Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Breanna Stewart, 7 former UConn stars headed to U.S. national team camp

UConn's Breanna Stewart, the reigning national player of the year, and seven former Huskies are among 27 players expected to take part in the upcoming U.S. national team training camp in Las Vegas which runs from Monday-Wednesday.

Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley, Maya Moore, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Diana Taurasi are also expected to be at the first training camp of 2015.

Stewart and South Carolina's Tiffany Mitchell are the only active college players among those taking part in the training camp.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mosqueda-Lewis, Stokes honored at UConn Club Awards Ceremony

UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes, who set program single-season records for 3-pointers and blocked shots respectively, were among those honored at last night's UConn Club awards ceremony.

Mosqueda-Lewis and Stokes were among 13 recipients of the UConn Club Senior Athlete Awards.

Former UConn star Stefanie Dolson, heading into her second season with the WNBA's Washington Mystics, will be in Cheshire tomorrow for a strength and conditioning clinic at the 3E Crossfit at 1701 Highland Avenue. The clinic is $65 and open to those between 12-17. Visit or email

Friday, April 24, 2015

UConn commit Espinoza-Hunter heading to U.S. U-16 trials

UConn Class of 2017 commit Andra Espinoza-Hunter is one of 35 players who have accepted invitations for the U.S. U-16 trials.

Espinoza-Hunter, a former teammate of UConn's Saniya Chong at Ossining (N.Y.) High, has spent the last two seasons at Blair Academy.

The training camp will be held from May 21-25 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The list of attendees will grow as about 150 players who send in applications will be able to take part in the training camp. The full roster of athletes is expected to be announced by the end of the month.

The 12-member squad, announced at the end of the training camp, will compete in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Women, a qualifying event for next year's U-17 World Championship for Women.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

UConn's Stewart named Honda Award winner

Yes, there are more honors for UConn resident superstar Breanna Stewart to collect.

Stewart added the Honda Award for women's basketball honor to her growing list. Stewart beat out three other finalists including teammate Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to win the award for the second season in a row. She now joins Maya Moore as the only Huskies to win the award more than once.

Stewart swept the major national player of the year awards winning the Associated Press, Naismith, USBWA and WBCA awards as well as being the Wooden Award winner after she averaged 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as a junior to lead the Huskies to their third straight national title.

She is now a candidate for the Honda Cup.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

UConn to play home and home with Kansas State

Kansas State has put out a release saying it will play at UConn on Nov. 23 as the front end of a home and home series signed between the schools. The return game is set for the 2016-17 and will be the third annual Team Hally game in honor of Hally Yust, who passed away at the age of 9.

Kansas State and UConn have met once with UConn winning 72-26 in a 2012 NCAA tournament game played in Bridgeport although Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie did meet up with UConn in the 2003 NCAA tournament when he was the head coach at Texas Christian.

Friday, April 17, 2015

UConn signee Collier steals show at Jordan Brand Classic

There are few things more valuable when catching up to the next generation of UConn stars than running into people who have true insight into the way the Huskies go about their business.

Dealing with the tiresome "is UConn's dominance bad for the game" nonsense that has been so prevalent at the last two Final Fours, it's always a delight to catch up with people who actually comprehend why the Huskies are so damn good.

My two trips to New York in the last three games allowed me to catch up with two such people.

On Wednesday I spoke with Christ the King coach Bob Mackey, who coached former Huskies Sue Bird, Tina Charles and Lorin Dixon in between practices for the Jordan Brand Classic. Today it was time to chat with Mater Dei High School coach Kevin Kiernan, who coached Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and for the last three seasons was the head coach for current Huskies' prize recruit Katie Lou Samuelson.

Much like Mackey did, Kiernan spoke as much about the type of kid that goes to UConn and how those prospects go from high school phenom to collegiate stars.

"That is the great thing about UConn," Kiernan said. "They get the best kids in the country sure but they come in wanting to get better. There are some talented kids who don't want to get any better, they feel like they are fine the way they are. They don't want to get yelled at, those guys want to and that is the difference. That is why Coach (Geno Auriemma) is able to take it to a high level."

An elbow injury kept Samuelson, who won every major national high school player of the year award, out of the game. But Kiernan got a first-hand look at another dynamic UConn recruit.

Collier, a 6-foot-1 forward out of Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis, had game-high totals of 13 rebounds and four steals. She also had 22 points on 7 of 9 shooting (joining Louisville commit Taja Cole as the only players to make more shots than she missed) and two assists. Returning to the game late in the second half with the East team trailing, Collier had two points and two steals including one leading to the go-ahead 3-pointer by North Carolina commit Stephanie Watts with 15 seconds left.

"Napheesa Collier is just a great kid, forget about the basketball part, she has an energy and life in her," Kiernan said. "She is very versatile, she is a winner, she proved that tonight but she plays with enthusiasm, people like playing with her."

Want an example of what makes Collier the player that she is? One of the first things she mentioned about her game was her four turnovers in the first half. Then when I asked her what was the best part of the all-star game experience she said it was the "win."

"When Stephanie hit that 3-pointer it was like the best rush ever, it was amazing," Collier said. "There was no way I was losing two all-star games in a row (Collier was on the losing side in the McDonald's All-American Game.) It was cool."

Samuelson was understandably disappointed that she couldn't play but with the U.S. U-19 trials coming up in about a month before she heads to UConn for summer session, she wasn't going to risk causing more issues with her elbow by playing in an all-star game
"I hurt my elbow a little while back and have USA coming up so the doctor said three weeks of no contact so I knew I could play and maybe risk injuring it," Samuelson said. "I have bigger things coming up that I really have to focus on so I just sat this one out. I wanted to get out there but I was having a lot of fun on the bench."

While on the bench she had a first-hand view at how impossible is can be to guard Collier.

"She was awesome," Samuelson said. "She was unstoppable, I don't think anybody  could stop her in the paint. She was rebounding like crazy, she is so long, it amazes me how long her arms are. Going in that's awesome knowing I have a teammate that can do all that. She is very versatile so I am looking forward to all of that."

One of the highlights for me was the couple of possessions when Collier was matched up with fellow UConn freshman De'Janae Boykin in the post.

"Napheesa did very well today," said Boykin, who had two points and four rebounds. "It was fun to be with her when I was able to guard her for one or two possessions. I think our games are kind of the same for us guarding each other is like guarding ourselves so it was pretty cool.

"It (Watts hitting two 3-pointers in the final 24 seconds to lift the East to a 76-75 win) was crazy," Boykin said. "We came in and we were up then they started cutting (the lead) and towards the end we were up again and they came back.."
By the time the three incoming freshmen arrive in UConn on June 1 for the start of summer session, Samuelson should be 100 percent healthy. That may not be the case for Boykin who lost most of her senior season at Flowers High in Springdale, Md. due to a wrist injury.
She will return to therapy and there's a chance more of that process could occur when she is at UConn.

Kiernan considers himself blessed to coach two incredible shooters.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis played for Kiernan for four seasons at Mater Dei before going to UConn, winning three national titles and setting the NCAA Division I women's record with 398 career 3-pointers. There are some who think Samuelson, who played her final three seasons at Mater Dei, has range comparable to what Mosqueda-Lewis possesses.

"How lucky have we been. I keep telling my coaches are we going to get anything close to that or is that it?" Kiernan said. "(Coaching) the Jordan Classic and then you never hear from me for the rest of my life. They are such different players, it has just been a great experience.

"It would have been nice to coach her (Samuelson) one more time but you don't want to hurt her health with the USA (U-19 trials) and she is going to start summer school pretty soon. It was better for her health."

Kiernan watched the WNBA Draft with great interest and was thrilled to see Mosqueda-Lewis go to Seattle with the third overall pick.

"I am really glad to see her drafted No. 3 because I was hoping she wouldn't fall," Kiernan said. "I am just happy for her. She just finds a way to make big shots, she is that kind of kid. She had a great career and will play with Jewell Loyd now. She will fit into any sort of culture or atmosphere, she is just that kind of kid. She is going to find a way to help the team, she will fit in culture wise and she will be a professional."

It was a bit of a tough shooting day but Meriden native and former Capital Prep star Kiah Gillespie was one of three players with a double-double.

Gillespie finished with 11 points and led the West team with 12 rebounds.

"I just tried to come out and do things that I already know how to do," said the Maryland-bound Gillespie.
"We made history (playing in the first girls' game in the history of the Jordan Brand Classic) and all the things we did today, it is in the history book forever. It is amazing."

Last but certainly not least, I would be remiss if I didn't thank the organizers of the Jordan Brand Classic for their help. I went up on Wednesday and I was able to get Boykin, Samuelson and Gillespie in rapid succession. Then they got me Mackey and Collier to talk to as I was in and out of 23 Terminal so quickly it amazed me. Stephanie, one of the media contacts for the event, was equally helpful today in getting all the players and coaches we needed to talk to. The best compliment I can give to her is she would fit in well with the folks at USA Basketball who are always incredibly helpful. I wish that was the rule and not the exception but I would be lying if I said that was the case. My last experience covering the McDonald's All-American Game was a nightmare and trying to get enough access at the WNBA Draft to do my job properly just does not happen.

