Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sophomores Samuelson, Collier off to blazing starts at UConn

There's plenty of basketball yet to be played and with five of UConn's next seven games against ranked opponents, we should learn plenty of this year's team sooner rather than later.

This much is already known, sophomores Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson are just fine taking on larger offensive roles.

I did some checking and going back to last 20 seasons, Samuelson and Collier have combined for 197 points the third highest total for UConn teammates through five games. Also, Samuelson's 106 points is also third on the list during that time. The only UConn classmates to top Samuelson's and Collier's point total at this point of the season since the start of the 1997-98 season were Svetlana Abrosimova and Shea Ralph during their sophomore seasons.

Through the first five games of their freshman season Samuelson had 36 points and Collier had scored 35.

There's plenty of reasons for these numbers starting with impressive play from the two sophomores but also starting guards Kia Nurse and Saniya Chong are combining for just 12.2 shots per game. I would expect that number to rise especially on Nurse's end once she rediscovers her offensive mojo. Gabby Williams had her minutes cut due to foul troubles in the first three games of the season so she certainly figures to average more than the 8.8 field-goal attempts she has had in the first five games. Other than Crystal Dangerfield the Huskies don't have the offensive threats coming off the bench like they have in the past so that is resulting in more shot opportunities for Samuelson and Collier. Collier is shooting 65 percent from the field while Samuelson is shooting 48.6 percent from 3-point range which would rank her fourth on UConn's career single-season list if that's the number she finishes with. It currently is No. 37 in Division I but second among the Samuelson sisters as older sister Karlie is 20th in Division I at 51.4 percent.

130 Maya Moore 2010-11
117 Breanna Stewart 2015-16
106 Katie Lou Samuelson 2016-17
103 Diana Taurasi 2003-04
102 Svetlana Abrosimova 1998-99
 98 Maya Moore 2008-09
 97 Shea Ralph 1998-99
 94 Nykesha Sales 1997-98
 93 Maya Moore 2007-08
 93 Maya Moore 2009-10
 92 Shea Ralph 1999-2000
 91 Napheesa Collier 2016-17
 91 Renee Montgomery 2008-09
 91 Breanna Stewart 2013-14

208 Maya Moore (130), Tiffany Hayes (78) 2010-11
199 Svetlana Abrosimova (102), Shea Ralph (97) 1998-99
197 Katie Lou Samuelson (106), Napheesa Collier (91) 2016-17
189 Maya Moore (98), Renee Montgomery (91) 2008-09
183 Breanna Stewart (117), Moriah Jefferson (66) 2015-16
182 Maya Moore (93), Tina Charles (89) 2009-10

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4 UConn players on Naismith preseason watch list

UConn's Napheesa Collier, Kia Nurse, Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby Williams are among 50 players named to the Naismith Trophy Women's College Player of the Year preseason watch list.

The list will be cut to 30 when the midseason list is announced on Feb. 8.

Collier is averaging 18.2 points, had a team-leading 10 blocked shots and is tied for the team lead with 37 rebounds in the first five games of the season.

Nurse leads the second-ranked Huskies with 24 assists and is averaging 9.8 points per game.

Samuelson is UConn's top scorer averaging 21.2 points per game and has 17 of the team's 38 3-pointers.

Williams is averaging 11.8 points per game. She is tied for the team lead in rebounding (7.4 per game) and leads the Huskies with 11 offensive rebounds and nine steals.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Near perfect night for Collier in UConn victory

If there's been on constant in the early portion of this season it is that neither Napheesa Collier nor Gabby Williams miss when they get the ball within the shadow of the basket. So when Collier misfired on an easy shot in the lane in the early stages of the Chattanooga game it took me by surprise.

Collier certainly made up for her early game miss as she made her final 11 shots to finish with a game-high 23 points. If she had made the aforementioned shot in the paint, she would have broken Rebecca Lobo's program record for most consecutive shots in a game without a miss.

Lobo was 11 for 11 in a win over Iona on Dec. 23, 1994. Breanna Stewart threatened the mark when she went 10 for 10 against Creighton two years ago as did Williams (9 for 9 against Temple just nine months ago) and current assistant coach Shea Ralph was also 9 for 9 in a 1999 contest against Old Dominion.

"Let me fix it," Collier said was her initial reaction after her early miss. "It is frustrating especially when it is a shot you usually make so I just tried to adjust. I just feel good so I kept taking it in.
"I think everybody should have that mentality that when they get the ball that they are going to score."
Collier certainly has that belief with three 20-point games in the first five games of the season.
"She is unorthodox in a lot of ways," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "She is able to create space for herself that a lot of other people can't. When she gets the ball anywhere around the basket, she knows where the basket and she has a knack for (scoring). Some players they got it 10 times and five times she will turn the wrong way. She is going to do exactly what she has to do to get the ball up on the rim and score and that is why her shooting percentage is so high when she touches the ball. She has a great feel and it is not anything we've taught her."
UConn finished with 21 assists in the game and 10 of them came on baskets by Collier. All four of Williams' assists came on Collier's baskets while four of Saniya Chong's five assists set up baskets by Collier. Kia Nurse also had two of her four assists resulting in baskets by Collier.

Williams had one assist to Collier that I mentioned to her was Moriah Jefferson like as Williams grabbed an offensive rebound and instead of going up for the basket, she hit a cutting Collier for a basket.

Williams had another strong game with 11 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, four assists, no turnovers and one foul meaning that Williams has committed one foul in the last two games  after being whistled for 10 in the first three games of the season.

It wasn't all about stat stuffing. Chattanooga was 4 for 22 points en route to scoring a total of 39 points in a loss to Maine on Sunday. The Mocs had five 3-pointers and 31 points by halftime leading UConn coach Geno Auriemma to question his team's toughness and focus.

"You have to acquire it," Auriemma said. "A lot of times it comes from inside and you just have it and it needs to come out or somebody needs to whack you in the back of your head like my mother used to do and you find out hat you have that in you. Our guys on our team, forget getting whacked on the back of their head by their mothers, by the way you can't do that anymore. All you know is you show up, when is the game, there is food after, go back to our dorms or our apartments, living large and when is the parade? They don't know any different so they live in a fantasy world and after a while you have to face reality. People forget that Stewie's freshman year that they faced reality a lot, they got their butts kicked and they got tougher, by the time we got to March those guys were tough because they got their butts kicked along the way, they didn't like it. Maybe I am being picky."

There will be more on the toughness issue as well as the string of tough games in my advance for Thursday's DePaul game.

UConn played without freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield because of concussion-like symptoms. Auriemma is hopeful that she can play against DePaul.

"I don't know the ins and outs of how all of that stuff works, I just know that there are four different steps that you've got to go through, she went through two of them today which is really good, one tomorrow and she is good to go and one on Thursday at shootaround and she will be good to go on Thursday night," Auriemma said. "If she gets a thumbs up on Thursday she can play Thursday night, if one of them is a no-go, then she is a no go."

I also noticed that Williams ran off the court, consulted with a trainer and has spent time riding a stationary bike on different occasions. She downplayed any issues she was having.

"We are not quite sure what is going on, just getting a little tightness and cramping but I should be fine," Williams said.

It should be noted she quickly returned the game after experiencing the issue in tonight's game.

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Three UConn commits named preseason All-Americans

UConn commits Megan Walker, Charli Collier and Andra Espinoza-Hunter were named to the Max Preps preseason All-American team.

Walker, a senior forward at Monacan (Va.) High was a first-team selection, Collier, a junior forward at Barbers Hill (Tex.) was a second-team pick and Espinoza-Hunter, a senior guard at Ossining (N.Y.) was named to the third team.

UConn and Tennessee led the way with three commits among the 15 players named to the team.

UConn Class of 2018 recruiting target Christyn Williams, a junior guard at Central Arkansas Christian, and Class of 2019 recruiting target Samantha Brunelle, a sophomore guard at Monroe (Va.) High were second and third team selections.

The WNBA released its 2017 schedule earlier today.

The Connecticut Sun opens at home against Atlanta on May 13 and will get right into the heart of the schedule playing back to back games against Minnesota on May 23 on the road and May 26 at home.

Here's the Connecticut Sun schedule

May 13 Atlanta 7 p.m.
May 20 at Indiana 7 p.m.
May 23 at Minnesota 7 p.m.
May 26 Minnesota 7 p.m.
May 28 at Chicago 5 p.m.
May 31 at Washington 11:30 a.m.
June 3 at San Antonio 7 p.m.
June 10 Atlanta 7 p.m.
June 14 New York 7 p.m.
June 17 at Minnesota 7 p.m.
June 23 at New York 7:30 p.m.
June 25 at Dallas 3:30 p.m.
June 27 Los Angeles 7 p.m.
June 29 Seattle 8 p.m.
July 1  at Indiana 4 p.m.
July 5  at San Antonio 7 p.m.
July 8  Washington 7 p.m.
July 12 at Seattle noon
July 13 at Los Angeles 7:30 p.m.
July 16 San Antonio 3 p.m.
July 19 at New York 11 a.m.
July 25 Chicago 7 p.m.
July 28 at Washington 7 p.m.
July 30 Indiana 3 p.m.
August 4 Phoenix 7 p.m.
August 8 Seattle 7 p.m.
August 12 Dallas 7 p.m.
August 15 at Atlanta 7 p.m.
August 18 New York 7 p.m.
August 20 Phoenix 3 p.m.
August 23 Dallas 7 p.m.
August 25 Chicago 7 p.m.
September 1 at Phoenix 7 p.m.
September 3 at Los Angeles 2 p.m.

