Wednesday, December 23, 2009

WOW

Maya Moore just nailed a sick bounce pass as she faded away from the basket, between two defenders, and to Kalana Greene for the layup.

This one is done...

All but done...UConn outscoring Stanford 27-9 in second half, leads 65-49 with 9:19 left.

It's a sellout

The game is the first sellout at the XL Center since Jan. 6, 2007 against....Tennessee.

And....we're tied

It's 44 all with 15:52 to play. The half has been slow developing, but Stanford's had some trouble running it's offensive sets.

More honorees

The 1999-2000 UConn national championship team was honored and inducted into the Huskies of Honor program during halftime.

Heavyweights, for sure

Neither team is showing signs of giving up. These are truly championship teams. Each squad has had a decent run and they've also been able to steady play and exchange blows. It's a one-point Stanford lead, 35-34, with 3:40 left in the first half.

Big mistake

Kaili McLaren committed a stupid foul on Jayne Appel under the basket on a fast break. Fortunately, Appel missed the plus-one. Still, Geno Auriemma made sure to send a message -- he removed McLaren from the game.

A 6-0 Stanford run makes it 19-16 with 11:48 to play in the half.

Taking control

Thanks to a 7-0 run sparked by defense, the Huskies have a 19-10 lead. The Cardinal call a timeout.

So far, so good

This game has lived up to the hype through the first four minutes, three seconds. Yes, that's a short sample of time, but both teams are still feeling out each other and are able to make plays. Maya Moore and Jayne Appel each have an early foul. UConn leads, 12-10.

One versus two

Who needs Tennessee?

UConn-Stanford is the new black in women's college basketball, and that a game can sell out a decent-sized arena on Christmas Eve eve says something about the viability of the teams.

For all the complaining about attendance at UConn games lately, it may have as much to do with price as it does the competition. It's a sad day when a good team is treated with more of a yawn than anything else when it faces UConn.

The Cardinal, are better than good.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Correction

Kaili McLaren is probable, says Huskies maven Randy Press, who brought my misreporting of her status to my attention via Facebook.

As always, thanks Randy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kaili update

Huskies F/C Kaili McLaren is listed as day-to-day with a sore foot. The expectation is she will likely miss Tuesday's game against Texas at San Antonio.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Quick hits

It's the season opener at home against Northeastern and here are just a few tidbits:

The tean's championship banner will be revealed shortly.

Kaili McLaren will not play. She apparently injured a leg when stepping on someone's foot. She is in a boot. That means a bigger role for Stonongton's Heather Buck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sporting News Top 25

This is the Sporting News Top 25, as compiled by moi. Pick up the SN's College Basketball annual and check out my season preview.

1. UConn
2. Stanford
3. Ohio State
4. North Carolina
5. Duke
6. Notre Dame
7. Oklahoma
8. Virginia
9. LSU
10. Baylor
11. Michigan State
12. Tennessee
13. Xavier
14. Florida State
15. Georgia Tech
16. Arizona State
17. Texas
18. DePaul
19. Maryland
20. California
21. Mississippi State
22. San Diego State
23. Middle Tennessee
24. Marist
25. Boston College

Media Day notes

Lots to discuss coming out of the team's Media Day on Wednesday.

Coach Geno Auriemma had some high praise for freshman Kelly Faris. Saying he's bever seen her play a bad game, Auriemma predicted she will not have a bad game all season. I suggested she might have a game with five turnovers and she said she will not do that. Auriemma said Faris could miss all of her shots but she would make up for it with other things she does.

Just as interesting comment came from Maya Moore. She said if she had to play a 2-on-2 game for the national title, she would pick Caroline Doty.

Doty, for her part, couldn't hold back a smile at hearing that. She said after two knee injuries, she is stronger than before and ready to go.

Auriemma said Doty's backcourt partner, Tiffany Hayes is an All-American. He added that if Hayes is an All-American, UConn wins another title.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

