Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

UConn's Ekmark transferring to Arizona State

Courrney Ekmark, a member of two national championship teams at UConn, will finish her college career back in Arizona as she is transferring to Arizona State.

"It was a difficult decision to leave but I'm really excited to play for (Arizona State coach) Charli (Turner Thorne)," Ekmark told the Arizona Republic on Tuesday, "I'm just looking to start a new chapter in my life. I'm a west coast girl to be honest. I learned a lot from playing for Geno Auriemma."

Ekmark averaged 2 points, 1.1 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game as a sophomore. She played at least 10 minutes in 13 games seeing a season-high 19 minutes in wins over Colgate and Central Florida. She finished her UConn career with 119 points, 75 rebounds and 23 3-pointers in 61 career games.

With the graduation of Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck and with transfers Batouly Camara and Azura' Stevens not being eligible until the 2017-18 season, there was an opening for Ekmark to earn a more significant role during the upcoming season.

“Courtney is a great kid and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know her and her family,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement. "Everyone at UConn misses her already and we wish her nothing but the best in the future.”

I spoke with Ekmark at the Final Four about her fight to earn minutes in her first two seasons with the Huskies.

"Mostly it is just consistency, trying to show up for practice every single day and really just working hard, really doing whatever I can," Ekmark said.

"It is always hard to play here but it definitely has been easier than my freshman year. Sophomore year with more experience, you have been here before and you know how it all goes so it has gone better for me

"I think it is really really important to show up every day with the same attitude, work my butt off no matter what happens. As long as I can control the things that I can control, that is what I need to do."

Ekmark was Arizona's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2013 helping St. Mary's High School, coached by her father Curtis, to its third consecutive Arizona Division I title. With most of the St. Mary's team graduating, Ekmark opted not to play as a senior and spent the season working out to prepare for her time at UConn.

Ekmark is the second player from her class to leave UConn for the Pac-12 as Sadie Edwards transferred to USC after playing six games during the 2014-15 season. Edwards averaged 11.3 points in 22 games after becoming eligible following her transfer. Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams remain from the recruiting class although Natalie Butler is also a part of the rising junior class.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Women's basketball legend Pat Summitt dies

When I woke up this morning to the news that women's basketball icon Pat Summitt had passed away at the age of 64, I began having flashbacks to my interactions with her.

The first thing I recall is setting up an interview with her back in 2002 for a feature I was doing on Diana Taurasi. When she called she asked me if it was OK if she called me from her home as if a legendary figure like her needed my permission. Then in the middle of the interview she couldn't apologize enough when one of her dogs was barking up a storm. I recall how much it meant to me when she made it a point to come over and shake my hand when I passed by her at one of the last WBCA High School All-American Games. I also remember how she answered my question about which of her assistant coaches were responsible for game planning for Taurasi's 40-foot shots in the tongue in cheek manner with which it was asked. When family members and people outside the journalism business would ask me about covering the UConn women's basketball, it wouldn't take long for the "what is Pat Summitt like?" question to be asked. When I said she had one of the best sense of humors of any coach I've dealt with they were always shocked to hear that. There are those who think of her incredible intensity, her legendary glare but there are so many other facets to her personality that enabled her to touch so many people.

I was fortunate enough to cover 12 of the 22 games between UConn and Tennessee and she was the same following the seven UConn wins as she was in the five games her team won. Charming, insightful, classy would be the words I would use to describe her dealings with the media. She understood our role in the world of women's basketball and always held up the end of her bargain and then some. There was a situation last year when I waited for a high-profile coach after a UConn game and was told they did not conduct interviews once the press conference was done. That is something that never would have happened after one of Pat Summitt's games.

Yesterday Geno Auriemma said that Summitt was synonymous with women's basketball and he is absolutely right. Her accomplishments are incredible but it was her class and dignity as well as the desire to do whatever she could to promote the sport of women's basketball that really set her apart. She will be recalled for her 1,098 victories and eight national championships but those are not why the women's college basketball world is mourning today as the sport lost one of its irreplaceable figures.

UConn sent out a release with a statement from head coach Geno Auriemma.

"Today is a sad day for me personally and for everyone in the women's basketball community.  One would be hard-pressed to name a figure who had a more indelible impact on her profession than Pat Summitt. Pat set the standard for which programs like ours dreamed of achieving, both on and off the court.  Our sport reached new heights thanks to her success, which came from an incomparable work ethic and a larger than life, yet, compassionate personality.  But her legacy is illustrated most clearly by the Lady Vols who went on to achieve greatness in basketball and in life. "

Also, here is a statement from the Connecticut Sun sharing the thoughts of Shekinna Stricklen, who played for Summitt at Tennessee.

 “It hurts. This whole situation has been very difficult. She meant a lot to me. She was a teacher on and off the court. It was an opportunity and a blessing to play for her. She really helped me grow up and become a woman. She always told me to stay loyal and respectful, and she always treated everyone the same. What you saw in these finals days was what Pat Summitt was as a person. She did not give up easily, and she went out on her terms, not on anybody else’s terms.”

Monday, June 27, 2016

Former UConn star Breanna Stewart wins Honda Cup

Breanna Stewart became the fourth UConn basketball player to win the Honda Cup as the nation's top female collegiate athlete.

Baylor's Brittney Griner, the 2012 winner,was the last basketball player to earn the honor. Rebecca Lobo and Jen Rizzotti gave UConn back to back winners in 1995 and 1996 while Maya Moore won in 2010 and 2011 to join swimming legend Tracy Caulkins as the only two-time winner of the Honda Cup.

Stewart was a finalist for the award for the third straight season as gymnast Kim Jacob was the winner in 2014 and swimmer Missy Franklin was the honoree last season.

Stewart had 20 games with at least 20 points as a senior with 16 double doubles as she headlined a senior class that was the first in Division I history to win four consecutive national titles.
Stewart finished as UConn's career leader with 414 blocked shots, was second with 2,676 points, third with 1,179 rebounds.
She was taken first overall in the WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm and is currently second in the WNBA in rebounding and eighth in scoring.


UConn's Auriemma: Pat Summitt is synonymous with women's basketball

The biggest news in the women's basketball in the last few days has been focused on the failing health of legendary former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.

Whether it is fair or not, if there were a word association game involving Summitt, the first name likely to be uttered would be Geno Auriemma.

