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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

UConn's Collier, Samuelson, Williams named WBCA All-Americans

It's time to make room up on the wall for most additions to the Huskies of Honor.

Sophomore forward Napheesa Collier, sophomore guard Katie Lou Samuelson and junior forward Gabby Williams were among 10 players named to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division I All-American team it marked the first time three non-seniors from one team were selected to the squad.

They will be the next trio of players to join the Huskies of Honor. The ceremony honoring Williams figures to take place late next season while Collier and Samuelson will need to wait until the 2018-19 to see their numbers up with the all-time greats in UConn history.

It is the fourth season in a row that the Huskies had three WBCA first-team All-Americans and sixth time it happened in program history. Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi accomplished the feat during the 2001-02 season, Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore were the honorees in '08-09. Breanna Stewart was part of the next three occurences joining Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley on the 2013-14 squad, Moriah Jefferson and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis in '14-15 while Jefferson and Morgan Tuck joined Stewart on last season's All-American team.

Collier and Samuelson became the first set of UConn teammates to average at least 20 points per game in the same season. Collier's 754 points were tied for third and Samuelson's 747 placed fifth on UConn's single-season charts. Samuelson's 118 3-pointers is tie for the second most in program history and she is one of two UConn players with at least 100 3-pointers and assists in the same season. Collier's 336 rebounds is tied for ninth.

Collier and Williams joined Maya Moore and former teammate Breanna Stewart as the only UConn players with at least 50 steals and 50 blocked shots in the same season.

Williams, who was also named the WBCA's Defensive Player of the Year, is the first player in program history with 300 rebounds and 100 steals in the same season. Her 100 steals were tied for seventh on UConn's single-season list and her 190 assists rank eighth.

Also, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was named the winner of the Naismith Coach of the Year award for the eighth time. The award was announced the same day that Rebecca Lobo became the first of Auriemma's UConn players to be part of the induction class for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Lobo was the first national-level recruit to take a chance on a former Virginia assistant coach Geno Auriemma when she committed to UConn. Now she is the first of his former UConn stars headed to the Hall of Fame.

Fifteen miles away, but it took a lifetime to get there. #SouthwickToSpringfield #413

Lobo arrived at UConn in 1991 a few months after the Huskies reached their first Final Four. After the Huskies lost their first game in the NCAA tournament during her freshman and sophomore seasons. During Lobo's junior season the Huskies reached the Elite Eight before falling to eventual national champion North Carolina. The following season Lobo was the centerpiece of Auriemma's first national championship team as the Huskies went 35-0. Lobo was not only the national player of the year but her personality made her more than just a resident superstar. She has kept a high profile during her injury-shortened career in the WNBA and during her role as a women's basketball analyst for ESPN.

UConn announced that the team is expected to land at Bradley Airport at 3:15 p.m. tomorrow and will head to campus after that.

There's not going to be any media availability so I won't be there to provide coverage of their return.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Gabby Williams on her well deserved All-American honor! Gabby played her heart out this season, including in the loss to Mississippi State. Gabby's light shined brightest against the Top 10 teams, in games televised on the ESPN networks.

UConn had zero pressure to go thru this entire regular season undefeated. Huskies had zero pressure to reach the Final Four or win the National Championship this season.

But next year, the pressure to win every game and the national championship will be there. It already started this season, by some in the media and by some fans. I bet you heard something along the lines of "better get UConn this year because they will not lose next year".

3 returning All-Americans including the DPOY winner, 1 Canadian Olympian, 1 highly touted transfer from Duke, 1 high school POY, and 8 others to choose from to cover foul trouble and any unfortunate injuries. Looks great on paper.

UConn coaches will have to figure out how to incorporate the New Talent with the Core 4, while maintaining chemistry and focused players. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. Geno and CD would tell you that is not easy. Otherwise, Tennessee would go undefeated next season. Lady Vols roster will have more top 10 high school players than UConn.

Gabby's and Kia's minutes might actually be reduced in their senior season, during AAC and other blowout wins. Someone has to come out of the UConn lineup when Dangerfield and Stevens or Walker are on the court with KLS and Collier. A group that I suspect will often play together, to begin building chemistry for next season.

Next season, I suspect some top 20 teams will attempt to follow Mississippi State's defensive pressure, which clearly interfered with UConn's strength - ball movement. I also suspect the UConn coaches will address countering such defensive pressure, with less telegraphing passes, more ball fakes, improved reading, and quicker decisions.

Based on last season and this season, parity in the top 20 has definitely improved. Next season will not be as easy for UConn as some in the media and some fans have predicted.

10:21 AM 

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