playoffs. Tonight's game between New York and Indiana will go a long way toward determining if the Liberty miss the playoffs. If that occurs than the Sun would have two lottery picks for the second year in a row since the Sun took Chiney Ogwumike with the No. 1 overall pick and received No. 4 pick Alyssa Thomas from New York in the trade that sent former WNBA MVP Tina Charles to the Liberty.

UConn senior wing Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is considered to be a strong candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

The Sun announced a couple of promotions for its final two home games.

Tomorrow's 7 p.m. game against Washington will feature Autism Night as part of its Community Spotlight program..

There will be a silent auction on the Mohegan Sun Arena concourse during the game with proceeds to benefit the Southeastern Connecticut Walk Now For Autism Speaks.

There is a discount off the ticket price at, click on “find tickets” and enter the code word “2014.”

Also, the team announced a school supplies drive to benefit the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut during the game against the Atlanta Dream on Sunday at 1 p.m. Bins to collect school supplies will be placed inside both entrances to Mohegan Sun Arena.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Former UConn star Williams named assistant coach at Kentucky

Tamika Williams, a member of UConn's 2000 and 2002 national championship teams, has been hired as an assistant coach at Kentucky.

"I have been a long-time admirer of Tamika Williams and her contributions to the game of basketball,” Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell said in the official release on Kentucky's site. “To have the opportunity to work with her on a daily basis is extremely exciting for everyone associated with our program.  Her ability to impact our players in a positive way is something that I value greatly. Tamika has experienced success as a player, coach, broadcaster and in the business world.  Her knowledge of the game coupled with the wisdom she can provide our players will be an invaluable asset to the Kentucky program. Tamika is a tremendous role model for our players and I couldn’t be happier to welcome her as the newest member of the Big Blue Nation.”

Williams had previous assistant coaching gigs at Ohio State and Kansas.

"I'm elated and humbled that Coach Mitchell has given me an opportunity to be a part of such a tremendous program at University of Kentucky,” Williams said in a statement. “I have a chance to work with a phenomenal staff, cultivate the minds of young women for success on and off the court, and help promote his winning attitude in the community. I want to thank the University of Kentucky, Coach Mitchell, and every young woman on his team for accepting me into the Wildcat family. It’s truly been a blessing.”


Taking a look at UConn's 2015-16 schedule

Putting together the non-conference schedule for the upcoming season was about as challenging as it has been in quite some time.

Shockingly teams were not lining up to face a team returning not only the national player of the year (Breanna Stewart) but also a player who could end up going No. 1 overall in the 2015 WNBA Draft (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis), one of the nation's best point guard (Moriah Jefferson) in addition to some talented role players (Kiah Stokes, Morgan Tuck and Saniya Chong) and one of the top recruiting classes coming in.

The good news is that while UConn had to struggle a bit to put all the pieces in place, the Huskies are already ahead of the game in piecing together next season's non-conference schedule.

UConn will host Stanford and Notre Dame and will play South Carolina, DePaul (in Morgan Tuck's homecoming game) and UCLA on the road. There was a report that UConn will play at Tennessee Chattanooga while talks continue between UConn and Louisville. Assuming that the Huskies play another three-game tournament, that would only leave two spots to fill. It remains to see if anything can be worked out between UConn and Duke because as of right now the series will end after this season. Also, word is UConn is attempting to secure a homecoming game for Breanna Stewart. However, getting teams to agree to host UConn after a program-changing player opts to leave to play for the Huskies is not as easy as it may sound. It doesn't sound as if Syracuse is a likely option so if I worked at schools like Colgate or Cornell I would have the number of UConn senior women's administrator Deb Corum on speed dial. Colgate, only about 30 miles from Syracuse, averaged 456 fans in 12 home dates a season ago while Cornell drew an average of 446 fans in 14 home games. Although Cornell is about twice as far away from Syracuse, the Big Red's home arena holds almost 4,500 while Colgate's home capacity is listed at 1,760 on the university's official site. The only other Division I school within 100 miles of Syracuse is Binghamton, which is about 80 miles away and has shown the ability to draw more fans than the other two programs with an average home crowd of 1,859 a season ago . It is just me thinking out loud, but if one of those schools balks at being on the wrong side of a lopsided UConn win perhaps school officials might consider playing one of its two preseason exhibitions at Division II Le Moyne within the Syracuse city limits. I'm sure if it is at all possible, UConn will have some sort of homecoming game for Stewart. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

UConn commit Collier shines in U18 gold medal game

UConn commit Napheesa Collier played a starring role as the United States completed a dominating run to the FIBA Americas U18 Championship gold medal.