2009-10 schedule

Here it is:
NOVEMBER
Thurs. 5 SAINT ROSE (EX.) Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 7:30 p.m.
Mon. 9 VANGUARD (EX.) Hartford, Conn. (XL Center) 7:00 p.m.
Sat. 14 NORTHEASTERN Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 2:00 p.m.
Tues. 17 vs. Texas# San Antonio, Texas (AT&T Center) ESPN2 9:30 p.m.
Fri. 20 at Holy Cross Worcester, Mass. (DCU Center) TBA
Fri. 27 HOFSTRA! Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 7:30 p.m.
Sat. 28 RICHMOND! Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 7:30 p.m.
Sun. 29 CLEMSON! Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 4:30 p.m.
DECEMBER
Thurs. 3 VERMONT Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 7:30 p.m.
Thurs. 10 HARTFORD Hartford, Conn. (XL Center) 7:00 p.m.
Sun. 20 IONA Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 6:00 p.m.
Wed. 23 STANFORD Hartford, Conn. (XL Center) 5:30 p.m.
Mon. 28 at Florida State Tallahassee, Fla. (Tully Gym) 7:00 p.m.
JANUARY
Sat. 2 at Seton Hall* South Orange, N.J. (Walsh Gym) 2:00 p.m.
Mon. 4 USF* Hartford, Conn. (XL Center) 7:00 p.m.
Thurs. 7 CINCINNATI* Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 7:30 p.m.
Sat. 9 NORTH CAROLINA Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 4:00 p.m.
Wed. 13 at Marquette* Milwaukee, Wis. (Al McGuire Center) 8:00 p.m.
Sat. 16 NOTRE DAME*$ Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) ESPN 9:00 p.m.
Mon. 18 at Duke Durham, N.C. (Cameron Indoor Stadium) 7:00 p.m.
Sat. 23 at Villanova* Villanova, Pa. (The Pavilion) 2:00 p.m.
Tues. 26 RUTGERS* Hartford, Conn. (XL Center) TBA
Sat. 30 at Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa. (Petersen Events Center) 2:00 p.m.
FEBRUARY
Tues. 2 WEST VIRGINIA* Hartford, Conn. (XL Center) 7:00 p.m.
Sun. 7 at Louisville* Louisville, Ky. (Freedom Hall) TBA
Wed. 10 at DePaul* Chicago, Ill. (McGrath Arena) TBA
Sat. 13 ST. JOHN’S* Storrs, Conn. (Gampel Pavilion) 5:00 p.m.
Mon. 15 at Oklahoma Norman, Okla. (Lloyd Noble Center) 9:00 p.m.
Sat. 20 PROVIDENCE* Hartford, Conn. (XL Center) 1:00 p.m.
Wed. 24 at Syracuse* Syracuse, N.Y. (Carrier Dome) 7:00 p.m.
Sat. 27 GEORGETOWN* Hartford, Conn. (XL Center) 1:00 p.m.
MARCH
Mon. 1 at Notre Dame* South Bend, Ind. (Joyce Center) 7:00 p.m.
Fri.-Tues. 5-9 BIG EAST Tournament Hartford, Conn. (XL Center)
ALL TIMES ARE EASTERN HOME GAMES IN BOLD CAPS

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Newest recruit

Auriemma already has his eyes on what he hopes are future legends.

Adding to a 2010 recruiting class that includes Samarie Walker and Stefanie Dolson, two of the best in their class, the Huskies added 6-foot-3 forward Michala Johnson. Johnson, out of Montini High School in Chicago, gave Auriemma her verbal commitment Wednesday.

She sat out all but one game last season following ACL surgery to fix an injury sustained over the summer. Johnson said she is scheduled to begin running by May, but won’t play until the season begins in November.

A Chicago Sun-Times All--Area selection as a sophomore, Johnson visited Storrs on Selection Monday and had a chance to meet the team. It was the comfort level around the players and coaching staff that sold her on the Huskies.

With UConn in the midst of another successful season, Johnson is excited about the chance to team up with Walker, Dolson, Caroline Doty, Tiffany Hayes and Moore, who will be a senior when Johnson arrives.

“I’m very proud of them and glad that I can be a part of that and one day play in a tournament like they are,” she said.

Johnson was also considering Duke, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Maryland and Penn State.

And now some video

video video

First the pictures








Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Perfect ending

Could Renee Montgomery have asked for a better ending to her home-game career? Probably not.

She wasn't the leader in assists or points, but she was most certainly the leader. When she scored nine straight points to jump start a 13-0 run that led to a bigger 21-3 run, it was exactly what the team needed.

It was vintage Montgomery. She's become the kind of player that can do whatever is needed to bring home the win. That's the kind of player who wins national championships.

Geno entered the post game press conference with tears in his eyes and a bit of a red nose. It looked like he had been crying. He hadn't. He bit his lip and was bleeding. I think he wanted to look like Renee when she had the busted lip.

One last time, with feeling

This is it for me, unless management decides that New Jersey isn't the same as overseas travel. Not a whole lot of thought went into today being my last game of the season until Rich Elliott of the Connecticut Post reminded me yesterday.

Allow me to be sentimental for a moment or two. Its been a honor to cover this team and this sport. Getting to bring you, the readers and the fans, coverage has been fun.

Getting to know these young ladies and bring their lives, hoops exploits and personalities has been great. What they do on the court is nothing compared to who they are, which are remarkable people that are what I hope my daughter would grow up to be.

There is also a great bond between the writers who cover this team and the our pleasure in presenting the journey.

Thanks for reading all year. And if you want more from the Bulletin, e-mail them at sports@norwichbulletin.com and tell them to keep covering the Huskies.

Wade trophy finalists

The WBCA announced its finalists for the Wade Trophy this morning and three Huskies are on the short list. This is also the likely All-America team, minus two players (probably Lavender and Wright, who would be honorable mention selections).

Jayne Appel

Stanford Univ.



DeWanna Bonner

Auburn Univ.



Tina Charles

Univ. of Connecticut



Marissa Coleman

Univ. of Maryland



Jantel Lavender

Ohio State Univ.