Monday, November 28, 2016

UConn freshmen Bent, Irwin embracing expectations

Time will tell what caliber of players that freshmen Molly Bent and Kyla Irwin will turn out to be but there is no questioning that when it comes to first-year players who "get it" these two would definitely qualify.

Bent and Irwin knew that UConn coach Geno Auriemma didn't win a record 11 national championships by letting his new batch of recruits kick back and learn things at their own rate. He sets certain expectations and it is up to them to meet them and not for him to set the bar lower.

With Bent being coached by her father as an eighth grader through her sophomore season at Barnstable (Mass.) High and Irwin's coach in both volleyball and basketball at State College (Pa.) High being her mother and Branford High School Hall of Famer Bethany (Collins) Irwin, they have a better idea of how coaches go about their business than most college freshmen.

"You can never really prepare too much for that," Bent said with a chuckle about Auriemma's rather blunt coaching style.."I know that everything he tells us is for our best interest so he wants to make us better players and a better team. What he says is right and what you are doing is wrong.

"He wants you to do well and it is up to me to make him trust me and have him trust me so much that he wants to put me in the game and is not just trying to get me minutes and stuff like that. When you
make a mistake and you can see the disappointment, you know you want to do better because you want to get in and want to make him proud and make your teammates trust you."

Those are lessons she learned at a young age from her father.

"It was just knowing that he had my best interest at heart," Bent said. "He was my dad off the court and my coach on the court. Being able to separate those two, I know anything they say on the court, it is not attacking your character, who you are; it is attacking how hard you are working, the decisions you are making and things like that."

Irwin said she couldn't remember the details leading to the first time Auriemma called her out in practice but said it likely had to be with something regarding her defense.

"It got real," Irwin said. "I had to turn something on inside, light a fire, get after it and prove to him that I can do it, I want to compete at this level. It lights a fire underneath you and I feel like that is his plan.

"I think (being coached by her mother) gave me a really solid background of knowledge, I know the game decently enough. I can see where he is coming from, I know he is not just yelling at me to yell at me. He is yelling at me to make me better and that is encouraging."

With fellow freshman Crystal Dangerfield unlikely to play tomorrow against Chattanooga, that could lead to more playing time for Bent and Irwin.

"I know when I get in I have to make the most of my minutes because it could change every game," Irwin said. "Just play as hard as I can, go after every ball, box out, do all the little things that will help my team win.

"You have to break old habits that aren't going to happen at this level, this high intensity level
and the coaches are here to remind you to do that. They are good at that, breaking those old bad
habits. It is best to listen to your coaches and do what they are asking you to do."

There are plenty of tickets available for tomorrow's game, the first of five games being played at the XL Center.

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Dates announced for Geno Auriemma Show on SNY

SNY announced the dates and times that the Geno Auriemma Show will be airing beginning with Thursday after the DePaul game.

Here you go

Thursday, December 1 at 9 p.m. following DePaul at UConn game
Sunday, January 1 at 3:30 p.m. following UConn at UCF post-game
Saturday, January 14 at 6:30 p.m. following UConn at SMU post-game
Tuesday, January 17 at 9:30 p.m. following UConn at Tulsa post-game
Tuesday, January 24 at 9:30 p.m. following UConn at East Carolina post-game
Wednesday, February 1 at 9:30 p.m. following UConn at Temple post-game
Tuesday, February 7 at 9:30 p.m. following UConn at Cincinnati post-game
Saturday, February 18 at 4:30 p.m. following SMU at UConn post-game
Wednesday, February 22 at 9:30 p.m. following Temple at UConn post-game
Wednesday, March 8 at 10 p.m.
Wednesday, March 22 at 10 p.m.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Charli Collier commits to UConn

When Charli Collier took in the sights and sounds during her unofficial visit to UConn last month, she was ready to end her recruiting process.

The highly-touted 6-foot-4 junior out of Barbers Hill High School about 30 miles outside of Houston decided to go home and make sure it was the right move for her.

"I kind of wasn't planning on (committing this early)," Collier said. "I woke up one morning, this morning, and said today is the day. He (UConn coach Geno Auriemma) was excited, the whole coaching staff was excited.

"During my unofficial I committed while I was there. I just wanted to make sure with my family that is what I wanted to do."

So what was the best part of her trip to UConn?

"The team had so much chemistry together and how everybody got along, when I went on my unofficial I just felt that family feeling and knew this was where I want to be," Collier said.

Collier was also impressed by how well the UConn coaching staff develops top post players.

"I am really excited to get down there," Collier said. "I watched Stefanie Dolson, Morgan Tuck. I watched them (Tuck and Breanna Stewart) last year, I see how they develop. It is amazing to see how good they were freshman year and how amazing they were senior year. That progress through the years is amazing, they weren't content at all and improved each year."

Collier is also well aware of the tradition of the UConn women's basketball program highlighted by a record 11 national titles.

"Committing, of course they have 11 national championships," Collier said. "When I get there, I'd like to help them get four more. Committing is a big relief for me, now I can focus on my junior season and my senior season without any worries about what college I am going to. Now I know, I can keep working hard from here and start the next chapter of my life at Connecticut."

Collier already heard from the most recent UConn commit - Monacan (Va.) High senior forward Megan Walker this morning after making her announcement.

"We are excited about playing with each other," Collier said. "It is a great group of girls. I have played with them and against them and I am most excited that we will play together."

Collier averaged 24.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists. 1.7 steals and 2.3 blocked shots per game as a sophomore. She saved some of her best work in the state playoffs when she averaged 30 points and 14 rebounds per game. She recently had a 41-point game for Barbers Hill.

Collier played on the U.S. team which won the bronze medal at the FIBA U17 World Championships in late June and early July along with fellow UConn Class of 2018 recruiting target Christyn Williams. Collier averaged 5.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 7.7 minutes per game.

Collier, the first commitment for UConn from the Class of 2018, would be arriving when Napheesa Collier (no relation), Katie Lou Samuelson and Duke transfer Azura' Stevens would be seniors.
With Collier joining the 6-foot-6 Stevens, 6-foot-2 Walker and Batouly Camara, a lack of size will not be an issue when she suits up at UConn.


Top UConn recruiting target to announce decision on Saturday

Charli Collier, one of the top 10 players in the Class of 2018, announced on Twitter on Friday that she was going to make her college announcement on Saturday.

Collier is a 6-foot-4 forward out of Barbers Hill High (about 30 minutes outside of Houston) who was a member of the U.S. team which won the bronze medal at the FIBA U17 World Championships.

She released a list of her top 12 schools in August which included UConn and took an unofficial visit to UConn last month as she was in attendance at First Night festivities.

I caught up with Collier during the junior national team trials and it was one of the easiest interviews I've conducted with UConn recruiting targets. It was my first time being in contact with her and even during a phone interview she did not hesitate talking about a variety of topics including the death of her father as well as having her mother teach at the same school she is attending.

One way or another UConn will have an idea of where they stand moving forward in the Class of 2018 after Collier's announcement. Although UConn could take up to four players in that class, I'd be surprised if they take that many especially with the coaching staff already pursuing top Class of 2019 prospects Samantha Brunelle, Aliyah Boston, Anaya Peoples and Aubrey Griffin.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

UConn signee Coombs off to an impressive start

We're still about three weeks away from the girls' high school basketball season starting up in Connecticut but a couple of recent UConn signees have already embarked on their senior seasons.

Recently, Lexi Gordon scored the 2,000th point of her career as she is averaging more than 20 points per game in the early stages this season.

Mikayla Coombs is also off to a strong start for the undefeated Wesleyan School.

Coombs has flirted with double-doubles in her last two games and through three games this season she is averaging 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 4.7 steals per game.

In her most recent game Coombs had 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists and six steals in a 90-38 win over Tattnall County. Wesleyan has scored more than 90 points in the last two games.

The seasons for the other two signees (Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Megan Walker) won't start until next month.

It should be noted that Walker's Monacan High and Coombs' Wesleyan School teams will both be playing in the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational next month at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and there's a chance the teams could meet up on the final day of the tournament on Dec. 22.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

UConn hits the ground running

There were plenty of numbers to crunch in UConn's first three games of the season but the one that really jumped out to me was 14 as in 14 fast-break points combined in the three games.

As a point of reference, UConn had at last 14 fast-break points in three of the last five games last season and 19 times during the 2015-16 season. In Sunday's game against LSU UConn failed to have a fast-break point. The Huskies made up for lost time with 15 of the 98 points against Dayton coming on the fast break.

"We wanted to make it a goal to get out in transition because we really haven't been running the ball
the way we used to and I think we did that well and it was encouraging," UConn junior forward Gabby Williams said. "We wanted to play at a quicker pace and I hope we can execute a little better. That is way we like to play, we want to make it a track meet for everyone and it was good that we finally got to do that."

It helped that UConn outrebounded Dayton 51-34 and also had eight steals so it was easier to get out into the open court.

"Each game is different, each team tries to do something completely different defensively," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Dayton puts a lot of pressure on you with their dribble, they put a lot of people going to the basket so when they miss, thjere's not a lot of people back on defense sometimes. What ended up happening is we were able to get out in transition, rebounded the ball a little better, got out in transition a little better and got some easy buckets which we didn't get at LSU or Baylor."