Collier had 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot in the 104-74 win over Canada in Sunday's championship game.

Collier scored in double figures in four of the five games with a pair of double-doubles as she averaged 14.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocked shots. Collier finished with the fifth highest rebounding average for a player from the U.S. in the tournament's history trailing only multiple time collegiate all-americans Tina Charles, Courtney Paris, Jayne Appel and Candace Parker.

Here are quotes from Collier courtesy of USA Basketball

Thoughts of tonight’s gold medal-winning game:
"I thought we came out super focused because it’s the gold medal game, and we were playing Canada again, so all of us were in the zone."

On what they worked on to beat Canada three times (once in scrimmage, twice in competition):
"I think because we were playing them for the third time, it made us want to get everything perfect and be more focused and play our hardest game."

On winning her very first gold medal for USA Basketball:
"I feel awesome. It’s feels awesome to play and win for the USA."

Former UConn recruiting target A'ja Wilson had 25 points and 11 rebounds. She finished the tournament averaging 19 points per game breaking the U.S. record set by current UConn forward Morgan Tuck. Tuck averaged 17.8 points per game during the 2012 tournament. She became the 14th future UConn player to compete for the U.S. in this event and this is the ninth straight time a future UConn player was a member of the U.S. squad.

Here's the list of UConn players who competed in the tournament
Player                   Year Results Statistics
Rebecca Lobo      1992 Silver 6.8 points, 4.2 rebounds
Stacy Hamsmeyer 1996 Silver Statistics unavailable
Ashley Battle        2000 Gold 5.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals
Diana Taurasi       2000 Gold 12.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.6 steals
Charde Houston  2004 Gold 10.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Tina Charles         2006 Gold 12.0 points, 9.5. rebounds
Maya Moore       2006 Gold 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 steals
Kelly Faris           2008 Gold 4.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists
Stefanie Dolson    2010 Gold 6.2 points, 4.2 rebounds
Bria Hartley         2010  Gold 10.6 points, 4.0 assists, 2.4 steals
Moriah Jefferson  2012  Gold 5.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists
Breanna Stewart  2012  Gold 14.0 points, 7.8 rebounds
Morgan Tuck       2012  Gold 17.8 points, 5.0 rebounds
Napheesa Collier 2014  Gold 14.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists

Next up for Collier is playing on the U.S. 3x3 team along with fellow UConn commits De'Janae Boykin and Katie Lou Samuelson and former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale at the Youth Olympic Games beginning Saturday in Nanjing, China.


Near triple-double for UConn commit in U18 semifinal

UConn commit Napheesa Collier continues to display different facets of her game for the U.S. U-18 national team.

A day after a big scoring outburst the rising senior at Incarnate Word Academy handed out a team-high seven assists to go with eight points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal as the U.S. defeated Argentina 107-51 to advance to Sunday's final at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Collier also hit both of her 3-point attempts in the game as the U.S. improved to 4-0. Next up is a rematch with Canada at 7:30 p.m. A live stream of the game and live stats are available on the site.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Monster game for UConn commit at U18 tournament

UConn commit Napheesa Collier saved her best performance in the pool play portion of the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for last.

Collier had a game-high 22 points (on 10 of 13 shooting) and 10 rebounds in a 107-76 win over previously undefeated Canada. Collier, who recorded her second double-double in three preliminary round games, added three assists, four steals and a blocked shot as the U.S. finished 3-0 in Group A. Collier exploded for 20 points in the first half.