Three UConn incoming freshmen in Jordan Brand Classic

We're about an hour away from the Jordan Brand Classic. All three UConn incoming freshmen are set to play in the first girls' game in the event's history.

Here's a look at some of what I have written over the last couple of days including De'Janae Boykin being a little more excited than your typical all-star performer to get onto the court, Napheesa Collier able to end her high school career with a third state title in a row and Katie Lou Samuelson relishing the pressure that goes with being a part of the UConn program.

I also caught up with legendary Christ the King coach Bob Mackey, an assistant coach on the East team, about the potential of UConn's incoming freshman class and also have a story on Capital Prep's Kiah Gillespie thriving on a national stage.

Connecticut Sun thrilled to land Duke's Williams

Even on her most glass is half full kind of days Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan never figured to have a chance to draft either Elizabeth Williams or Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis with the No. 4 overall pick in Thursday's WNBA Draft.

However, when Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd and Minnesota's Amanda Zahui B. took advantage of a rule allowing them to declare for the draft because they would turn 22 this year, it set in a series of events leading to Williams becoming the most recent building block for the Sun.

"This draft changed two weeks ago. All of a sudden we had a chance to get somebody who we thought was completely out of our reach," Donovan said. "Kaleena or Williams we never thought it was possible. We waited and knew we were going to get a good one.

I have seen her a lot, I live in North Carolina during the offseason so I visited a lot and talked to a ton of people, this kid is hungry and she is ready. She has the nicest demeanor, she has a lot of history in our locker room she has played with Chiney (Ogwumike), Chelsea (Gray) obviously so I am really excited about that."

Loyd went No. 1 to Seattle while Tulsa took Zahui B. Seattle was up next with the pick it acquired ironically from Connecticut in a deal that sent former UConn guard Renee Montgomery to Seattle with Camille Little and Shekinna Stricklen heading to Connecticut. Donovan viewed it as a win-win proposition. If Seattle took Williams, the Sun would gladly take the NCAA Division I career leader in 3-pointers. When Mosqueda-Leiws went to Seattle, the Sun selected Williams.

"Either way it would have gone we would be thrilled because we needed a shooter and we needed a 5 (center) so we felt like either way we were going to be really pleased," Donovan said.

"We want somebody to come to practice every day and challenge Kelsey Bone, keep her on her toes. We have had some post players do that in practice but I think Elizabeth Williams could have a nice career in this league. It is not so much a message to Bone, it just gives us another strong paint player who is defensively present so when Kelsey struggles or gets into foul trouble we have a really good alternative."

After taking former DePaul guard Brittany Hrynko, the Sun sent her to Atlanta for Jasmine Thomas, a former Duke guard who played in Washington for two seasons before starting 52 games over the last seasons for Atlanta. The deal won't be official until Thomas passes her physical.

"We looked at Jasmine for a while, another Duke kid go figure but that's more about helping Chelsea along, kind of understanding what it takes to be a pro and mentoring Chelsea as she grows into what I think is going to be a premier point guard in this league," Donovan said.

Williams and Thomas have reputations as top-notch defensive players who goes right with Donovan's coaching DNA. However, they will not be asked to merely contribute on one end of the floor.

"We need to score clearly," Donovan said. "I love defense but putting points up we want to sit a lot higher than we are currently so we are going to ask a little from both. That is what I like about Williams, we have struggled with production in the post especially when Bone struggles or goes out, we haven't had a lot of points there so I think Elizabeth Williams really helps. Thomas gives us flexibility to move (Alex) Bentley over and Bentley can score for us in the off guard spot."

With a knee injury sidelining Ogwumike for at least a couple of months it is going to be interesting to see where the points come from. There are some serious concerns about the back issues hampering Katie Douglas and with the prospects of Spanish national team star Alba Torrens ever playing for the Sun seemingly more of an if rather than a when scenario, it's not going to be easy.

Players like Allison Hightower, Bentley, Stricklen, Little, Kelsey Griffin, Alyssa Thomas and Bone have proven to be able to score in the WNBA but haven't been No. 1 options before.

Ogwumike is well aware of Williams' potential.

"She talked to me and said 'this is my time,'" Ogwumike said. "I think she will step up especially since I am out for a couple of months."

It is interesting that the Sun now have three former Duke players on its roster. Williams, accustomed to being on the opposing team when she plays in Connecticut, will have a chance to hear cheers from the Connecticut women's basketball fans for the first time.

"It will be interesting but cool," Williams said. "I am really excited and really happy to have them on my side."

Williams, the final piece in the trade that sent Tina Charles to New York, will also be added to a relatively young nucleus.

"Hopefully as we continue to grow, we can use our youth to our advantage and really show some cool things," Williams said. "Alyssa Thomas she is a great player as well and seeing her in the conference and getting to be on her side will be pretty cool."

UConn seniors excited to play alongside pair of Husky legends

There was a fairly good chance that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes would be teaming up with at least one former UConn stars considering the large number of former Huskies playing in the WNBA.

Now that the dust has cleared, the two soon to be graduated seniors might have found the perfect mentors to aid their transition from college to professional basketball.

Mosqueda-Lewis, the NCAA Division I women's basketball all-time leading 3-point shooter, will get to play alongside of future Hall of Fame point guard Sue Bird in Seattle while shot-blocking dynamo Kiah Stokes will be teamed up in New York with Tina Charles, the all-time leading rebounder in UConn history.

"I am excited to learn from one of the best point guards to ever play," Mosqueda-Lewis said shortly after going No. 3 overall.

Sue Bird has been to some practices during Mosqueda-Lewis' four seasons and she was the color commentator on the ESPN2 broadcast when UConn hosted South Florida so there is already some familiarity between the two.

When she was in Storrs she spoke to a couple of us and of course the possibility of Mosqueda-Lewis joining the Storm was a popular topic of conversation as a potential No. 1 overall pick. As it turned out, early entrants Jewell Loyd and Amanda Zahui B. went No. 1 and 2 with Loyd set to join Mosqueda-Lewis in Seattle.

"When Seattle got the No. 1 pick, shortly thereafter Kaleena played in that Stanford game and a lot of people had a lot of opinions based on that one game and truthfully I didn't think that was fair," Bird said. "I get it, people say big players play well in big games and I get it but one game doesn't define you. With that being said, it is no secret that this draft isn't as strong as previous ones so it tough for a kid like Kaleena who in my opinion is the best player in the class and she is going to get compared to other No. 1 picks where maybe she isn't as talented as those players but that is just the way it is. I think people will try to compare her to past guards who have been picked high and she is going to be compared to them. Is that fair? No.  You put her in last year's draft, she goes five or six and that team is thrilled to have her. If she does go to Seattle and that is who they decide to pick, we will just as thrilled as any other team to have her and she can complement a team, bring things to a team that you probably haven't even seen here in Connecticut because she hasn't had to do it. For her that will be a challenge."

Mosqueda-Lewis' 3-point prowess has been her "get out of jail free card" when she struggled in other areas of her game according to UConn coach Geno Auriemma. While Mosqueda-Lewis is a proven offensive commodity who will need to prove herself on defense, the opposite is true for Stokes.

Stokes set UConn's single-season record with 147 blocked shots and it's hard to forget her 18-rebound performance at Notre Dame. She has not always been a player looking for her own offense. Playing alongside Charles, one of the most talented offensive post players in the world, is something that could help in her development.

"I met her on my (recruiting) visits," Stokes said of Charles. "I don't talk to her that much so I am excited to get to learn from her and get better. She is a great player and I want to follow in her footsteps."

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

UConn's Mosqueda-Lewis, Stokes both go in 1st round

During their collegiate careers Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes rarely showed any anxiety. However, waiting for their names to be called in Thursday's WNBA Draft was a completely different situation.

"I was shaking under the table," said Stokes, who went 11th overall to the New York Liberty. "My mom felt my hand and said 'why are you so sweaty.' I said 'I am not sweaty, I am clammy but I am nervous.' Once I heard my name, I got nervous again."

Mosqueda-Lewis didn't have quite as long of a wait as she was taken with the third overall pick by Seattle which also took former Notre Dame star Jewell Loyd with the No. 1 overall pick.

"I was waiting for my name to get called and to finally know where I am going," Mosqueda-Lewis said.  "I am super excited.

"I have been able to play against her (Loyd) all these years, unfortunately I haven't been able to play with her."

The Connecticut Sun took former Duke star Elizabeth Williams with the fourth overall pick.

"I figured once Kaleena went third the likelihood of me going to Connecticut was pretty high,' Williams said.

The Sun also took former DePaul star Brittany Hrynko in the second round before trading her to Atlanta for Jasmine Thomas, who started 52 games over the last two seasons for the Dream.

Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan said the team has been looking to trade for Thomas and it just recently came together. Donovan said that Thomas should be able to help in the development of last year's first-round pick Chelsea Gray, like Thomas a former Duke star.