Katie Lou Samuelson posted a career-high 28 points against LSU and she topped that with 29 against Dayton. If she hadn't missed three foul shots, she would have had her first 30-point game as a Husky. While most of her offense came on 3-pointers on Sunday, she had a more well-rounded offensive game with eight 3-point attempts, nine shots from inside the 3-point line and eight foul shots.

Napheesa Collier actually hit UConn's first 3-pointer and finished with 22 points and seven rebounds while Williams ended up with 19 points (tying her career high), 11 rebounds and five assists (a career high). After getting into foul trouble in each of the first three games, she didn't commit a foul. A key was Williams stopping on her drives before she collided with a defensive player and that led to many of her assists with passes into the post.

"I was just trying to avoid getting some offensive (foul) calls I have been the last few games, Williams said. "I have been slowing myself down trying to see the whole floor."
Dangerfield finished with nine assists. Ironically her only turnover was probably on her easiest pass of the night as Williams was alone under the basket on the fast break but by the time she delivered the pass, it was a little high and bounced out of bounds.

Dangerfield could have joined Pam Webber as the only UConn freshmen with 10 assists in a game had she connected on that pass. Still, she had some rather impressive assists in the game.

"You are born with that stuff," Auriemma said. "We used to talk all the time that you can tell a kid to look inside and they have no idea what they are looking at. She sees everything and the key is throwing the right pass at the right time and she does that and that is not from coaching, that is from an innate ability that she has, nine assists today and that particular sequence (in the third quarter) was probably her showcasing all the little things that she can to help your team.  She only made one bucket today and she dominated the game for long stretches at a time."

About Dangerfield's lone turnover ...

"You are not going to get everything," Auriemma said. "After the (Baylor) game everybody was ready to annoint her the next Chris Paul and against LSU she looked like Les Paul. God bless him, he is no longer with us but he is a great guitar player."

After the game Auriemma confirmed that UConn would be playing in the 2018 Paradise Jam, the first time the Huskies will appear in the event in the U.S. Virgin Islands since 2012.

Monday, November 21, 2016

UConn dial long distance against LSU

After back to back games against ranked teams, the UConn women's basketball team faced a different kind of challenge.

Veteran teams have gotten the message that all games matter regardless of the quality of the opposition but with a team where the only double-digit scorers are two sophomores and a freshman, it's not totally surprising that the Huskies seemed out of sorts playing an unranked team for the first time.

LSU played a physical style similar to what UConn used to see from former conference rivals Louisville and Rutgers so it seemed fitting that the Huskies had more made 3-pointers than shots inside the 3-point line for the first time since a Mar. 4, 2012 game against Rutgers.

Katie Lou Samuelson led the way hitting 7 of 11 of her 3-point attempts en route to a career-high 28 points. The seven made 3-pointers is tied for the fourth best performance in UConn history (Renee Montgomery did it three times, Kaleena Mosqueda twice, Ann Strother twice while Diana Taurasi, Wendy Davis and Kerry Bascom accomplished the feat once each).

Kia Nurse added three 3-pointers (one shy of her career high) which might be even bigger news since she was 1 for 7 from the field in the first two games. During the ESPN broadcast, it was reported that Nurse met with UConn Geno Auriemma because she was feeling the pressure and weight of added expectations following the graduation of Moriah Jefferson as well as fellow All-Americans Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck. Nurse also had eight assists meaning that of her three games at UConn with at least eight assists, two have come against LSU. She has 14 assists in the last two games, the most she has posted in back to back games at UConn.

UConn's 14 3-pointers is tied for the fifth best single-game performance in program history. The Huskies made 18 treys in games against Syracuse in 2009 and UC Davis in 2014.

UConn also finished the game with more turnovers than LSU and gave up more offensive rebounds for the third game in a row. Before this season the last time the Huskies allowed more offensive boards and committed more turnovers in the same game came against Oregon on Nov. 20, 2013. It also happened in the Florida State game.

 Now the Huskies return home to face Dayton tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion. Due to a quirk in the schedule, the Huskies will play DePaul at Gampel on Dec. 1 and the next game on campus (or at least on UConn's campus) will come on Jan. 22 against Tulane.

Earlier today the first of the weekly American Athletic Conference awards were announced. Samuelson, who averaged 19.3 points per game, was named the player of the week and Crystal Dangerfield (third on the team at 11.3 points per game) was named the freshman of the week.

Also, the Associated Press poll came out and UConn moved up a spot to No. 2 behind Notre Dame.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Dangerfield introduces herself to UConn Nation in a major way

The final statistics only told a part of the story in Crystal Dangerfield's unforgettable first regular season home game for UConn but the numbers were rather impressive.

Dating back to the 1994-95 season only Kia Nurse (22 points vs. Creighton in 2014), Maya Moore (21 points vs. Stony Brook in 2007), Breanna Stewart (21 points vs. Charleston in 2012) and Shea Ralph (20 points vs. Idaho State in 1996) had more points for a UConn player in its first home game than Dangerfield's 19.

No disrespect to those Creighton, Stony Brook, Charleston and Idaho State teams but there was not nearly the same amount of pressure to perform for the Huskies' latest freshman phenom than there was in last night's game against second-ranked Baylor.

It wasn't just that Dangerfield made 8 of 14 shots from the field but it is that she looked for her own shot which is something I did not see from her against Florida State or in either preseason game when it looked like she shot the ball because she thought she was supposed to. There were the two early 3-pointers, the floater over the outstretched arms of her former USA Basketball teammate Lauren Cox who is nearly a foot taller than Dangerfield and of course the jumper with 1:10 to play that pretty much iced the game that signaled the arrival of the first UConn player from the state of Tennessee in Geno Auriemma's Hall of Fame tenure.

"We don't expect our freshmen to do that," UConn junior forward Gabby Williams said. "We kind of think our (starters) we have expectations, our freshmen whatever we can get from them is amazing. The fact that she was looking for her shot, the only makes it hard for the other team. I think she has the expectations for herself now but anything that we can get from her is amazing."

I don't recall who the pass was to (and it did not result in one of her five assists) but one of the plays that stood out to me was when she dribbled towards the top of the key and blindly delivered a bounce pass to a teammate. Those were the kinds of plays I saw from her when I was out in Colorado watching Dangerfield during the junior national team trials back in 2014. There was another time when she pushed the ball up the floor resulting in an easy two points for Williams. She won't always be hitting her jumpers but she can always run the team with the same confidence she showed against Baylor.

"I just wanted to redeem myself from Monday night and show that my teammates can rely on me and not let them down especially in a big game like this," Dangerfield said.

"I have played in enough big games, played for USA Basketball and been on a national level with my high school team so it didn't faze me."

Geno Auriemma had plenty of things to say about Dangerfield's performance as well including proclaiming that Dangerfield is further along through two games than All-American Moriah Jefferson was at the same point. It wasn't that long ago that Dangerfield was the last of the three freshmen to enter the game when UConn hosted Indiana (Pa.) in its preseason opener. It was Auriemma's way to telling Dangerfield that there is plenty of work yet to be done. It appears as if she got the message.

"With Crystal, since day one it has been show me what you have, show me why you came to Connecticut." Auriemma said. "It took a while and we are still not there yet. We have a long way to go. I said when she was being recruited to Connecticut that we had a kid who I think can be as good as anybody playing right now. I don't want to say that she is as good as any point guard we have ever had, that is saying too much  too soon but I think any other freshman in the country right now, she is as good a guard as there is in the country coming in. Where she goes from here, I think it is going to be a lot of fun to watch."

In a perfect world I would have liked to have spoken to Baylor star Nina Davis about Dangerfield since she has been a mentor to her dating back to their time together with the powerhouse Tennessee Flight AAU program but deadlines made that quite impossible. I did, however, talk to somebody who has seen this from Crystal before.

"She has been working hard to get back on the floor," said Chris Dangerfield, Crystal's father. "I guess she had four months without playing basketball (due to hip surgery) and really has been working hard.

"All she wants to do is help the team in any way that she can. She loves to win. The crowd, she wanted to do her part of help the team going and not let them down. She is tough, she has been playing this game since she was 5 years old so that is what she loves to do. She has seen a lot of big lights in her life. I am surprised that it happened this soon but I happy it happened for the team. It was her dream to come do this and I am happy it is starting to happen."

Here's a look at how some of UConn's elite guards fared in their first regular-season home game at UConn

Jen Rizzotti (Fairfield 1992) 13 points
Nykesha Sales (Morgan State 1994) 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals
Shea Ralph (Idaho State 1996) 20 points
Sue Bird (Washington 1998) 2 points, 3 assists
Diana Taurasi (Georgia 2000) 8 points, 5 turnovers
Renee Montgomery (Marist 2005) 0 points, 3 assists
Bria Hartley (Holy Cross 2010) 18 points, 4 assists
Moriah Jefferson (Charleston 2012) 4 points, 5 assists
Kia Nurse (Creighton 2014) 22 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists

USA Today released its preseason top 25 poll (even though some teams have already started playing).

UConn signee Andra Espinoza-Hunter's Ossining (N.Y.) team comes in at No. 7 while Megan Walker's Monacan (Va.) squad is ranked 18th.

Paul VI out of Fairfax, Virginia is the No. 1 ranked team. According to Monacan's schedule, there is a scrimmage against Paul VI tomorrow. Too bad it's not a little closer and I didn't have something like the UConn/Boston College football game to cover because I am sure that would be one entertaining scrimmage.


