Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Leader 1

If there's any question, any doubt as to why Renee Montgomery is among the game's elite, look no further than today's win over Hartford. Yes, it was Hartford, but let's say the game was North Carolina and Montgomery had gone down with the busted lip as she did today, do you think she would have re-entered the game? She offered to go back in today, but Geno Auriemma said no. It was the right call in an already decided contest.

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.

New leader

Renee Montgomery passed Jen Rizzotti, the former Husky and current Hartford coach, to become the all-time leading scorer among point guards at UConn. Montgomery's 20 points bests Hartford's 16 points thanks to a 9-for-11 efort.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dolson quotes, as promised

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 Oklahoma. After that I realized I really wanted to go.”


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

Geno's Christmas gift

On Christmas Day, UConn coach Geno Auriemma got the gift he had been wanting -- a 6-foot-5 center. Stefanie Dolson of Port Jervis, N.Y. gave Auriemma her verbal commitment to attend UConn as part of its 2010 recruiting class, joining Samarie Walker. Walker, who is 6-foot-1 gives the Huskies some size.

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:

2009
G Renee Montgomery
F Tahirah Williams
C Cassie Kerns

2010
G Kalana Greene (can leave in 2009)
C Tina Charles
G Jacquie Fernandes
F Meghan Gardler
F Kaili McLaren

2011
G Maya Moore
G Lorin Dixon
C Jess McCormick

2012
G Caroline Doty
G Tiffany Hayes

2013
C Heather Buck (assuming she is redshirted this year)
G Kelly Faris

2014
C Stefanie Dolson
F Samarie Walker


I will add more on Dolson later, including quotes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

For those who care


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:
http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3776195

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



Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Yuck

This was ugly. And I have to tip my cap to Geno Auriemma. OK, he's friends with Holy Cross' Billy Gibbons. But Geno didn't have to pull his starters. Geno didn;t have to show mercy to Gibbons or to the Crusaders. His responsibility is to the Huskies.

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."

Could this be a record breaker?

The fewest points allowed by UConn is 20. Holy Cross is minus its second-leading scorer and is bad to begin with.

Thoughts?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Paris in November

Courtney Paris looked bad in that first half, didn't she? Nothing-for-7 shooting and had eight boards (most were her missed shots). I, like a lot of others thought, "She stinks." OK. More likely, "She's not as good as I expected." And for the first 20 minutes , she wasn't. She let Tina Charles and even Kaili McLaren push her around and Paris played a disinterested game.

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).

Late-night ramblings

In all of the craziness that followed the big win over Oklahoma, I forgot to give you a further update on Heather Buck.

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.

Anatomy of a coaching relationship

Geno Auriemma and Sherri Coale, the Oklahoma coach, have a great friendship and friendly rivalry. Coale appreciates Auriemma for bringing the Huskies to Norman Oklahoma a few years ago. It was a move that really helped get OU fans behind the Sooners and helped the program gain exposure.

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."

Lesson learned

What do we come away with after UConn really made Oklahoma, the fifth-ranked team in the nation, look like it is light years away?

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.”

And a video

video

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More pictures












T-minus 30 minutes

Looking at UConn's schedule, it's hard to argue this isn't the biggest game of the season, rivaling games at North Carolina and home/away with Rutgers. At the very least, it's the biggest game of the first two-and-a half months of the season.

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.

You asked for it

Several of my loyal readers asked for pictures. Here are the first batch from tonight's pre-game.




















Buck alert

No, she's not in uniform, but I spoke briefly with former Stonington star Heather Buck. She told me she's feeling well and doing much better than she had been. No word on when she might resume practicing and eventually playing games, but I expect to have more on that after the game.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thoughts of the road

Gotta say that even though the first half was ugly at times, the Huskies looked good in the second half. Once more the defense showed it can suffocate ( it helped that BYU couldn't make layups). And, instead of five players in double-digit scoring, there were six.

