Wednesday, December 31, 2008
After the game, Montgomery's lip was big, swollen to the point as if she were balancing a cherry on it. Dripping with blood, she calmly and casually played off the small injury. With a quick turnaround before facing LSU on Saturday, you know there are many of other players in the country who would sit out the next game.
Montgomery was the Huskies Saturday. She carried them early on when they had trouble finding the basket. Her 20 first-half points were more than all of Hartford's players combined at the half.
When she went down with the cut, the Huskies missed her immediately. The Hawks went on a small run until the Huskies gathered themselves and continued the drubbing.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
From my conversation Saturday with new UConn recruit Stefanie Dolson:
On when she decided:
“Probably after we had gone to a game the weekend of Thanksgiving versus
On liking the UConn’s proximity to home.
“Yeah, I guess. My parents like it more than I do.”
What she liked about UConn:
“On their campus it reminds me of where I live, the people – I love the people there. Then their program is a winning program and I feel like it was the best place that would make me the best player I could become.”
On going someplace where there is pressure and attention”
“The pressure I can handle. I’m pretty good with pressure. Actually, I do better when there’s more pressure on me. Attention, no. I’m not a big attention person. I am with my friends, but not when it comes to basketball. With basketball, I just want to play the game and do the best I can.”
On playing somewhere where she won’t be the focal point from Day One.:
“With that, I feel like if I go there with other people like Maya Moore and stuff, I feel like I won’t be the star but I’ll be an asset. I’ll be an extremely good asset to the team, help it win.”
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Speaking with Dolson today, she said that while she's not as excited as her parents about her attending college so close to home, the Storrs campus reminds her of home (a good thing) and that she believes UConn is the place where she can have her potential maximized.
It was after watching UConn dismantle Oklahoma last month that she decided UConn was the place for her. Dolson said that she likes the idea of playing in a pressurized situation, saying that she does well in those environments. She's not much for attention, however, preferring to stay under the radar.
Looking forward to the Huskies and the subsequent graduation classes:
G Renee Montgomery
F Tahirah Williams
C Cassie Kerns
G Kalana Greene (can leave in 2009)
C Tina Charles
G Jacquie Fernandes
F Meghan Gardler
F Kaili McLaren
G Maya Moore
G Lorin Dixon
C Jess McCormick
G Caroline Doty
G Tiffany Hayes
C Heather Buck (assuming she is redshirted this year)
G Kelly Faris
C Stefanie Dolson
F Samarie Walker
I will add more on Dolson later, including quotes.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
ESPN's Outside the Lines will be featuring Elena Delle Donne this Sunday. I guess ESPN likes to beat the dead horse, but with EDD's violleyball success, the network has an excuse. Because, we all know how BIG college volleyball is. Really, it is.
Think about it. It's national tournament goes on ESPN and ESPN2, meanwhile some basketball games get pushed to ESPNU so they can't be seen by most of the nation.
This is a screen capture provided by the network.
Here's a link to a preview clip:
There will also be a write-up on ESPN.com Friday.
Some quotes, provided by ESPN, from the Sunday and Friday pieces (check out the last one from Geno Auriemma).
“About age 13 I thought, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this anymore. It’s not fun.’ My teammates used to seem like they were having a lot of fun, and I’d look around like, ‘I should be having fun, too.” -- Elena Delle Donne
“I was trying to force happiness upon myself, which I couldn’t find. I faked it really well because I didn’t want other people to know.” -- Elena Delle Donne
“At camps, we’d have guest speakers who would say, ‘You got to have that passion for the game -- that’s what will get you through to the next level.’ And I was thinking in my head, ‘I don’t have that at all.” -- Elena Delle Donne
*Coming home and telling my parents -- I mean, not many kids show up at their doorstep when they’re supposed to be at college – so I mean my stomach was spinning. They were just like, ‘Couldn’t you have tried it for a little longer? Maybe you’re just homesick.’ And I was like, ‘That’s not it at all. I don’t have the passion. I can’t keep doing this.’” -- Elena Delle Donne, on the difficulty of returning home after leaving UConn workouts and summer school last June
"She’s like a totally different person than what I saw when she played basketball. I think she looked miserable. I think she looks a lot better now. She looks really happy.” -- Meghan Bonk, Delle Donne’s Delaware volleyball teammate and high school friend
“I don't know how you can play that much basketball and be that good at it and say, ‘I hate it since the time I was 13.’ To me those two things don't go together -- that you would be that good at something and not enjoy any of it. It's hard for me to come to grips with.” -- Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Yet, that has as much of a reason behind not playing the starters. There's just something to be said about good sportsmanship.
What would have happened if the UConn starters had stayed in the whole time? 150-15? Who wants to see that? Who wants to see the circus come to town?
Geno said this was a tough game as far as keeping focus and because of what could have happened beyond what did. He questioned whether this was a beneficial series to continue, whether Holy Cross benefits from these games.
Gibbons appreciates what his team gets from facing UConn.
"I've done it every year I've been in the Patriot League, which is now 19 years. We've made the finals of the Patriot League 15 times of the (last) years, which I am very proud of, and we have won it 11 times. I think the reasons are because we play Connecticut and the tough schedule that we play non-conference have made us better for our league which is our ticket to the NCAA's."
Monday, December 01, 2008
However, what we saw in the second half, was much more like what we expected. Paris had eight points quickly and in a matter of minutes. Felt like seconds.
She's a great talent -- when she's interested and when she focuses. The real Courtney Paris is who we saw in the second half, so people, don't kid yourself into thinking she's not all that. She is. But right now, I'd take Tina Charles every day of the week and twice on Sunday (especially this one).
As I said earlier, she told me she is doing better, but Buck didn't sound like someone who would be playing soon. In fact, when asked after the game. Coach Geno Auriemma joked about his first-year center's progress. he said she is allowed to jog and if that goes well, then run. If that goes well she can eat solid food then she'd be allowed to cross the street.
"She's still a ways away from doing anything."
