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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

UConn's Collier has fond memories of playing for South Carolina's Staley

Over the last couple of summers South Carolina's Dawn Staley has been able to coach some of the best young players in the United States as the head coach of the U-18 and U-19 national titles. Few players have made as much of an impact as UConn freshman Napheesa Collier.

On more than one occasion she has raved about the compete level she sees in Collier and loves that Collier "doesn't take a play off."

Collier and South Carolina sophomore A'ja Wilson were the most impactful players on the U.S. team which won the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women. The UConn freshman was grateful for the opportunity to play for and learn from one of the most accomplished players in USA Basketball history. Collier was the leader in rebounds, steals and field-goal percentage and was the team's second-leading scorer behind South Carolina star A'ja Wilson as the U.S. won its seven games by an average of 32 points per game.

"I really like Coach Staley, she is a great coach," Collier said. "I liked playing for her with USA so I think it is going to be tough to play against that great coach.
"I think she sees things even before we would see them, what the defense is or helping me to adjust."

While the upcoming game against South Carolina has been on Collier's mind, she did have other things to be fired up about include a special day for her younger brother Kai who signed to play football at Division II Lindenwood on Wednesday.

"I am really happy for him, he get to go what he likes to do," Collier said. "He is in basketball season now but I think he is going to like it there.

"I am glad that he found a school that he likes. I wanted him to be with me so that was the only advice I kept pushing him towards. He saw what I went through so there is nothing I could tell him that he hadn't already seen me go through. It was good for him because it was like he had gone through it a second time so he was already good with it."

Kai Collier had 43 catches for 833 yards as a senior at Fort Zumwalt South highlighted by a game against Parkway West when he caught 11 passes for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

This UConn team doesn't lack for players with siblings who are accomplished athletes. Kia Nurse's brother Darnell is a defenseman with the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, Morgan Tuck's sister Taylor played basketball at Illinois and Katie Lou Samuelson's sisters Bonnie and Karlie are former and current standouts at Stanford.

Collier never thought there was anything special about the way she and her brother gravitated to athletics growing up.

"I never really thought about it before because we just grew up athletic," Collier said. "I guess
looking back at what we did, normal and non-athletic kids, playing football in the backyard and playing all the sports that everybody did but it was fun."

When I did my research to come up with the list of players with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 assists, 200 steals and 200 blocked shots I discovered that Long Beach State's Cindy Brown and USC's Cheryl Miller had more than 300 assists and 300 blocked shots. One problem is I previously reported that Breanna Stewart was the first women's Division I women's player during the NCAA era to accomplish that feat.

I took another look at the NCAA record book and noticed that steals and blocks did not become an official statistic until 1988 so the block totals of Brown, who last played during the 1986-87season, and Miller, who was a senior during the 1985-86 season are not in the NCAA record book. In retrospect, I should have noted that Stewart is the first player to accomplish that feat since blocked shots became recognized by the NCAA as an official statistic.


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