The surprising twists and turns weren't over yet. Former UConn forward Michala Johnson, who transferred to Wisconsin after her sophomore year, was taken in the third round by New York and former Hopkins star Lauren "Lady" Okafor went to Atlanta six picks later.

Johnson, who has dealt with more than her share of knee injuries, saw her redshirt senior season end at Wisconsin with another serious knee injury. The belief was that she was going to apply for a sixth season of eligibility. The WNBA has not been notified of her intentions to return but if she receives that additional year, it will be ruled an ineligible selection. I reached out to the folks at Wisconsin and here's the response I received back.

"We are still waiting on her appeal on the sixth year - probably won't know until this summer. She is in grad school so hopes to come back. She was very surprised that she got drafted though she is still not able to play due to her most recent ACL."
Okafor, who began her collegiate career at Providence before becoming one of the nation's leading rebounders at James Madison, is part of a desire by the Dream to add some young posts to backup Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle.

The Dream coaches saw Okafor play durign the season and met Okafor in Tampa at the WNBA combine and came away impressed.

"She was somebody who brings a physical presence, a hard-working kid who has worked for everything she has accomplished in her college career," said Angela Taylor, the Dream's President and General Manager. "She will provide us with solid size at 6-4, a physical presence, a competitive nature and somebody in the post who plays with a high basketball IQ.

"We have a solid core group but when we look at our post position, we want to be able to get younger in post. We have one of the best frontcourts in the WNBA with Angel McCoughtry, Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza. We are looking for players who can complement them, can learn from those posts and develop."

Taylor had nothing but great things to say about Thomas.

"Jasmine has been the consummate professional for the Atlanta Dream," Taylor said. "She is somebody who the Connecticut Sun has sought for the last couple of months. It is a win-win for both parties. She will bring high energy for the Connecticut Sun, a great defender who can have a dynamic impact on the game on the defensive end and turn that into offense. This will be a nice solid veteran addition for the Connecticut Sun."

Perfect ending for UConn commit Napheesa Collier

Unlike her fellow UConn incoming freshmen, Napheesa Collier was able to experience the utter joy of walking off the court for the final time as a state champion.

However, the journey to a third straight Missouri 4A title wasn't an easy one.

Incarnate Word Academy lost a total of one game during her sophomore and junior seasons. That loss was courtesy of Blackman High out of Murfreesboro, Tenn. featuring UConn Class of 2016 commit Crystal Dangerfield.

Fast forward to the start of Collier's senior season and things got off to a rocky start. Incarnate Word lost the No. 2, 3 and 4 scorers of a 31-1 team.

The season began with a 56-55 loss to Fayetteville (Ark.) in a tournament played in Ft. Smith, Ark. Two days later came a humbling 20-point loss to North Little Rock.

Collier, the team's only senior, knew that things had to change. She raised the level of her own play while contributing to the increased production of a young supporting case as IWA finished the season with 28 wins in a row.

The last team standing between Collier's Incarnate Word squad and a 3-peat was Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School, a team that only lost by eight points in the regular-season meeting between the schools.

Collier would end up outscoring MICDS by herself in the 60-27 victory.

"We had our best practice of the year (before the state final) and we just brought it so hard," Collier said. "It feels great.

"Coming out and losing my 20, it really refocused us so show that we had to work hard, it definitely helped us."

These days Collier's focus is more on the future and not her glorious past.

She will be playing in the inaugural girls' game at the Jordan Brand Classic on Friday at 3:30 at Barclays Center.

"It is the first game so we are the founding girls here so it is going to be awesome," Collier said.

Collier will play for the East squad and will go up against a West team featuring both Boykin and Samuelson. The trio teamed up this summer to lead the U.S. to the gold medal in the 3x3 competition at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. They could be teammates again this summer on the U.S. team playing in the FIBA U19 World Championships. In early June they will all be on the UConn campus taking summer classes and getting introduced to life as a UConn women's basketball player.

"We are going to bring a lot of energy," Collier said. "Coming in as freshmen we are going to have to prove ourselves, D (Boykin) is an inside force and (Samuelson) can shoot the ball really well.

"You have to be able to handle pressure really well, it is a winning program, tough coach, tough players so I think you are going to have to handle pressure."

If Collier needs any advice on how to deal with the pressure, she can look to fellow Jefferson City, Missouri native Maya Moore who happened to be in attendance at the festivities leading up to Friday's game.

"It was awesome to see her again and catch up," Collier said.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

UConn commit Samuelson "I want to win four national championships"

When Breanna Stewart headed to UConn she made it clear that among her goals was to win four national titles. She is just one championship shy of making that become a reality.

With Katie Lou Samuelson sweeping the major national player of the year awards as Stewart did as a high school season. I headed up to New York today to talk to Samuelson and fellow UConn incoming freshmen De'Janae Boykin and Napheesa Collier in between practices for Friday's Jordan Brand Classic. I asked her if her goal was also to win four titles with the Huskies when I spoke to Samuelson and she did not hesitate.

"I want to win four national championships," Samuelson said. "I think all of us do. We definitely don't want to bring anything down and we all just ready to go."

This group of incoming freshman is similar to the group that Stewart came in with as all three players are high school All-Americans. There are no under the radar players in either class which is normally the case.

"I think we have a lot of potential, all three of us are All-Americans, we definitely have a lot of talent within us and I think all three of us work together well," Samuelson said. "We played 3 on 3 together (leading the United States to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games title) and we meshed together. Going in we are all excited and we know we can bring different stuff and can each contribute so I think it is going to be good.

"I like the pressure. I am very competitive and I want things to be tough, I think all of us are like that and we are really excited to go to such a great school and we want to keep on winning. We are all supercompetitive, I think that is what brought us together."

Samuelson downplayed the importance of the national player of the year awards that she has received since the season ended.

"Overall, I am super grateful for all of them probably last year I didn't even think I would be in this situation," Samuelson said. "I am very blessed to be here and it is all because of my high school team, all my teammates really made it possible for me."

Samuelson said she hasn't noticed more eyes on her as the UConn commit and national high school player of the year, especially not from the fellow All-Americans who she has gotten to know through AAU and USA Basketball circles.

"With these girls, I know a lot of them and we are all frieds so it is like hanging out with each other and I don't really notice anything else," Samuelson said. "I try not to let anything get to my head."

One thing that Samuelson believes is that all three incoming freshmen have what it takes to thrive in the pressure-packed environment at UConn where one loss become a huge news story.

"It definitely takes a competitive player who wants to win and wants to challenge themselves every single day," Samuelson said. "It is one of the places where we know the target is on our back. Everybody wants to beat UConn. I think that takes a certain type of player and all three of us are really excited about it."

Samuelson knows about playing for a team with a target on its back. Mater Dei finished with a 31-3 record. However, one loss came to Chaminade in the CIF Southern Section Open Division title and Samuelson's career at Mater Dei came to an end with a loss to St. Mary's of Stockton in the CIF Open Division title game.

"We are definitely bummed that we didn't end up winning the state championship but overall we did a lot more than we thought we could at the beginning of the season," Samuelson said. "We were pretty young, we had a couple of freshmen who came in and played huge for us and they helped a lot. Overall, my senior year has just been awesome."

Finally, I heard the story about Samuelson watching UConn win its record 10th national title with her sisters and the rest of the Stanford team so I had to ask her about that.

"It was spring break I was visiting with my sisters (members of the Stanford team) and visiting them, watching games and we were with the whole team in the lounge," Samuelson said. "It was pretty fun, they were waiting for the announcer to say 'after that loss to Stanford' so they were happy about that one but it was fun, we were all just hanging out together.

"I had to be pretty cool, I was at Stanford and I wasn't going to rub it anybody's face."

I didn't get any concrete update on her status but Samuelson wasn't doing the drills in practice when I was there so I am curious how much she will play in Friday's game. I do, however, know what is next. She will head out to Colorado Springs next month for the U.S. U-19 trials and come to UConn in early June  for the start of summer session.

"I am excited for it and excited that it is almost here," Samuelson said. I enjoyed my high school career but I am ready to move on."

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Legendary coach dishes on UConn's incoming freshmen

Over the years there may not be a high school coach who I have sought out more often to get scouting reports on UConn's incoming recruits than Christ the King's Bob Mackey. So when I heard a familiar voice during the East team's practice in preparation for Friday's Jordan Brand Classic, I add Mackey to those I wished to talk to during my trip to New York today.

Mackey is an assistant coach on the East squad which includes UConn signee Napheesa Collier but I knew he would have plenty of insight on fellow future Huskies De'Janae Boykin. As I expected, Mackey, who was on the Christ the King staff when Sue Bird played there and the head coach when Tina Charles and Lorin Dixon were stars for the Royals, delivered.

"They are going to be incredible assets, (UConn) won't miss a beat," Mackey said. "Those kids know how to play, they know how to space, they know how to see the floor, they are fundamentally sound and they work hard."

The first player I asked Mackey about was Collier since he has had a chance to work directly with her.