Auriemma, during a break in his annual Fore The Kids Golf Tournament, spoke for more than 10 minutes on the legacy of Summitt as well as the unforgettable showdowns between Tennessee and UConn from 1995-2007.

"We don't have a long history in women's basketball," Auriemma said. "The history before Tennessee, before Pat Summitt is kind of checkered because there wasn't a lot of interest in the game, a lot of support from universities so it is a short history. During that short history, there is one person for a long time and nobody else was even in that category. A lot of times there is competition among a lot of coaches but for the longest time there was only Pat Summitt, nobody else. Other people took their turn getting their 15 minutes of fame but when people talked about college  women's basketball in America ... When you get on the cover of Time Magazine, when's the last time a women's team coach got on the cover of Time Magazine? For that to happen, that is saying a lot. Pat Summitt is  synonymous with women's basketball."

Seven times UConn played Tennessee in the NCAA tournament including the 1995, 2000, 2003 and 2004 national title games. When the teams played each other from 1995-2007, UConn won five national titles, Tennessee won the championship four times (with another crown in 2008) while the other teams combined to win four national titles. Friction between the coaches led to the end of the regular-season meetings between the women's basketball super powers but Auriemma has fond recollections of that rivalry.

"We had a chance to shape the landscape of women's basketball, the two of us," Auriemma said. "She did her part and I did that part. It didn't necessarily go over with everybody else but that is OK because that is how things grow. I knew we made it big - Connecticut/Tennessee, Geno/Pat - when they asked a bunch of coaches at the NCAA tournament who do you think is going to win the NCAA tournament  and they said 'I really don't care as long as it is not either Tennessee or Connecticut.' That is when I thought to myself, we have something special going.

"I remember saying something to her at the Final Four, I forget which Final Four,  remember walking up to her before the tournament started and said you guys need to win, we need to win and we need to play each other,  we have a pretty good thing going and we don't need anybody breaking into this party. She kind of got a little chuckle out of it."

UConn leads the series 13-9 and from 1995-2007, the two programs helped bring eyes to the sport. It is hardly a coincidence that the most viewed women's NCAA tournament game in ESPN's history is the 2004 national title game between UConn and Tennessee which also happens to be the last NCAA tournament showdown between the Huskies and Lady Vols.

"It certainly was unique," Auriemma said. "There certainly wasn't anything happening before that and hasn't been anything ... Notre Dame is the closest thing that has evolved. If you think about, that rivalry only lasted 12 years, it is not a long time but we played 22 times in 12 years and that it what made the rivalry what it was. It seemed like, to me the most fun about it was that every single game that we played against them, there seemed to be something at stake - either an NCAA tournament game, a national championship or just in the minds of a lot of people 'something at stake. I don't know how many times we were either 1 or 2 in the country when the played so suffice it say there were never any meaningless games between us and Tennessee."

Summitt, who won a record 1,098 games and her eight national titles were the standard before Auriemma won 11 championships, announced that she was diagnosed with early onset dementia. Word began to spread that Summitt's condition had taken a turn for the worse and her family released a statement saying "the past few days have been difficult for Pat."

Former players, including those in the WNBA, have visited the Hall of Fame coach and social media is buzzing with prayers and other words of support for Summitt and her family.

Auriemma hasn't had much contact with Summitt but said he has reached out to those in her inner circle so they could pass on his thoughts to her.

"As this thing has played out, the thing I have appreciated the most kind of what it evolved with (former North Carolina men's basketball coach) Dean Smith, there really wasn't a whole lot of information out there, very private so my conversations were through other people who were close to her, who were going to see her on a regular basis," Auriemma said. "I talked to them and told them what I thought, had them relay it."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

UConn's Stewart, Auriemma up for two ESPYs each

Breanna Stewart, a three-time national player of the year, has been nominated for a pair of ESPYs as has UConn's Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma.

Stewart is up for ESPYs as Best Female Athlete and Best Female College Athlete. Auriemma is a candidate for Best Record-Breaking Performance and Best Coach/Manager while UConn is in the running in the Best Team category

Former Huskies Tina Charles and Maya Moore are candidates in the Best WNBA Player category.

The ESPYs will be announced on July 13 and fans can vote at

Here are the list of candidates:
Stephen Curry
Cam Newton
Bryce Harper
LeBron James

Breanna Stewart
Elena Delle Donne
Katie Ledecky
Simone Biles

Von Miller – Super Bowl
Carli Lloyd – World Cup Final
Sidney Crosby – Stanley Cup Playoffs
LeBron James – NBA Finals

Jake Arrieta
Conor McGregor
Chloe Kim
Karl-Anthony Towns

Stephen Curry – single season three-pointers made
Geno Auriemma – most NCAA basketball titles in D1 history (11)
Christian McCaffery – single season NCAAF all-purpose yards

Holly Holm knocks out Ronda Rousey – UFC
Middle Tennessee over Michigan State – Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament
Roberta Vinci over Serena Williams – US Open

Villanova vs. North Carolina – Men’s NCAA Basketball Final
Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers – NFL Divisional Round
Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – NBA Finals Game 7

BEST PLAY (16 NOMINEES VOTED BRACKET-STYLE)1.Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary vs. 16. Crazy 66-yard Ole Miss’ TD
2.Kris Jenkins buzzer beater vs. 15. Connor McDavid goal
3.Michigan St punt block TD vs. 14. Stanford trick play w/ circus catch
4.LeBron Game 7 block vs. 13. Louis Oosthuizen hole-in-one off of ball
5.Steph Curry 38-foot game-winner vs. 12. Army softball player leaps over tag
6.Holly Holm knockout of Ronda Rousey vs. 11. Bartolo Colon first home run
7.Tiffany Howard HR robbery WCWS vs. 10. Josh Donaldson diving into stands
8.Jairo Samerio scores on scissor-kick ground vs. 9. Dele Alli juggling goal for Tottenham

Cleveland Cavaliers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Kansas City Royals
Denver Broncos
Alabama Crimson Tide
UConn Huskies
Villanova Wildcats

Ned Yost – Kansas City Royals
Geno Auriemma – UConn Huskies
Jay Wright – Villanova Wildcats
Nick Saban – Alabama Crimson Tide
Tyronn Lue – Cleveland Cavaliers