Angel McCoughtry

Univ. of Louisville



Renee Montgomery

Univ. of Connecticut



Maya Moore

Univ. of Connecticu

.


Courtney Paris

Univ. of Oklahoma



Kristi Toliver

Univ. of Maryland



Ashley Walker

Univ. of California, Berkeley



Monica Wright

Univ. of Virginia



Monday, March 23, 2009

Geno wins

ATLANTA – The Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) has selected Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma as the 2009 RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Coach of the Year. This year marks the 27th year that this accolade has been presented, which has been selected by the WBCA since 1983.
This is Auriemma’s third RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA National Coach of the Year honor as he received the award in 2002 and again last season. He is the only Division I head coach that has collected the award back-to-back years.
“On behalf of the WBCA, I would like to congratulate Geno Auriemma for an outstanding job this season, and we would like to honor your efforts with this award,” said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. “He is among the elite in the coaching profession and very deserving of this award.”
Auriemma, current WBCA Vice President, recently received his eighth BIG EAST Coach of the Year honor after leading his top-ranked Huskies to a 33-0 ledger; the only undefeated team in NCAA Division I. It marked the fifth time Auriemma coached his team to an undefeated record regular season play. This season UConn captured its 17th overall regular season title and 15th overall BIG EAST Tournament crown, marking the 13th time Auriemma has led his squad to both titles in the same season.
In 24 years in Storrs, Auriemma boasts an 85 percent winning percentage, the nation’s best, with a career ledger of 690-122. The Huskies, who have claimed three of the last seven NCAA titles (a total of five in the program’s history), their last coming in 2004, are making their 21st consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and boast a 65-15 (.813) mark all-time in NCAA play. The Huskies, who have been ranked No. 1 in both national polls the entire season, received an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, marking the second consecutive and the 15th in the program’s history. Connecticut has advanced to the Final Four nine times in the program’s history, including six of the last nine seasons overall. The Huskies have advanced to the regional round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the past 15 seasons (1994-present). During nine of the last 15 NCAA Tournaments (since 1994), the Huskies have either won the national championship or have lost to the eventual national champion. “Russell Athletic is proud to honor Geno Auriemma as the winner of the WBCA’s Division I Coach of the Year Award. Geno embodies the true values of a dedicated and successful coach,” said Catherine Gammon, Sr. Director of Sponsorships, Russell Athletic.
Auriemma is one of six RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA National Coaches of the Year selected, which also names winners for each of the other four WBCA collegiate divisions (NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and JC/CC) as well as High School. The winner is selected through a two-level process. The first level is by region, in which coaches from each WBCA geographical region vote for their respective top coach. Auriemma, having received the most votes in WBCA Region 1, advanced as a finalist to the national level of the selection process along with the other seven Regional Coaches of the Year in NCAA Division I.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tina the Terrible

And not in a bad way, either.

If you are a fan of UConn and/or Tina Charles, you have to like what you are seeing. Here's a young lady who had looked bad in two postseasons.

How can forget the n-show against Sylvia Fowles two years ago in Fresno? Or the vanishing routine all last tournament?

Already, she's showing this is a new Charles. She's UConn's leading scorer and rebounder since the start of the Big East Tournament, against Vermont today, played like the best center in the nation -- without there being need for discussion.

No one worries about Maya Moore or Renee Montgomery. After the win today, coach Geno Auriemma said he has to remind everyone on the team what they have to do and what they are capable of doing. Except for Moore and Montgomery.

If Charles can be that player -- not the one who expected big games would come to her in time -- but the one who brings the big games, no one will come within sniffing distance of the Huskies.

Florida, which has faced UConn once ever, is very athletic. Charles needs to be aggressive and active, yet play very smart or she'll land in foul trouble.

The Gators shouldn't beat the Huskies, but if Charles is not a positive for UConn and eithert Moore or Montgomery are off, anything can happen. Florida has been tested: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn are all tournament teams that as of right now, are still alive.

But until someone proves otherwise, I like the Huskies by 30.

Getting out of hand

If you've been reading this blog or some others, you may have read about the ever-growing list of mishaps involving the security staff at Gampel Pavilion.

Some of the folks are regulars at UConn games. Some are not. Either way, they have put too much weight into their job titles.

The worst, as I reported here, was kicking Renee Montgomery out of Temple's open practice on Saturday. In case you aren't familiar with open practices at the tournament, they are meant as entertainment. No team runs plays or works on its strategy; it is all drills for 60 minutes.

Toward the end, Montgomery made her way down the stairs and was greeted by a security guard who left her post to inform Montgomery she had to leave. So fans, media, staff and whoever else can watch a free throw line drill, but not players of the other teams? Apparently.

Today, Maya Moore was escorting her mother into the player's lounge and a security guard attempted to stop them.

The media are not exempt of the stupidity.

The dining area (a shock this includes food) is in the hallway of the athletic department offices. We are told to walk into the gym and up through the stands to reach that spot. Today, however, we were told we had to go around to an elevator, take that to the second floor and walk around the concourse. OK, no problem. But once any of us reached the second floor, we were escorted out of the arena and told to walk around the building to enter at another point.