"Wow," Mackey said  "She has tremendous upside, the kid can flat out run and she can't be guarded. She's a wing, she is a forward, she is a guard, she can play any position she wants. She is not Breanna Stewart but she is in that realm, she can do just about anything. They are not going to miss a beat, it is going to be a lot of fun to watch.

"I think every kid they recruit, you see some of that (competitiveness). They work hard, they are dedicated and they are coachable. You say I want you to step out three steps and make that back-door cut, they make that back-door cut. You are not going to get a player who say 'wait a minute.' The kids that they recruit are not going to do that."

As for Katie Lou Samuelson and De'Janae Boykin, Mackey was equally impressed.

"I don't want to say she's a better 3-point shooter (than Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who also played at California powerhouse Mater Dei) because I will get my butt handed to me by one of more alumni but they have a pretty good 3-point shooter coming," Mackey said. "I know the best 3-pointer shooter in history just graduated but that kid can shoot. I saw her play as a sophomore and junior, that kid can flat out shoot. She has one of the best 3-point shots I have ever seen. Geno doesn't miss a beat. CD doesn't miss a recruit.

"(Boykin) could be the x factor in that threesome because she has some intangibles in what she does. She can run the floor, can make the pass, can make the shot. She has a lot of versatility. I don't think you are going to see (a drop off). They are really going to complement the system really well, the rich get richer."

With Mackey being one of the truly legendary girls'/women's basketball figures in New York, I also wanted to get his thoughts on the Jordan Brand Classic adding a girls' game for the first time.

"Being a New York and having the Jordan game in New York is appropriate, having the girls game as a component of it I think it phenomenal and it is long overdue," Mackey said. "I think the fact that Women's Basketball Coaches Association isn't running a game any longer is deplorable, it is phenomenal that the Jordan people have picked up the game because I think it is necessary. They represent the game and they are the future stars of college basketball and it is tremendous chance to showcase that."

Finally, I did ask him about the landing spot of former Christ the King star Sierra Calhoun. Actually, I never mentioned the name of the former Duke guard/forward but just said I had a Christ the King related question when he volunteered that he hasn't spoken to Calhoun since before the news broke that she was leaving Duke. I took most of the conversation about her potential landing spot as being off the record so will not be revealing his thoughts on where she might land.

I caught up with Boykin, Collier and Samuelson as well as Meriden's Kiah Gillespie so there will be much more coming in the next couple of days.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quite a day of sports in Connecticut

While UConn draws most of the attention when the talk is about female athletics in the state of Connecticut, there was plenty of news courtesy of those not associated with Geno Auriemma's Huskies.

Seymour's Alyssa Naeher was one of three goalkeepers and the only Connecticut native named to the 23-member United States team playing in the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada this summer.

"I am incredibly excited about being named to the roster and going to my first World Cup this summer," Naeher said via the site. "This is such an amazing opportunity and something I have been working toward for a long time. It is always an honor to represent the U.S., and to be able to do that with my teammates at a World Cup is a blessing and an experience I will never forget. It has been quite a journey already, and I am looking forward to the next chapter.”
Meriden's Kiah Gillespie was named a second-team USA Today All-American following a spectacular senior season at Capital Prep. UConn commits Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier were named to the first team with Samuelson being named the player of the year.

Finally, veteran Yale women's basketball coach Chris Gobrecht left to take the job at Air Force. This is just me talking out loud but I would think that Yale AD Tom Beckett would be wise to make a call to former UConn star Carla Berube who led the Jumbos to back to back Division III Final Fours and posted a 272-81 record in 13 seasons at Tufts.

Monday, April 13, 2015

UConn's Mosqueda-Lewis and Stokes headed to WNBA Draft

UConn seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes are among 12 players who have accepted invitations to attend Thursday's WNBA Draft at Mohegan Sun Arena.

UConn and California, which the duo of Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray, are the only schools with more than one player headed to the draft.

The other players who will be in attendance at the draft are DePaul's Brittney Hrynko, Iowa's Samantha Logic, Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd, Wake Forest's Dearica Hamby, Aleighsa Welch of South Carolina, Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison, Elizabeth Williams of Duke and Minnesota's Amanda Zahui B.

The first round, which will air live on ESPN2, begins shortly after 7 p.m. with the final two rounds set to follow beginning at 8 p.m.

Seattle has the No. 1 and 3 picks while the Connecticut Sun has the fourth pick.


Friday, April 10, 2015

UConn's Stewart wins Wooden Award

Fresh off leading the UConn women's basketball team to its third straight national title and becoming the first women's player to be named Most Outstanding Player at the Division I Final Four three times, Breanna Stewart added the Wooden Award to her growing list of national player of the year awards.

Stewart, who averaged a team-high 17.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, becomes the third UConn player to win the Wooden Award as Maya Moore was the 2009 and 2011 winner and Tina Charles was the 2010 honoree. Stewart is in pretty select company as Moore is the only other UConn player to win the Wooden Award, Wade Trophy, Associated Press Player of the Year and Naismith Trophy in the same season.

Stewart now has two of the top seven single-season scoring totals. She also joins Charles, Moore and Rebecca Lobo are the only Huskies with two 300-rebound seasons while Stewart and Lobo are the only players in program history with two seasons with at least 100 blocked shots.

Stewart received the award at a ceremony in Los Angeles joined by teammate Kaleena MosquedaLewis, one of five finalists for the women's Wooden Award.

For those people going to the UConn spring game tomorrow, the women's team will be at Rentschler Field from 2-2:45 p.m. signing autographs. I'm not sure if Mosqueda-Lewis and Stewart will be back in time since they are in Los Angeles for the Wooden Award announcement.

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Funding completed for UConn championship parade

Parade organizers announced that the necessary funds have been raised from local businesses for Sunday's parade and victory rally in honor of UConn winning its 10th national title.

The parade kicks off at 3 p.m. at the State Capitol followed by a rally at Trumbull Street in front of the XL Center at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Lauren Hill's legacy will live on well after her death

This week has been all about celebration in the world of women's basketball.

It began on Tuesday when the UConn women's basketball team won its third straight national title and 10th championship overall. The Huskies were greeted by fans upon their return to campus on Wednesday. There will be a parade on Sunday and another championship celebration on campus on Monday.

Today, however, there is another kind of celebration taking place. It is the celebration of the all too short life of Lauren Hill, college basketball player and the inspiration to so many with the way she attacked her battle with cancer.

I remember being at a service for late former Yale women's hockey player Mandi Schwartz, who passed away at the age of 23 in 2011 just three years after she was diagnosed with leukemia, when one of the speakers made a point of disputing media reports that Schwartz lost her battle with cancer.  Like Hill, who started the Cure Starts Now Foundation which is reported to have raised $1.5 million, Schwartz used her courageous battle with cancer to make a difference in the world and I would have to say that neither Schwartz nor Hill have lost their battle with cancer.

The annual Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration drive is coming up on Thursday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on the Yale campus. Since the first donor drive more than 4,500 registrants have been added to the national database and more than 20 matches have been found. I imagine that there will be events in the coming years in Hill's memory as she continues to fight the good fight against cancer well after her death.

Twitter has been blowing up with fitting tributes to Hill including some from current and former UConn players.

RIP Lauren Hill. She was inspiring to more people than she will ever know. Prayers to her family and friends.

RIP Lauren Hill. Her story will never be forgotten. Her fight and courage inspired us all.

Back in early November I asked Geno Auriemma for his take on Hill's efforts to be a spokesperson for the fight against cancer even as she battled for her life. Here's the video of that interview.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

UConn parade set for Sunday

There will be a parade to honor the national champion UConn women's basketball team beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced today.

Unlike previous parades, this one will culminate with a rally at the XL Center rather than at the State Capitol.

Also, on Monday there the University of Connecticut Alumni Association will play host to an evening reception on Monday at the Werth Family Champions Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and a program beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The event will feature complimentary beer and wine service, assorted hors d’oeuvres and desserts. The cost to attend is $75 per person.

To attend the event, please register here​

Better memories at this Final Four in Tampa for UConn great Maya Moore

As the legendary Maya Moore watched UConn top Notre Dame to win its third straight national title there was a sense of what could have been.

The pain of the loss in the 2008 national semifinals in Tampa when Moore was a freshman still remains for the all-time leading scorer in UConn women's basketball history.

Seven years later Moore returned to the city in time to watch UConn win its record 10th national title. Down the stretch nobody came up bigger than Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who wore the same No. 23 number than Moore donned with such distinction.

"She went out better than I did," said Moore, who won national titles as sophomore and junior. "It was kind of a full circle moment in my freshman year losing here and her senior year winning here, it is kind of neat to see her story of that number and kind of those bookends of that number. Players have worn it before me, it wasn't just us two specifically but she overcame from struggles, injuries and other things that we don't know about but she was a leader in her own way. She did what she was supposed to do and I was really happy that she could go out on top. The 3 and then the pull up in the last few minutes of the game that really sealed the deal."

With Moore playing overseas in China, she hasn't had the chance to return to see UConn players as much as some former players including Sue Bird, Kalana Greene and Kelly Faris. Seeing how well this year's team played together brought back memories of the chemistry she had on the UConn teams she played on.