Cristiano Ronaldo
Novak Djokovic
Lydia Ko
Luis Suarez
Canelo Alvarez

Cam Newton
Tom Brady
JJ Watt
Antonio Brown
Julio Jones

Bryce Harper
Josh Donaldson
Jake Arrieta
Mike Trout
Clayton Kershaw

Patrick Kane
Alex Ovechkin
Sidney Crosby
Joe Pavelski
Braden Holtby

Kyle Busch
Lewis Hamilton
Erica Enders-Stevens
Scott Dixon
Alexander Rossi

Stephen Curry
Kawhi Leonard
LeBron James
Kevin Durant
Russell Westbrook

Elena Delle Donne
Maya Moore
Angel McCoughtry
Tina Charles
DeWanna Bonner

Conor McGregor
Gennady Golovkin
Canelo Alvarez
Robbie Lawler
Roman Gonzalez

Jason Day
Dustin Johnson
Danny Willett
Jordan Spieth

Lydia Ko
Inbee Park
Brooke Henderson
Ariya Jutanugarn

Novak Djokovic
Andy Murray
Roger Federer

Angelique Kerber
Flavia Pennetta
Serena Williams
Garbine Muguruza

Derrick Henry
Buddy Hield
Jordan Morris
Jarrion Lawson
Alex Dieringer

Breanna Stewart
Raquel Rodriguez
Samantha Bricio
Taylor Cummings
Sierra Romero

Ryan Dungey
Gus Kenworthy
Nyjah Huston
Pedro Barros
Mark McMorris

Chloe Kim
Keala Kennelly
Jamie Anderson
Carissa Moore

Mario Gutierrez
Kent Desormeaux
Javier Castellano
Irad Ortiz Jr.

Richard Browne
Joe Berenyi
Aaron Fotheringham
Nikko Landeros
Brad Snyder

Tatyana McFadden
Heather Erickson
Oksana Masters
Bethany Hamilton
Shawn Morelli

Jason Belmonte
Jesper Svensson
Ryan Ciminelli
Anthony Simonsen

Sebastian Giovinco
Kei Kamara
Laurent Ciman
Luis Robles

The WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx will make the trip to the White House to be recognized by President Barack Obama.

The 2015 Lynx squad featured four former UConn stars who know a thing or two about ceremonies at the White House but none more than Maya Moore, who has been on receiving end of barbs from President Obama for her many trips to D.C. in previous ceremonies. Renee Montgomery, who had a game-winning 3-pointer in Minnesota's recent win over previously undefeated Los Angeles, Asjha Jones and Kalana Greene were also members of the championship team.

The ceremony is set for 4:45 p.m at the East Room of the White House/

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

UConn's Stewart, Tuck up for NCAA Woman of Year award

It seems to be the day for former UConn stars to receive prestigious honors.

First, it was Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi named to the WNBA 20@20 as the 20 best players in the 20 WNBA seasons. Now it is Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck being nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year.

They are now in contention to join 1995 honoree Rebecca Lobo as the only winners of the award from UConn.

Rachel Banham, Tuck's fellow rookie with the Connecticut Sun, is also a candidate. Other nominees from Connecticut colleges or universities include Southern Connecticut State's Lauren Anderson (field hockey, lacrosse), Fairfield's Olivia Brooks (golf), University of New Haven's Ashley Dawson, Hartford's Emma Donnelly (soccer) and Trinity's Martha Griffin (lacrosse).

The NCAA will announce the top 30 candidates (10 each in Division I, Division II and Division III) in early September. Nine finalists (three from each division) will be announced in late September with the winner being announced on Oct. 16.

Candidates are chosen based on their academic achievement, athletic excellence, service and leadership.

Stewart is also one of the finalists for the Honda Cup which will be announced on Monday.

Stewart won the Honda Sport Award for basketball making her a finalist for the award along with the other 11 individual sport winners. The winner will be announced live on the Collegiate Women's Sports Awards Show which begins at 9 p.m. and will air live on CBS Sports Network.

Stewart has finished in the top three in 2014 and 2015 in her attempt to join Lobo, Jen Rizzotti and two-time winner Moore as UConn players to be named the nation's top collegiate female athlete. Gymnast Kim Jacob was the winner in 2014 and swimmer Missy Franklin was last year's honoree.

Four former UConn stars on WNBA's 20@20

Four former UConn stars including three members of the undefeated 2002 national championship team were named to the list of the top 20 players since the inception of the WNBA.
The WNBA 20@20, which was voted on by a 15-member panel WNBA coaches and administrators as well as national media members, was unveiled on ESPN's 10 a.m. edition of SportsCenter.

Sue Bird and Swin Cash, the top two picks in the 2002 WNBA Draft, and 2004 No. 1 overall pick Diana Taurasi were selected along with 2011 No. 1 overall pick Maya Moore, the leading scorer in UConn history.

“To be included among the top 20 players in this league's history is a huge honor," said Bird in a statement. "Watching the level of competition rise over the years has been incredible and I am excited to see where the league goes in the next 20."
Tina Charles, the 2012 WNBA MVP, and Nykesha Sales were also nominated giving UConn six of the 60 nominees.

Lindsay Whalen is the only representative of the Connecticut Sun to be named to the list of top 20 players as she was the Sun's first-round pick in 2004.

The list is highlighted by the trio of Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson who teamed up to lead the Houston Comets to the first four WNBA championships. Former MVP Lisa Leslie as well as Teresa Weatherspoon are the other original WNBA players honored by the league while Yolanda Griffith, Becky Hammon, Lauren Jackson, Deanna Nolan, career assists leader Ticha Penicheiro and Katie Smith are other former WNBA stars to make the cut.

Seimone Augustus, Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker and Cappie Pondexter join Bird, Cash, Moore, Taurasi and Whalen are active WNBA players named to the top 20.
"I grew up watching the WNBA, and to be in a class of athletes of the caliber that this league has produced over the past 20 years is a huge honor,” Moore said. “It’s definitely a dream come true. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to compete at the highest levels and develop my talent to the point that I was even in consideration for this honor.”
UConn leads the way for four players honored, Southern California (Cooper, Leslie and Thompson) and Tennessee (Catchings and Parker) are the only other programs with more than one honoree.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Another showcase for UConn legend Maya Moore

I would be hard pressed to recall a WNBA regular-season game drawing as much attention as tomorrow's clash of undefeated squads when 12-0 Minnesota faces 11-0 Los Angeles (even if the WNBA didn't have the foresight to put it on either ESPN or ESPN2).

Former UConn star Maya Moore, the leading scorer for Minnesota, was among the participants on a conference call this afternoon held to promote the game which the league said is the first time two teams in the WNBA, NBA, NHL, MLB or NFL have met with perfect records this late into the start of the season.