After I did this, I tried bringing a bottle of "Smart Water" with me to the work area. I was told no items with logos are allowed. Even if the item has the logo on the cups and coolers used by the teams and is the logo of an official sponsor of the tournament.

I was told the main issue is that the necessary spots for running the tournament at Gampel are not together. OK, that explains some things, but not tossing Renee out of an "open" practice or hunting down Maya and mom.

After experiencing the tournament in Hartford (A+) and Bridgeport (B), Storrs is getting a D to date.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

50/50 chance

Two Huskies were named among the four finalist today for the Naismith Player of the Year award. It's Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery, Louisville's Angel McCoughtry and Oklahoma's Courtney Paris who are in the running.

If you believe the Big East Player of the Year ward that Moore won earlier this month knocks out Montgomery or McCoughtry, then it's between Moore and Paris. Don't discount Paris only because she's a senior and may get the sentimental vote.

Renee given the boot

With about 10 minutes left in Temple's practice, Renee Montgomery made her way down to say hi to Tonya Cardoza. But before she could get courtside, Montgomery was told to leave. Apparently, open practices are open to media and fans, but not other teams.

More on Mel

If you haven't read my article in today's Bulletin on Mel Thomas signing with the Seattle Storm, here it is: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/sports/x2087806865/WNBA-Ex-Husky-Thomas-inks-deal-with-Storm

There was more with Mel that couldn't get into the paper, so here's some more of our conversation.

On being around Sue Bird and Swin Cash in Seattle:
"It's familiar faces and people that you see all the time to help you fit in. It'll be very helpful."

On her adjustment to playing in Ireland:
"It's quite a transition from being at UConn to here. It's a lot different. The thing about coming here, we don;t practice every day. We practice two or three times a week. It was nice especially coming off my injuryto come here and get back into playing and being healthy, which was the most important thing for me. And we have individual work going on the days we don't have practice."

On playing overseas next season:
"I probably won't come back here. I'd go somewhere else in Europe. I don;t really know where I'll end up, but I'd like to in Italy or Greece. I don't know, somewhere that's a good situation."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mel Thomas

Mel just e-mailed me and confirmed she signed with the Seattle Storm. It had been rumored before, but she's signed on the dotted line.

More on this later!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Game time!

Far from a full house at the XL Center, but the crowd as a little more life to it than in the previous warm ups.

No one is expectinga Louisville win, but what I do expect is vintage Maya Moore and vintage Angel McCoughtry in what should be the last meeting of these two until they meet in the WNBA two years from now.

Folks, enjoy it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Quick thoughts

The officiating has been bad. On the play where Tiffany Hayes went down, the refs missed a carry and a charge and instead called a blocking foul. Why? Mercy. It's not the officials job to have mercy on one team over another. Call the game fairly and correctly.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Award speculation

There's no one at the XL Center from Louisville and video staff from UConn are present, so expect the Player of the Year Award to go to Maya Moore or Renee Montgomery. I have a birdie saying Maya.

Also on hand id Villanova's Harry Perretta. He appears to be the winner of Coach of the Year.

St. John's staffers are still here, so expect Da'Shena Stevens as the top freshman.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Awards time!

Tomorrow is when most of the Big East's hardware is announced and I'm going to chime in with my takes on all of the awards. I encourage you to share your thoughts with me.

All-Big East
Renee Montgomery, UConn
Maya Moore, UConn
Tina Charles, UConn
Angel McCoughtry, Louisville
Shavonte Zellous, Pitt
Epiphanny Prince, Rutgers
Laura Kurz, Villanova
Diedre Nauughton, DePaul
Chandrea Jones, Syracuse
Monique McLean, St. John's

Student-Athlete award
Maya Moore, UConn

Defensive Player of the Year
Angel McCoughtry, Louisville

Sixth Man Award
Siobahn O'Connor, Villanova

Most Improved Player
Liz Repella, West Virginia

Freshman of the Year
Da'Shena Stevens, St. John's

Sportsman Award
Nicole Michael, Syracuse. I'm kidding. Diedre Naughton, DePaul

Coach of the Year
Geno Auriemma, UConn

Player of the Year
Renee Montgomery, UConn

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Champs and schedule

with its win over Rutgers tonight, UConn locked up a perfect regular season AND became the first team in history to go undefeated in the regular season and win every game by at least 10 points. Congrats, Huskies and Huskies fans.

Here is a schedule for this weekend's Big East Tournament at the XL Center in Hartford. Tickets are still available.