After the pool play portion of the tournament Collier leads all players with 16 offensive rebounds, is second in blocked shots (3 in 3 games) and rebounding (10.0 per game), third in scoring (14.7), fifth in field-goal percentage (61.8), sixth in steals (2.0) and eighth in assists (2.3)

The U.S. will play Argentina in the semifinals on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with the gold-medal game set for Sunday.

Here are some quotes from Collier courtesy of USA Basketball

What did you think of tonight’s game?
I thought that we played really well despite being down in the first half. I think we played really hard to get back into it, and then gained the lead.

On closing out the half with a 19-4 run:
They were shooting really well from outside, and so we made some adjustments for that and found a way to stifle them.

On what clicked for her in the first half after scoring 20 of a game-high 22 points in the game:
I was just in the zone because we were down and everything was in overdrive trying to get us back in the game.

On playing Argentina tomorrow in the semifinals:
I’m so excited. Hopefully we go undefeated the whole tournament and win the gold medal.

UConn releases its non-conference schedule

While most of the information has been out there for some time, UConn officially released its non-conference schedule.

The regular season starts on Nov. 14 with a game at UC Davis followed three days later by a contest at Stanford. On Nov. 23 comes the home opener against Creighton (in Bridgeport, Hartford or Storrs). From Nov. 28-30 UConn will be in Estero, Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase. The opener is against College of Charleston at 8:30 p.m. on the 28th. Minnesota or Vanderbilt will be the opponent on the second day with the final game against Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Green Bay or Villanova. UConn plays at Notre Dame in a rematch of the national championship game at 3:15 p.m. on Dec. 6. Next up is a home game with DePaul on Dec. 19. Two days later UConn and UCLA will meet in the Hall of Fame Challenge at Mohegan Sun Arena before ending 2014 by hosting Duke on Dec. 29.

UConn will play St. John's in the Maggie Dixon Classic on Jan. 4 at 1 p.m. at Madison Square Garden before wrapping up non-conference play by hosting South Carolina on Feb. 9.

The Huskies will play West Chester and Post University in exhibition games on Nov. 1 and 9.

Nov. 1 vs. West Chester
Nov. 9 vs. Post
Nov. 17 at Stanford, 9 p.m.
Nov. 23 vs. Creighton
Nov. 28 College of Charleston, Estero, Fla. 8:30 p.m.
Nov. 29 Minnesota or Vanderbilt, Estero, Fla. 2:30/8:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 opponent TBA, Estero, Fla.
Dec. 6 at Notre Dame, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 19 vs. DePaul
Dec. 21 vs. UCLA (Mohegan Sun Arena), 5 p.m.
Dec. 29 vs. Duke
Jan. 4 St. John's (Madison Square Garden), 1 p.m.
Feb. 9 vs. South Carolina

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Meriden's Gillespie commits to Maryland

Capital Prep rising senior Kiah Gillespie, who was so impressive at the U.S. U-17 trials a couple months back, committed to Maryland.

Gillespie averaged 22.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.1 steals and 2 blocks per game as a junior at Capital Prep to earn Gatorade state player of the year honors.

She made her decision known via her Twitter account

Double-double for UConn commit Collier in U18 tournament

UConn commit Napheesa Collier's impressive offensive rebounding talent continues to show itself at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

Collier hauled down a team-high five offensive rebounds for the second time in as many preliminary round games. The 6-foot-1 Collier, the only member of the U.S. starting lineup with remaining high school eligibility, had 12 points, a team-best 12 rebounds to go with three assists, one steal and two blocked shots despite not playing in the fourth quarter in the 118-50 win over El Salvador.

The U.S. wraps up pool play tomorrow against Canada in what has turned into a showdown for the Group A title.

Here are quotes from Collier courtesy of USA Basketball

Overall thoughts on the USA’s victory tonight:
I think we played really well together, and it was a good opportunity for us to work on the things maybe we’re not doing so well.

On maintaining focus once the team had built a big advantage:
I think you have to focus more, because if you make the little mistakes then you get in more trouble.

What did the team try to work on after building a big lead?
We focused on defense and running our offense all the way through, because we need to always do that.

On getting ready to play Canada next:
We need to bring our A-game because they’re really physical. We have to get the rebounds, get the defensive rebounds and just play as a team.