"If you were writing a sports fiction story certainly what is going to happen tomorrow is going to be high up there as far as the excitement built into this game tomorrow," Moore said. "It is just a really cool time to focus on and celebrate the excellence you are seeing on the court from both teams."

The game will tip shortly after 3:30 p.m. and air on NBA TV.

Earlier in the day the WNBA will announce the top 20 players in league history in recognition of the league's 20th season. Moore is among the 60 nominees and it would be a shocking turn of events if she were not among the list of 20.

"It is an honor that I wasn't really thinking about or was aware of but to be playing in the league I grew up watching and loving would be such a humbling, awesome honor another fun moment to celebrate all that this league has accomplished,," Moore said.

UConn's Dangerfield undergoes hip surgery

UConn incoming freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield underwent hip surgery on Friday to repair a preexisting injury and the school announced that she is expected to be fully recovered in time for the preseason.

The procedure forced Dangerfield to give up her spot on the U.S. U-18 national team.

Dangerfield, a member of the U.S. team which won the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women title in 2015, was a consensus high school All-American who is expected to compete for a starting position as a freshman for the Huskies.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Former UConn star Tina Charles no stranger to giving back

Tina Charles was struck by the irony of the timing of her latest honor.

The former UConn star was named one of four finalists for the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award on the same day she would be playing in the state where she first began to spread her wings and display her philanthropic spirit.

Charles has always been a giving soul but it wasn't until she graduated from UConn and began earning money playing professionally that she could put her money where her mouth is.

Charles joins Brent Burns, who just led the San Jose Sharks to their first Stanley Cup Final, NFL star Carlos Dunlap and NBA All-Star Chris Paul as finalists for the prestigious award.

"I think it is more recognition towards Hopey's Heart Foundation, raising awareness for sudden cardiac arrest," Charles said before scoring 32 points to lead the New York Liberty past the Connecticut Sun. "For it to come out today while I am playing in Connecticut, this is where it started. It is huge, we are growing."

I was talking to an official from the New York Liberty yesterday as I waited to talk to some of the New York players during the media access period and heard stories of her dedication, the trips to meetings with the Hopey's Heart Foundation. Little of this ever gets reported and that is fine with Charles. She's often kept the media at arm's length and doesn't get involved in charitable ventures so she can have glowing stories written about her or even receive awards for her work away from the court. When I spoke to her yesterday, her eyes lit up when I mentioned that potential impact the $25,000 donation her charity will receive with her being a finalist for the Sports Humanitarian of the Award. It was almost as if I could see her thinking about how many more schools she can help get defibrillators into and potentially how many more lives of children could be saved by having that piece of equipment in schools.

Charles' philanthropic spirit did not first reveal itself through the Hopey's Heart Foundation. During the season when she would be named the MVP of the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun I put together a piece on Charles that went beyond the points she was scoring and rebounds she was pulling down. She funded the building of a school in Mali through partnership with OmniPeace and buildOn. It was a side of her personality that not everybody saw. I covered her in the final three seasons of her career at UConn and in the early stages of her professional career and didn't fully comprehend just how giving of a person that she is. So one day inside Mohegan Sun Arena I spent probably 30 minutes with her discussing the importance of giving back to people. It was one of the most enjoyable stories I have written in my coverage of the Connecticut Sun and thought of that day and story I wrote when I spoke to Tina for a few minutes last night.

The winner of the Sports Humanitarian of the Year will be announced on July 12 with ESPN giving a $100,000 grant to the charity of the winner.

Former UConn standout Stokes finding her comfort zone

Even as Kiah Stokes was making an immediate impact as a rookie with the  New York Liberty, she was still trying to get comfortable with life in professional basketball.

After a strong rookie season in WNBA and her first chance to play overseas, Stokes has returned to the Liberty with a renewed sense of confidence.

The numbers certainly show that there is no sophomore slump for Stokes. She is playing right around the same number of minutes through the first 11 games that she did a season ago. She went from averaging 5.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game to putting up averages of 7.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. She is seventh in the league in rebounding (fifth in rebounding per 40 minutes) and second in blocked shots.

"I am coming more into my role," Stokes said. "I know more of how the league works. My rookie year I was kind of nervous but I think I understand my teammates and coaching staff more of what it takes to win games. I am just trying to be more comfortable on offense, trying to do what I know I can do, block shots, rebound, post up strong."

Stokes has blocked 24 shots in 11 games this season but none generated as much buzz as the one of her former UConn teammate Breanna Stewart. The block at any point of the game would have been worthy of making the highlight reel especially seeing how her teammates reacted to the emphatic block but the fact that is came during crunch time as the Liberty was holding onto a lead, it became an even more impressive play.

Stokes had been hearing it from her coaches and teammates for giving up a 3-pointer to Sue Bird after the team had been given instructions not to surrender a 3-pointer or three-point play.

"Tina (Charles) went for the shot fake and I said no easy 2s so either foul her or make sure she misses it. I tried to get a block and I did," Stokes said before last night's game against the Connecticut Sun. "I didn't really see my teammates reaction until seeing the replay after but all I know is Tina hit me in my chest really hard, that is the only thing I remember about that.

"It was fun. Stewie is a great scorer, a great player so especially at that point in the game it was pretty intense. It was fun. I am glad I was on my end. I didn't guard her very much (at UConn). I knew she was really long so i had to time it pretty well."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Orlando tragedy hits close to home for New York Liberty star

Both of Shavonte Zellous' sneakers bear the words "Orlando Strong" written by the New York Liberty guard and Orlando native.

Zellous plans to play the rest of the season with the message to the Orlando victims.

"Orlando was always a part of me and I want everybody to just to continue to pray for our city, my city," Zellous said. "It is going to take some time to heal, time heals everything.

"When I am done with the things I have to do out here, I always call my cousins, my family and especially my mom, I talk to her every day just to get a grip of what is going on and just the city. She tells me it is still sad. I think everybody is still shaken up, it is still like a haunted house. We just continue to stay together."

If there was more she could do to aid in her hometown's healing process following the deaths of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub, she would certainly do anything. However, for the team being, this gesture in addition to a compelling first-person piece on the Players' Tribune focusing on her state of mind as she attempted to reach out to her sister, who was at the club a week before the massacre.