Friday, March 6 - First Round (www.BIGEAST.tv)

Game 1 Noon.... #12 Syracuse vs. #13 St. John’s

Game 2 2 p.m... #9 Marquette vs. #16 Cincinnati

Game 3 6 p.m... #10 Georgetown vs. #15 Seton Hall

Game 4 8 p.m... #11 West Virginia vs. #14 Providence



Saturday, March 7 - Second Round (BETV and www.BIGEAST.tv)

Game 5 Noon.... #5 Notre Dame vs. Game 1 winner

Game 6 2 p.m... #8 USF vs. Game 2 winner

Game 7 6 p.m... #7 Rutgers vs. Game 3 winner

Game 8 8 p.m... #6 DePaul vs. Game 4 winner



Sunday, March 8 - Quarterfinals (ESPNU)

Game 9 Noon.... #4 Villanova vs. Game 5 winner

Game 10 2 p.m... #1 Connecticut vs. Game 6 winner

Game 11 6 p.m... #2 Louisville vs. Game 7 winner

Game 12 8 p.m... #3 Pittsburgh vs. Game 8 winner



Monday, March 9 - Semifinals (ESPNU)

Game 13 6 p.m... Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner

Game 14 8 p.m... Game 10 winner vs. Game 11 winner



Tuesday, March 10 - Championship (ESPN)

Game 15 7 p.m... Game 13 winner vs. Game 14 winner

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Senior Night videos

These are the videos of, in no particular order, the senior night presentations, the national anthem and the acceptance of the Big East championship trophy.


video video video

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another McDonald's All-American

The new addition to the Huskies, at least next season, will be guard Kelly Faris out of Heritage Christian in Indiana. You can also add Faris to the long list of UConn players to play in the McDonald's All-America game.

It was a bit of a shock, at least to me, because Faris has been widely unheralded. This is a very nice feather in her cap. She deserves plenty of congratulations.

Future teammate Maya Moore had some advice for Faris regarding the April 1 game in Miami.

"Just soak in everything for every event they have planned for you," Moore said. "Don’t be shy, don’t be nervous, don’t hold back. Make sure you enjoy everything. It’s something you can always look back on. You’ll play against some other players, watch others on TV and it’s a great connection with your class."

And this from coach Geno Auriemma:
"The McDonald’s people have picked a really good player. Nobody thought Kelly Faris was the kind of player that would be on the Under-18 national team but she went out to trials and played herself onto that team. When people give her a chance to play and put her in those scenarios I think she proves to everyone that she belongs."

"Being an All-American is a lot more than being the player that scores the most points. She does all the little things that good teams like. The coaches like the kind of things that she does. We didn’t recruit her because she’s averaging 30 points per game. We recruited her because she’s a real good basketball player who is going to add a lot to what we’re doing. It’s a great honor for her and the humble kid that she is I’m sure she’ll appreciate it."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Renee's Day - pics and video
























video






Pittsburgh pre-game

Not to take anything away from the Panthers, who are 19th in the country, but the talk around Gampel is who or what is the latest Husky of Honor addition.

Let's open the think tank and go tnrough options:

  • Associate head coach Cris Dailey. If it were her, wouldn't it have happened already? Wouldn't UConn have scheduled this to happen against Rutgers, her alma mater? She's the dark horse.
  • Any past team: The school would have issued a press release and the players, some of whom are overseas, would have to made plans to come back.
  • Kay Yow. Seeing as it's "Think Pink" day, sure. But she was never a Husky.
  • The fans. Interesting. Hmmm...
  • Renee Montgomery. This is where my money is. You don't wait until Senior Night and give one senior more attention than the others. You do this before a national TV audience, further making the case for Montgomery as the National Player of the Year. And, it's been kept so secretive that it makes perfect sense that someone close to the team is being honored.
  • The No. 1 for the most weeks at No. 1 in the polls of any team. But that could change down the road, making the plaque look silly.

Check back here for video and pictures shortly after the announcement.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

UConn notes

Laguna Hills, Calif., sophomore Lauren Engeln made an unofficial visit to UConn Saturday. The 5-foot-11 guard may be in attendance with her father at today’s game. ... UConn will unveil its latest addition to the Huskies of Honor before the game. The newest addition is being kept under lock and key so to be a surprise. ... UConn will don pink sneakers and pink trimmed jerseys as part of the team’s “Think Pink” game, promoting cancer awareness.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Jess done until December

UConn sophomore center Jessica McCormack has returned to her native New Zealand to receive treatment for a nagging Achilles tendon. Pain has followed McCormack since January of last year and has kept her from practicing with the Huskies.

"She has had numerous non-operative treatments that are usually successful but continues to experience discomfort, which led to this decision," said Dr. Tom Trojian, UConn's team physician, in a statement.

A member of the New Zealand National Team, McCormack participated in the Summer Olympics, but her Achilles continued to present a problem for her. She rarely practiced with the Huskies and spent the time between semesters at home resting rather than with her teammates. It was decided that when she returned there hadn't been significant progress made, surgery would be the last option.

McCormack was sitting out this season after transferring from the University of Washington. With her not expected to return to the States until the summer, McCormack will have to sit out first semester of next season in order to satisfy NCAA regulations for transfer student-athletes.

According to UConn coach Geno Auriemma, there is no damage to the 6-foot-5 center's Achilles, but that there's some "stuff" around it that needs cleaning up. He expects a full recovery in time for training camp.