You might read she'll be back in the next two weeks, don't count on it. The earliest ETA in my book is New Year's Eve against Hartford and she may play just a few minutes. Keep in mind she is in worse shape than when training camp started, so she is at least a month behind. Auriemma should be able to find her a few minutes in clean up duty toward the end of 2008 or beginning of January.
If you haven't noticed, Auriemma likes to play different teams in an attempt to grow the sport.
Toward the end of his postgame conference, Auriemma shared some insight into his relationship with Coale, who is one of the most expressive coaches in the country.
"I talked to Sherri (Saturday). I said, 'WHat kind of game do you want to play? Do you want to play for the national championship, 55-53, it'll be kind of boring? Or do you want to run up and down and let's have some fun and let's see what happens?' She said, 'I don't know how to answer that?' I said, 'I know how we're going to play. We're going to go up and down and that's how you like to play. So it's going to be whoever makes the most shot who's hoing to win. Maybe if we were playing for a national championship, we'd be more cautious. There was nothing cautious tonight about either team; we were just playing. ... This was women's basketball at its best tonight."
First, what the participants have to say:
Sooners coach Sherri Coale:
“I thought Connecticut was fabulous. I told Geno (Auriemma) after the game that if you play like that and you shoot like that, you might win the men’s national championship. We didn’t particularly defend well but we didn’t play that poorly either. There were 16 turnovers in the game. It was just a beautiful women’s basketball game. They shot the ball extraordinarily well. We didn’t contest well; we gave them too many open three’s. Maya Moore is an animal.”
In response, UConn's Geno Auriemma quipped of his good friend:
“That’s why she’s such a good recruiter, because she just makes stuff up and says stuff that people want to hear. I just think that we are a good team that played a really good team and we played exceptionally well. Where we go from here is anybody’s guess. The goal is to play another game just like this Wednesday and then after that and after that and after that. We can put together a string of games like this and make this a standard by which we are going to play we’ll be all right. We’ll be as good as anybody, and I mean anybody that we play against, not those other guys. I didn’t expect this tonight, I’ll be honest with you.”
OK, so he didn't expect this blow out, Neither did anyone else. Coale was asked about UConn compared to North Carolina, a program known for its ability to run and that beat Oklahoma a week a by a point. She said UNC isn't even close to UConn, that the Huskies are in another class. Between exams and time, it's not until UConn visits UNC in January that the Huckies should go without a challenge.
What we -- fans, media, etc. -- should feel is that there may not be another team to compete with the Huskies. We saw what Renee Montgomery can do (30 pts, 13 asists, 6 rebounds, 2 turnovers). We also saw Maya Moore play a game where she seemed unstopable. We also saw that at least on this night, Tina Charles is better than Courtney Paris.
I really liked what Auriemma had to say about Montgomery. Saying that maybe with the exception of Kerry Bascom and Diana Taurasi. But he also said this, which speaks volumes of just how much he appreciates the floor general.
“Everybody has Maya Moore on their All-America team,” Auriemma said. “Everybody in America knows Maya Moore is the best player in the country. I think Renee is trying to make sure she’s not the best player on our team.”
Sunday, November 30, 2008
All the talk - even from me - is on the Tina Charles vs. Courtney Paris battle.
That's compleling basketball, but the game will come down to the smaller players. That means Danielle Robinson and Amanda Thompson for Oklahoma, even Carlee Roethlisberger. For UConn, Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery and Kalana Greene. If the game proves to rest on the inexperienced shoulders of freshmen Caroline Doty or Tiffany Hayes, the Huskies will be in trouble. Of course, I say that and one of them goes off for 20 points and stellar defense.
If Charles gets into foul trouble, which I suspect will happen early, UConn will go small and force Oklahoma to run with them. That's not a good idea becaise the plodding Paris sisters will barely reach mid court by the time the play ends.
The guess here is Moore and Montgomery are too much for the Sooners and UConn wins by 15.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Maya Moore, who is one of the brightest talents the game has seen in a while (that includes Candace Parker), was amazing. Her near triple-double would have been noteworthy on its own. She'll get that triple-double sometime this year, maybe Sunday against Oklahoma Tickets still available, so get them).
But Lorin Dixon's performance is what stands out the most. She's been beleaguered for spotty play this year and in 16 minutes, she played well. If she can play like this every night in similar minutes, even if she doesn't get the point total, she will be a significant boost. Assuming everyone is healthy, the depth at guard with Renee Montgomery, Kalana Greene, Caroline Doty, Tiffany Hayes and Lorin Dixon is unmatched in the country.
I do have to take exception with some of what the BYU broadcasters were saying.
* First, they said Dixon is playing well and doesn't always have to be the leading scorer. She's never been the leading scorer at UConn. Tonight was her first 10-point-plus game.
* I understand the desire to question coaching decisions. As a journalists, that is part of the job. But when the color analyst suggested that BYU should focus on chipping away at a 40-point deficit with 11 minutes and change left, suggesting the game wasn't out of reach, showed either a lack of knowledge by a former player or extreme homerism. Later, when BYU coach Jeff Judkins started putting starters in with five minutes left in a 50-point game, she questioned the move. Granted, the two are not mutually exclusive. But when you want the team to play to win and question playing the bench, it seems odd to question bringing in starters periodically late in the game when Judlins is giving his reserves a blow after playing 10 minutes straight.
Also, did anyone else gasp when Kalana Greene slipped with about 7 minutes left in the first half?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
How about today?
This entire game - all 15 minutes thus far, has been a streak. A 47-9 streak.
It doesn't help when Rhode Island misses point-blank layups.
It remains to be seen if more established teams, like those in the Big East, use that tactic or stick with their long-standing formulas
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Geno Auiriemma said Kaili McLaren has had a good week in practice and Lorin Dixon should play a greater role tonight. Beyond that, he said he viewa Meghan Gardler and Tahirah Williams are essentially one player. Meaning the minutes they play gave to form the production the Huskies would want from one person.
Monday, November 17, 2008
*Tina Charles when not in foul trouble. She was active and played and was strong defensively as well as on the glass.
*The team stepped up in crunch time. As ugly as it was, this should be a character building type of game. If the message was sent and the team practices hard this week, San Diego State should be ready to fly home well before the half.