"Still to this day, there is still a lot going through my mind, thank God I have basketball as an outlet," Zellous said before the Liberty's game against the Connecticut Sun. "It was important to (remember) the victims, the families that lost somebody, they know you are not out here alone and there are people ere to pray for you and support you."

Zellous was on the road when she first heard about the tragic events in Orlando. When she landed in New York, her mother called. When she had no information on the well being of her sister, Shavonte called Mina directly. Each time the phone rang with no answer, Shavonte's heart sunk lower and lower. Finally when Mina answered, she breathed a sigh of relief.

"I could have been the one on the other end with some bad news but luckily she answered the phone for me, luckily she had to go to work so she wasn't in such a tragic situation," Zellous said. "My head was spinning but once I heard her voice, I knew everything was OK. Unfortunately, she lost a couple of friends due to that situation down there. Just to hear her voice, it was nervewracking at first, it took a while for the phone to ring but absolutely great that she is OK.

"It hits home just to know all the families that lost loves ones, I could have possibly be one of those (mourning the loss of a family member). Just to see everybody continue to support the tragedy that happened down there, it is really a plus for not only me but for the city of Orlando.

"I am from there, it is going to take some time to get over tis and recover from it."

Zellous knows how strong the people in Orlando are and knows in time the city will move forward.

"It is going to take some time but it is something that is going to have to build but not when we want to heal, everybody is going to take it one step at a time,"  Zellous said.

Six former UConn stars on ballot for WNBA's top 20 players

Former UConn standouts Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Nykesha Sales and Diana Taurasi are among 60 players in consideration to be named as the WNBA's top 20 players.

The list of the top 20 players will be unveiled on ESPN's SportsCenter Face-to-Face segment with Hannah Storm during the 10 a.m. hour on Tuesday.

The 60 nominees were selected based on factors like on-court performance and ability, leadership and sportsmanship, as well as contributions to team success.  In addition, all players must have been a member of a WNBA team for two seasons and met three of the following seven criteria: the winner of a major individual award; a selection to either the All-WNBA First Team or All-WNBA Second Team; a selection to either the WNBA All-Defensive First Team or WNBA All-Defensive Second Team; a selection to the WNBA All-Star Game; a member of a WNBA Championship team; a current ranking among the top 30 career leaders in at least one major statistical category; and a selection to either the WNBA’s All-Decade Team (voted on in 2006) or the WNBA’s Top 15 Players (voted on in 2011).

A 15-member panel of former WNBA head coaches and media members.

Former UConn star Tina Charles' philanthropic work is recognized

Former UConn star Tina Charles is one of four professional athletes nominated for the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Charles, the all-time leading rebounder in UConn history, has donated half of her WNBA salary in each of the last two seasons to the Hopey's Heart Foundation which was created to not only honor the memory of her late aunt but also placing defibrillators into schools to prevent students from succumbing to sudden cardiac arrest.

Charles is currently second in the WNBA in scoring (19.7 PPG) and rebounding (9.7) heading into tonight's New York/Connecticut game at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Brent Burns, who led the San Jose Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final, Chris Paul of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers and the Cincinnati Bengals' Carlos Dunlap are the other finalists.

The winner will be announced during the second annual Sports Humanitarian Awards on July 12 with a $100,000 grant going to the winner.

Here are bios of the finalists courtesy of a press release sent out by ESPN, which sponsors the awards.

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: Influenced by his grandfather’s service during WWII, Brent Burns has worked tirelessly with United Heroes League, formerly known as Defending the Blue Line, an organization dedicated to ensuring military members are healthy and active through sports, since 2009. Dubbed “Burnzie’s Battalion,” Burns has donated more than $1.2 million in suite tickets to United Heroes League, regularly meets with veteran and active duty military members and has donated thousands of pieces of hockey equipment to military families. Burns also partners with Folds of Honor to provide scholarships to family members of injured and deceased military personnel.
Tina Charles, New York Liberty: Inspired by her late aunt, Tina Charles founded The Hopey’s Heart Foundation and has donated half her WNBA salary the past two seasons to help reduce the chance of student athletes succumbing to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Knowing that an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can increase someone’s chance of survival by 50%, Charles has placed more than 200 AEDs in schools, athletic teams and recreation centers worldwide. She’s also partnering with organizations like FIBA Europe and AAU Sports to change regulations so that every team has access to an AED.

Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals: Fueled by the passion of his parents, education has always been a priority for Carlos Dunlap. That’s why he created the Dunlap Scholars Program, which provides ACT and SAT prep and college readiness courses, mentoring and job interview training to underprivileged student athletes in Cincinnati. From throwing birthday parties for homeless kids who have never had one, to hosting a back to school “fun day” to get kids the important supplies they need, Dunlap is personally invested in ensuring youth feel nurtured and supported.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers: Through the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Chris Paul works tirelessly to level the playing field in education, sports and community. In honor of his late grandfather, Paul established the Nathaniel Jones Scholarship Fund, which annually provides two full-ride scholarships to his alma mater Wake Forest. This past year, he and the Foundation opened three technology labs in communities across the country, including one at a newly refurbished Boys & Girls Club in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. The renovation is part of the $1 million commitment the Foundation has made to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Big night for UConn's Big 3

Last night marked the first time that recent UConn graduates Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck all took part in regular-season games for the first time in their rookie seasons. They did not disappoint.

Jefferson had a career-high 19 points as San Antonio snapped a four-game losing streak with a 77-70 win over Seattle. Stewart, despite a tough shooting game, had 19 points and 15 rebounds in the game.

Tuck made her first career start in place of the injured Alyssa Thomas and had 12 points (her third straight double-digit scoring game) in Connecticut's 109-106 triple-overtime loss to Washington.

Also, it was announced that Stewart has signed with Shanghai in China's WCBA. Stewart is the latest high-profile U.S. player to sign to play in China. Former Husky Maya Moore has done pretty well for herself playing in China both financially and championship wise.

The San Antonio/Seattle and Washington/Connecticut games both featured four former UConn players and four of the five games played last night included multiple UConn products.

Tina Charles of the New York Liberty had the best night with 28 points, aided by three 3-pointers in a 91-88 win over Dallas while Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery combined for 25 points as Minnesota rolled to an 87-63 win over Indiana to become the first WNBA team to open the season at 11-0.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Plenty of heavy hitters on UConn's non-conference schedule

Katie Lou Samuelson and Kia Nurse lead list of returnees for UConn
Four-time defending national champion UConn's quest for another national title will feature plenty of challenging non-conference games.