"That's what you always think," he said. "It's just like any other surgery. You go in and say, 'This is going to be good.' Her doctor believes it and she believes it and there's no reason not to believe it. Everything else she's tried hasn't worked, so hopefully this will be the final thing to get her over the hump."

Friday, February 06, 2009

Mel Thomas

There was a report last week saying that according to Mel Thomas' grandmother the former UConn star would be invited to training camp with the Seattle Storm. This is something the Storm have since denied.

When I read this -- and I have no reason to doubt the validity -- I e-mailed Mel. She got back to me Thursday night as said that she doesn't know much of what's going on (I assume because an agent is handling such matters) and that she'd get back to me when there's something solid.

When I know, you'll know.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Post-Rutgers




Some pictures from Tuesday's game, including one of the hero Meghan Gardler. She doesn't get a whole lot of time and isn't always dependable, but she came through big time against Rutgers. Kia Vaughn, Rutgers' one-time center, didn't know who Gardler was (does now) and threw her own teammates under the bus.

“She played well,” Vaughn said. “It had nothing to do with her height. She’s just strong and moving me around. It was just my teammates who had to actually come down and find me, so they didn’t find me and she had help from her other teammates.”

Vaughn was also asked about the WNBA and said she's still trying to figure out how the scoring is supposed to work on her team.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New starter

Tiffany Hayes will be starting in place of Lorin Dixon tonight. SHe was running the point in shoot around, so unless something changes between now and 8 p.m., Hayes is the starting point guard.

Renee in the WNBA

John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant and I were asked by the Minnesota Lynx to provide analysis of Renee Montgomery as we look ahead to April's WNBA draft.

The Lynx put together a really neat Draft Central Web page that is worth noting. Here's the link:
Minnesota Lynx Draft Central

While there, check out all of the other WNBA prospects featured as well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just to follow up

The point HondoHurricane made in the last entry is worth noting. She doesn't play for UConn, but I don't think there's an opposing player at least as long as I've covered the team that UConn fans have grown to respect more than Angel McCoughtry.

I always mention this, but it's worth noting because of who and what she was and now is. Three years ago, McCoughtry threw a tantrum on the court during the Big East Tournament. That was her sophomore year. The fans at the Civic Center were on her like I had not seen again. But Angel has grown up immeasurably. Her maturation has caught up with her talents and when they hooked up, she's blossomed even more.

So, yes, it was very classy by the UConn fans to give her a standing ovation. It also shows how much everyone else -- outside of Louisville -- recognizes her growth.

What else can be said

...about the number UConn put on Louisville?

Let's start with the most significant number coming out of the game. That is three.

Three was the shot of choice for Tiffany Hayes, who by many was considered the third freshman of her team's class (EDD and Doty).

Three was the shot that sparked the Huskies' big run when they took control of the game for good.

Three is the number of top six teams UConn has defeated by no fewer than 28 points.

I'm saving Hayes for another blog, hopefully in the morning when I have more rest. The threes? check out Tuesday's Bulletin.

What UConn has done is mind blowing. The ease, and increasing ease, at which it is winning games makes you wonder where the peak will be. Do they peak? Geno Auriemma said after the game that until everyone is clicking, there's room to improve on a nightly basis.

Jeff Walz refused to say UConn is the best team in the country. I don't know if he has a grudge or thinks someone is better, but who's feelings are you going to hurt by not saying UConn?

What I think is a bit of sportsmanship. He's confident that the Big east title game comes down to these same teams and if he waxes amazement than his team might believe it can't hang with the Huskies. I thnk we saw that the Cardinals can, in fact, play with the Huskies.

Had it not been for some sloppy play and a load of missed gimmie baskets, we have a different game. Maybe it's a 12-point game instead. And what if Tiffany Hayes plays more toward her average? Then Louisville might win. I doubt it, though. I find that the Cardinals are MUCH better than they showed -- and how can you not like Angel McCoughtry and Candyce Bingham?

I mentioned at halftime to someone who had never seen Angel play how I thought she is better than Maya Moore. I think Angel is more complete right now. Statistically, McCoughtry is the better player. That can't be argued. Plus, she has less talent -- substantially so -- than Moore. McCoughtry has single-handedly made Louisville a power.

Moore is more graceful, and compared to where McCoughtry was as a sophomore, is light years ahead in development. Meaning, two years from now, Maya is going to be twice as good...at least.

Anyhow, the season seems anticlimactic now. It shouldn't be and I suspect there will be a few tough games between now and the Big East tournament. But there are only a handful of teams that I think can give UConn trouble.

They are:
Stanford
Baylor
Cal
Maybe Auburn (need to see more)

Most everyone will disagree with me on Baylor and Cal, but I think they are athletic enough to cause problems for UConn.

OK, so that's it for now...but more after sunrise.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Misc. notes

Prior to the start of Monday's game against Louisville, which should be either No. 1 vs. No. 4 or No.1 vs. No 4, there will be a moment of silence in honor of Kay Yow. No pink jerseys or anything like that - I'll break out a pink shirt/tie combo for Kay, though. If you are going Monday, try to wear pink. If you know someone going, ask them to wear pink. Sure, UConn will have its "Think Pink" game in a few weeks, but it's not going to hurt you to do it twice.