* Freshmen composure. There were more than enough mistakes by Caroline Doty and Tiffany Hayes, but both also showed some swagger (Doty bumping Alex Montgomery). They know they belong and in March, that's invaluable.
* Kaili McLaren. Honestly, I hate writing anything even semi-negative about her. She is one of the nicest people you could meet. But as Geno Auriemma said, she needs to be more of an active participant in practice. Look, with Heather Buck out a while and Cassie Kerns a better help on the bench, McLaren NEEDS to get in there and play like she knows how to.
It's a sensitive issue, but her weight is a big part of the problem. team sources say she conditions well in-season, but off-season all bets are off. If Kaili played the rest of her career the way she played last March, she's going to the WNBA. Maybe that's not what she wants, but if it is then she needs to get her act together.
*Maya's first half. It hurt to watch her at times because you know how amazing she is. I told Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant that she'd go 20-for-20 in the second half. for a few minutes, it looked as if she might. If you look at the stat sheet, you'd say she had a great game. She didn't. It was one of her worst at UConn.
* Thr__. I'd like to by a vowel. "E." Three, or missed threes, to be precise. The shooting shouldn't be that bad and probably never will be that bad. Nor will an opponent (maybe DePaul) score that many points on threes, either.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
To which she said, "Coach, we were always very productive."
Friday, November 14, 2008
Coach Geno Auriemma said Friday that the team's medical and training staff will monitor Buck and determine when she is able to return.
This could be much longer than three weeks. If you recall, last season former Huskies recruit Elena Delle Donne had mono and she missed most a large chunk of her senior season. She missed a couple of months. The Huskies will need Buck back sooner than that or it will be small ball all year for them.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
“What you see from Caroline (Doty) , is a lot of the things Kelly is,” he said. “Same kind of player, same kind of personality type. … Their skills are very similar, and what they do for their team, they are both really smart and really tough, physically tough and mentally tough kids.”
Calling Faris conservative in her approach to the game, Auriemma said that his newest addition is a stellar defender who will "step in next year as a freshman and have an impact on our team right away."
Faris played for the national U-18 team this summer, something that Auriemma asked her about because statistically, Faris does not stand out.
"Right now, she's content to do all the little things other players don't do. That's how she made the U.S. team that she played on. When I talked to her, I asked her, 'Why'd you make the team?' She said, 'Beacuse I think I did all the things nobody else wanted to do and the coaches liked that.' I think she's exactly what we were looking for and she'll be a great compliment withthese guys because she can play a bunch of different positions."
“It could be a week, it could be two weeks, it could three weeks, it could be six weeks,” he said. “I have no idea it’s going to be.”
Losing Buck, even for one game cuts deeply into already shallow depth in the post. Besides Charles and Kaili McLaren, Auriemma said playing Moore at power forward or moving Greene in from the wing are options, as is using Meghan Gardler and Tahirah Williams to fill the void off the bench.
This is a double-edged sword. You look at the schedule and see Georgia Tech, San Diego State, Rhode Island and a visit to BYU in the next two weeks. Provided Buck is practicing and available by the 30th against Oklahoma and Courtney Paris, it may give the Huskies a chance to become even more flexible then they already are.
In essence, it becomes good practice for future matchups or if someone else were to fall to injury.
The down side is there's no chance for the team to get used to its conventional roles if people are moving all over. Right now, the Huskies are playing with an eight-woman rotation. It's the five starters (Charles, Moore, Montgomery, Doty and Greene) plus Hayes, Dixon and McLaren. IF Charles or McLaren get into foul trouble -- see Oklahoma game -- that's when you might see Moore or Greene or even Gardler and Williams, who both looked decent tonight, log heavy minutes.
Right now, I would be more comfortable giving those minutes to Gardler if rebounding and toughness is what you need. She can eat up minutes, fouls and grab some boards and sometimes find the bottom of the basket. If you need more of an energy boost, someone who can move about, then Williams should go in. Tonight she was active on the court and was fearless in driving the lane and drawing fouls.
This could be a blessing. If both Gardler and Williams -- or just one -- get a bump in minutes and produce, the Huskies' bench grows deeper. After last season, we all know how important that would be.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Also, tickets are still available for Sunday's season opener against Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. At halftime the latest inductees to the Huskies of Honor program will be presented.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Tiffany Hayes is fast, quick, speedy...you get the point. Watching a lefty shoot is a little weird, but she should be OK. She hasn't done anything to stand out.
Neither has Heather Buck, who entered the game with just over two minutes to play in the half.
Kalana Green looked good, particularly early where she showed some burst but not on par to where she was pre-injury. That's expected.
Tina Charles has been impressive. She started the game with an underhand scoop shot that I don't recal seeing before. She often looked as if she smelled blood. Show her a double team in the paint and she would eat it up.
If I'm Geno Auriemma, however, if you take away an exceptional steal-layup-plus one play from Renee Montgomery, Stonehill has outscored UConn
The things to look for:
1. How do the three freshmen play. I suspect well.
2. How does Kalana Greene look, but more importantly, feel after the game.
3. How does Kaili McLaren play. She may be slipping int the doghouse if her conditioning doesn't improve, which means either heavy minutes for Heather Buck (unlikely) or playing a smaller lineup most of the time.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
1. UConn (30) 0-0 773
2. Stanford 0-0 676
3. Rutgers 0-0 639
4. North Carolina 0-0 629
5. Maryland 0-0 624
6. Tennessee (1) 0-0 602
7. Oklahoma 0-0 600
8. Duke 0-0 508
9. California 0-0 495
10. Texas A&M 0-0 493
11. Louisville 0-0 481
12. Vanderbilt 0-0 419
13. Texas 0-0 315
14. Notre Dame 0-0 294
15. Virginia 0-0 279
15. Oklahoma State 0-0 279
17. Baylor 0-0 272
18. Arizona State 0-0 215
19. Ohio State 0-0 188
20. Old Dominion 0-0 163
21. Auburn 0-0 154
22. LSU 0-0 133
23. Pittsburgh 0-0 104
24. Florida State 0-0 101
25. Georgia 0-0 94
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES
Xavier 87, Purdue 85, Kansas State 72, Iowa State 63, Marist 48, Utah 46, Syracuse 24, George Washington 24, Marquette 22, Michigan State 11, Hartford 11, UTEP 9, West Virginia 8, Liberty 7, Gonzaga 6, New Mexico 3, Iowa 3, Illinois State 3, TCU 2, Southern Methodist 2, Montana 2, Minnesota 2, Georgia Tech 1, East Carolina 1, DePaul 1, Boise State 1, North Carolina A&T 1,
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Moore fell one vote shy of an unanimous selection.