"I understand what it is like," Moore said. "I have played with a player of the year in Tina (Charles) or Renee (Montgomery) and there were superstars around me. You want to figure out a way to gel and have that balance but at the same time, it is time to step into taking the shot or doing what needs to be done. It was great to be here and see Stewie, Moriah and Kaleena figure that out, it was really cool."

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

UConn's Stewart: Teammate deserved MOP award

When Breanna Stewart stepped onto the stage not long after helping her UConn team win its third straight national title, she couldn't wait until that moment when classmate and good friend stepped forward to receive the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award that Stewart won as a freshman and a sophomore.

However. that moment never came. The UConn players aren't really ones to obsess over individual awards. When Morgan Tuck was bypassed for All-American team, her response was an indifferent shrug. Still, in Stewart's eyes Jefferson was much more deserving than she was for this special accolade.

Always composed in her dealings with the media and public, her eyes began to fill with tears when she said that Jefferson was the more deserving recipient and that she would be sharing the honor with her.

"I thought that Moriah should have gotten the MOP," Stewart said. "I thought the way she played was phenomenal these past two games. I think that people wanted to give it to me just because it was my opportunity to win three in a row."

Morgan Tuck, part of the same recruiting class that included Stewart and Jefferson, has been close friends with Stewart since both were 14 and even she was surprised at Stewart's release of emotions.
"I was surprised because she wasn't a very emotional person but I think she got emotional because this year was a struggle, a lot of people aren't going to think that looking at the scores but we know as a team how hard it was," Tuck said. That is why I think she got emotional because that was as hard as we had to work."

Stewart expected the tears to flow up on the stage about as much as she thought she would win the MOP award.

"I was not expecting it but what can I say, I was happy for my team and sometimes the emotions get the best of you," Stewart said. "I knew they were going to give me the MOP because I am the first female to win three in a row which makes sense but I thought it could have gone to any one of my teammates and Moriah especially just the way she really controlled the game offensive and defensively. I didn't know if they would actually give it to her but I told her we could share it."

Jefferson received the Lieberman Award this season as the nation's top point guard, was named to the WBCA All-American team and was a second team Associated Press All-American. None of those honors meant more to her than Stewart's tribute to her.

"I knew what type of person she is but you could see the emotions in her," Jefferson said. "For her to come out on stage and say that, it means so much to me."

Perimeter defense a major reason why UConn won tittle No. 10

Watching Amber Orrange and Lili Thompson drive by the UConn guards time after time back in November as Stanford handed two-time defending champions its only loss of the season it was impossible not to think that perimeter defense could be the team's Achilles' heel.

Fast forward to Tuesday night and it was rather evident how far the Huskies have come.

Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd and Lindsay Allen may be the most difficult backcourt tandem for defenders to keep in front of them. Yet, in the second half of the national title game Loyd was 0 for 8 from the field and Allen 1 of 6 in the second half.

Jefferson spent the majority of the second half chasing Loyd around the court, weaving in and out of screens.

"That was so hard," Jefferson said. "Right now my legs are killing me because she does a great job of cutting and moving. I was trying to deny her the ball and make her go back into the big guys so if I do get beat, they can (help)."

Nurse played a key role in keeping Allen, who had an outstanding NCAA tournament, from getting open looks.

"Allen's been playing really well in the tournament and we knew that,' Nurse said. "It was a matter of knowing her tendencies and that kind of thing. Moriah was really good on Jewell so that helped me out so then it was communication on the defensive end and the defense really came through."

Nurse and Jefferson outscored the Loyd/Allen duo 15-4 in the second half. Nurse, who had quite a large contingent of family members on hand including uncle Donovan McNabb, former star quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, which made the experience all the more memorable.

"This one is an incredible feeling and it is so hard to put words to it, I think, Nurse said. "You go through all of these things, all of these championships and they never get old. It is the team, the whole dream I've had with this team and I am really happy with the place I chose to go to school for the next four years.

"My siblings couldn't make it but my aunts and uncles are here. They support us and they will be the first ones to hop on a plane and see us play. To have them here and know they are cheering us on with their Canadian flags it is just a great feeling."

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Mosqueda-Lewis goes out in style for UConn

There may never have been a great UConn player who has been reminded of her faults more than Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

Mosqueda-Lewis finished her career tied with Nykesha Sales as the Huskies' third all-time leading scorer. Yet for four years all she heard was that she was a one-dimension and nothing more than a great shooter and an out of shape shooter at that.

Well, the player who couldn't create her own shot, managed to hit three of the most important shots of her career. The first was a 3-pointer as a trailer on the break, something she has done so often in her UConn career. But the other two were contested jumpers in the lane that were simply the case of her being determined to leave UConn with a third straight national title.

Mission accomplished.

"It is awesome being about to go out like this as a senior and go out on top," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "I think that is the job of a senior try to step up when the team needs you.

"It was the hardest one. We had to lead the team this year we weren't the babies anymore and it was in our hands to decide how this game was going to be (decided)."

Mosqueda-Lewis wasn't named to the all-tournament team but she could easily have been the game's MVP. Her teammates never doubted that she would deliver in the clutch.

"We knew she was going to do it," UConn junior guard Moriah Jefferson said. "She does it time and time again. I said 'K, let's go.' She looked at me and said 'give me the ball.' She put us over the edge. I am so proud of her and so excited. To have the season that we had, to come out and play this tough hard-fought game, it is incredible."

The 63-53 victory, which is UConn's closest win in the last two seasons, gave UConn coach Geno Auriemma his 10th title matching the Division I basketball record held by UCLA men's coach John Wooden.

"He deserved it," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "He has earned it more than anything and I am so glad to be a part of it."

Breanna Stewart was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, becoming the first player to earn that honor three times although on the stage after the game she said Jefferson deserved the honor and how thrilled she was to share the title with her before the two teammates hugged.

Jefferson and Tuck joined Stewart as well as Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd and Brianna Turner.

UConn is expected to return to campus around 5:15 p..m. for its National Champions "Victory Lap" through campus The team will ride in an open-air double decker bus and will be accompanied by the UConn pep band and cheerleaders.

The “Victory Lap” will have a new route this year and will begin at the Mansfield Town Square in Storrs Center, located on Route 195/Storrs Road.

The "Victory Lap" will leave Storrs Center, head north on Route 195 before making a quick turn onto Mansfield Road to enter campus. The team will then turn onto Gilbert Road (past the South and West Campus and Alumni residence halls) and right onto Hillside Road (past McMahon Hall and the UConn Co-Op) before arriving at Gampel Pavilion.

Upon conclusion of the "Victory Lap" there will be a brief speaking program at the North Entrance of Gampel Pavilion – near the Husky Dog statue.

Fans can track the Huskies exact progress from Bradley International Airport to campus with updates from Twitter at @UConnWBB.

Parking for the event on campus will be available in both the North and South Parking Garages. For those wishing to park at Storrs Center, there is free two-hour parking in that garage.

5 keys for Notre Dame vs. UConn

UConn is 40 minutes away from a third national title in a row and record 10th championship.

The Huskies are favored as they were a season ago so what does Notre Dame have to do to end the Huskies' championship reign.

Here are my five keys for the UConn

1. Get to the basket: When Stanford handed UConn its only loss of the season a major key was the ability of guards Amber Orrange and Lili Thompson to beat UConn's guards off the dribble getting not only points but also drawing fouls on the Huskies.

2. Get into the bench: UConn's big four of Breanna Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck could be as talented of a quartet as the Huskies have had or at least since the Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi led 2002 team. However, when Tuck and Kia Nurse fouled out against Stanford, it killed the Huskies.

3. Find Mosqueda-Lewis in transition: One aspect of watching this team in the last four years that blows my mind is how teams don't account for Mosqueda-Lewis as the trailer on the break. If I were to make a guess I would say that of her NCAA Division I women's record 396 3-pointers, I would say that 25-30 percent of her 3-pointers came as a trailer on the break.

4. Slow down Tuck: When the teams met in the regular season Notre Dame had no answer for Morgan Tuck. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said the redshirt sophomore is the second-best player on the UConn team.

5. Get help for Loyd: During the first meeting of the season, Jewell Loyd attempted 27 shots and too many of her teammates were not factors. The Fighting Irish will need the supporting cast to step up in a major way if Notre Dame is going to score enough points to stay with the Huskies.

UConn's Stewart named winner of Naismith Trophy

UConn's Breanna Stewart was named the winner of the Naismith Trophy for the second consecutive season.

Stewart, who is averaging team-best totals of 17.8 points and 7.6 rebounds, joined former UConn stars Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore and Tennessee legend Chamique Holdsclaw as the only women's players to earn at least one Naismith Girls' High School Player and two Women's College Player of the Year Awards. She has a chance to join former Southern California star Cheryl Miller to win three Naismith Trophies.

“Being selected as the winner of the Naismith Trophy is a tremendous honor and I am very
happy for Stewie,” said UConn head coach Geno Auriemma in a statement.  “To be able to repeat as the winner while playing at such a high level is not easy to do.  The bigger the stage, the bigger
Stewie performs and I think that's an indication of greatness. I'm happy for her and our team,
and I think she deserves it."