Also, Maya Moore will be presented with a ball to commemorate her 1,000th point, which she scored last week against Syracuse. as part of her 40-point outburst.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thanks, Coach

Conn coach Geno Auriemma sat deeper into his seat during Thursday's media gathering, looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable. For a man who usually has a quick response to anything, Auriemma was caught off guard.

His eyes drifted toward the floor, as to not make eye contact, but there was no hiding the emotions welling up inside.

All this for an opposing coach, a friend.

North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, 66, lost her battle with cancer Saturday.

Auriemma said he knew this most recent leave of absence was a sign of the disease taking a deeper hold of Yow, who twice before fought cancer into remission after her initial diagnosis in 1987. The last came in 2007 and she returned to the Wolfpack's run in the NCAA Tournament, which ended with a loss to the Huskies in Fresno, Calif.

Yow was what was right about sports, humanity.

She fought with a gusto and a determination that you realize if everyone shared those qualities, there is nothing mankind couldn't accomplish. She gave millions -- if not more -- hope, basketball fans or not, with her tireless advocacy toward cancer awareness and fund raising.

A Hall of Fame coach with 700 wins and a gold medal, Yow will be remembered for being both fighter and sheppard.

She is the reason next month college teams across this land will wear pink. Not many people can transcend their sport, yet Yow managed to do so.

Yow's efforts weren't fruitless. If the attention she drew to the cause led to one person to get checked out and catch the disease before it spread, I am sure she'd tell you every ounce of energy was well worth it.

Unfortunately, no matter how much others honor Yow, it simply won't be enough to do her justice.

Thanks, Coach.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Doty's surgery

Freshman guard Caroline Doty underwent surgery Thursday morning to repair her torn left ACL. That's the same ACL she tore playing soccer during her senior season of high school. She should need six-to-nine months to recover, but the question that is a ways away from being answered is how will Doty respond when she's back on the court? Will she be tentative? Will she hold back? Will she favor the left leg?

I spoke with two people who know a thing or two about knee injuries - Kalana Greene and Shea Ralph.

Greene said the hardest part was during games and not being able to give anyone a breather. In a lot of ways, that time becomes a reminder that you are hurt. Ralph said she has already assigned responsibilities to Doty, such as charting stats, to keep her involved and her mind off of the injury. The other thing Greene said was that practices were even tougher.

“I didn’t watch practice last year, I couldn’t do it,” Greene said. “I rehabbed during practice because practice is long and you’re doing drills and you see people play. Games are hard enough, but watching practice every day, it sucks because you want to be out there and part of the team.”


Ralph said she had five knee surgeries all told. After the fifth, the doctors told her that should she require another operation, Ralph would need knee replacement. Hopefully Doty doesn't go beyond two surgeries. My uneducated assumption is two in two years doesn't bode well dor Caroline.


Anyhow, Ralph said the subsequent surgeries and rehab were easier in the sense that she knew what was in front of her but she still had some measure of uncertainity. The keys are not getting too bogged down. It helped to have a good support system to lift her spirits, naming her roommate, Paige Sauer, as one person in particular that stepped up for her.


“At first it’s very physical because you lose your muscle like that, your knee is this big (gesturing a foot wide with her hands); the simplest things are painful and hard,” she said. “It’s hard physically. And once that starts to subside, it’s completely mental. I think the biggest is once your healed, is being back out on the court.”


Ralph said there isn't much you can tell an athlete when they're on the verge of surgery, but mentioned she stopped by to see Doty Thursday morning and deleivered a care package for the freshman.





Sunday, January 18, 2009

Syracuse pics and a video






The video is Orange coach Quentin Hillsman displaying his frustrations with the officiating.



video

Clarification

First off....I need to respond to the last couple of comments regarding the Syracuse game.

1. Anyone who saw the game, especially if you were there, knows Geno didn't try to trip anyone. If you believe that, you are making up your own story and have no idea what happened. From my perspective, it looked like Geno tripped on a television cable. He said he stepped on someone's foot. A clip with a close up, but not entirely concrete shows Nicole Michael appearing to have stuck out her foot.

Everyone on the press row side of the court said he tripped on the cable. Everyone on the bench side said he was tripped, not that he instigated a trip. The line of players also blocked many people from seeing the cable.

Instead of name-calling and making up accusations, let's stick to the facts.

From what I saw, he tripped on a cable, but Syracuse played a dirty, dirty game.

2. Running up the score? You bet. The players and Auriemma wanted to make a point, send a message. 'Cuse coach Quentin Hillsman told the Orange;s radio team that he felt Auriemma was "trying to send me a message that I won't accept."

Auriemma said that if Hillsman thought a message was being sent he must have done something to warrant a message.