I'm a little surprised that Moore and McCoughtry weren't also unanimous picks, but there have been just six all-time. Some might wonder why Paris was had full support and not anyone else. A big reason is she is clearly the best at her position, and it's also a matter of her body work over the last three years. Don't be surprised if she is named the Player of the Year in April at the Final Four. I'm just saying, so don't shoot the messenger. I think Paris will be given any tie breakers because of what she's done over a very dominating career.
This just means that Moore, McCoughtry or anyone else will have to really standout above and beyond what Paris does. Plus, Moore will be hurt because she plays with Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles.
Just a few things that I don't want to spend much time on.
Texas high school standout Kelsey Bone recently told a Houston radio station that one of the reasons she chose to not attend UConn is that a reporter contacted her several hundred times. First, it's not me. How do I know? I've contacted her fewer times than I've interviewed Jim Calhoun (that would be twice).
If it's true -- and I don't believe so -- shame on that reporter. She is a kid whether we want to think so or not. She is also a person and deserves her space and her privacy. Anyone contacting any other person that much, especially considering the situation, understandably brings about thoughts of Bone's safety as well as concerns of deviant behavior on teh part of said writer.
Here's why I think it's not right: Among the regular beat writers: Carl Adamec, John Altavilla, Rich Elliott, Roger Cleveland, Vickie Fulkerson, Jim Fuller and myself, there's no reason any of us would have called/e-mailed/texted/whatever 10- percent of the amount Bone claims. Also, if Bone was having hard time with this, wouldn't she have told coach Geno Auriemma? I'll tell you this: If she had told Geno this was happening, he would have ripped us, the beat writers, a new one. Since he hadn't, and we see him at least once a week, I doubt she ever expressed this concern. Next, on a more professional point of view, the whole thing sheds a bad light on the UConn reporting corps. If Bone is going to make an unsubstantiated claim, she also needs to name the name and produce some form of proof that she's essentially been harassed or stalked by that person.
That said, the only other thing I ask is to check out my piece in today's Bulletin.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Notice the slew of Big East teams in the poll and receiving votes
Record Pts Pvs
1. Connecticut (44) 36-2 1,124 1
2. Stanford (1) 35-4 1,018 4
3. Maryland 33-4 1,005 5
4. Oklahoma 22-9 946 14
5. Rutgers 27-7 914 7
6. North Carolina 33-3 892 2
7. Tennessee 36-2 857 3
8. Duke 25-10 815 9
9. California 27-7 769 10
10. Louisville 26-10 726 19
11. Texas A&M 29-8 624 8
12. Vanderbilt 25-9 546 21
13. Texas 22-13 501 —
14. Oklahoma St. 27-8 442 13
15. Virginia 24-10 437 24
16. Notre Dame 25-9 374 15
17. Arizona St. 22-11 364 —
18. Ohio St. 22-9 359 25
19. Baylor 25-7 353 12
20. Auburn 20-12 239 —
21. Florida St. 19-14 204 —
22. Xavier 24-9 170 —
23. Purdue 19-15 148 —
24. LSU 31-6 133 6
25. Old Dominion 31-5 124 11
Others receiving votes: Pittsburgh 116, Michigan St. 67, Iowa St. 66, Marist 58, Marquette 56, Utah 50, Georgia 37, Kansas St. 25, Syracuse 20, DePaul 8, George Washington 7, Illinois St. 7, Southern Cal 5, West Virginia 5, Arkansas 3, Georgia Tech 2, Montana 2, UTEP 2, Gonzaga 1, Iowa 1, Liberty 1, S. Dakota St. 1, SMU 1.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
It is the first editions since December 2006 when 10 players were brought in as the initial class. This will also be the first time an entire team is honored.
That first title is still the sweetest for coach Geno Auriemma.
“I think that’s the one,” he said. “It was the first time you ever were able to experience something like that. There’s something different about it. The feeling that you get and the reception that team got will be beyond anything that will ever happen.”
Among the honorees are Auriemma and assistants Chris Dailey, Tony Cardoza and Meghan Pattyson, as well as players Rebecca Lobo, current assistant Jamelle Elliott, Jennifer Rizzotti, Nykesha Sales, Kara Wolters, Pam Webber, Kim Better, Jill Gelfenbien, Carla Berube, Sarah Northway, Missy Rose, Brenda Maruis and Kelly Hunt
Friday, October 24, 2008
Various reports had linked the tournament to Mohegan Sun Arena as well as the possibility of seeking out other venues in-and-out of state.
Chuck Steedman, XL Center Senior Vice President and General Manager said the arena is working closely with the city, local businesses and organizations such as the state tourism board, to expand the entertainment and amenities surrounding the event.
“This is a demonstration from the region that we want to desperately to have what we consider the premier women’s college basketball tournament to remain in Hartford and beyond in the central Connecticut region,” Steedman said. “It really is a tremendous event, and we have one simple goal: That is to make absolutely certain…to provide a tremendous environment for the student-athletes, the coaches, the administrators and certainly our fans.”
You might recall that after UConn narrowly defeated Louisville at the tournament's championship game, Cardinals coach Jeff Walz complained how its unfair to play the game in Hartford every year, always giving UConn an advantage. he changed his tune somewhat.
“I know the league looked into different things,” he said. “We’re just told to play. It’s something we’ll continue to do and hopefully we’ll get a few more chances at playing in championship games.”
