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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

More WNBA history for UConn

Pretty sure it's not earth-shattering news for me to declare that UConn alums have enjoyed success at the WNBA level.

The seven former Huskies scheduled to play in Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game are the most from one school in the game's history topping the previous mark of six (also by UConn) in 2011. Tina Charles and Tiffany Hayes will start for the East with Sue Bird, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi set to start for the West. Stefanie Dolson is a reserve for the East and Breanna Stewart is a reserve for the West. Seven times in WNBA history four players from the same school have been selected to play in the WNBA All-Star Game and on six of those occasions, UConn was the program to pull off this remarkable achievement. USC is the only team to join UConn in this select company although only two of the four All-Stars from USC played in the 2003 event.

Taking it one step further, UConn has had the most alums in the last nine WNBA All-Star Games counting Saturday's. It should be noted that UConn tied LSU and Tennessee with three selections in 2013. The last time a school other than UConn produced more All-Stars in one game came in 2003 when four USC alums (Cynthia Cooper, Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson and Adrian Williams) were selected to play although in the actual game, UConn had three players (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Nykesha Sales) while USC had just two as an injured Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson did not play.

Another piece of trivia is that UConn and Tennessee are the only programs to have players selected for every WNBA All-Star Game.

UConn has two first-time All-Stars in Tiffany Hayes and Breanna Stewart so when they get into the game, they will be the 12th and 13th UConn alums to play in the WNBA All-Star Game. Rebecca Lobo was selected to play in the inaugural game in 1999 but was injured.

Here's the breakdown of most alums selected to play in one WNBA All-Star Game
7 UConn (Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Stefanie Dolson, Tiffany Hayes, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi) 2017
6 UConn (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi) 2011
5 UConn (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Charde Houston, Asjha Jones, Diana Taurasi) 2009
4 UConn (Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Stefanie Dolson, Maya Moore) 2015
4 UConn (Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi) 2014
4 UConn (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Nykesha Sales, Diana Taurasi) 2005
4 Southern California (Cynthia Cooper, Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson, Adrian Williams)  2003

Also, Bill Laimbeer of the New York Liberty was supposed to coach the Eastern Conference team but the WNBA announced that he has a family matter to tend to so Curt Miller of the Connecticut will be the Eastern Conference head coach and will be joined by his staff at the game in Seattle.

Canada announced the 14 players set to take part in the final training camp before the start of the FIBA AmericaCup (formerly the FIBA Americas Championship).

Nurse had permission to skip the first two training camps. It enabled her to rest her body as well as giving some younger players a chance to shine for Canada.

Nurse joins fellow 2016 Olympians Miranda Ayim, Nirra Fields, Miah-Marie Langlois, Katherine Plouffe and Michelle Plouffe.

While the stars of some of Canada's younger teams aren't in the mix with this round of training, Michigan State's Shay Colley, Iowa State's Bridget Carleton and Virginia Tech's Sami Hill will be there meaning four of the 14 players still have remaining NCAA eligibility or in Hill's case completed her final season just a few months ago.

Two-time Olympians Lizanne Murphy, Tamara Tatham and Shona Thorburn announced their retirement from the Canadian national team program. Fellow veteran Kim Gaucher is also not on the roster leaving Canada with a much younger roster than the group that won the title in the 2015 event. Nurse ranked seventh in the 2015 tournament with an average of 13 points per game and figures to have a significant role in this year's event which runs from Aug 6-13 in Argentina.

"We definitely have a changing of the guard in terms of leadership," Nurse said. "Having myself, Miah-Marie Langlois, we still have Miranda Ayim so we are fortunate to have that leadership but kind of understanding that we have to take a new role and stepping up in that sense. What they brought to our team, the passion and energy, we are trying to keep that going on through the next generation. It obviously changes the dynamic of the team itself because the team can change based on the new people we are bringing in so hopefully we will be a force to be reckoned with in the next quad."

Canada has some rising stars but with the FIBA Women's U19 World Cup set to begin Saturday and the training camp starting on Sunday, there's no way those players can be in Edmonton and Italy at the same time.

"We definitely have been on the rise and our younger age groups have been doing a great job and everything Canada basketball has put in place," Nurse said. "I came up in those ranks when I was really young so when they find somebody who they think has that chance, that ability to make a difference, that is for sure something we would love to have. Our talent pool is bigger than ever and I think that is big for us."


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