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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Former UConn star Cash reflects on Senior Day memories

UConn will playing its final regular season home game on Saturday against Memphis and there will be a familiar face handling the studio analyst duties.

Swin Cash won't be in Storrs for the festivities as that will fall to Brent Stover and former Marist star Julianne Viani. But she will be asked to offer her insight during the game as part of the CBS Sports Network crew. The folks at CBS SNT were nice enough to get Cash on the phone for me which allowed me to address a variety of topics with Cash, one of 15 players currently in the Huskies of Honor. The number will reach a Sweet 16 when Mosqueda-Lewis is added to that list on Saturday.

First, I had her reflect on what her Senior Night/Day experience was like.

"I remember Senior Day. I was going through some pictures and saw some pictures of us," Cash said. "It is really an emotional time. The reality is you think about, you never really think when you come in as a freshman there is going to be an end but when you walk out on Senior Night, it really kind of hits you.

I just remember being on the bench and we wanted to make sure we got up and out early. We really wanted to make sure we could sit on the bench and really take it in. I remember laughing, joking on the bench with Sue, 'Mika and Asjha, those are the memories that you take with you. Taking them all in, from her on out it is one of those mentalities of appreciating every single game."

UConn rolled past Providence 106-41 in the final home game for Cash, Sue Bird, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams en route to an undefeated season and a second national title in a three-year span.

Current seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes won't have an undefeated season to shoot at during their final season since the Huskies lost at Stanford in the second game of the season. However, they could leave as members of a national championship squad for the third year in a row.

"I think they are going to have a lot of emotions," Cash said. "I think the great thing for them is they have both been part of not only winning championships but a winning tradition. They are exactly where any senior wants to be in their senior year, in a position to do it again (winning) back to back to back (championships). I think they won't be thinking as much about the moment but they will be thinking about the overall finish because they have had a great legacy so far."

Cash was a key member of one of the greatest women's collegiate basketball teams of all time as her senior year the Huskies were absolutely unstoppable. The four seniors all went in the top six picks of the 2002 WNBA Draft. Cash loves the on-court chemistry she sees from this year's team.

"It is clear that they understand their roles on the team pretty much to a T and that is what kind of separates them from a lot of teams this year," Cash said. "They all really are playing to the best of their ability and not getting going outside of that, it kind of looks beautiful to watch the passes, knowing where each other are on the floor, getting to the right spots on the floor, getting to the right spots."

Cash is especially impressed with the way reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart works with fellow starting post Morgan Tuck.

"I think one of the most underrated things that people don't understand is that chemistry," Cash said. "Chemistry cam be built by having great leaders on the team that are selfless. I think Breanna and Morgan are both kind of selfless kind of players so having them in that position and here comes Moriah (Jefferson) and how she is playing, you can just see that the chemistry is built. Even watching their practices, how hard they compete in practices that is where the chemistry is built. The games
are just fun."

I had to ask Cash about the transformation of Gabby Williams from high school guard to playing an undersized post as a freshman because Williams' energetic style of play often times reminds me of the way Cash played.

"I am impressed," Cash said. "For any player, it is a hard transition. Asjha and I came in with our backs to the basket, we had to learn how to expand our game a little bit. We had to work with Chris Dailey and Jamelle Elliott on that part. I think the fact that Coach (Geno Auriemma) saw in her an ability, how athletic she was and how willing she was to learn. I think that has really helped her out a lot because her mindset is already open to change. I am sure that the coaches have had a field day with her. You look at what she is doing on the floor, it is really amazing to think she was playing the guard position."

Cash has had the opportunity to work in the studio and also serve as a color commentator. She loves the different experiences she has be subjected to as an announcer.

"I enjoy the studio work," Cash said. "It is awesome because I have been able to go out, see some games, I am able to do some feature pieces and I am really exploring all the options that are out there.
I will be in studio for the next week or so but during the tournament I will actually be at the men's Final Four doing some work there, hopefully I can catch up with the women's (team at the Final Four) as well."

Cash has played for five different teams since being taken with the second overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft. After beginning her career playing six seasons in Detroit and another four in Seattle, Cash has played for three teams in the last four seasons.

While she was not ready to reveal the team she would be playing for in the upcoming WNBA season, she is extremely excited to be coming back for a 14th WNBA season.

"That will be coming out in about a week," Cash said. "We are still in the free agent period right now. I am really excited about the upcoming season. The feeling I have is really good, I am excited to play and there is something to be said about coming into a season without stress, pressure and dealing with a whole lot of baggage so I am excited."

What about the WNBA futures of Mosqueda-Lewis and Stokes?

"I think they have a set of skills that help them at the next level," Cash said. "It really just goes to where you are drafted, the system, how the coaches run the system. You have the best players in the world but when you look at players who have had success, it has come down to they been on teams with coaches who have put in systems for them to be successful. I am sure they are going to end up sticking somewhere because at the end of the day people want to have players from Connecticut on their team because they understand that the players have been coached well, they understand about being a pro and they also understand that they are going to work tremendously hard to help you win. I think both of them will be OK."

One last item on the announcing crew, I remember interviewing Viani when she was a senior in high school. She played in a game back in December of 2001 at the Westchester County Center and had 24 points to lead Our Lady of Lourdes High School to a 58-53 win over California power Narbonne, which was led by future UConn forward Willnett Crockett. I couldn't find the story online but she had some nice things to say about Crockett, who had 15 points and 13 rebounds in the game.

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