UConn held up rather well against Baylor's towering front line

There was no bigger question coming into the showdown between No. 2 Baylor and No. 3 UConn than how an undersized Connecticut squad would deal with the size of visiting Baylor.

Kalani Brown, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, was the team's leading scorer and rebounder and isn't even a starter. Beatrice Mompremier, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, starts for the Lady Bears alongside of 6-2 senior Alexis Prince and All-American Nina Davis. The Lady Bears also have the services of the 6-foot-4 Lauren Cox, the No. 1 ranked player in the current freshman class, and 6-foot-3 Khadijiah Cave.

At game's end, UConn had 26 points in the paint to 22 for Baylor and the most important stat of all - the final score.

UConn's 72-61 win was certainly surprising in many respects. It is never a shocker when UConn wins since that is what they do year after year after year but consider how much basketball Baylor seniors Davis, Alexis Jones (a game-high 23 points) and Alexis Prince have played and it is not wonder that many thought this was the game when the 76-game winning streak would come to an end.

UConn freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield was immense and I will be focusing on her in my second-day story but it's hard to overlook how well the Huskies held up against the bigger Baylor team.

Cave didn't play in Baylor's first two games but the Brown, Mompremier and Cox combined for 74 points on 58 percent shooting. Against UConn they combined for 18 points on 6 of 13 shooting. Meanwhile, 6-foot-1 Napheesa Collier and 5-11 Gabby Williams combined for 24 points on 11 of 19 shooting.

There was one stretch at the beginning of the third quarter when Baylor made it a point of feeding it inside and baskets by Brown and Mompremier gave the Lady Bears the lead. However, UConn called a timeout to go over some things and the duo combined to attempt just three more shots in the remainder of the second half.

"We were letting them use their (size) as an advantage and we wanted to use our quickness as an advantage so we can't them do what they want to do kind of thing," Williams said. "We got tougher, we didn't let them get in the position they wanted, we didn't let them catch the ball as easily and took away layups."

Brown and Mompremier combined for 15 points and 15 rebounds which aren't terrible numbers but they also took eight shots between them which is hard to believe.

I also found it interesting that UConn used a lineup of Dangerfield, fellow freshmen Molly Bent and Kyla Irwin, Natalie Butler and Kia Nurse for the final 2:22 of the second half and Baylor was only able to make up two points during that span.

"Our propensity to put ourselves in foul trouble in these first two games is putting us in bad situations and we found ourselves in another one," Auriemma said. "You can't lose the game in the last three or four minutes in a half unless it is the second half. I thought we bought a couple of minutes, I thought we gave the kids an opportunity to see what is feels like out there and hopefully that helps them going forward. they are on the team so they should be ready to play."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Former teammates to square off in UConn/Baylor game

There are no lack of story angles for tomorrow's UConn/Baylor game.

The obvious one is an undersized UConn team facing a Baylor squad with six players standing 6-foot-2 or taller highlighted by 6-7 Kalani Brown.

I also found it worthy to explore the connections between the two teams courtesy of the U.S. team that played in the FIBA Americas U16 Championships in 2013 as UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson and Crystal Dangerfield were members of that team as were Baylor's Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox.

"I think when you travel with other people in other countries, it is a whole different experience so you bond quicker," said Samuelson, the team's second-leading scorer with an average of 11.6 points per game. "It was definitely a lot of fun going out there with them experiencing new places so it will be fun to see them again even though we haven't talked but whenever you play somebody from the USA teams, there is that bond."

Samuelson and Brown (averaging 24.5 points and 14 rebounds in just 21.5 minutes per game while shooting 80 percent from the field and 90 percent from the foul line) figure to play starring roles for their respective teams.

"She is playing awesome but come game time we have to do the best we can to play our best against them," Samuelson said.

Baylor leads the country in rebounding margin (31 per game) and is third with an average of 11 blocked shots per game so it is going to be interesting to see how UConn will zig and zag to compensate for its lack of height. Those numbers are with Cox, the top-ranked player among the current freshman class, playing just 19 minutes in Baylor's first two games.

Dangerfield's connection to the Baylor team doesn't stop with her USA Basketball stint. She played in the same Tennessee Flight AAU program as Baylor star forward Nina Davis who is just 14 points shy of 2,000 at Baylor.

"It's not just them, we went to Spain, Russia and we played against (Baylor's Kristy) Wallace and I grew up playing with Nina Davis," Dangerfield. "It is kind of a homecoming in a way for me, coming back and playing against all of these players that we have been with for years."

As for Davis, "I kind of look at her as a big sister in a way, we talk from time to time. I am proud of her and she is proud of me so there is that background.

"She is somebody you can rely on. She is an undersized post so she works hard, she is a presence and you have to know where she is on the court."

Future UConn teammates Mikayla Coombs, Lexi Gordon and Megan Walker are among 50 players named to the watch list for the Naismith girls' national player of the year award.

UConn recruiting targets Samantha Brunelle, Charli Collier and Christyn Williams are also on the list.

The women's basketball program was one of six from UConn to receive 100 percent marks in Graduation Success Rates.

The field hockey, men's tennis, women's tennis, softball and volleyball join the women's basketball team in graduating every scholarship athlete within six years of first enrolling. The 2016 GSR rates include student-athletes first enrolling from 2006-2009. It's the fourth straight time the women's basketball program earned a perfect score.

Also the football team improved its GSR score for the third straight year going from 65 to 71, 71 to 72 and finally 72 to 76.

Monday, November 14, 2016

UConn escapes with two-point win

Well, that was fun.

I wouldn't describe UConn's 78-76 win over Florida State as an artistic masterpiece but it's been a while since another team had two shots to beat UConn in the final 10 seconds of a game.

In the end UConn made just enough plays to return home with a two-point win, its 76th in a row. It was also the 21st season in a row that UConn won its season opener. The smallest margin of victory in openers during that span was 11 points against Holy Cross in 1997 and Georgia Tech in 2008.

Geno Auriemma mentioned that the final 2 1/2 minutes when Florida State came back from an eight-point deficit to nearly pull off the upset heard around the women's basketball world reminded him of the Huskies' most recent loss. In the 88-86 overtime loss to Stanford (which will come two years to the day of UConn's next game against No. 2 Baylor), Moriah Jefferson gambled on defense to leave Amber Orrange open for the game-tying 3-pointer. Key players Morgan Tuck and Kia Nurse fouled out and Stanford pulled off the shocker. On this night it was Nurse fouling Brittany Brown while shooting a 3-pointer as UConn led by three in the final 15 seconds. It was an uncharacteristic play for somebody who knows better.

In the end the most pivotal play of the game was probably Napheesa Collier's block on Shakayla Thomas' shot as the Seminoles attempted to take the lead in the closing seconds.

"There is Disney World, Disney Land and there is UConn fantasy land," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after the Huskies won their 76th game in a row. "We live in a fantasy world and now we are down to earth a little bit which I think is a good thing.

"There are a lot of angry basketball players, a lot of angry coaches in America and a lot of them are on our schedule. There are a lot of happy coaches in America watching tonight's game saying you came out of here with this one but your time is coming."

Collier doubled her previous career high with 28 points in addition to her huge defensive play. She was the only UConn player who was consistently effective for all four quarters.

"All we need to win the game so I was trying to give it my all and thankfully came out with the
block," said Collier, who had four blocks and eight rebounds in the game.

Auriemma gave Florida State plenty of praise in the post-game press conference for making the Huskies do things they aren't used to doing. But he also admitted that some of the issues for UConn were of the self-inflicted variety.

"I have to be patient with them,. They are going to do some ridiculously dumb stuff you haven't seen at Connecticut in a long time," Auriemma said. "Every coach deals with that all the time. I have been fortunate that we haven't had to deal with much of it. i guess it is my turn, we have been very fortunate. I am not going to complain about it. it is what it is. We have to figure it out just like every other coach does, just like every other team does. We are living the normal life of a college team right now."

Auriemma admitted that the Huskies were lucky to be within four points at halftime for as poorly as they played. The offense was stagnant and the last sequence of the first half illustrated how the game was going as twice FSU outhustled UConn players to a loose ball but ultimately could not turn the added opportunities into points. The Seminoles had nine offensive rebounds in the first half but only had seven second-chance points.

A real bright spot for UConn was the fourth quarter that senior guard Saniya Chong enjoyed. Chong had 12 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter. There will be much more on Chong tomorrow as she will be the focus of my second-day story off the game. Meanwhile Katie Lou Samuelson had five key points late in the third quarter after picking up her fourth foul. It was a tough day for Nurse which was surprising since she usually saves her best for the biggest stages. Last season Nurse averaged 10.8 points while shooting 47.5 percent in 13 games against ranked opponents. Her numbers dropped to 8.5 points and 42.6 percent against ranked teams. She was 0 for 5 from the field and finished with four points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and four turnovers.

Florida State (1-1), playing without injured senior guard Leticia Romero, was led by Wright's 25 points. Brown had 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals while Thomas and Ivey Slaughter combined for 26 points.

In last year's game FSU owned a 12-3 edge in offensive rebounds and on Monday it was 16-8 in Florida State's favor. Five of those eight were team rebounds so it was actually more lopsided than 16-8 in that department. I did some checking and the last game when UConn was minus eight in offensive rebounds and turnovers committed was on Mar. 6, 2011 against Georgetown. Still, the Huskies came away with the win.

