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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, February 26, 2016

UConn's Senior Class Lives Up To Advance Billing

When UConn signed the trio of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck, there was talk of them being the best recruiting class in women's basketball history.

The Sue Bird-Swin Cash-Asjha Jones-Keirsten Walters-Tamika Williams class signed in 1997 certainly needs to be mentioned about the best ever. When Tennessee signed a six-player class headlined by Candace Parker, Alexis Hornbuckle and Nicky Anosike, who would all be taken in the top 16 picks in the 2008 WNBA Draft, there were stories speculating that it might be the best class ever.

There were recruiting services that had Stewart, Jefferson and Tuck among the top four players in their class and certainly in the top 10. Their ultimate legacy can't be determined until this season plays out. If the Huskies run the table, UConn would have won an NCAA Division I women's record 151 games since their arrival (topping the 150 won by UConn during Lorin Dixon's and Maya Moore's four seasons) and no other women's recruiting class could lay claim to four national titles in four seasons.

Individually, Stewart has earned the right be to mentioned in the company of Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi when discussing legendary figures in the program history while Jefferson will be able to hold her own alongside of Jen Rizzotti and Bird when the discussion turns to the best point guards to play at UConn. Geno Auriemma has used Jones as a player to compare to Tuck. Anybody who has been around Auriemma dating back to Jones' playing days can appreciate just lofty that praise happens to be.

At the recent national team training camp I asked Bird about the benefits of having fellow star players to deal with the expectations that Jefferson, Stewart and Tuck have dealt with since arriving at UConn.

"To have to do everything is no burden that any player should have to bear," Bird said. "There are some who can do it but something is missing when you have to do it all by yourself. When it is a team, you are together, it is a really special relationship. You have support, it is just a support system, it is there in your dorm room, it is there when you walk out (on the court) and it is extremely helpful."
Stewart is the only Division I women's players with at least 300 assists and 300 blocked shots since blocked became a statistic officially recognized by the NCAA in 1988. Cheryl Miller and Cindy Brown also had more than 300 assists and 300 blocks but since blocked shots totals before 1988 aren't included in the NCAA record book, I haven't been able to come up with a list of other players with at least 300 assists and 300 blocked shots but if Stewart gets to 400 assists and 400 blocked shots, neither Brown nor Miller accomplished that feat.

Jefferson is two assists shy of 600 and when she gets there, she will have the best assist/turnover ratio of any players in that group dating back to the 1999-2000 season.

Finally, they became the first trio of UConn teammates to combine for 5,000 career points and also have the most assists, steals and blocked shots of any three UConn classmates.

POINTS
12-16: Jefferson-Stewart-Tuck 5008
98-02: Cash-Jones-Williams 4487
02-06: Crockett-Strother-Turner 3930
00-04: Battle-Moore-Taurasi 3899*
10-14: Dolson-Hartley-Walker 3896

REBOUNDS98-02: Cash-Jones-Williams 2467
06-10: Charles-Gardler-McLaren 2104
02-06: Crockett-Strother-Turner 1994
12-16: Jefferson-Stewart-Tuck 192500-04: Battle-Moore-Taurasi 1802*
92-96: Better-Elliott-Rizzotti  1769
10-14: Dolson-Hartley-Walker 1750

ASSISTS
12-16: Jefferson-Stewart-Tuck 1225
00-04: Battle-Conlon-Taurasi 1098*
92-96: Better-Elliott-Rizzotti 1032
98-02: Bird-Cash-Jones   954
10-14: Dolson-Hartley-Walker  952

STEALS
12-16: Jefferson-Stewart-Tuck 614
98-02: Bird-Cash-Williams 578
92-96: Better-Elliott-Rizzotti  567
04-08: Houston-Swanier-Thomas 548
88-92: Baer-Davis-Pattyson 545

BLOCKS
12-16: Jefferson-Stewart-Tuck 433
91-95: Dixon-Lobo-Webber 414
06-10: Charles-Gardler-McLaren 413
93-97: Berube-Rose-Wolters 404
11-15: Banks-KML-Stokes  389
*-does not include statistics for Battle and Moore during 2004-05 season

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