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

Slow expiration

The second half, filled with a full compliment of resreves, has slowly moved towards completion. Less than four minutes to go and the Huskies have a 52-point lead. Five players are in double digits scoring, but more importantly for the long-term benefit, the starters are getting a decent amount of rest. It will also help as the team leaves for Utah tomorrow and will need some time to adjust to the two hour time difference.

The streak

We sports writers love to talk about streaks. This streak did this or this streak did that. There's usually some game-deciding streak that we point to and say, "That's where the game was won."

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.

Hot of the press

That is, what every one UConn's faced this year is doing -- pressing. It has rattled the Huskies and more importantly, it slows down the team's ability to run, forcing it into more of a halfcourt style of play. It hasn't hurt them yet.

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

First time out

Tina Charles has looked good, in large part because she's bigger than everyone Rhode Island has to throw at her. She's missed three free throws, but it hasn't hurt the Huskies, who lead 13-4. The Rams have two starters in foul trouble early, a sure sign of a much longer afternon than expected,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2 for 1

Maybe it's beating a dead horse, but until the bench produces in several games it will scrutinized.

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

One down...

If you didn't see the game, it was a whole lot closer than it should have been. Georgia Tech ain't a bad team, but they shouldn't have been down three with five minutes left.

The Good:
*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.

The Bad:
* 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

Too funny

Geno Auriemma mentioned that he had a gathering of the 1994-95 team, as well as his current team and their families at his house Saturday. Noting that the 94-95 team produced 19 children, he told Rebecca Lobo, "You guys were always pretty bad defensively. I'm not surprised."

To which she said, "Coach, we were always very productive."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Memorable quote 1

"I made it known that I want to be somebody the team can look up to. But if I'm not going to be a captain, I'm going to be the best follower."

— Tina Charles

Three-week hiatus for Buck

This won't be any fun for Heather Buck, the star from Stonington High School. She's been diagnosed with mono and will miss at least three weeks.

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

Faris locked up

Kelly Faris, a 6-foot guard from Indianapolis, submitted her signed ketter of intent Wednesday and, finally Huskies coach Geno Auriemma can speak about the sole member of his 2009 recruiting class.

“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."

Buck may miss extensive time

Freshman center Heather Buck, who was a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Connecticut, sat out the game and may miss a significant amount of time due to illness. Auriemma said Buck began feeling symptoms two days ago and will be re-tested to see if she has mono, strep or something else.

“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.

No Buck

Heather Buck isn't playing tonight against Team SRP in the final exhibition game for the Huskies. She is sick.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Game times finalized

UConn's games at West Virginia on Jan. 10 and at St. John's Feb. 11 have been announced as 7 p.m. tip offs. Those were the last two games needing game times.

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

Halftime thoughts

Caroline Doty started and looked good for the most part. She hit two threes and has two steals, but when she returned after a few minutes breather Doty looked out of her groove and missed her next three shots.

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

Tip off nears

There's some buzz here, mostly from the team, which is anxious to get on the court and face someone other then teammates.

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.

Three named to watch list

Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles were all named to the preseason Wooden Award Watch list. The award is given to the nation's top player.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tops in the coaches' poll, too

That makes it a clean sweep for the Huskies who are th concensus preseason No. 1 team in the nation.

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 named preseason All-American

She wasn't an unanimous selection, but UConn sophomore Maya Moore was named a preseason first-team All-American. She is joined by Oklahoma's Courtney Paris, who was an unanimous selection; Louisville's Angel McCoughtry, Maryland's Kristi Toliver and Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley.

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.

Do your part

and go vote! I'm not a morning person -- I usually sleep until 10 -- but I got up "early" and just got back from voting. The lines were longer than I expected at my polling location in Norwich. It wasn't too bad, though. I was in and out in under 20 minutes. Hopefully no one is having any difficulties in voting.

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.

Click here

Enjoy.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Another poll picks the Huskies

The Associated Press Poll, which is made up of a sample of writers from across the country, selected the Huskies as the preseason No. 1 team thanks to 44 of 45 votes.