The Huskies will play six teams ranked in the top 10 in the final Associated Press poll with a game at Notre Dame on Dec. 7 and home game against South Carolina on Feb. 13 highlighting arguably the most challenging non-conference slate in program history.

The regular season kicks off with a game at Florida State on Nov. 14 marking the third season in a row that the Huskies will open on the road. There will also be road games against Louisiana State (Nov. 20), Kansas State (Dec. 11), Nebraska (Dec. 21) and Maryland on Dec. 29.

UConn will host Baylor on Nov. 17, Dayton on Nov. 22, Chattanooga on Nov. 29, DePaul on Dec. 1, Ohio State on Dec. 19 and will face Texas in the Jimmy V Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena on Dec. 4.
The dates for the conference games will likely be announced in August as well as the times of most of the regular-season games.

UConn will play East Carolina, South Florida, Southern Methodist, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa once at home and once on the road, will play Houston and Memphis only at home and have road games against Central Florida and Cincinnati as the American Athletic Conference moves from playing 18 games in the regular season to playing 16.

The Huskies, looking to become the first women's Division I team to reach 10 consecutive Final Fours, loses its top three scorers as All-Americans Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck were the top three picks in the WNBA Draft.

Katie Lou Samuelson is the only returning double-digit scorer as she averaged 11 points per game as a freshman. Kia Nurse, the only player to start at 38 games a season ago, Gabby Williams and Napheesa Collier return to give the Huskies a strong nucleus to build upon. Crystal Dangerfield, who will play for the U.S. in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women from July 13-17, will be joined by fellow freshmen Molly Bent and Kyla Irwin.

Mon 14: at No. 17 Florida State  
Thu 17:  vs. No. 4 BAYLOR
Sun 20: at LSU
Tue 22: vs. DAYTON
Thu 1: vs. No. 20 DEPAUL
Sun 4: vs. No. 7 Texas (at Mohegan Sun Arena)
Wed 7: at No. 2 Notre Dame
Sun 11: at Kansas State
Mon 19: vs. No. 9 OHIO STATE
Wed 21: at Nebraska
Thu 29: at No. 5 Maryland
Mon 13: vs. No. 3 SOUTH CAROLINA
Final Associated Press poll is ranking listed

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Familiar faces abound for former UConn star Mosqueda-Lewis

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was recently going through some photos on her phone and one of them really caught her eye.

Mosqueda-Lewis saw a baby-faced Breanna Stewart in a picture with her and she immediately flashed back to that summer seven years ago when they were teammates for the first time as members of the gold-medal winning U.S. U-16 national team.

"I have been reflecting on the fact that we have been playing together since we were 15 years old," Mosqueda-Lewis said before Friday night's Seattle Storm/Connecticut Sun game at Mohegan Sun Arena. "It is crazy that now we are 21, 22 years old that we are still on the same team. Just today I put up a picture from us on the U16 team together, it is pretty crazy that after all of these years we are still playing together."

Mosqueda-Lewis was the leading scorer while Stewart, the youngest player on the squad, was tied for the team lead in blocked shots.

They played together for three years at UConn and were parts of three national championship teams and now they are in their first season together in the WNBA.

Stewart is second on the Storm in rebounds, steals and blocked shots while her 15.7 scoring average is second only to Jewell Loyd, who also took part in the training camp and trials with the U-16 team back in 2009.

Mosqueda-Lewis expected Stewart to make an immediate impact in the WNBA.

"I think it was quite easy for her," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "She has played with a lot of the people that are in the league right now because she is on the national team and has done a great job of doing the things consistently that she knows she can."

Mosqueda-Lewis is averaging 3.6 points per game and the NCAA Division I career leading in 3-pointers made is shooting only 18.2 percent from 3-point range so she is still working to make an impact. The good news is she experienced success as a pro while playing for Charleville-Mezieres in France.

Mosqueda-Lewis was the team's leading scorer at 12.7 points per game and shot 42 percent from 3-point range. More importantly, she helped her team improve from 10-16 in the 2014-15 season to posting a 19-10 mark.

"I spent the year overseas, I was able to gain some confidence and play a lot over there against players who have been playing for a while now really was good for me," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "I don't think there is a better teacher than experience."

One drawback is she didn't get to see UConn's march to a fourth straight national title although she was hardly surprised to see her former teammates cutting down the nets once again.

"I didn't expect anything less from them, they really didn't lose much when me and Kiah (Stokes) graduated and they got in some good freshman," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "It was kind of expected from me that they won another one.

"I probably watched one game I was asleep half the time. I tried to keep up looking at the scores, looking at the highlights that they had or sometimes my parents recorded them and I watched them afterwards. It is different watching from the other side but when they win another one, you feel just a part of it as when you were there."

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Transfers, freshmen fitting in at UConn

It was quite the evening of basketball at Mohegan Sun Arena especially for those with ties to the 11-time national champion UConn women's basketball program.

Sue Bird led visiting Seattle with 24 points while rookie Morgan Tuck's 20 points led host Connecticut to its second win of the season. Oh, and it was the first pro game in the state of Connecticut for three-time national player of the year Breanna Stewart.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was among the 8,075 in attendance as the Sun rallied for a 77-76 victory. He took part in an autograph signing and picture taking event not far from the arena and gave myself and Carl Adamec of the Manchester Journal Inquirer about 10 minutes to catch up on some things.

The first topic was the contrast of two generations of UConn women's basketball standouts since Swin Cash, a star on the 2000 and 2002 title-winning teams, recently announced that this would be her final season in the WNBA. That was the focus for a feature appearing in tomorrow's paper.

He also spoke about freshmen Molly Bent, Crystal Dangerfield and Kyla Irwin as well as transfers Batouly Camara and Azura' Stevens, who are all on campus.

"They are at different stages in their careers," Auriemma said. "You have two kids (Camara and Stevens) who have already played college basketball so they are at one end of the spectrum. The other three guys, this is all first time for them and even those three, Crystal coming off a gold-medal winning stuff (with the U.S. U-19 team) and the other two was off of everybody's radar except ours but everyone of them have their own unique things.

"It's been a while since we've had five freshmen or five new players and one senior, it is tilted the other way. Those years when we had four seniors and one freshman, it is going to be really different."