Also remember this will be the first year that all 16 teams will participate, which I think is fantastic. I'll tell you this much -- the year-end banquet hall barely held the teams that were playing and the media. Throw in everyone and I can't wait to see how this is handled.
Maya Moore, UConn
Preseason Freshman of the Year
April Sykes, Rutgers
Preseason All-Big East Team
Candyce Bingham, Louisville
Tin Charles, UConn *
Krystal Ellis, Marquette*
Shantia Grace, South Florida
Chandrea Jones, Syracuse
Angel McCoughtry, Louisville *
Renee Montgomery, UConn
Maya Moore, UConn*
Epiphanny Prince, Rutgers*
Kia Vaughn, Rutgers*
Shavonte Zellous, Pittsburgh *
*denotes unanimous selection
Preseason honorable mention
Laura Kurz, Villanova
Deirdre Naughton, DePaul
Lindsay Schrader, Notre Dame
Team (first-place votes) total votes
1. UConn (14) 224
2. Rutgers (1) 201
3. Louisville (1) 200
4. Notre Dame 182
5. Pittsburgh 162
6. Syracuse 156
7. Marquette 147
8. DePaul 132
9. West Virginia 109
10. Villanova 85
11. Georgetown 77
12. South Florida 76
13. St. John’s 66
14. Seton Hall 40
15. Cincinnati 33
16. Providence 30
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
She averaged 13.9 points per game as a sophomore and was ranked the top player in this year's junior class. That means if you go back, the Huskies have nabbed four of the last five top players in their class — Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne (who is now at Delaware) and Walker.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Walker said. “I always watched Maya Moore during her junior and senior years thinking, ‘I’m going to play with her,’ and I’m actually going to get the chance to.”
In picking UConn over Rutgers, Walker said that the players at the other schools she considered were not as laid back as the Huskies.
“They really remind me of the girls that I’m close to on my team,” she said. “They really welcomed me and the coaching staff was a lot different than what I thought they would be, very cool people.”
Walker plays at the same high school that produced former Husky Tamika (Williams) Raymond. The two spoke last week with Raymond raving about her time at Storrs.
A converted guard, Walker can post up her defender (scary) and shoot from the outside (scarier). Husky fans, I'll let your imagination run wild when you think of the lineup possibilities.
Let's just project a little at what the Huskies are looking like down the road with graduation year listed.
UConn's going to need some post players, besides Heather Buck. It's not a knock against Heather, but one post does not make an inside game.
Friday, October 17, 2008
"Itʼs hard for me to believe that Iʼm going to be here playing for Connecticut," Faris said. "You always dream of being with a program like this and to know I will be here is very relaxing to me. I have my decision made and I am just happy to be here to watch it all.
"Everyone told me that making my decision when I did would be a huge weight off my shoulders and it definitely was."
Faris played with the National Under-18 team this summer, which she said helped her game significantly. Coincidentaly, she saw the Huskies last year when they scrimmaged the Olympic team at Gampel.
"Playing with the national [u-18] team over the summer helped a lot with my mental outlook on the game. It was also a little taste of what the college game is like because it [the tournament] was played on a completely different level than what you see in hs and aau. You have to step up your game in order to get a shot on the court. I think Iʼm a better player because of it. And it also showed me many different things that I still need to work on before I get out here to play. I know I need to work on my shooting and become a better ball-handler, no matter where you are on the floor."
"When I visited last year and watched them practice, I realized it was everything that I was looking for, in terms of intensity and desire. I talked to the girls and found out how hard they are willing to work for what they desire."
Only a sophomore, the fact that Bresnahan was here bodes well. She avaergaed 15.2 points per game last season for Butler, and describes herself as more of the type of player who drives to the hoop and makes plays.
"I love the campus and the entire team seems no nice," she said. "Iʼm having a lot of fun. This is just the start of the whole process and itʼs a little overwhelming at the start. Iʼm trying to just take things one step at time and consider all of my choices. I know it has the potential to ger a little overwhelming and tiring at times. I think Iʼd like to have it over before my senior season just so all the pressure is off me."
A few notes on the evening...
I was surprised to see Heather Buck break out her dance moves. She is fitting in very well with this team and will be a big contributor. When I spoke to her Thursday, she mentioned how happy she is to be in a situation different than high school (where she won a state title with Jacquie Fernandes) because the last two years at Stonington Buck faced triple- and quadruple-teams by defenses. At UConn, because of Renee Montgomery, Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Kalana Greene and more, she will rarely see double teams. She's not going to know what to do with so little contact!
Montgomery has always been cocky, confident and not affraid to speak her mond. But as the leader of this team, she has a swagger that's been four years in the making. When introdiuced, she came out with oversized, fashion sunglasses (I think Charde left those for her). This is Renee's team and she's not affraid to let anyone know.
Tina Charles is sometimes criticzed for being too nice, especially by Geno Auriemma. Yes, her kindness can show itself on the floor as she can lack aggressiveness. There are moments where you stop and see the good her kindness brings. After the women's scrimmage, the team threw t-shirts into the stands for fans. Charles grabed her last t-shirt, pointed into the crowd, ran around the press row tables and asked a couple fans in the front row to move to their side. Then, Charles handed a t-shirt to a young child, maybe three years old. No matter how more aggressive Tina becomes on the basketball court, I hope that generous, caring aspect never goes away. She's a good kid, and I hope people who watch women's basketball know that.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Also, Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles were named by the Sporting News as preseason All America selections. I will post the Sporting News preview late tonight. Just to clarify, since I read something on another website, no, the order in which the players are listed in the Sporting News rankings are not based on a points system. Since I'm the one who came up with the list, there is no rhyme or reason to the order outside of First-, Second- and Third-teams.