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

Latest Huskies of Honor

On Nov. 16, at the Huskies' season opener, UConn will induct the 1994-95 team that went 35-0 into the Huskies of Honor.

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

Big East Tournament staying put

The Big East announced Thursday that its conference tournament will be staying in Hartford at the XL Center through 2011 thanks to a two-year contract extension.

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.

Media Day polls

Preseason Player of the Year
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


Coaches’ poll
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

Thanks...

...to Matt Stout, who filled in for me at the team's practice Tuesday. It was my one-year wedding anniversary, so I stepped out and Matt did a great job highlighting the start of the UConn careers of the three freshmen.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Add another to the ranks

Samarie Walker, a 6-foot-1 guard out of Dayton, Ohio, gave the Huskies her verbal commitment Friday at First Night. She told me over the phone today that her verbal came earlier than expected, which was a pleasant surprise to coach Geno Auriemma.

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.

2009
Renee Montgomery
Cassie Kerns
Tahirah Williams

2010
Tina Charles
Kaili McLaren
Jacquie Fernandes
Meghan Gardler
Kalana Greene

2011
Jessica McCormack
Maya Moore
Lorin Dixon

2012
Caroline Doty
Tiffany Hayes
Heather Buck

2013
Kelly Faris

2014
Samarie Walker

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

First Night

One of the big what-ifs of First Night is the speculation over what recruits will be in attendance. This year, I can tell you that senior Kelly Faris of Heritage Christian in Indianapolis, and sophomore Olivia Bresnahan of Butler High School in Pittsburgh, were present.Faris, you may recall, committed to UConn in March while the Huskies were playing in Bridgeport.

"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

Media Day video

Photos from media day

Here's the link to the Bulletin's photo gallery from today's Media Day.

UConn Media Day

The Sporting News preview

Since some of you either can't get it, won't get it but want to or just don't know where to get it....here is the Sporting News' 2008-09 preview. Click on the page you want to read for a larger version.





Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Three polls, Three No. 1s

Athlon, Lindy's and The Sporting News each ranked the Huskies as the No. 1 team in the nation in their respective preseason polls. UConn was also selected as a preseason Sweet 16 team by USA TODAY.

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
1. Connecticut
2. Maryland
3. Oklahoma
4. Stanford
5. Rutgers
6. North Carolina
7. Tennessee
8. Duke
9. Louisville
10. Cal
11. Texas A&M
12. Oklahoma State
13. Virginia
14. Notre Dame
15. Vanderbilt
16. Texas
17. Arizona State
18. Baylor
19. Ohio State
20. Florida State
21. Marist
22. Xavier
23. Auburn
24. Syracuse
25. Marquette

Athlon Top-25
1. Connecticut
2. California
3. Stanford
4. Texas A&M
5. Duke
6. Maryland
7. Oklahoma
8. Arizona State
9. Tennessee
10. Louisville
11. Rutgers
12. North Carolina
13. Ohio State
14. Texas
15. Old Dominion
16. Vanderbilt
17. Oklahoma State
18. Virginia
19. Kansas State
20. Florida State
21. Xavier
22. Auburn
23. Michigan State
24. Utah
25. Pittsburgh


Lindy’s Top-25
1. Connecticut
2. Stanford
3. Maryland
4. Tennessee
5. Rutgers
6. North Carolina
7. Duke
8. California
9. Louisville
10. Oklahoma
11. Texas A&M
12. Oklahoma State
13. LSU
14. Texas
15. Virginia
16. Baylor
17. Ohio State
18. Vanderbilt
19. Auburn
20. Notre Dame
21. Arizona State
22. Florida State
23. USC
24. Pittsburgh
25. Marquette

2008-09 USA TODAY COLLEGE BASKETBALL PRESEASON SWEET 16
(listed alphabetically)

Arizona State
Baylor
Cal
Connecticut
Duke
Louisville
Maryland
North Carolina
Notre Dame
Oklahoma
Rutgers
Stanford
Tennessee
Texas A&M
Virginia
Xavier

Monday, October 13, 2008

Welcome back....