Few introductions needed between UConn and Notre Dame

This is the fifth season in a row that UConn and Notre Dame are meeting in the Final Four including the second straight national-championship game showdown. However, the history for many of the main figures in tonight's title game did not begin when they headed to college.

Both UConn's Morgan Tuck and Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd have vivid recollections of going head to head in the McDonald's Shootout in 2012. Tuck finished with 26 points as her Bolingbrook team emerged with a 67-36 victory,

"They really pumped it up," Tuck said. "A lot of people were there who don't necessarily come to a lot of high school girls basketball games but everybody was there because they wanted to see me and her play against each other. I think it is a great atmosphere."

Loyd finished with 23 points for Niles West.

"Niles West, we weren't a highly rated team and Bolingbrook was ranked nationally so we went to this tournament," Loyd said. "It might have been sold out and that was big for any team. It was a good battle and we lost but it was good for our team to play that kind of game going into playoffs.

"Morgan, I've always had so much respect for her game. We have played so many times  in AAU, she has always had that versatile game. She hasn't gotten all the respect she really deserves and she is now trying to get it. She can do it all, she is a problem to guard because she is so versatile."

Speaking of unforgettable high school showdowns, seniors Kiah Stokes of UConn and Markisha Wright of Notre Dame met in a game when the stakes were a little higher.

Stokes had 20 points, 18 rebounds and six blocked shots as Linn-Mar defeated Wright's Des Moines East squad 38-35 in the 2010 Iowa 4A championship game.

 "I will never forget that because it was basically me and her going at it,' Stokes said. "It is definitely going to be different but I wanted to make sure that my team got the win.

"At the time I didn't think it was that big of a deal but looking back now it is pretty incredible and I am glad to be a part of it but looking back now it is pretty incredible to be a part of it in high school so I was ready for it in my collegiate career."

While ending her junior season without a state title hurt stung Wright, she did lead Des Moines East to a 27-0 record and 4A title as a senior.

"I think it is pretty cool," Wright said. "I've had a few people tweeting me saying 'it's not too bad that two girls from Iowa are playing in the national championship game again.'

"I never got to play with her and didn't really get to play against her except in the state championship game my junior year and unfortunately we lost but that was the only time I got to play against her.

"It was followed by a state championship the next year so the state championship kind of trumpets the loss but it was a good game. It was a great opportunity to play against her."

There will be a live blog running during tonight's national championship game.

If you want to follow along, you can do to the event here

Monday, April 06, 2015

Things much more civil between UConn and Notre Dame these days

The back and forth sniping between Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw and UConn's Geno Auriemma during last year's Final Four might have been more interesting than anything that transpired on the court.

The discontent, and that is putting it nicely, made things interesting for the players as well.

Notre Dame junior guard Jewell Loyd had a gleam in her eye when she was asked about it during the breakout interview sessions with the media.

"Last year was like Gladiator," Loyd said. "It was heated. It was like you walk down the hallway and tilt your head (to avoid eye contact). This year it is friendlier I guess, everybody is smiling. It might be the weather but it is not as hostile which is good. Geno is a great guy, Coach McGraw is great and when you have two competitive coaches like that going at it, it is going to be heated at times."

The teams met in December and both coaches downplayed any lingering issues between them. Auriemma took the opportunity to offer praise to McGraw and the program she has built during the final day of the Albany Regional.
"Nobody likes to have more fun that me with this stuff when I can," Auriemma said. "We don't take ourselves too seriously and we understand what the deal is so when it gets to be all of that, I am not really comfortable with it because it didn't seem like it was fun but it is really good right now. I think on the outside people might not really understand the level of respect that we have for them and they have for us so no matter what anybody says or does or thinks, it is there, it has always been there and will always be there."

More honors for UConn's Stewart & Mosqueda-Lewis

Just when you might have thought that there were no awards left for Breanna Stewart to win comes word that the UConn junior forward as well as senior forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis are two of the four women's basketball finalists for the Honda Award.

Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd and Tiffany Mitchell of South Carolina were the other finalists.

Stewart won the award last year, becoming the eighth UConn player to earn the honor. If she wins the award she will join Maya Moore as the only UConn player to win the award twice.

Minnesota's All-American center Amanda Zahui B has made the decision to bypass her final two seasons of eligibility and declare for the WNBA draft according to an Associated Press report.

Zahui B, who is eligible for the draft because she will turn 22 during the calendar year in which the WNBA draft if held, figures to move to the top of the draft board.

UConn senior Kiah Stokes, who is another top post player available in this year's draft, was surprised to hear about the report.

"That is awesome for her,' Stokes said. "It is going to be a different look, she is good and congrats to her and all the best of luck to her. I never thought I'd see somebody do that in the women's game especially since the pay is so different from the women's and men's side."

Stokes has never played against Zahui B, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, but Minnesota was in the Gulf Coast Showcase that UConn played in back in November. Minnesota's loss to Vanderbilt kept it from meeting up with UConn in the tournament. Still, Stokes saw some of Zahui B's games down there.

"She's a good player," Stokes said. "She finishes well and has good footwork."

Gampel Pavilion to host viewing party for title game

The doors to Gampel Pavilion will be opened beginning at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow so fans can watch the national championship game which tips at 8:44 p.m.
The game viewing, which will be on a large screen set up on the court, is free. Fans can enter Gampel Pavilion at either the North or East Entrances.

UConn goes big to roll past Maryland

Malina Howard had just picked up her first foul and fellow Maryland starting post Brionna Jones already had two fouls when Geno Auriemma decided to up the ante a little bit.

Auriemma summoned senior Kiah Stokes off the bench to replace Kia Nurse with 10:36 left in the first half and the Huskies leading 22-16. Chloe Pavlech hit a 3-pointer to pull Maryland within three before the Huskies went on a 12-2 run. Maryland would not get closer than six points the rest of the way.

"It wasn't a surprise that he put me in," Stokes said. "Every time I am going in, I have to make sure I am doing my part, blocking shots, rebounding and doing anything else that helps the team. Playing with a big lineup, I think it gives Morgan (Tuck) and Stewie (Breanna Stewart) a really good opportunity to play on the perimeter. If I am occupying the biggest defender it makes it easier for them to a little easier to get in the paint and get to the basket that way."

UConn coach Geno Auriemma credited having Stokes in the game for opening up room for Stewart and Tuck to operate.

"We were trying to figure out what gave us the best opportunity to guard them," Auriemma said. "We knew we were going to have a problem in man to man, we made a decision to go zone and that is Kiah so when Kiah comes in we can play a little bit of zone, go man to man a little bit, make it look a little bit different that is looks otherwise. She gives us a big presence in the middle, we are not very big so having Kiah in there, it just frees up Stewie and Tuck to move around on the perimeter a little bit where I thought their guys would have a hard time guarding us.

"They were clogging up the lane pretty much. It is almost like they made two decisions, we are going to guard K (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis) really hard and we are going to keep everybody else in the lane try to bottle all those other guys up. I have said this all along, when Kiah is good, she is really good and she was really good."
Stokes finished with six points, six rebounds, one assist and two blocked shots in 18 minutes. Stokes now has 38 career blocks in NCAA tournament play which ties her with Rebecca Lobo for 11th on the all-time list.

"When Kiah cam in she had a big (impact), just her effort with her rebounds and blocks, you could tell that she was helping change the momentum of the game," Stewart said. "When we got to our big lineup, it is not easy to match up with us."

Stewart is one of the players ahead of Stokes on the career blocks list. She had four giving her 48 which is fifth on the career list and two behind former Husky Stefanie Dolson for the No. 4 spot.

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UConn's duo of Stewart and Tuck too much for Maryland to handle

The prevailing notion was that Maryland was going to struggle to deal with the red-hot UConn post tandem of Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck.

After they combined to score 49 points (on 17 of 29 shooting including going 4 of 10 from 3-point range), 17 rebounds and five blocked shots and things transpired pretty much according to the script in UConn's 81-58 win over Maryland in the national semifinal.

The Huskies have played five games in the NCAA tournament this season and in four of them Stewart and Tuck have combined to score more than 40 points.

"It is fun," Tuck said. "One of the reasons why we are averaging this much is that we both know this is the most important time. This is the part of the season we have been looking forward to all year. Stewie, she's been great all year. She got player of the year and she really deserved it."

Tuck's teammates were not shy in declaring that Tuck deserved to standing alongside of Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson on the 10-member Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American team.

"She's an All-American," Mosqueda-Lewis boldly proclaimed.

It was Tuck who scored the final five points of the first half to enable UConn to take a 44-33 lead into the locker room at halftime. Then she opened the second half with a 3-pointer and the rout was on.

"She knew she was going to be all over Kaleena and myself so she really took her opportunity to score inside and out," Stewart said.

"She is really tough to guard, anytime you have a person who is an inside/outside matchup she is impossible guard because do you put your big post on her because she is bigger or do you put your smaller guard on her because she is playing on the perimeter."