Freshmen set for UConn debut

There are plenty of questions heading into tonight's season opener including how UConn's three freshmen fare against Florida State.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he has liked what he has seen from Crystal Dangerfield in the last week in practice.

"More comfortable, more assertive, she is picking up the pace that we want to play at," Auriemma said. "She struggled with it for a long time and she seems to have started to sink in a little bit. You can see the progress every day that she is making on both ends of the floor. It is still nowhere near where it needs to be. I think back to Moriah when she was a freshman and it's not like I haven't seen this before."

So what does Auriemma expect to see from Dangerfield, Molly Bent and Kyla Irwin tonight.
"Sometimes first impressions are not necessarily accurate," Auriemma said. "Last year it was a real struggle for Lou (Katie Lou Samuelson) at Ohio State and Pheesa (Collier)," Auriemma said. "We've had freshmen sitting on the bench in big road games against great teams on the road where CD (UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey) would say 'put so and so in. CD, she is crying how am I going to put her in? Give her another chance.' Sometimes freshmen overreact to what is happening. Sometimes a freshman like Stewie goes absolutely off the charts and reality hits them later. "

Dangerfield's time with USA Basketball and playing with a high-profile AAU program could give her a head start in the early stages of her freshman season in Auriemma's opinion.

"She has a better sense of what to expect," Auriemma said. "When you are playing overseas in a gold medal game you have a pretty good sense of what is coming. The other two are a little high strung so I am keeping on open mind, anything can happen."

I went back to Maya Moore's freshman season (2007-08), Moore and Breanna Stewart had the most points for a freshman in game one.

Maya Moore Stony Brook 2007  21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals in 20 minutes
Breanna Stewart Charleston 2012  21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals in 23 minutes
Bria Hartley Holy Cross 2010  18 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists in 29 minutes
Morgan Tuck Charleton 2012  15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists in 22 minutes
Caroline Doty Georgia Tech 2008  13 points, 3 rebounds in 31 minutes
Samarie Walker Holy Cross 2010  12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists in 21 minutes
Napheesa Collier Ohio State 2015 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals in 16 minutes
Kia Nurse UC Davis 2014   8 points, 6 rebounds in 21 minutes
Saniya Chong Hartford 2013  8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists in 23 minutes
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis Holy Cross 2011 7 points, 7 rebounds in 28 minutes
Stefanie Dolson Holy Cross 2010  6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists in 15 minutes
Kelly Faris Northeastern 2009  6 points, 5 rebounds in 13 minutes
Gabby Williams UC Davis 2014  6 points, 3 rebounds in 13 minutes
Moriah Jefferson Charleston 2012 4 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists in 23 minutes
Kiah Stokes Holy Cross 2011  4 points, 4 rebounds in 12 minutes
Tiffany Hayes Georgia Tech 2008  4 points, 2 rebounds in 16 minutes
Lorin Dixon Stony Brook 2007  3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists in 10 minutes
Katie Lou Samuelson Ohio State 2015 2 points, 5 rebounds in 17 minutes

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Matchup of Olympic guards may not materialize

Olympic guard vs. Olympic guard, two of the bright young stars going to head to head on Monday night in a game televised on ESPN2 was a dream matchup within the matchup. However, the tender hamstring of Florida State star Leticia Romero might prevent that from happening.

Romero, who averaged 5.8 points in just 9.8 minutes in helping Spain win the silver medal at the 2016 Olympics, missed the Seminoles' season-opening win over Jacksonville State and FSU coach Sue Semrau recently told the media that it didn't look good for Romero to play against UConn on Monday. While it will be unfortunate if that proves to be the case, it is certainly understandable as hamstring injuries are not to be taken lightly. As anticipated as the FSU-UConn game is, it is not worth putting Romero's senior season in jeopardy.

Romero was among the players who attended the NCAA women's basketball media day held at ESPN and she spoke with the Connecticut reporters in attendance for more than 15 minutes on a variety of subjects including the upcoming season as well as the matchup with UConn.

"We are definitely dreaming big especially with how practices are going," Romero said. "We have five newcomers and they are great, they are ready to learn, they are fresh and want to help. Everybody's mindset I feel is great. I feel like we have grown as a team even since last year. You can see that maturity level on the court and in practice.

"We are definitely looking forward to that game. It is a good, fresh start and I think it is a chance for us to prove what we can do this year. If we are ready for it, I think we can compete, we have an opportunity to win that game. I hope there are a lot of people (in the stands), that will help us a lot. We have a nice fan base so if we can get people to come to our game, as loud as they are, that can help too."

Perhaps there was another international tournament that both Nurse and Romero played in before the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championships but I know that the two of them not only played in that event but were their team's respectively leading scorers. The teams were in different brackets during pool play and did not meet but there were soon to be matchups down the road. Their teams met in the Olympics on Aug. 14 but it was one of the games Romero did not play. Still, she has plenty of thoughts on Nurse.

"We always saw each other in those tournaments because she is always with the Canada team and I am always with the Spanish one and we are both playing in the United States," Romero said. "I think she is a great player honestly, I like the way that she plays and it is always a pleasure to compete against her. Obviously she is going to be one of their leaders of UConn and when we face each other, we will see what happens."

Romero said she learned so much from the veteran players on Spain's team.

"Watching the professional players and how they take every day serious, they come prepared every single day no matter what it is, they always make the most of it," Romero said. "They understand that in order to get to where you want to go, you have to be the best at everything. That is something I really was impressed with because even on rest days that they were so focused on every detail they needed to do that day."

Nurse expressed some similar sentiments when I spoke to her after Saturday's practice.

"She is a great player, a great competitor," Nurse said of Romero. "I have so much respect for her game, you play on one of the No. 1 teams in the world in Spain, you are surrounded by those great players every day, that is just an absolute pleasure.

"It was Kim (Gaucher) and Shona Thorburn because I was a point guard at that point. Shona read the game very well and that was something I wanted to do. The three vets that we had who ended up leaving this year and retired, they had their own little ways with everything and I was fortunate to watch how they treated the game, how they treated practices, how they approached everything and that is something I learned."

Here's a previous blog on Nurse talking about her Olympic experience. Despite a tough tournament shooting the ball, she was Canada's leading scorer averaging 11.6 points per game. She was also second on the team in assists and third in steals.

I can't write an entry on Romero without addressing her arduous road to FSU. She began her career at Kansas State but after head coach Deb Patterson was let go Romero decided she would transfer. Officials at Kansas State, however, blocked her every step of the way. It wasn't until some heavy hitters in the basketball world raised a ruckus that they relented and Romero was able to transfer to Florida State.

"As soon as I started playing with FSU everything went away," Romero said. "All I needed was to enjoy basketball again. It was off the court it was never on the court so just playing basketball was the only thing that I needed. As soon as I started playing for FSU I didn't even have a thought about problem anymore.

"I got a lot of questions that year about Kansas State. I was so blessed to be able to play. I think that helped me a lot mentally because being able to be with a team and being able to just get over that and even the season that we had, we weren't expecting to be a top 25 team and all of a sudden we were playing for the ACC championship, getting to the (NCAA) tournament and one step closer to the Final Four. All of those things made it possible for me to think about the hard times."

Things weren't quite as challenging for recent FSU transfer Chatrice White who received a waiver from the NCAA so she could play this season with the Seminoles without needing to sit out the season.

"I remember the first practice when she knew she was going to play, her face was so happy," Romero said. "That is how you know that our team this year is really genuine in all the things that we do. Everybody was pumped up that she could play and now she is working so hard."

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Former teammates weigh in on UConn signee Andra Espinoza-Hunter

I've spoken to UConn senior guard Saniya Chong countless times over the last four years and always resisted the temptation to ask her about Andra Espinoza-Hunter, her former teammate at UConn since it would be a violation of NCAA rules for Chong to talk about her until Espinoza-Hunter signed her national letter of intent.

Well, Espinoza-Hunter put her signature on the dotted line on Wednesday and is officially part of UConn's four-player incoming recruiting class so I got Chong's take on Espinoza-Hunter after today's practice.

"It was awesome playing with her," said Chong, a teammate with Espinoza-Hunter during her junior and senior seasons when Andra was a seventh and eighth grader. "She can do all different things on the court, she can get to the basket, play defense so with her it made the team even better.

"She will fit in right away because she works hard, she is always focused and really excited. You see her here all the times coming to games, coming  to practice so I am sure she is ready to jump in and show what we can do."

Espinoza-Hunter helped Ossining to the 2012 and 2013 New York Class AA titles. After spending three seasons at Blair Academy, she has decided to play her final her senior season at Ossining.

"That is amazing to start off and now to finish especially with her being home," Chong said. "I think she loves that. She misses her friends, she misses her family and being in that home environment is really great,"

Batouly Camara, a transfer from Kentucky who is sitting out this season, played with Espinoza-Hunter for two seasons at Blair Academy.

Espinoza-Hunter said it was "the best day ever" when she heard the news that she would be teammates with Camara again

Camara will get to play with Espinoza-Hunter for three more years which is something she is really excited about.

"It will be awesome to play with Andra again, we have known each other since we was in fifth grade and I was in seventh so we had a great relationship and I am so glad she is coming here," Camara said. "The opportunity to play with her at Blair, to watch her grow into the young woman that she is today it just makes me so happy."

So what will Espinoza-Hunter bring to the table when she comes to UConn?