Folks, the season unofficially starts Thursday as the Huskies host their media day. That's followed by First Night on Friday and the periodic practices open to the public. That said, be on the lookout for regular updates here and on NorwichBulletin.com.

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

The 2008-09 schedule is here

NOVEMBER



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.

DECEMBER



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.

JANUARY



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

FEBRUARY



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.

MARCH



M 2 at Rutgers* 7:30 p.m.

6-10 BIG EAST Tournament (Hartford, Conn./XL Center)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Final Four a financial boon for Tampa

This is an Associated Press story from two days ago:

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

Delaware's press release

Text and photos courtesy of the University of Delaware




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
her."

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
football team.

Elena's burned out

Elena Delle Donne said today at the University of Delaware that she's been burned out on basketball since she was 15 or 16 years old. Delle Donne, who had originally committed to UConn, decided to transfer to Delaware and was subsequently released by Huskies coach Geno Auriemma. She was introduced today as she joined the Delaware volleyball team.

"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

Geno lets go

Geno Auriemma released Elena Delle Donne from her letter of intent with UConn under one provision: it has to be to enroll at Delaware.

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

Elena's Statement

"I have decided that in the best interest of both UConn and myself that I will not play college basketball this year. Both UConn and I require a 100% dedication to the sport, and as of now I feel I can not give that level of commitment. It therefore would be unfair to the excellent program, Coach Geno Auriemma, the team, and UConn fans for me to play.

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

Delle DONE

The news of Elena Delle Donne deciding to not only pass on the opportunity to play for UConn wasn't all too shocking. I actually thought the news wouldn't break until the end of this week. My guess is UConn and Delle Donne knew for sometime. That's why the story breaks on a Saturday -- it's harder to find people to talk about what happened.

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

Brittany Hunter

I normally don't blog during the offseason -- maintaining three blogs all year isn't easy. Anyhow, I felt I needed to today.

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

It's official

Tonya Cardoza, the longtime UConn assistant coach, will be introduced tomorrow at 4 p.m. as the new head coach at Temple University. She will be replacing Dawn Staley, one of the greatest players in USA history.

Also, former Husky star Rebecca Lobo has been named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cardoza feeling the love

It looks as if Temple will introduce UConn assistant Tonya Cardoza as its new head coach Friday, replacing Dawn Staley, who took the top spot at South Carolina.

Right now, Cardoza, UConn and Temple are tight lipped, but an announcement is imminent.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Heather Buck

She didn't make the USA Under-18 squad, it was announced this morning. She's on her way back to Connecticut as I type this, so hopefully I'll get you word soon on her thoughts of the three-day trials.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Who's better?

A reader (Shammgod) asked who I thought to be the better player between Candace Parker and Maya Moore. Here's my answer:

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

Thanks

I want to thank everyone -- the roughly 17,000 visitors -- for stopping by over the last two weeks and those who made this little corner of the internet.

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).

Houston picked by Lynx

Charde Houston was selected with the second pick of the third round by Minnesota.

Swanier a Sun

With their second first-round pick, the Connecticut Sun selected UConn's Ketia Swanier. Swanier, who had a breakthrough season for the Huskies, will serve as the back-up point guard to Lindsey Whalen.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Congratulations

Good job by the Tennessee Lady Vols, winning their eighth national championship.

When good pubicity goes bad

My time in Tampa is coming to and end. I'll be up, up and away shortly and there's still so much to touch on about this year's Final Four. Most notable is tonight's championship game.

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

At the Summitt

Leave it to Pat to say something while saying nothing at all. With the Huskies done and en route to Connecticut, Tennessee's Pat Summitt was asked about the rift between the two schools. She paid a backhanded compliment to Geno Auriemma, which may have seemed harmless in its own right, but I think tells you more about the cause of this split.

“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.