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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

'95 UConn team allowed Huskies to go national

With two of the oldest, dearest friends in town as well as many members of the 1994-95 team which won the first of UConn's nine national teams back for a ceremony honoring their historic achievement, Geno Auriemma was in a trip down memory lane type of mood.

Often times he tends to stay in the moment, not wanting to allow his focus to wander by reflecting too much on past accomplishments but after Friday's practice, it was a much different situation.

There will be much more of the 1994-95 team after we get the chance to chat with some of the players today but one of the aspects of that team that has always intrigued me is how the recruiting landscape changed after that season.

The 1994-95 team consisted of four players from Connecticut, three from Massachusetts, two from Pennsylvania and one each from Maryland, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. Fast forward to today and the Huskies' starting lineup figures to feature a player from Ontario, one from California, another from Texas and yet another hailing from Illinois.

"When we won that national championship, I am not sure we were aware internally what we were doing and the impact we were having nationally," Auriemma said. "We kind of had an ideal that there was stuff going on because every week there was somebody different. Every week there was somebody from some newspaper around the country or some TV/magazine people who wanted to know what the heck is going on up at Connecticut. We knew something was going on but we didn't know the impact that we had. We probably didn't even know what was going on in the state of Connecticut for the most part. After we won that national championship and the way that season played out, all of a sudden we get Shea Ralph, Stacy Hansmeyer, Paige Sauer and things started to kind of expand. We are still not able to be anybody we want (in 1995) to be interested but we started getting a lot more kids. It is not like today where we have been doing it for so long that it is not too hard to get involved with a kid but it is hard to get a kid to come here."

Auriemma still recalls the recruiting blueprint that he put together in his first season back in 1985.

"We drew that pyramid or triangle (from) Boston, Washington, Pittsburgh over and we thought if we could get the best players in that area or at least most of the best players that year in and year out we could have a nationally competitive team. It wasn't until after that when we started getting kids from around the country. We just got a kid from North Carolina (Ralph), we got two kids from Oklahoma (Hansmeyer and Sauer) and oh my God, they are coming to UConn that kind of changed everything."

Starting point guard Moriah Jefferson is the first player from Texas to play at UConn, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is the latest California phenom to star for the Huskies and another one is coming next year in Katie Lou Samuelson. He reached into Nevada to get Gabby Williams, in the midst of an outstanding freshman season. A quick look at the list of UConn's career leaders indicates how far reaching UConn's recruiting process has become. Top career scorer Maya Moore played her high school ball in Georgia. No. 5 scorer Diana Taurasi is a native of California, Renee Montgomery hails from West Virginia, Mosqueda-Lewis who is quickly approaching Montgomery's scoring number is also from California, Svetlana Abrosimova came from Russia while players like Tiffany Hayes (Florida), Ann Strother (Colorado),  Ralph and Barbara Turner (Ohio) are from areas that UConn didn't recruit before that magical season.

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