"Just energy, she is a competitor in everything she does so that is what she is going to bring on and off the court," Camara said.

Espinoza-Hunter joins Mikalya Coombs, Lexi Gordon and Megan Walker as part of a highly-touted incoming freshman class. All-Star Girls Report, which includes the transfers of Camara and Azura' Stevens in the ratings, has UConn with the No. 1 recruiting class.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma had to wait until Thursday as Walker, the top-rated recruit in the class, completed the class with her commitment. He said it was a relatively stress free process.

"As we were going through the recruiting process I thought we were recruiting some really good kids who had a pretty good idea of what we are looking for," Auriemma said. "For the most part every one those kids was kind of easy to recruit. They were really knowledgeable about what have and what we have to offer, what they could accomplish there.

"It is a group that has the potential to do a lot of great things. Individually they are all probably at different levels right now, some have played at a higher level have more experience than others but I think as a group they bring a lot of things that right now if you look at our team they are going to get an opportunity to show what they've got right away. I think they are pretty versatile as a group, I don't think we have anybody who is locked in being a one-dimensional type of kids so I think all in all we helped ourselves a lot "

What is interesting about how UConn recruits is only a select few are invited for visits to campus. This year that was definitely the case as the only four players to take official visits to UConn were the four players who committed and then signed with the Huskies.

"We don't waste our time with kids we don't think we can get or kids that we think it is going to be a major struggle," Auriemma said. "We know before we ask a kid to come on an official visit, we know because a lot of them have been here before. We have a pretty good idea that it is going to be us and somebody else or it is no more than three schools generally so our chances of getting them are pretty good. That doesn't mean we are going to get all of them but we are also willing to not have a great recruiting class if we don't get the kids we want. I have really started to believe with all of my heart 'that kid you don't get isn't going to hurt you. Bringing in the wrong kid is going to hurt you so we've rather not get anybody than bring in the wrong kid. I think everyone of these kids coming in has the right temperament, the right kind of player for us."

They all know each other, they have all spent time together. There are not looking over each other's shoulder. We told them up front that your success at Connecticut has nothing to do with who else is coming and we understand that 

I happened to noticed that the UConn men's season opener, which aired on SNY, was not available on ESPN3 and the last time I checked with the folks at UConn they were still waiting to hear back from ESPN to see if the SNY games will be streamed live on ESPN3 (outside of the SNY coverage area).

I was told they have heard back and those 17 games airing on SNY will be available on ESPN3 as will the games on ESPN and ESPN2.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

UConn's Samuelson views herself as more than a shooter

The first sign that Katie Lou Samuelson wasn't your typical catch and shoot basketball prodigy can be found in the Mater Dei High School record book.

A total of 26 Mater Dei players have made the jump to collegiate basketball. Other than Samuelson and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis thriving at UConn, Mater Dei players have found success at Stanford, UCLA, USC and many other major-college programs. Yet, when you glance at the single-season record book and look under the free throws made and attempted categories, there is Samuelson's name.

Just out of curiosity I wonder how many high school programs there are where the same player set the single-season marks for free throws and 3-pointers made as Samuelson did during her spectacular senior season.

During Samuelson's freshman season, however, she didn't always display the many facets to her offensive game. Her 78 3-pointers are the second most for the UConn freshman trailing only Mosqueda-Lewis but she only attempted more than two free throws in three games a season ago. Taking it a step further, in games when she attempted more than one shot she did not have more shots from inside the 3-point line than she did outside of it until accomplishing that feat three times in five NCAA tournament games.

Already in practice and in the two exhibition games Samuelson has been aggressive driving to the basket and finishing around the rim. She knows that the days of standing at the 3-point line and waiting for Moriah Jefferson to feed her the ball while opposing teams were more concerned about dealing with the post tandem of Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck are over. She will certainly be asked to fire away early and often from 3-point range this season but the expectations are also there to be a more complete offensive player. That is just fine for Samuelson.

"It was one of the reasons I came here," Samuelson said. "I knew he (UConn coach Geno Auriemma) would get everything out of me, I knew Coach would be able to get the best of me in everything that I did and I wanted to be pushed. It was definitely a main reason why I wanted to come here, I didn't just want to be put in the corner and told 'you are our shooter on this team.' I want to be known as somebody who can play and do a lot of different things. I think I have expanded my game so much  from last year and every throughout last season being here really helped push me farther. I am trying to learn every single day because I know I have a lot of things to improve on and there is so much outside that I can keep working on so I am really excited to keep working on it."

UConn has plenty of players in the 6-foot range on this year's team but other than reserve center Natalie Butler and freshman forward Kyla Irwin, the Huskies don't have the height of teams past. that is where the 6-foot-3 Samuelson can also help out.

"I think it will be really helpful if I can do more things that just stand on the 3-point line this year," Samuelson said. :We lost a really good post presence last year, Napheesa (Collier) and Gabby (Williams) have been doing a great job and have that versatility to play outside. If I can go inside, it is going to be tough how to guard us so I think adding that to my game is going to be helpful to this team."

Auriemma has seen Samuelson doing just that during the preseason.

"If you came to our practices and watch Lou at practice, you would not come away from there going 'wow, that kid is am amazing shooter and that is it,'" Auriemma said. "She has put herself on spots on the floor she has never been in our offense. She loves it: she is having fun with it."

Samuelson scored at least 20 points five times in her freshman season with two of them coming in the NCAA tournament but she suffered a foot injury in the national semifinal which forced her to sit and watch the game she most wanted to play in. I was curious how she dealt with the elation of watching her team win another national title but being unable to play.

"When we won I was thrilled because it is everything we worked for all season but clearly I would have liked to have been in the game, have a different ending personally for myself," Samuelson said. "Knowing that, when I went into my rehab, I tried to heal up. I think once I finally got out of the boot and felt better to go getting back to where I was. It just motivated me to go as hard as I can and change my perspective of how I went about things.

"I think I am just more confident in everything I do, mentally I grew a lot because of that, I couldn't feel sorry for myself, I had to forget about the fact that I didn't play in it. I had to learn really quickly that whatever is coming up ahead of me is what is important so that it what I really focused on."


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Top-ranked Megan Walker puts capper on another impressive UConn recruiting class

Lexi Gordon is part of talented four-player class signed by UConn
There was a time when news actually broke during national signing week but in recent years players tended to commit earlier and earlier . That all changed earlier tonight.

Megan Walker, considered by most recruiting insiders as the best player in the Class of 2017, announced that she was signing with UConn.

Walker, a pretty humble kid, actually made the announcement with a bit of flair as she got up walked around a table at Monacan High School and began popping balloons with the colors of her two other finalists - Notre Dame and Texas. That left only blue and white balloons remaining and with friends and onlookers shrieking with delight, she took off a jacket to reveal that she was wearing a UConn shirt.

I have to be honest, if you asked me after UConn returned from the Final Four, I would have been certain that Walker would be the latest No. 1 ranked recruit to sign with the Huskies. But in recent months Texas, aided by newly-hired assistant coach Tina Thompson, made a spirited run at getting a commitment from the highly-skilled Walker. Walker did form a close bond with fellow UConn signees Mikayla Coombs, Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Lexi Gordon but she strikes me as the type of kid who is probably pretty good friends with players who signed with Notre Dame and Texas.

As a junior at Monacan Walker had games with 50 points another one with 14 rebounds, one with 10 steals and the games with her two highest assist totals came in the postseason, She also had seven games with more than one 3-pointer. Walker wears the same number (32) that Maya Moore did in high school and has attributes similar to what Moore had coming out of high school. She handled the Maya Moore question with tremendous class on a live interview with ESPN.

It is also worthy of mention that Walker led all U.S. players in minutes played at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championships  Here is a blog I did with her after an interview during the USA Basketball U18 trials in May.

Walker is far from the only talented prospect in the class.

ESPN has UConn signees Coombs, Gordon and Espinoza-Hunter ranked 14th, 29th and
37th respectively, the Blue Star Report has Coombs and Espinoza-Hunter as top 10 recruits while the
All-Star Girls Report ranks Coombs as the fourth-best prospect in the class. They will also be
joined on the court by transfers Azura Stevens and Batouly Camara who began their collegiate careers at Duke and Kentucky respectively.

Coombs averaged 13.3 points, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals as a junior at Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Georgia after missing all but one game during her sophomore season due to a torn ACL. Three of Wesleyan's five losses during the 2015-16 came to Holy Innocents Episcopal and the other two were during the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions.

Gordon had 65 3-pointers as a junior at L.D. Bell High in Hurst, Texas despite constant double and
triple teaming. She finished her junior season averaging 24.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Espinoza-Hunter is the most familiar face of the trio. She began showing up at UConn games when she would accompany Saniya Chong during the 2012-season. Espinoza-Hunter, then only in the eighth grade, was the second-leading scorer on an Ossining (N.Y.) High School team which won the 2013 New York Class AA state title.

Espinoza-Hunter spent the freshman, sophomore and junior seasons at Blair Academy helping Blair to Mid-Atlantic Prep League and New Jersey state titles each season. She is back at Ossining for her
senior season. In the 2016 MAPL tournament Espinoza-Hunter averaged 31.5 points per game with eight 3-pointers in the two games as she would average 25 points per game.

Add in Stevens, who I would have ranked among the top five college players in the country had she remained at Duke, and Camara and it's pretty clear that opponents might want to get to UConn this season because next year's squad is going to be deep, talented and versatile.