It is the fifth straight season that UConn and Notre Dame will play in the Final Four and it is the second time it has happened and first time since the 2003 and 2004 national title games that the same two teams met in the championship game. UConn defeated Tennessee both years to win national championships No. 3 and 4.

Stewart became the 18th player to score 300 points in the NCAA Division I tournament and seven of them are from UConn while Mosqueda-Lewis recorded the 100th assist of the season in the second half. She became the fifth UConn player to hit triple digits in assists. According to Stats LLC, the only other women's Division I team to accomplish that feat since the 1999-2000 season is the 2010-11 UConn squad.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Laurin Mincy has fought through injuries to make impact at Maryland

There were times when it seemed like the grueling rehab sessions would never come to an end.

Often times her time spent recovering from a pair of serious knee injuries would approach six or seven hours. It was all done with this weekend in mind for Laurin Mincy.

The first torn ACL of her career came when she was a high school junior and then the other knee popped during her time at Maryland. Throughout it all Mincy not only persevered but she prospered.

The leading scorer on a Maryland team which enters tonight's national semifinal on a 28-game winning streak, Mincy couldn't imagine a better way for her final collegiate season to come to an end.
"It is really rewarding, you talk about a fairy tale ending to go to a new conference undefeated, have so much success this year it has been a blessing in disguise," said Mincy, who is averaging 13.8 points per game.

"This is what we dreamed about since we were little kids to sign up and play for Maryland. A national championship is what Coach B (Brenda Frese) expects us to get here. It is great that we are this close but yet so far."

It certainly hasn't been a pain-free road for Mincy.

"I have done rehab probably six hours a day when I first started," Mincy said. "I am not rehabbing as much now  but it was probably six hours a day seven days a week. I had Brionna Jones there with me, we had Essence Townsend here, Brene Moseley in there giving me a little energy, a little support. It is a blessing and I am glad everybody on our roster is really healthy now."

Mincy, the only senior on the Maryland roster, has drawn praise from her teammates for helping to fill the sizeble leadership role left by the graduation of Alyssa Thomas, now a member of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun.

"We lost Alyssa and we wanted to prove to everybody that we still could compete and still could be a good team," Mincy said. "Alyssa did a lot for us as far as rebounding , scoring, defending. She was an All-American so we knew coming in this season that we had to stay together and we had to beat teams as a unit and I think that has worked out."

It was noteworthy that as the 10-member Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American team, three of the teams in the Final Four were represented. UConn led the way with the trio of Wade Trophy winner Breanna Stewart as well as Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson. Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd and Tiffany Mitchell of South Carolina also made the team. However no Maryland players were named to the team.

"We were just talking about that we are the only team here without an All-American and it is even more incentive for us to win," Mincy said.

UConn fans might remember Mincy's name in the recruiting process. But Mincy was looking to go a different route.

"I got a few letters, UConn obviously they recruited me but I was always for the underdog role," Mincy said. "They were dominant winning national championships, Diana Taurasi played there, Maya Moore and I said I want to beat them, I want to go down in history for beating them so to have an opportunity to beat them now, we are going to go at it."
The UConn coaching staff has always admired Mincy's game and their admiration has only grown as

Mincy has fought through her injuries.

"I am really happy for her to have the kind of senior year she did because when they came up to play us (in 2012) she had hurt her knee," UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey said. "She is a nice kid and I am really happy that she has had this kind of senior year. She has had a tremendous NCAA tournament and it is nice to see a senior who has gone through some injuries and see them have success."

Special visitor in Tampa for UConn's Williams

The conversations on Skype over these last couple of weeks have meant the world to UConn freshman Gabby Williams but there is nothing quite like that moment when she met the newest member of the Williams' family

Williams' sister gave birth to a daughter named Carter on St. Patrick's Day and even though it wasn't going to be the easiest of trips, mom and daughter did make the journey to Tampa for the Final Four.

Williams and her sister are close enough that they received matching tattoos when Gabby was just 15.

"She is the person I call if I have trouble with anything, if I have trouble with school or practice, she is the first person I am going to talk to," Williams said.

Obviously Carter has been a popular topic of conversation in the last week or two.
"Every day, she sends me pictures every day," Williams said. I have more pictures of her than myself in my phone,.

"I was really excited , Even though I was in Connecticut, I feel like I was with her throughout the entire process and girls, nothing against my nephew, but they are way more fun to but clothes for and all that. I  have to stop myself from just buying everything. I don't care, I am coming out there and bringing her (everything)."

Williams would like nothing more than for her family to see her have a huge performance in tonight's game against Maryland. Williams knows that she didn't play her best during the regionals but is ready to contribute in her first Final Four.

"Just being on the court and the atmosphere, it really hit me when I was going through shootaround," Williams said.
The last two games the girls got bigger so I feel like I didn't play my best because I think I got nervous with that but now I am more used to it and I think I trust myself to be able to go by them and use my quickness instead of being scared that they are bigger than I am.

"I think I got my nerves out the last couple of games.".


Saturday, April 04, 2015

UConn's Tuck thrilled to have bigger role in Final Four

Don't misunderstand Morgan Tuck because she absolutely loved seeing her teammates finish off a perfect season by winning the a record ninth national title. However, when she made the difficult decision to undergo season-ending knee surgery, she was left in the role of reluctant spectator.

This time around the redshirt sophomore will have a much more hand's on role as UConn attempts to win its third consecutive national title.

"I think playing and be able to come down here and do what we came here to do, it makes it a little better," said Tuck, who is averaging 19.8 points, 5.8 rebound and 5 assists per game during the NCAA tournament. "I think the big part of me was just not to sulk and feel sorry for myself. My teammates did a really good job of making sure I was included. They did a really good job of cheering me on at practice.

"This year I feel like more a part of the team so it makes it more special."

When former UConn star and current ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo was asked the player who has grown the most since a loss to Stanford on Nov. 17, she did not hesitate in mentioning Tuck.

"She plays with no fear about reinjuring (her knee)," Lobo said. "She said she is eager for when they let her play without the brace. She goes in there and I don't think there is any trace in her mind of worrying about the injury which is a hard thing to do. I think to come in on a team that was undefeated and won a national championship, not only fit in but play a really prominent role, she has done a great job for them."

Tuck admitted that it didn't happen overnight.

"I was out for over six months but it took a while to get the rust off and get back into the flow with the team and how they were playing," Tuck said. "We had preseason and the first part of the season to do that and it was a perfect time for me to get my flow."

The Maryland coaching staff isn't exactly hiding its enthusiasm for incoming freshman Kiah Gillespie of Meriden.

The Capital Prep star and two-time Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year first opened some eyes playing in the Rose Classic in New York and from that point on the Terrapins were all in on the versatile 6-foot-1 Gillespie.

"We pounced on her really quick, We were excited to at least get an in and things worked out for us," Maryland assistant coach Marlin Chinn said.

"I call her Magic Johnson because she can take it off the rim, she can go coast to coast, she can deliver any pass she wants to deliver. She can play the 3 (small forward) and 4 (power forward) at the same time. She is so versatile and another thing she is improving in her rebounding. She is really been focusing on that especially going against better players. I had a chance to see her down in New York this past winter, she played a really good Potter's House team and rebounded the ball really well. I am excited to see what she can bring to us next season."

Gillespie took another major step forward when she made a serious run at making the U.S. U-17 national team.

Chinn said the plan is for Gillespie, who averaged 31.2 points, 16.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.5 blocks during her senior season, to contribute immediately.

"I think Kiah has a great basketball mind," said Tina Langley, Maryland's associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.

"When she goes to train, she trains game specific and it comes from her parents both being coaches. She comes in with a great knowledge of the game and also a great skill set."

There are coaches out there who want no part of playing non-conference games against UConn as long as Breanna Stewart is still playing for the Huskies. Florida State's Sue Semrau is not one of those individuals.

Florida State will be playing UConn at Mohegan Sun Arena next season with the return game in Tallahassee during the 2016-17 season.

"It is great always to have this opportunity," Semrau said after receiving the Associated Press Coach of the Year award.

"We played them back a few years ago and it is time again. If you want to be the best you have to play the best. It is a quality opponent that helps you get better."

Semrau is no stranger to what Stewart can do on a basketball court as she was an assistant coach in 2011 when Stewart led the U.S. team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots en route to winning the gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women.

"She has just expanded her games in so many ways," Semrau said. "She was long, she could rebound, she could block shots but now she is hitting the 3, being able to put it on the deck. She is one of the most talented women's basketball players who has ever been."

UConn's Breanna Stewart wins Wade Trophy; 3 Huskies on WBCAAll-American team

Breanna Stewart was the last of the three UConn players to make her way onto the Amalie Arena court to be recognized as a WBCA All-American. However, her award haul was not done earning honors.

Standing side by side with the other 10 members of the All-American team, Stewart was named the winner of the prestigious Wade Trophy as the national player of the year. A few hours later she added the Associated Press Player of Year to her growing collection.

