Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quite a weekend for former UConn greats

Even a couple of months after the season, the UConn women's basketball program had a weekend to remember.

The highlight was former national player of the year Kara Wolters becoming the third member of UConn's first national championship team to be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Rebecca Lobo was the first former Husky honored as she was a part of the Class of 2010, three years later it was Jen Rizzotti's turn.

Kara Wolters, Louise O'Neal and rest of Hall of Fame class
(photo courtesy of Women's Basketball Hall of Fame)
Wolters gave a tremendous and emotional acceptance speech, paid homage to her late mom and was escorted at the induction by her two daughters.

Wolters wasn't the only inductee with Connecticut ties as former Southern Connecticut State coach Louise O'Neal was a member of the class as well.

O'Neal coached the Owls from 1962-76 and helped Southern Connecticut be the only school to play in the first eight National Women's College Championships (an event that predated the NCAA tournament). The Owls finished third in 1973 and 1974 (losing by a combined six points in the semifinals both years) and also advanced to the semifinals in 1975.

After taking Southern Connecticut from a club program to a national powerhouse, O'Neal continued to make an impact even after her coaching career came to an end. She was the former president of the Eastern Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and served on the NCAA Long-Range Planning Committee, Women’s Basketball Rules Committee, Sears Cup Selection Committee and NACDA Executive Board.

Getting back to UConn, 10 former Huskies had double-digit scoring games and for those wondering, second on that list over the weekend was Duke with six followed by Notre Dame's four.


Stefanie Dolson had a career-high 25 points for Chicago while rookie Saniya Chong had her first career double-digit scoring game with 10 points against Minnesota on Sunday which came two days after she netted a career-best seven points. Breanna Stewart (23 points), Sue Bird (21 points), Moriah Jefferson (18 points), Renee Montgomery (13) and Bria Hartley (10) all set or matched their season highs. Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore, who each celebrated birthdays on Sunday, had games with 27 and 17 points respectively while Tina Charles had a 21-point game.


UConn legend Diana Taurasi closing in on pair
of WNBA career soring records
Taurasi is now 28 points shy of Tina Thompson's WNBA record for most points scored in the regular season. Thompson had 7,488 points in 496 career games while Taurasi has 7,460 in 375 games. Bird recently passed Delisha Milton-Jones to moved into ninth place on that list although it's going to take a while to move up to No. 8 as she is 243 points behind Becky Hammon. If playoff points were included, Taurasi would trail record-holder Tamika Catchings by 66 points.

On Sunday some players who could land at UConn were able to lead the U.S. to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Aliyah Boston, a forward from Worcester and a player very much on UConn's recruiting radar, was named the tournament's MVP. Boston had 15 points and six rebounds in the win over Canada in the gold medal game. She led the U.S. in scoring (11.8 points per game) and rebounding (8.6) in the tournament.

Fellow Class of 2019 UConn recruiting target Samanta Brunelle averaged 11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.2 blocked shots in the five games and was the team captain. Paige Bueckers and Zia Cooke were other double-digit scorers for the U.S. in the tourney. In the title game, the top scorer was the team's youngest player Azzi Fudd from Falls Church, Va. The 14-year-old Fudd had 18 points as she was 4 of 6 from 3-point range. She also had five steals. Not bad for somebody who is several months away from the start of her freshman season of high school basketball. I would have to think her high school games will feature just a few college coaches in the stands.

The team was coached by another veteran of UConn's 1995 national championship team Carla Berube, the head coach at Tufts.

“We just kept getting stop after stop,” Berube said in the USA Basketball release on the gold-medal game. “In the first quarter, I thought we allowed them to get a lot of easy drives. They were getting to the rim on us. In the second quarter, we really shut that down and got some important defensive rebounds, and that was leading to easy offense. When you get stop after stop, it’s hard to sustain us in transition, because we have athletes and players who can make plays in transition and make plays for each other. It was awesome to watch. For a team that has not been together very long, they worked really well together.”

Finally, I've been out of the loop a little basketball wise over the last few days because of my responsibilities covering the semifinals and championship games in the CIAC softball tournament. While I was there I caught up with UConn incoming softball freshman Brianna Marcelino.

Marcelino scored from first base on a single and later drove in a run as Barlow won its first state title with a 4-2 win over Torrington in the Class L final.

There will be a story on Marcelino going up on the www.gametimect.com site later today focusing mostly on the state final and fact that Marcelino grew up in Madison (along with fellow UConn signee Hollis Wivell) before the family moved to Easton when she was in eighth grade. Heading into the state semifinals, she was batting .617 with 43 runs, 41 RBIs, 10 doubles, 12 homers, 21 stolen bases and just four errors.

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