Sporting News Top-25
6. North Carolina
11. Texas A&M
12. Oklahoma State
14. Notre Dame
17. Arizona State
19. Ohio State
20. Florida State
4. Texas A&M
8. Arizona State
12. North Carolina
13. Ohio State
15. Old Dominion
17. Oklahoma State
19. Kansas State
20. Florida State
23. Michigan State
6. North Carolina
11. Texas A&M
12. Oklahoma State
17. Ohio State
20. Notre Dame
21. Arizona State
22. Florida State
2008-09 USA TODAY COLLEGE BASKETBALL PRESEASON SWEET 16
Monday, October 13, 2008
Check out this year's Sporting News College Basketball annual. Not only do they pick the men second in the nation, but the women's preview was written by yours truly. I'm not telling you who I picked where -- you need to pick up a copy. I got mine today.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
|TH 6||STONEHILL COLLEGE (EX.) (GP)||7:30 p.m.|
|W 12||SPORTS RESOURCE PROGRAM (EX.) (XL)||7:00 p.m.|
|SU 16||GEORGIA TECH (GP)||2:00 p.m.|
|TH 20||SAN DIEGO STATE (XL)||7:00 p.m.|
|SA 22||RHODE ISLAND (XL)||1:00 p.m.|
|TU 25||at BYU||TBA|
|SU 30||OKLAHOMA (GP)||8:15 p.m.|
|W 3||HOLY CROSS (GP)||7:30 p.m.|
|SU 14||vs. Penn State (Madison Square Garden)!||2:30 p.m.|
|TH 18||vs. TBA (Caribbean Classic)#||TBA|
|F 19||vs. TBA (Caribbean Classic)#||TBA|
|SU 21||vs. TBA (Caribbean Classic)#||TBA|
|SU 28||at South Carolina||TBA|
|W 31||HARTFORD (XL)||12:00 p.m.|
|SA 3||LSU (XL)||12:00 p.m.|
|TU 6||at South Florida*||7:00 p.m.|
|SA 10||at West Virginia*||TBA|
|Tu 13||DEPAUL* (GP)||7:30 p.m.|
|SA 17||SYRACUSE* (XL)||12:00 p.m.|
|M 19||at North Carolina||7:00 p.m.|
|SA 24||at Cincinnati*||7:00 p.m.|
|M 26||LOUISVILLE* (GP)||7:30 p.m.|
|SA 31||at Georgetown*||TBA|
|TU 3||RUTGERS* (XL)||8:00 p.m.|
|SA 7||at Marquette*||8:00 p.m.|
|W 11||at St. John's*||TBA|
|SU 15||PITTSBURGH* (GP)||3:30 p.m.|
|W 18||at Providence*||7:00 p.m.|
|SU 22||NOTRE DAME* (XL)||2:00 p.m.|
|TU 24||VILLANOVA* (GP)||7:30 p.m.|
|SA 28||SETON HALL* (XL)||7:30 p.m.|
|M 2||at Rutgers*||7:30 p.m.|
|6-10||BIG EAST Tournament (Hartford, Conn./XL Center)|
Saturday, August 30, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS -- An NCAA study found this year's Women's Final Four produced more than $19.1 million in economic benefits to the Tampa metropolitan area.
According to the survey, more than 21,000 people visited the host city in April because of the tournament. During the average stay, 4.2 days, visitors spent $16,655,769 and another $1.8 million in taxes and other charges. Local organizations spent nearly $2.4 million, for a total of $19,114,228.
Spending figures from the city's local organizing committee were not included in the tally. Ticket sales and spending by local residents also were excluded.
The study surveyed fans who attended NCAA tournament games, an outdoor festival and Hoop City, the indoor, interactive basketball experience that is now a prominent attraction at the men's and women's tournaments.
"The Women's Final Four has once again shown it is a proven winner on and off the court," said Sue Donohoe, NCAA vice president of Division I women's basketball. "Our corporate champions and corporate partners enjoy the strong outreach provided by our championship, and our loyal fans continue to support our game."
The survey found 91 percent of the fans who attended games and 87 percent of those who went to Hoop City were from out of town.
Monday, August 25, 2008
NEWARK, Del. – Elena DelleDonne, one of the most prolific high school
student-athletes in state history and the all-time leading scorer in
girls’ basketball during her career at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington,
has joined the University of Delaware volleyball program and is eligible
to compete for the Blue Hens in that sport this coming season.
The announcement was made in a press conference on Monday, Aug. 25, at
the Bob Carpenter Center.
DelleDonne, a high school All-American, had originally signed to play
basketball at the University of Connecticut and attended UConn for
several days in June before deciding to return home for personal
reasons. She made the decision in early August to apply to the
University of Delaware and was accepted as a full-time student on August
18. She will major in early childhood education at UD. The fall semester
begins Sept. 3.
“I would like to thank Coach Auriemma and the entire UConn family,” said
DelleDonne. “As I have said before, they deserve a 100 percent
commitment and I was unable to give that to them in the sport of
basketball. I have been open and honest with Coach Auriemma for the past
several months and there is nothing he was unaware of about my final
decision. I wish them nothing but success. He and his program are a
first-class operation. If I was going to play basketball, it would be at
UConn. It would be ridiculous for me to say I’ll never play again. I am
18 years old, so never would be an eternity. Basketball is just not part
of my life right now. I am at ease with my decision to attend the
University of Delaware and I am looking forward to starting classes and
following my mom’s path since she is a Blue Hen alum. I would also like
to thank the Delaware volleyball program. They have been so supportive
and over the last few days. It is comforting to know that I have been
welcomed into an extended family in such a short amount of time.”
DelleDonne has been practicing with the UD volleyball team since
Thursday, August 21 in preparation for the team’s opener Aug. 29 at the
University of California Fullerton Tournament. Since she joined the team
after August 1, she will attend UD as a non-scholarship member of the team.
Connecticut released DelleDonne from her scholarship earlier this month,
allowing her to play any sport at Delaware. NCAA rules prohibit her from
playing basketball due to transfer regulations. She has not decided
whether she will play basketball at Delaware.