Oh, it should also be noted that UConn is also very much in the mix with Christyn Williams and Charli Collier, two of the top prospects in the Class of 2018.

Look for reaction from Geno Auriemma on Saturday as we will have media access that day in preparation for the season opener.

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Sunday, November 06, 2016

Geno Auriemma already getting his point across to this UConn team

Playing an exhibition game against a Division II team coming off a losing season there was never a question whether UConn was going to roll to another convincing victory. However, that didn't stop head coach Geno Auriemma from sending a message to his top returning scorers.

Auriemma had 11 players to call up against Pace and the last one to check into the game was sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson as her first appearance came with 5:20 left in the third quarter.

"When the games are kind of already decided, already out of hand and you never get to go out there with the starting lineup," Auriemma said. "Sometimes players like Lou, they just kind of coast through things in the exhibition season, they wait for big games to come so I just thought it was a good time to get other guys into the game and not worry about Lou."

Samuelson had six points, one rebound and one steal in 12 minutes.

Gabby Williams once again was UConn's best player with 24 points (on 10 of 11 shooting) including a 3-pointer. She has 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Napheesa Collier also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, starters Kia Nurse (11 points, 5 assists, 0 turnovers) and Saniya Chong (10 points) also scored in double figures as did Natalie Butler who had 16 points in the 95-32 win.

Auriemma addressed the heightened expectations for all the UConn players following the departure of All-Americans Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck.

"For all of our players for this season it is going to be a struggle for them at times to fight their nature," Auriemma said. "Their nature is since they have been in college there really hasn't been any great expectations of them. Saniya is a perfect example of that. Saniya just spent three years at Connecticut feeling like there are no expectations of me so what does she deliver, no expectations. This year she is off to a much better start somewhat because she senses that the expectations for her are very high,. I haven't changed my expectations for her, she has changed them for herself. Some players get that very early, some get it late and some never get it.

"For this season whether it is Lou, Pheesa, Gabby, Kia all of these guys that have been in situations where what are the expectations for me? Even if I don't play in the national championship game, we are going to win by 30 so how important am I during the course of the season? Well, that is your nature so if you come out this year because you are the same way because that is how you are, that has to gradually start to change if we are going to grow as a team."

Freshman Crystal Dangerfield started and played a team-high 32 minutes. Classmate Kyla Irwin had eight points, five rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes while Molly Bent two points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocked shots in 25 minutes.

 "If there are 20 things that you would look for in a player to be good at Connecticut there are probably 15 of them that she (Bent) doesn't do very well," Auriemma said. "The five things that she does very well are going to get her a lot of playing time. It that the case for most freshmen? Somewhat. But there is something about the way she carries herself, the way she gets herself involved in a lot of things that make you want to have her on the court at certain times. That says a lot about players that you want them on the court, there may not be times when you can afford to have her on the court but she is someone who you put them in because you feel sorry for them and 'OK, I want to keep them in the mix.' She is very determined to be a very good player. She is a lot better player now than she was last week and will be a lot better player next week than she is today."

An interesting note is the Ossining High School connection. Not only did Chong star at Ossining but so did Pace guard Stefanie Svoboda and assistant coach Alexandra Venuto. Ossining coach Dan Ricci sat directly behind the bench with UConn commit Andra Espinoza-Hunter and UConn recruiting target Aubrey Griffin.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Process of picking next Olympic coach starts soon

Geno Auriemma has gone on the record saying his time coaching the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team is over. It should be stated that at this point four years ago he was saying the same thing. Eventually Carol Callan, USA Basketball's women's national team director, convinced Auriemma to come back for another run at Olympic glory.

With Callan being at Tuesday's NCAA media day at ESPN I decided to get an update on the process leading to the naming of the 2020 Olympic coach. I was also curious if she truly thinks a new coach will be in charge of the U.S. women's national team during the next Olympic cycle.

There is a meeting on November 14 and that will get the ball rolling.

"At that point we approve the structure of decision making moving forward," Callan said. "Once the board does that we start filling in the committees, once we committees in place we start talking about the next steps of what is our next order of business. At the senior level we have a steering committee that will make decisions based on the overall training plans for the next four years. When we need to start training and that will dictate when we start to need a coach."

The U.S. team earns an automatic berth into the 2018 FIBA World Championships by virtue of winning the Olympic title so there will be no need to compete or prepare for next year's FIBA Americas Women's Championship.

"We will probably will start talking about when we want to have our first training camp leading up to the 2018 World Championship so I would say late spring/summer," Callan said.

So does she want Auriemma to come back for a third term as U.S. national team coach?

"I wouldn't want to lead anybody in the wrong direction thinking he is a for sure pick or anything  but I think until you get a committee together and you start talking direction and talking timeline, it is impossible to say with definitely what that answer is," Callan said. "We all had a great Olympics. There are two ways to look at it, one is 'it can never be better and I am done.' The other is, 'well it was so great I want to do it again.' I am sure he has probably gone through all of those emotions and he is probably at a point in his life where maybe it is time to ..."

Callan caught herself and stopped short of making a declaration of Auriemma's intentions or thought process before giving the politically correct "I would say that everybody in the United States is a candidate at this point."

My opinion is that Auriemma is truly done as the U.S. Olympic team coach. The chance to coach UConn legends Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi had something to do with his decision to accept the national team coaching gig for the 2016 Olympics after declaring that he would not do it again. Olympic assistant coaches Dawn Staley and Cheryl Reeve are strong candidates to be the 2020 Olympic coach. Staley in particular has certainly paid her dues with USA Basketball as her coaching stints with national teams date back to 2007.

Speaking of Staley, she coached U.S. team to a gold medal at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships. That team happened to include current UConn freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield (along with Napheesa Collier and Azura Stevens) so I was curious about Callan's thoughts about Dangerfield.

 "We had three point guards that year, Gabbi Ortiz who is at Oklahoma, Crystal who was in high school and Destiny Slocum who still had another year of high school (and is now a freshman at Maryland)," Callan said. "Dawn Staley, perhaps one of the greatest point guards we've ever had was the coach To watch not only Crystal's talent coming in but also watch Dawn work with those three point guards was really exciting to see.

"I am really looking forward to seeing what she does at UConn. Moriah Jefferson is a pretty good example of what you can become. I think Crystal has all of the ability to follow in the footsteps. She's just a good person, you can tell a lot by little things, she was respectful, she wanted to learn, she wanted to be better. A quick smile, you knew she was listening but also processing it. Those are the things that will serve her really well."

Also, it looks like Auriemma will receive his Olympic ring on Dec. 1 at Gampel Pavilion when UConn hosts DePaul. The ceremony would also include DePaul head coach Doug Bruno, an assistant coach on both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams.

When UConn's 2016-17 schedule was announced, the games being televised on SNY were already noted. SNY made it official by sending out a release.

SNY's coverage will begin with a preview show on November 17 at 7 p.m. before broadcasting the most high-profile game on its schedule when No. 2 Baylor plays at No. 3 UConn.

Michelle Wu will anchor the preview show on the 17th before Gary Apple returns to his role of hosting SNY's game day studio coverage. Former UConn stars Kara Wolters (studio analyst) and Meghan Culmo (color analyst) will return to their familiar roles and Eric Frede is back to handle play by play duties. Justine Ward joins the broadcast team as the in-game reporter in addition to providing reports on the pre-game and post-game broadcasts.

Other highlights in its 17-game schedule include getting both regular-season matchups with the Temple team picked to finish second in the American Athletic Conference and Senior Day game against Memphis.

Here the games being televised by SNY with pre-game and post-game coverage included in every conference game being shown on SNY.

Baylor (Nov. 17), Dayton (Nov. 22), Chattanooga (Nov. 29), DePaul (Dec. 1), at UCF (Jan. 1), East Carolina (Jan. 4), at SMU (Jan. 14), at Tulsa (Jan. 17), at East Carolina (Jan. 24), Houston (Jan. 28), at Temple (Feb. 1), Tulsa (Feb. 5), at Cincinnati (Feb. 7), SMU (Feb. 11), at Tulane (Feb. 18), Temple (Feb. 22), Memphis (Feb. 25).

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Irwin makes an impact for UConn

Since UConn has made the move to exclusively playing Division II or NAIA teams (with the exception of one game against the U.S. national team) the list of freshmen to score more than 10 points in their preseason debut is short and impressive.

Caroline Doty, Tiffany Hayes, Kelly Faris, Moriah Jefferson, Maya Moore, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Kia Nurse, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck all accomplished the feat. Now you can add Kyla Irwin's name to the list.

Irwin scored 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter in the 111-39 win over Indiana (Pa.) and also had all four of her rebounds including three of the offensive end.

The degree of difficulty will soon increase after playing an undersized Division II team but it was still impressive to see Irwin make her presence felt in her first game as a Husky.

"I was just playing hard, that is what I was trying to do to get rebounds and get the shots up and look for my open teammates," Irwin said.

"It is good to get that first game under my belt. It is nice that I was able to do what I did and the help from my teammates made it a little bit easier."

The 6-foot-2 Irwin was probably the least heralded of the three incoming freshmen but she hasn't wasted much time impressing her coaches and teammates.

"She definitely played great today," UConn junior guard Kia Nurse said. "What she does really well is finds the ball off the boards, offensive rebound and those kinds of things. I think she did a really good job today of coming into the game and making an impact.

