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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, August 12, 2016

UConn legends Moore, Taurasi lead U.S. past Canada

Former UConn stars Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi had 12 points each as the United States defeated Canada 81-51 to improve to 4-0 in pool play at the Olympics.

Moore also had eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, Tina Charles had 10 points and five rebounds, Sue Bird had nine assists while Breanna Stewart added five points for the U.S.

However, the real story was the defense played by the U.S. especially in the second quarter as Canada missed its first 10 shots in the quarter with nine turnovers before a Nirra Fields layup with 39 seconds left in the period.

"I think what’s most impressive is that you have a group of women who, every single one of us is the best, the second best, the third best player on their team in the WNBA," Bird said. "Every single one of us have been all-stars, some of us have been MVPs, the best players on their teams in the world, over here and over there, and yet we were probably playing harder than any team in the tournament right now. I think that says a lot about us as individuals and us as a group. Because that’s what that was, that was effort. "

UConn's Kia Nurse had a tough shooting game finishing 1 of 9 as she finished with three points for Canada.

"She’s going to do what she does," UConn and U.S. head coach Geno Auriemma said. "For such a young player, what an experience. You haven’t even started your junior year in college, and you’re playing in the Olympics against players she probably watched growing up. I think she’s done an amazing job. She’s fun to coach. There were a bunch of times this year when she’d do something goofy – throw the ball away, commit a dumb foul or do something and I (would joke to her), 'I can’t wait until we play you guys in the Olympics.' And she’ll just roll her eyes. She’s one of the toughest competitors I’ve ever been around. That kid is tough, physically tough. She’s just an unbelievable kid."

Canada is still in position to grab second place in Group B with a win over Spain on Sunday while the U.S. wraps up pool play on Sunday against China.

"They keep this very well in perspective,” Canadian head coach Lisa Thomaidis said in a release. "They know what this is all about and our eyes are firmly focused on a very tough Spanish team. That's a game that has some meaningfulness to it for us and we'll be ready for them."

Group A wraps up play on Saturday. It looks like Australia will emerge as the top seed out of the group. Things will get interesting if France were to lose to Japan while Turkey beats Brazil. That would not only leave three teams at 3-2 but each would have gone 1-1 against the other two teams. Somebody smarter than me would have to figure out the tiebreakers in that situation.

Chris Sienko, the only general manager in Connecticut Sun history, announced that he would be leaving the organization at the September.

“This has been an amazing journey over the past fourteen years, and it is certainly going to be very difficult to leave the organization I helped to build,” Sienko said in a release. “But I believe the time is right to explore opportunities with a singular focus and I am looking forward to the next challenge. I know the Sun is well-positioned for the future, with a great nucleus of young talent and an outstanding coaching staff. It will be fun to be a fan, and I look forward to cheering them on in the future.”

Sienko helped the Sun reach a pair of WNBA finals and aided the Mohegan Sun Arena's preparation in hosting four WNBA All-Star games, three WNBA Drafts and three American Athletic Conference women's basketball tournaments. He was also on the committee which selected the 2016 U.S. Olympic women's basketball team.

One of the most noteworthy moves under Sienko's watch was the firing of successful head coach Mike Thibault in 2012 after a 25-9 season which was Thibault's eighth winning season in 10 years at the helm of the Sun. The team missed the playoffs in each of Anne Donovan's three seasons as the head coach and are currently a game out of the playoffs in Curt Miller's rookie season.


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