“I would like to thank the University of Connecticut and coach Geno
Auriemma for granting Elena a release,” said Delaware women’s volleyball
head coach Bonnie Kenny, who enters her seventh season at Delaware this
fall. “No one in this room other than Elena and her family can
understand the magnitude of emotions and feelings that have occurred
over the past few months. The University of Delaware and its volleyball
program are the beneficiaries of her decision. I applaud Elena for being
mature and brave enough to come to the conclusion that this is where she
wants to be and this is what she wants to do. If I had any inclination
that Elena was going to play volleyball in college I would have been
recruiting her from day one. When I first talked to her mom and dad and
asked what do you want from us as a staff. They said ‘nothing we just
want her to be happy.’ We are aware that we have an elite
student-athlete in our gym and we are honored and humbled she has joined
us. From day one she has embraced us, and we have embraced her. She has
done everything we have asked with a smile on her face except when we do
triangle. My hope is that the entire state of Delaware will jump on the
train and support such a gifted student-athlete and the volleyball team
she is on.”
DelleDonne enjoyed one of the finest careers of any athlete in Delaware
high school history, starring for the Ursuline varsity squad since the
eighth grade and leading the volleyball team to the state title last
fall playing along with current UD teammate Megan Bonk. DelleDonne led
Ursuline to four state basketball titles and set the all-time state high
school girls scoring record with 2,818 points. A five-time All-State
basketball player, she was named the 2007-08 National Player of the Year
by the Naismith, McDonald’s, and Gatorade foundations. She was also a
National Honor Society student.
“We certainly respect Elena's decision and wish her well here at the
University of Delaware,” said Delaware women’s basketball head coach
Tina Martin. “The door to our basketball program will always be open to
At Delaware, she will battle for playing time at the middle hitter
position in volleyball and joins a team that is the favorite to win its
second straight Colonial Athletic Association title this fall. The Blue
Hens enjoyed one of their finest seasons in school history last season
when Kenny led her squad to a 31-5 record, the CAA regular season and
tournament titles, and the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
Delaware defeated Princeton in the first round before falling to host
St. John’s in the second round of the tournament.
According the University of Delaware Office of Admissions, this year the
University received 2,073 applications for transfer admission and will
enroll approximately 450 transfer students when classes start on Sept. 3.
DelleDonne is the daughter of Ernie and Joanie DelleDonne of Wilmington,
Del. Ernie is a 1979 graduate of Columbia University and Joanie is a
1980 graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in special
education. She has an older sister, Elizabeth, and an older brother,
Gene, who plays tight end for the Middle Tennessee State University
"Basketball is not part of my life right now," she told the Delaware News Journal.
Delle Donne played volleyball during her senior season in high school and decided that she "wanted to get back to that."
Thursday, August 21, 2008
This may seem odd, maybe even a bit paranoid, but this is Geno covering his bases. You'd have to imagine there's a little bit of bitterness on his part. He opened up his home, his school, his program to Delle Donne and they wound up having a public divorce. I'm sure Geno's been given a reason the 6-foot-5 standout changed her mind, but part of him wants to make sure she doesn't end up at Maryland or Tennessee or anywhere else where he'd have a decent chance of seeing her in March.
By requiring Delle Donne to enroll at Delaware or needing to request another waiver (which I doubt he'd sign unless he felt she'd be a non-factor), he forces her to commit to Delaware.
I text messaged Elena Wednesday night and, like every other scribe in the world, I'm still waiting.
I expect she will play for Delaware; I'm not sure when, though. If you recall, Jarrell Miller (who recently left the UConn football team and school) enrolled for summer school and took classes at North Carolina before deciding he wanted to leave. He had to sit out a year. Delle Donne's situation is a bit different -- just two days. It's a fair argument she and Delaware can make to the NCAA. My guess is they will make her sit.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Coach Auriemma and the team have been extremely understanding during this time of my transition from high school to college, and I thank them for that. I am especially grateful to Coach Auriemma whose kind wisdom has shown me why UConn is such a class program.
I intend to enroll at the University of Delaware for my freshman year this fall."
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Everyone had their take on how this saga, if you will, would play out. My gut feeling had been that she would not return after leaving in June. Speaking to Delle Donne's close friend, Caroline Doty, last month made me more convinced of the outcome.
That is all irrelevant.
What matters is the part that blindsided so many: The shocking news that the talented player has apparently given up on basketball. Was it the pressure of being the latest great thing? Maybe Elena couldn't bear to be away from her sister, Lizzie, who has special needs.
I spoke to Elena and her father, Ernie, about this relationship in January. At the time, both said being close to home was important. Maybe Storrs wasn't close enough.
She's a nice, sweet girl who was at a tough juncture. It's unlike anything you or I have had to deal with. Sure, college can be scary. But what about when you have the weight of he world on your shoulders before you ever take a class and you are expected to carry that weight over your head with extended arms?
This is all a guessing game until Elena or her family speak publicly. As loquacious as Geno Auriemma is, I doubt he'll have much to say until his former prized recruit opens up.
How much does this hurt UConn? Not much. Anyone who thinks this is a blow to its prestige or is related to the whole Tennessee controversy is looking to make up tall tales.
What Delle Donne meant to this year's Huskies team is what it would have been like to add LaDanian Tomlinson to the New England Patriots.
Right now, I hope that Delle Donne is OK. She needs to be for this decision to stick. Don't be surprised in a year she pops up at Villanova. If that happens, she will be vilified, unfortunately. To walk away from basketball, something you've given most of your life for, just seems like a drastic measure.
But, if this is truly a young woman ready to take charge of her life and understands that no matter how good you are at something, that skill doesn't define you, then whatever angst is out there towards her should vanish. After all, she's showing a maturity well beyond her years.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
In today's paper, I wrongly wrote that Brittany Hunter would be joining the UConn coaching staff. Of course this wasn't intentional but it happened. Myself and another reporter misinterpreted the information. This has since been corrected online and will be updated in tomorrow's paper.
I'm sorry for my mistake.
What's eating at me as that some people on a popular website dedicated to the team feel that this wasn't so much a mistake on my part but a lack of professionalism, suggesting I "piggybacked" the info from the other reporter.