"When you come out in this atmosphere for the first time in that UConn jersey there are a lot of emotions that you are going through, I think for her to come out and have an impact like that is just a great confidence booster something that we need her to understand that she can do every single game so she can make an impact."

Molly Bent was the first freshman to get into the game. She led her classmates with 18 minutes played as she finished with two points, one rebound and one assist. Irwin had 12 points and four rebounds in 14 minutes and Crystal Dangerfield ended up with two points, two rebounds, three assists (two rather impressive ones) and two steals in 12 minutes.

One of the most impressive things I saw from the three of them is how engaged they were from the bench from the start of the game. Sometimes it takes time for newcomers to get the message that being invested in what is going on in the court even when you aren't playing is a part of UConn's culture but they already seem to have grasped that part of things.

"I've always been on to jump up and down when any good play happens, it has been instilled in me for as long as I have been playing and I think it rubs off on everybody else," Irwin said. "Everybody really cares for everybody on the team so we want to get excited for that."

Obviously the fact that Washington coach Mike Neighbors had former UConn forward Morgan Valley on his coaching staff got plenty of play in these parts at the 2016 Final Four. Now the West Coast Huskies have another assistant with ties to UConn as Jasmine Lister, a graduate assistant in the last two seasons, was hired as an assistant at Washington.

Neighbors couldn'r speak highly enough about the job Lister has done since arriving.

"We expected that she would hit the ground running and she made an impact in everything that she has done," Neighbors said at Monday's NCAA media day at ESPN. "Somebody who goes to a college (Vanderbilt) and leads their program in minutes played in their history, you know they have value.

"I felt like having that championship pedigree around, I felt it was a huge difference for us. I can look to Morgan and go 'is that how UConn did it? Is that how Geno did things?' Most days she would do that (give a thumb's down signal) and we would try again."

Neighbors knew that his coaching staff would look much different in the 2016-17 season than it did during last season's magical run to the Final Four.

Adia Barnes was hired as Arizona's head coach, Fred Castro took the head coaching gig at Eastern Michigan while Director of Player Development Jackie Nared left to play professionally.

Neighbors acted proactively and would touch base with coaches who had connections to potential assistant coaches.

"I talked to (UConn associate head coach) Chris Dailey at the Final Four," Neighbors said. "I knew Adia was probably going to get the Arizona job, I was really worried about losing Morgan. When he felt making the deep run, Fred's name came up so I was prepared to lose everybody. I knew Jasmine was young but talented and experienced in her own way. Geno and I played golf together at an event and were talking about her. It solidified that if I could get her out there back to the west coast and it worked out perfectly."

The loss of two assistants and three staff members has changed Valley's role at Washington.

"I have to confide in her more," Neighbors said. "I had it spread out among three people in the past because I had trust built up and now Morgan gets the brunt of it. Her role has changed and she has to deal with me more than she probably would care to but I trust her so fully and I rely on her for all the decisions I have to make, I want her input on. She has rolled into that position, she knows how to anticipate me as well so she has made such an impact for us. I think it was a huge difference for us losing in the first round (and advancing to the Final Four).

"She is so passionate about the kids, she covers up so many of my mistakes. When I thought I was going to lose her, I lost some sleep. When the Vermont job opened, it was right so we were very fortunate."
Neighbors said there have been conversations about playing UConn in the past couple of years but things never worked out. If UConn had hosted a three-day tournament as it had in some previous seasons, he would have pushed to have been a part of the field.

Neighbors also said he hopes to hear about the status of Natalie Romeo's appeal to the NCAA to be immediately eligible after transferring from Nebraska. He said that process slowed down a bit when Romeo helped the U.S. win a bronze medal in the FIBA Women's 3x3 World Championship last month.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Williams shines in UConn preseason opener; Geno weighs in on Ray Allen

There will be tougher tests coming for Gabby Williams than a Division II Indiana (Pa.) team starting no players taller 5-11 but still it was hard not to be impressed by what UConn's junior forward accomplished in tonight's preseason opener.

Williams had 22 points (making 9 of 11 shots from the field), nine rebounds, six assists, five steals and three blocked shots in the 119-39 despite not playing in the fourth quarter.

"Coach (Geno Auriemma) has said that a lot of our offense has to come from our defense," Williams said. "We are small, we are quicker and I guess more pesky so we tried to work on that today
"I think my offense will come but on defense I think that is kind of the role that I will play. I am trying to get that defense going."

With Williams leading the way, UConn outscored the Crimson Hawks 46-0 in points in the paint and led 18-6 in offensive rebounds as the Huskies topped 100 points in a preseason game for the eighth time since 2007.

"A day like today she can overwhelm the other team and when you know you can do that, you have to do that," Auriemma said. "She was really at the things she is really good at today and that was all we talked about going into the game. She made a lot of things happen in a lot of different ways. Will she be able to do that against everybody we play against? I don't know. She may have to create some other ways but for tonight, it is a good start."

All five starters scored in double figures for UConn as Katie Lou Samuelson had a game-high 24 points, Kia Nurse had 17 points and four steals, Napheesa Collier finished with 13 points and seven rebounds and Saniya Chong added 11 points. freshman Kyla Irwin scored 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter as she became the 10th UConn freshman to score in double figures in her first preseason game dating back to 2007 when the Huskies went from playing barnstorming teams consisting of former college players to Division II or NAIA squads.

If you asked Auriemma to name his favorite UConn men's players of all time, I'm not sure there would be a player mentioned before Ray Allen. Auriemma ended yesterday's practice about 30 minutes early so he could lecture his team on the importance of putting in the extra work if they truly want to reach their potential. He mentioned Allen, who he would always see in the gym getting up extra shots no matter how early he showed up at Gampel Pavilion.

After the questions pertaining to tonight's game were asked I brought up Allen announcing his retirement from the NBA to Auriemma and it didn't take much more than that to get him going.

"He certainly doesn't need the money," Auriemma said. "It wasn't going to be about the money no matter what he did, knowing Ray he still has his meal money from freshman year here, I know him well enough to know that.

"He is going to go down in history as one of the all-time best shooters in the history of the NBA. He won championships, he is an Olympic gold medalist. I don't know too many players who have committed themselves to being a true professional the way he takes care of himself. He is not that much different today than when I met him when he was 18.

"He is a great representative of UConn basketball and I use him as an example all the time of what can be possible if you work at it."

Auriemma was asked if Allen was a Hall of Famer?

"You make as many shots as he has made, two World Championship teams and a gold medal in the Olympics. There are people in the Hall of Fame with probably less credentials so I would say he is a Hall of Famer.

"I think the style he brought to the game, his personality, there was no nonsense about Ray. He never did anything extra he didn't have to do to get the job done. He was a guy you could count on every day, there was no drama. He was a guy who came up here with one goal in mind to be the best basketball player he could be, the best teammate, he was a great teammate. I would think he is everything you would want for a basketball player, he is the kind of guy you want to coach, the kind of guy you would want to play with. I just really admire for him for everything he has done."

UConn opens at No. 3 in Associated Press poll

The Associated Press poll came out earlier today and UConn was picked to finish third

Notre Dame was preseason No. 1 edging out Baylor 793-789. The Fighting Irish picked up 14 first-place votes, Baylor got 12 and UConn had six No. 1 votes. The other first-place vote (which happened to be mine) was cast for South Carolina.

I'm at NCAA media day at ESPN so there will be reaction to the poll coming up later this morning/afternoon.

Here is the poll

¶   The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' final 2015-16 women's college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through March 13, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and previous ranking:<
†^                        ‡Record•••Pts•Prv
†•1. Notre Dame (14)      ‡•33-2•••|793•••2
†•2. Baylor (12)          ‡•36-2•••|789•••4
†•3. UConn (6)            ‡•38-0•••|743•••1
†•4. South Carolina (1)   ‡•33-2•••|719•••3
†•5. Louisville           ‡•26-8•••|718•••8
†•6. Maryland             ‡•31-4•••|635•••5
†•7. Ohio State           ‡•26-8•••|632•••9
†•8. Texas                ‡•31-5•••|604•••7
†•9. UCLA                 ‡•26-9•••|557••10
†10. Mississippi St.      ‡•28-8•••|516••15
†11. Stanford             ‡•27-8•••|471••13
†12. Florida St.          ‡•25-8•••|437••17
†13. Tennessee            ‡•22-14••|415••NR
†14. Miami                ‡•24-9•••|328••19
†14. Syracuse             ‡•30-8•••|328••14
†16. Oklahoma             ‡•22-11••|285••24
†17. Washington           ‡•26-11••|259••NR
†18. Arizona St.          ‡•26-7•••|244••11
†19. Kentucky             ‡•25-8•••|228••12
†20. Florida              ‡•22-9•••|181••25
†21. DePaul               ‡•27-9•••|160••20
†22. West Virginia        ‡•25-10••|154••23
†23. Indiana              ‡•21-12••|108••NR
†24. Missouri             ‡•22-10•••|98••NR
†25. Oregon State         ‡•32-5••••|95•••6
¶   Others receiving votes: Michigan St. 78, Auburn 43, Texas A&M 20, Duke 16, Colorado St. 10, California 9, Creighton 9, South Florida 8, BYU 6, Temple 6, South Dakota St. 5, Belmont 4, UTEP 3, Boise St. 2, Green Bay 2, NC State 2, Chattanooga 2, Iowa St. 1, Saint Louis 1, Oregon 1.
¶   <