Former UConn star Faris glad to give back

Somehow it seemed fitting that with some spare time on her hands that former UConn standout Kelly Faris would be in a gym in Cheshire working up a sweat along side kids who paid $60 to take part in a strength and conditioning clinic at the 3E CrossFit Gym on Wednesday night.

Faris recently had a conversation with former UConn women's basketball manager Matt Gade who was helping to put together Wednesday's event.

"We were taking one day about family stuff, school stuff, workouts and we kind of talked about that at a young age you don't really get introduced to as much strength and conditioning as maybe you should if you want to play at a higher level so he asked me to come down here and help him out with the clinic," Faris said. "To be honest, I learned some stuff too. It was a good turnout and we had fun."

The clinic was not about bench pressing or typical type of workouts but ability training similar to what NFL prospects go through leading up to the draft. So does Faris train like she did on Wednesday?

"At a younger age not so much but in high school we did have a pretty good strength and conditioning  coach who would help us out a lot and once I got to college obviously I did a bunch of stuff so it is good for me to see a lot of that again," Faris said. "A lot of it I didn't necessarily do and some I did do so it is good to kind of be reminded of different things.

"It was a lot of fun. It took them a little while to kind of get energized but once they got going and competing, competing always brings it out of you and makes it more fun. I loved interacting with them and I loved seeing the ones that asked questions because they want to learn and want to make sure they are doing it right. I see that in a lot of them, all of them so it was good."

Faris earned a reputation as a tireless worker during her days at UConn. It is a part of personality that hasn't changed because invariably when I head down to Mohegan Sun Arena for a Connecticut Sun game Faris is among the first player on the court working with an assistant coach. She was thrilled to provide some inspiration for the local kids who came out to take part in the clinic.

"For me, when I was younger I got to go to camps and I got to learn from people who were older and better than me," Faris said. "Now I am kind of in this position where I have this platform and I want to give people opportunities that I had so I am looking to get out there and give back to them and provide a good example."

Switching gears, it has not been the easiest of seasons for Faris. Not only is the Connecticut Sun 2 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with four games left but she has seen her playing time cut in half from 14 minutes per game as a rookie to just seven minutes in the 21 games she has appeared in. Faris hasn't made field goals in consecutive games this season so she has lost time to more offensive-minded players.

She has fought through the difficult season the only way she knows how and that is by working even harder in practice and during her free time.

"It is a different situation for me but it is a challenge and I have to do what I can to help the team whether it is in a game or it is in a practice," Faris said. "If I am on the scout team I want to play the best scout team I possibly can and get my teammates better. It is not something I can dwell about, pout or blame anybody it is something that I have to look at it for what it is, work on what I can work on and control what I can control. It is OK, it is a challenge and it makes me work harder."

Since I have noticed that the Sun locker room is a better place - at least from the outside looking in - I asked Faris if she felt like the chemistry of the team is better than it was a season ago.

"I didn't have issues with anybody last year," Faris said. "I never have issues with people for the most part but does the chemistry work a little better than last year? I would say a little bit. We flow a little bit better, it is a little bit of a different group but is there still a lot that we need to work on? For sure. We have seen this season how up and down it is been. I get that is kind of how it is but it shouldn't be so up and down. If you want to be at the top like Minnesota and whoever than you have to be the team that isn't so up and down. It sounds so simple but there is so much that we need to work on mentally and physically and with x's and o's."

So what is next for Faris? That's a good question. With two first-round picks both likely being in the top five in next year's draft and the addition of former Duke point guard Chelsea Gray, who missed this season with a knee injury, there's no guarantee that Faris will be a part of next year's Sun squad. There is also some uncertainty in terms of her next basketball stop as she is currently not signed up to play overseas.

"As of right now I am just kind of waiting it out," Faris said. "I am going to be heading home whenever the season is over and kind of play it by ear and see if something will pop up."

USA Basketball officially announced that the the U.S. women's national team, coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma, will hold an intrasquad scrimmage on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the University of Delaware and the scrimmage along with the exhibition game against Canada on Sept. 15 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport will air live on ESPN2.

U.S. will begin preparations with a training camp in Annapolis, Maryland from Sept. 7-10.