Never in my life have I felt so insulted, particularly coming from those who have zero knowledge of how, when and who presented the information. I screwed up and I am taking the necessary steps to amend that. But for people to say that I essentially stole information from my peer is downright wrong.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Also, former Husky star Rebecca Lobo has been named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
t's hard to compare the two players for a few reasons. First, they play different positions. Secondly, they are at different stages of development. Candace just graduated and has some experience playing against/with the top players in the world. Maya just completed her freshman year and is starting to get the kind of experiences Parker has had.
Parker dominates in the post, has a decent jump shot, which can force good post defenders outside where she will dominate them, she runs the court and can alter shots with her length.
Moore is a little more versatile right now, because she can match up with smaller fours, plays the two or three with no problem and has an inside, outside game that's rarely seen. She has a three-point shot that is flawless (I don't recall anyone in the college ranks peaking the way she does with her shot) and can attack the basket. She's a much better defender than Parker only because she can do more to utilize her speed and has quick hands.
I think three years from now, Moore will be seen as the best player in the world. Right now, it is Parker. I think Moore helps her teammates better, but Parker is more likely to take over a game.
If I'm calling a final play, the ball goes to Parker. If I'm on the line, I want Moore shooting. Again, that's today. The next decade will bring some change to that for Parker and Moore.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Also, many thanks to the folks at Blogger.com for finding what I do here interesting enough to have named this a "Blog of Note."
Stop by anytime and be sure to check out my other seasonal blogs (Connecticut Defenders baseball and UConn football).
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Walking through Tampa International Airport this morning I noticed a few more signs welcoming fans into the airport's shops. What stood out was a conversation I had with a Tampa resident.
He mentioned a story in Tampa Tribune on Saturday, I believe, that called the Final Four the "Lesbian Super Bowl." Maybe this is a topic too hot for certain readers of this blog, and I understand this. That said, I'm going to touch on the subject.
The local I spoke to mentioned how the airport has had a "different feel" these last few days, he added that it felt like a convention. Well, any major sporting event does have that convention feel. Any time thousands converge upon a location for a singular purpose, there tends to be the same atmosphere. He also suggested the games be promoted as such so that others can know what to expect.
I can tell you what to expect: people who love basketball.
In the story mentioned, the NCAA refused to comment on the notion that the Final Four is the "Lesbian Super Bowl." I can't say I blame them, but not for the reason some of you might think.
By going along with the reporter's premise, the NCAA would be saying its women's basketball Final Four is a gay event and runs the risk of making its non gay fans feel like outsiders. You also have difficulty marketing the event in places where there is less tolerance.
Imagine playing the Final Four in Charlotte, N.C., and instead of focusing on the basketball the NCAA decides it wants to treat the weekend as a gay getaway? How many non gay fans atend? You can't do that to either the gay fans or the non gay fans. That's not fair. Nor can you do that to your games and suddenly make the FInal Four about the people attending and not about the basketball.
Sure, there were lesbians at the games. I'm sure there were some at the Super Bowl. That doesn't alter the validity or appeal of the event. At least it shouldn't.
I can't imagine the lesbian community in Tampa or elsewhere want the Final Four logo to be changed to a basketball set to a rainbow flag. Nor do they want an arrow or sign over their heads saying "LESBIAN" in big, bold letters.
The point is, fans are fans. It doesn't matter if the person next to you is of the same color, size, shape, gender or orientation as you. They probably don't like the same team as you. Or maybe they do. Who cares? It's been a weekend of some great basketball and basketball-themed events. That's what matters.
Monday, April 07, 2008
“I have tremendous respect for Geno’s coaching skills and abilities,” she said. “I think he made us better. They beat us enough that it made us better. The fact that we’re both not here today is not going to change what I want to say or talk or what it takes to mend it. I haven’t even gone there.”
What she means is that she blames this on Geno for his recruiting -- or his sense of humor. If its that latter Pat needs a night at a comedy club and less time swatting furry bandits on her back porch.
The hall of fame coach blamed the media for fueling the feud, which has been filled by repeated complaints filed against UConn by Tennessee for recruiting violations. All but one has been dismissed as having no merit by the NCAA The one transgression was deemed a secondary infraction and resulted in a warning.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
What about losing to a team they had already beaten?
Or that this team's current composition will not be what takes the court in the fall as four seniors leave?
Never had I seen so much anguish from a team before. Last year's loss to LSU seemed to be a new low. The tears, red eyes and noses. The choking speech pattern. None of thst came close to the magnitude of emotion displayed after the loss.
In some ways, each of the players emoted in a way similiar to their playing style.
Renee Montgomery, eyes welling up with tears, held her head up high with the confidence of a player certain of her return to this scene. Yet, she who is known for caring for everyone, cried her heart out for her team.
Tina Charles,the player coach Geno Auriemma wants to see a more forcefull and aggressive side from, blended into a corner as she cried.
Jacquie Fernandes, the rarely used sophomore was as red as a Tampa enduced sunburn. Her pulse always in time with her teammates.
Maya Moore, voice trembling but unaffraid. Much like the unknown that freshmen face, Moore went forward with the confidence of a senior.
Mel Thomas, who's heart overcame what she lacked in some basketball areas, could not be comforted as she let go of all the pain of not playing and the official end of a dream.
Brittany Hunter, fought her tears back with the determination she's shown througjout her career battling knee injuries.
Ketia Swanier, often described as a spark plug, held her own on the dais, but sat in her locker praying the pain would subside.
Charde Houston, cool in chais, was no different tonight. Calm, collected and introspective.
This was a team that had greatness in its plans but injuries and Stanford re-wrote the story. This, by no means, detracts from what they accomplished. The Huskies grew by leaps and bounds. And that makes every tear valuable.
Case in point, Montgomery was just hip checked and no foul was called. Why? Wiggins is who laid out the hit.
Renee Montgomery simply looks flat, as she has for the last few games. Kaili McLaren already has three fouls and Brittany Hunter has been negated by teh string play of Kayla Pedersena nd Jaybe Appel.
I said this against Rutgers and was proven wrong, but right now the Huskies simply do not have the look of a team that wants the win. Will that change? We'll see in 15 minutes.
Kaili McLaren and Meghan Gardler are entering the game to hopefully give the Huskies some much-needed board work.