UConn will have three transfers on its roster in the upcoming season even if Camara and Stevens need to sit out the upcoming season due to NCAA regulations regarding transfers. Former Georgetown star Natalie Butler could have a more expanded role moving forward. Auriemma was asked if the large number of transfers was simply a sign of the times.

"It might just be circumstances, just the right people, the right time," Auriemma said. "Sometimes there is just no need, they just don't fit or not the right positions. This one just happened to be right for whatever reason. They are kids that we know, kids that play a position that there doesn't seem to be a lot of coming out of high school so all the elements were there. I think we are fortunate to have them.

"It is not a lot of time (to get to know the incoming transfers). We were involved with Batouly coming out of high school so we know about her more than somebody else. With Azura', it is more with I got a chance to see her a little bit in the summer with USA Basketball. We recruited Svetlana (Abrosimova) over the phone, sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling and hope you are right
It was all good. A lot of it is gut instinct."

Auriemma also spoke about the recovery process of freshmen Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson.

"Nothing has changed," Auriemma said. "Lou's doing some stuff. Pheesa's doing some stuff, neither of them are playing full court, there is no need to as this point. Pheesa is going to take a little longer.
both of those guys are great competitors, they want to play. it is hard to hold them back, it is a long summer, long season so nobody is in a hurry to push these guys."

He also spoke about UConn legend Nykesha Sales taking a job as an assistant coach at Central Florida.

"I haven't met too many people as good as Nykesha," Auriemma said. "She is a unique individual, a special human being who I would trust Nykesha with anything."

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Bridgeport to host U.S. Olympic exhibition game

USA Basketball announced it would be playing international friendlies in three locations in late July including Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

After three days of training from July 24-26 at a site to be announced, the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center will host a doubleheader on July 27 with Australia playing Canada at 5 p.m. followed by the U.S. meeting France. On July 29 Australia and France will meet at 4:30 p.m. followed by a game between the U.S. and Canada featuring six current or former UConn players since Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi are members of the U.S. Olympic squad and current UConn guard Kia Nurse is a star on the Canadian team.

On July 31 Canada and France will square off at 1:30 p.m. followed by a game between Australia and the U.S. at Madison Square Garden.

The team will wrap up its state-side preparations with a practice in Houston on Aug. 2 before leaving for Brazil. There is a practice day on July 28 between the games in Delaware and Connecticut at a site to be announced.

Tickets will go on sale on Monday. Here's a link to more information

Beth Goetz named SWA at UConn

There will be a new face working with the 11-time national champion UConn women's basketball program as former University of Minnesota interim athletic director has been hired by UConn AD David Benedict as the athletic department's Chief Operating Officer and Senior Woman Administrator as well as the sport administrator for football.

“I am honored to join the University of Connecticut team and I am extremely grateful to Director of Athletics David Benedict and President Susan Herbst  for the opportunity to serve an institution nationally recognized for academic and athletic achievement,” Goetz said in a statement. “I look forward to working under David's leadership and with an outstanding group of coaches and staff as they continue to pursue excellence each and every day on behalf of UConn student-athletes and their future success.”

Goetz is the second hire by Benedict with ties to the power conferences as Deputy Athletic Director Vic Cegles spent time at Arizona State before leaving his job as the Director of Athletics at Long Beach State to come to UConn.

“The opportunity to add an individual and leader of Beth’s caliber to our team at UConn is like winning the national championship or signing the number one prospect in the recruiting class in terms of athletic administration,” Benedict said in a statement. “Beth is a consummate professional and brings a diverse skill set to Storrs and I know she will have a profound influence on our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Personally, I couldn’t be happier in her decision to join the UConn family and she will have an immediate impact.”
Deb Corum had been serving as UConn's SWA before leaving to take the same job at Southern Utah in April.

Corum's role had changed at UConn and while she was the SWA for the other women's sports, Senior Associate Director of Athletics/External Relations Neal Eskin was handling those duties and in particular putting together the challenging upcoming non-conference schedule for Geno Auriemma's Huskies.

“The hiring of Beth is great news for UConn and presents a great opportunity for college women’s basketball," Auriemma said in a statement. "Our sport is at a crossroads in many ways and UConn needs to be a leader in the continued development and promotion of the game. Beth’s national experience combined with the reputation of our program will give her the opportunity to make a positive impact on the future of the game.”

Goetz was named the interim AD since August following the resignation of Norwood Teague. Mark Coyle began in his role as AD at Minnesota on May 31.

 Goetz spent 11 seasons as the women's soccer coach at Missouri-St. Louis and in her final eight years at the university was the assistant athletic director and senior women's administrator before taking a job as an associate athletic director and senior women's administrator at Butler from 2008-2013. She joined the Minnesota athletic department on March 4, 2013.

Goetz was on the Big Ten’s Administrators Council and is a member of the conference’s Sports Management Committee

Goetz was entrusted with overseeing the athletic department after the departure of Teague after he was accused of sexual harassment

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

UConn's conference schedule is out

The American Athletic Conference made the move from playing 18 regular-season conference games in its first three seasons to having 16 in the upcoming season.

The conference released the breakdown of home and away opponents.

The conference is going to a 16-game schedule after playing 18 in each of the AAC's first three seasons. The move will allow the Huskies to add two more non-conference games to aid its strength of schedule and RPI.

UConn will play East Carolina, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa once at home and once on the road, will have home games against Houston and Memphis and will play Cincinnati and UCF on the road. What that means is that the UConn fans will need to wait until the AAC tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena to welcome back former star Nykesha Sales, recently hired as an assistant coach at UCF.

UConn's non-conference schedule could be the most challenging in program history.
The home schedule is highlighted by games at likely top 10 teams Baylor, Ohio State and South Carolina in addition to facing Chattanooga, Dayton and DePaul. The non-conference road game will feature tough tests against Florida State, Maryland and Notre Dame in addition to contests against Kansas State, LSU and Nebraska. The Huskies will also meet a talented Texas squad in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 4 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The entire schedule with dates, sites and most of the game times are expected to be announced in August.

There were a few surprises.

First, after UCF and Houston faced UConn once a year in the last two seasons (the only conference schools to have that distinction) I would have thought conference officials would have changed things up a little bit.

Memphis is solid enough even with the graduation losses that I would have thought the Tigers would have played UConn twice in the regular season

I can't believe USF and UCF will only play each other once during the regular season.

The NCAA released attendance figures for the 2015-16 season and UConn came in fifth with an average of 8,920 fans in 15 home games. South Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa State and Louisville are the only programs ahead of UConn.