Stewart and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis were named WBCA All-Americans for a second time while
Moriah Jefferson is a first-time WBCA All-American meaning that she will be inducted into the
Huskies of Honor along with Stewart next season.

It is the second season in a row and fourth time overall that UConn has three players named to the 10-member team and with teams only allowed to nominate three players, that is the maximum any team can get on the team.

Stewart, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, leads the team with an average of 17.6 points per game and is also the team's top rebounder with 7.6 per game.

Mosqueda-Lewis, a 5-foot-11 senior forward, is averaging 15.2 points per game and became the NCAA's career 3-point leader earlier in the NCAA tournament.
Jefferson is averaging 12.3 points per game and leads UConn with 181 assists, 94 steals and a 50.5 3-point percentage.

This is the 10th time that multiple UConn players were named to WBCA All-Americans beginning in 1995 when Rebecca Lobo and Jen Rizzotti made the list.

The first time three UConn players were named to the team came in 2002 when Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi were honored. Seven years later Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore were honored  by the WBCA and last year it was the trio of Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Stewart making the team.

Back to the Wade Trophy, there was plenty of attention paid to the reaction of Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw a season ago when Stewart was named the Associated Press Player of the Year over a group of players including Notre Dame's Kayla McBride. When the Wade Trophy was announced, Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd (who certainly could have been considered a top candidate for the honor) could not have displayed more grace or dignity in cheering for Stewart when she received the award.

ESPN anaylsts weigh in on UConn/Maryland matchup

Rebecca Lobo and Kara Lawson do more than just side by side in the studio during of ESPN's women's basketball coverage but they also have almost the same opinion on what Maryland is going to have to do to take down UConn, favored by more than 20 points in Sunday's national semifinal.

ESPN held its annual meet and greet when the assembled media is given the chance to pick the brains of their on-air talent.

I asked Lobo first about what Maryland has to do to get UConn out of its comfort zone.

"Get up and down the floor, get out in transition and get their guards really going," Lobo said. "Their posts do not match up well with Connecticut's posts but their guards are quick and they can score. I think it would be great for Maryland if they could get their guards going early. One matchup is who is Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis going to be on, can they take her to the hole and get some dribble penetration. I think for them it is going to be key to get their guards going."

A few minutes later I posed the same question to Lawson, who was sitting at a different table from Lobo so it wasn't just a case of her hearing that Lobo had to say and merely repeat it.
"I'd like to see them run and try to get out in transition, see their guards attack and try to get into the paint. I'd like to see if they can effectively guard Stewie which I am not sure that they can."

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

UConn commits take national stage

De'Janae Boykin, playing in her first competitive game since late December, got the upper hand on the scoreboard over her future UConn teammates Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson.

Boykin, a 6-foot-2 forward from Springdale, Md. who missed much of her senior season at Flowers High School with an injured wrist, made both of her field goal attempts as she finished with four points and one rebound in 14 minutes as the East team defeated the West 89-87 in the McDonald's All-American Game.

Samuelson, a 6-foot-3 wing from Huntington Beach, Calif., had 12 points, six rebounds and three assists but had a rough shooting day going 5 of 17 from the field and 2 of 10 from 3-point range while Collier, a 6-foot-1 forward from O'Fallon, Mo., had eight points, 10 rebounds, two assists and three blocks for the West team.

UConn's Stokes a finalist for national defensive player of year

UConn's Kiah Stokes, who has blocked a program record 145 shots this season, is one of six finalists for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division I Defensive Player of the Year.

Stokes is joined as a finalist by Rutgers guard Syessence Davis, Texas A&M guard Jordan Jones, Western Kentucky guard Kendall Noble, Seton Hall guard Daisha Simmons and Duke center Elizabeth Williams.

The winner will be announced during the Fifth Annual WBCA Awards Show, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

On a conference call today UConn coach Geno Auriemma was asked about coaching Stokes for the last four seasons.

"It's been an interesting four years, to say the least," Auriemma said. "Very rarely do you get to coach somebody that has more blocked shots than shot attempts during her four years. That's kind of unusual. But there's been a lot of games where Kiah has been the difference in the game.

"I don't know that there's a lot of centers in the country that got a lot more done than she did. You look at some of these kids that graduated the same year she did and you look at what they've done and you look at what she's done, and she's had a great career. I think most people look back and they wish I could have done this, wish I could have done that. But just like in the game against Texas, and probably in the game against Maryland coming up, she's going to be a huge part of what we want to do this weekend."

National team training camp set for May in Las Vegas

USA Basketball announced that the senior national team, coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma, will hold a training camp from May 4-6 at UNLV's Mendenhall Center in Las Vegas.

Eight former or current UConn stars are among the 34 member player pool expected for the training camp although it remains to be seen if Chiney Ogwumike of the Connecticut Sun will be health enough to take part. Here is the list of players, who are all expected to be in attendance at the training camp

Jayne Appel (San Antonio Stars), 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), Bria Hartley (Washington Mystics), Briann January (Indiana Fever), Glory Johnson (Tulsa Shock), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kara Lawson (Washington Mystics), Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (University of Connecticut), Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Cappie Pondexter (Chicago Sky), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Stars), Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun), Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx), Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx) and Sophia Young (San Antonio Stars).          

UConn's Auriemma chooses words carefully on legalized discrimination issue

UConn has been in the national news ever since Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed an executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana after that state signed a law that opponents say legalizes discrimination on the grounds of religious protection.

One of the results of this executive order is that UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will not be going to Indianapolis, the site of the men's Final Four.

On a conference call this afternoon Auriemma was asked for his take on the law passed in Indiana. Auriemma is about as outspoken an individual of a variety of issues that you will find but he was very careful with how he answered this particular question.

"I am not completely familiar with the fine print with exactly what it is they are trying to do," Auriemma said. "I heard this morning on the news that somebody is backtracking on what it means, what it doesn't mean and how to rewrite it and how to do make it so everybody understands it better, what you can do and what you can't do. I am probably not the best person to ask.

"I am a basketball coach and I get to coach a lot of different types of people, different backgrounds, different races, different religions, different orientations or whatever it is and to be that is personal. I try to stay out of their personal lives unless they want me in it. I have always been fascinated by people who care so much about what other people are and what they do in their personal lives. How small minded do you have to be to care that much about what other people are doing, life is hard enough as it is trying to live your own life, what do you care about what other people are doing as well as it doesn't affect you. Hiding behind this religious crap, that is the most cowardly thing I've ever heard of.

"I don't know all the details but from what I've heard and from what people have told me, it is 2015, I am sure those people are nice people out there, I am sure they don't want the (2016 Women's) Final Four to be canceled (or moved out of Indianapolis), I am sure they don't want all this bad publicity that they are getting, nobody wants that but come on and come to your senses here. Let's go on with your life and let everybody else go on with theirs. That is my approach with my team and I don't understand anybody who has a different approach."

Sadly, his comments on this very important issue are not the ones generating the most buzz. It is when he called the men's college basketball game "a joke."

It was a classic click bait tactic for a national writer to ask somebody who hasn't coached men's college basketball to give his opinion on the quality of play on the men's game. People shouldn't care what Auriemma thinks of the men's college game any more than they should care what a college softball coach thinks of Major League Baseball. But that is not the world we live in. Social media is blowing up with reaction to Auriemma's comments with many of them calling him or women's college basketball "a joke."

Here are the comments in full

"It's funny, you asked me that, I just had a conversation with (Saint Joseph men's basketball coach) Phil Martelli yesterday and I think he's the president on the NABC board of directors or we had this conversation and we talked a lot about where the game is and what the future of the game is. And obviously it's immensely popular. You look at the interest paid on the NCAA tournament. I don't know that it's as immensely popular during the regular season as it used to be, but obviously the tournament is just at another world when it comes to that. Having said that, I think the game is a joke. It really is. I don't coach it. I don't play it, so I don't understand all the ins and outs of it. But as a spectator, forget that I'm a coach, as a spectator, watching it, it's a joke. There's only like ten teams, you know, out of 25, that actually play the kind of game of basketball that you'd like to watch. Every coach will tell you that there's 90 million reasons for it.

The bottom line is that nobody can score, and they'll tell you it's because of great defense, great scouting, a lot of team work, nonsense, nonsense. College men's basketball is so far behind the times it's unbelievable. I mean women's basketball is behind the times. Men's basketball is even further behind the times. Every other major sport in the world has taken steps to help people be better on the offensive end of the floor. They've moved in the fences in baseball, they lowered the mound. They made the strike zone so you need a straw to put through it. And in the NFL you touch a guy it's a penalty. You hit the quarterback, you're out for life. You know, in the NBA, you touch somebody in the perimeter, you whack guys like they used to do when scores were 90 to 75, they changed the rules.

"This is entertainment we're talking about. People have to decide, do I want to play 25 bucks, 30 bucks to go see a college scrum where everybody misses six out of every ten shots they take, or do I want to go to a movie? We're fighting for the entertainment dollar, here, and I have to tell
you it's not entertainment from a fan's standpoint. So that's just -- I'm talking as a fan, not as Geno, Auriemma, the basketball coach. "