Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March Madness is favorite time of the year for UConn's Stewart

Don't take this the wrong way because Breanna Stewart is a second-team Academic All-American so she is not merely enrolled at UConn to play for the juggernaut of a women's basketball program.

However, she is somewhat giddy at the prospects of being able to watch the wall to wall coverage of the first two rounds of the men's NCAA Division I basketball tournament with few interruptions.

Certainly the Huskies, who earned the No. 1 overall seed in the women's Division I tournament for a record 10th time, will have some spirited practices leading into the first-round game against St. Francis (N.Y.). But with UConn currently on spring break, there are no classes for Stewart or her teammates to go to until next week.

"I am just happy because Thursday and Friday are my favorite days of the year, all the basketball going on and it is nice I don't have to have class and I can just watch," Stewart said.

Long before she became the best high school player in the country she was just another basketball crazy fan in Syracuse who could barely wait for the NCAA tournament to kick into high gear.

"I don't even know when I started doing that," Stewart said. "It even got to the point where I would beg my parents to let me stay home for these two days so I could watch these games. Some days I won that battle, sometimes I lost but it is so much excitement with how ever many games are playing during the day, the upsets."

Stewart is known for being in attendance at the UConn men's games as well. Along with teammates Morgan Tuck and Kiah Stokes, she received plenty of air time at the nationally-televised American Athletic Conference men's championship game. UConn's quest to win the title and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament came up short but it was still a memorable experience for Stewart.

"It was fun," Stewart said. "To have the American Athletic Conference tournament hosted at XL Center was cool, just to see how many UConn fans were supporting our men even though they came up short, I think everybody is proud of how they fought back."

WHAT'S IN A NUMBER?
There have been plenty of interesting stories over the years about how one teammate will barter to another to get a particular number to wear. So when Kia Nurse started wearing the No. 11 that was donned by Briana Pulido last season, I was curious is there was a bit of negotiating necessary.

As it turned out, that was simply not the case.

Other than her time with the Canadian national team Nurse said "I have always been 11 on any basketball team I have ever played on."

So when the coaches asked her if she had a number preference, she never hesitated.
"When they emailed me and asked for what number, I didn't know how it worked here but I said I would like No. 11 but if that is not possible, that is no problem," Nurse said. "I was fortunate enough to get it. Polly (Pulido) is really cool like that."

Pulido didn't think giving up her number was a big deal so she changed to No. 24 without giving it a second thought.

"The coaches said to me 'Kia would like to use No. 11.'" Pulido said. "I was like 'OK.' I picked another number and that was it. It wasn't a big deal for me. I chose 11 on my own, I had never been 11 at all and 24, it was just a new number."

UConn incoming freshman Napheesa Collier happens to wear No.  24 so if she asked for that number would Pulido change uniform numbers again?

"Sure," Pulido said again without hesitation.

NCAA TOURNAMENT TICKETS NOW ON SALE
Tickets for the first and second round of the 2015 NCAA tournament went on sale today at www.UConnTickets.com.

Tickets are priced per session at $20 for adults and $15 for youth and seniors.
Tickets can also be purchased at the UConn Athletic Ticket Office in Storrs or by calling 1-877-AT-UCONN between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Parking will be available in the North and South Garages for $5 per car.

COACHING HONOR FOR BLACKMAN'S HIBDON
Chad Hibdon, the coach of UConn Class of 2016 commit Crystal Dangerfield at Blackman High in Murfreesboro, was named one of eight WBCA District High School Coaches of the Year.

Hibdon led Blackman to a 32-2 record and second straight Tennessee AAA title. Here are the winners who are eligible to be named the WBCA National High School Coach of the Year.

District 2 – Dawn Karpell, St. John Vianney
District 3 – Scott Allen, Paul VI High School
District 4 – Brian Cosgriff, Hopkins High School
District 5 – Bob Hanson, Dowling
District 6 – Daryl Fimple, North Little Rock High School
District 7 – Will Gray , Desert Vista High School
District 8 – Carl Buggs, Long Beach Poly
District 9 – Chad Hibdon, Blackman High School

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