When all games are counted, UConn trails only South Carolina but that also includes both games in the Final Four.

One area where UConn is head and shoulders among the other women's basketball teams is a comparison of its attendance against the rest of the AAC.

If you use the raw data on the NCAA release, UConn comes out with 20 times more fans per game than the rest of the conference. But since that didn't sound right to me, I went onto the AAC site and used their attendance numbers and came up with an average of 1,089 fans in AAC games not involving UConn which is nearly seven times less than UConn's average draw per game.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

AAC home and away opponents to be announced tomorrow

The American Athletic Conference will be announcing the home and away opponents tomorrow.

The AAC played 18 regular-season games in its first three seasons but it moving to a 16-game schedule meaning that UConn will play six teams both home and away, will meet two teams at home only and two others on the road only. Under the 18-game schedule, there were two games against eight of the 10 teams with the others meeting UConn either on the road or at home.

UConn is very much in favor of the move to 16 games as the Huskies can improve their strength of schedule and RPI with two additional non-conference games.

The dates and times typically get announced in late August or early September.

Former UConn star Swin Cash announces her retirement

Swin Cash, a key member of UConn's 2000 and 2002 national championship teams and a member of the Huskies of Honor, announced her decision to retire from the WNBA at season's end in a Player's Tribune post.

"I have 27 regular season games left," Cash wrote. "I’ll be taking in every moment as I look to the future, whatever it may hold. I understand there’s a new life waiting for me after that last whistle."

Here's a link to her announcement

Cash was taken with the second overall pick in the historic 2002 WNBA Draft when UConn players went with four of the top six selections.

She is currently 14th in WNBA history in regular-season scoring with 4,978 points with former UConn teammates Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird two of those ranking ahead of her. She is currently 10th in career rebounding with 2,429. She is 15 behind Yolanda Griffith and 18 behind Lauren Jackson. She ranks 19th in scoring and 11th in rebounding in WNBA playoff history.

Cash was a member of WNBA championship teams in Detroit in 2003 and 2006 and won another title with Seattle in 2010. She also had stints in Chicago, Atlanta and is in her third season with the New York Liberty. She is averaging 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in four games this season.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Connecticut is next stop for UConn great Breanna Stewart

Breanna Stewart is no stranger to playing games in the state of Connecticut but Friday night things will be a little different when she plays in the Nutmeg State for the first time as a professional.

She is sure to cross paths with former college teammate Morgan Tuck, one of three rookies on the struggling Connecticut Sun.

"I think it is going to be fun to be able to square off against someone who I am close friends with and have grown up together in basketball," said Stewart, who leads all WNBA rookies in scoring and rebounding," I know what kind of player she is, what she is trying to do with her team."

Stewart, taken with the first pick of the WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm, has former UConn teammate Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis as well as UConn legend Sue Bird on the Storm and she has squared off with plenty of former Huskies. However, none of the on-court meetings generated the buzz of last night's game against New York when Kiah Stokes had an emphatic block of Stewart late in the Liberty's victory.

"We were trying to make the game a little closer and she made a good play," Stewart said. "Usually I am on the same team as her but it was a great basketball play. To be able to see what she has done in the WNBA and even overseas, it can't happen to a better (person)."

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Silver medal for UConn recruiting target Megan Walker

UConn Class of 2017 recruiting target Megan Walker had 10 points in a quarterfinal victory over China and 14 points in a 19-15 win over the Czech Republic in the semifinals of the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.

However, the U.S. team's bid for a gold medal ended with a 21-12 loss to France.

Walker, teaming with TCU incoming freshman Amber Ramirez, Cal signee Jaelyn Brown and fellow Class of 2017 prospect Sidney Cooks to rip off five straight victories after opening up the tournament with a loss to the Netherlands in the first game in pool play as the U.S won the silver medal.

Walker was tied for second in the tournament in scoring with 44 points and was named to the three-member all-tournament team.

Walker will have another chance to go for gold as a member of the U.S. team playing in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship next month.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Plenty of UConn recruiting targets on U-17 team

The U.S. team playing in the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women will have plenty of players drawing recruiting interest from UConn.

Class of 2018 prospects Charli Collier, Aquira DeCosta, Sedona Prince and Christyn Williams as well as Samantha Brunelle, out of the Class of 2019, were named to the team as USA Basketball cut the team from the 18 finalists previously announced to the 12 who will suit up for the U.S.

The team members will return for training camp on Wednesday and will head for Spain on June 15. Tournament play begins on June 22 with the gold medal game set for July 2.

Among the six players cut was Alexis Morris, the leading scorer on the U.S. bronze-medal winning team in the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship meaning that DeCosta and Prince are the only players from that squad named to the U-17 team. In the previous three U17 events, a minimum of six players from the U16 team the previous year were part of the U-17 team.

Janelle Bailey, Jenna Brown, Maya Dodson, Destanni Henderson, Taylor Mikesell, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Abby Prohaska were also selected to the squad. Nine of the 12 players hail from the Class of 2018 which gives some indication of how strong a class that will be. It should be noted that several of the top players in the Class of 2017 have birthdays preventing them from taking part in the U-17. Five players including UConn recruiting target Megan Walker made the U-18 team.

UConn Class of 2017 commits Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Lexi Gordon were among those who tried out for the U-17 team. Espinoza-Hunter was among the last cuts while Gordon made it through the first few cuts.

Former UConn star Breanna Stewart named WNBA Rookie of the Month

Former UConn star Breanna Stewart was named the WNBA's Rookie of the Month after leading all rookies in scoring (17.4 points per game), rebounding (8.8) and blocked shots (2.0) in the month of May.

Stewart had 23 points in her WNBA debut and also had another 23-point effort as well as a 25-point performance.

The honors didn't end there for UConn products as Tina Charles and Maya Moore were named the WNBA's Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month. It was the seventh such award for Moore (the most since the award's inception in 2010) and the sixth for Charles.

Charles led the league in scoring (23.4 points per game) and rebounding (11.8) during the month while Moore led all Western Conference players in scoring during May (22.3 PPG). She also ranked second in the West in assists (5.3) as Minnesota went 6-0 in the month.

The U.S. team competing in the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships began pool play with 21-13 loss to the Netherlands before coming back to beat Poland 21-15. The U.S., featuring UConn recruiting target Megan Walker, wraps up play in Pool B on Saturday against host Kazakhstan and Italy.

All of the teams in Pool B are 1-1.