After Syracuse players said anyone on their team can guard Maya Moore and that the only difference between the Huskies and the Orange is the No. 1 ranking UConn has, I think what we saw was a Orange squad hat realized they aren't close and a Huskies team that wanted to make sure their foe knew its place.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

War of words

Syracuse's Nicole Michael threw down Maya Moore midway through the second half, and during a timeout that immediately followed the play, Geno Auriemma spent the 30 seconds starring down at the Orange bench. After the game, it escalated as Auriemma exchanged words with Michael, who on her way back around, barked back at the coach. Both needed to be pulled away.

Auriemma doesn't like to punish the kids on the opposing team by running up the score, but today, he clearly did that.

Maya Moore became the fastest player to reach 1,000 points in school history, made the most 3-pointers in a game by a Husky with 10 and scored 40 points and 13 rebounds in the 107-53 win.

Renee Montgomery had 14 points and 11 assists, Tina Charles scored 20 with nine boards and Caroline Doty, who left with a knee sprain in the first half, scored 17.

Doty hurt

UConn freshman Caroline Doty scored a game-high 17 points, but twisted her surgically repaired left knee with 27.9 seconds left in the Huskies' 48-28 halftime lead over Syracuse at the XL Center on Saturday.

Doty was on a fastbreak along with Renee Montgomry and awkwardky turned to receive a long pass from Maya Moore (17 points) under the basket before falling to the court. She yelled, "My knee," as she the team's training staff ran to her aid.

It was a banner half for Doty, who missed her senior season due to a torn ACL. She was 5-for-11 from 3-point range and hit a pair of technical foul shots.

She had tangled with Syracuse's Juanita Ward and letter hit a 3 and looked in Ward's direction heading back uo court. Ward then directed some choice words at Doty leading to the technical foul shots.

Extended play

According to North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell, the contract between UConn and UNC, which was set to expire after next season, has been extended for two additional years, taking the rivalry through the 2011-2012 season.

A UConn official said that the deal hasn't been signed, but is being finalized.

Calm before the storm

Frankly, today's game between UConn and Syracuse seems pointless. All of the attention is already on Monday's clash between UConn and North Carolina. It's the sort of game that the nation's women's basketball loving public can't wait to see. Me, included.

Oddly, the hype isn't at the same level as when Oklahoma came into Storrs in Novemeber. I think come Monday that should change.

UConn has spanked pretty much everyone, so the blade is a little dull. But UNC is undefeated and provided UConn wins today, which it should, this will be a clash for the No. 1 ranking. A UConn win, especially by a large margin, will make the rest of the season seem moot.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how sharp the Huskies are with their final tuneup for the Tar Heels. My guess is it won't be pretty even though the Orange are a pretty decent team.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fernandes' scholarship extended

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Tuesday that former Stonington guard Jacquie Fernandes will have her scholarship extended for her senior season.

“Jacquie made the decision to come here and I hope she doesn’t regret it and never will. … There’s not a kid on our team that doesn’t appreciate her being here and all the things she does for us.” Auriemma said .

Fernandes has seen an increase in her minutes, scoring, field goal percentage and rebounding from either of her previous two seasons. She scored a career-high five points and four rebounds against Holy Cross last month.

“Like every other year it wasn’t guaranteed and I have to get it and work for it,” Fernandes said of the scholarship. “It’s good to know I have it.”

She added, “You can’t put a money value on the experiences I have had."

Sloppy play

Twenty minutes in and the Huskies have a 15-point lead, but they should be thankful.

* They've played sloppy and seem to rush their offensive sets
* DePaul's Deirdre Naughton, the team's leading scorer, is having a bad night. She has made just one of seven shots while getting into foul trouble

Tiffany Hayes is really impressing. She's flying all over the court, tallying 10 points in 15 minutes. Kalana Greene has shown hints of her slahing ability that we haven't seen in over a year. Maya Moore leads all scorers with 16.

Check back later for pictures from the game.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

post game

What LSU coach Van Chancellor had to say about Renee Montgomery is bonkers. That is, who says stuff like that? Chancellor does. For those of you who think Geno Auriemma is charming, you need to meet Chancellor. He is the epitome of a Southern Gentleman.

Anyhow, Auriemma couldn't disagree with his counterpart saying that Montgomery will be one of two point guards on the USA's 2012 Olympic basketball team. In fact, Auriemma went as far as to say he would imagine Montgomery and Sue Bird as the pair of points on the team.

He did note that Montgomery can't take 20 shots a game with the Olympic team or there might be a revolt, led by Diana Taurasi.

LSU still tough

Some -- myself including myself -- but the athleticsim and defensive intensity of the Lady Tigers is really impressive. LSU has controlled the boards and forced UConn into taking some bad shots.

Recruiting news

There's always specualtion about who UConn has interest in and who has interest in UConn. Of course, who wants to play at UConn is far less important than who UConn wants to play there.

With Samarie Walker and Stefanie Dolson in place for the class of 2011, speculation is rampant that NFA standout Kastine Evans is on the radar. Evans recently said that she was being looked at by UConn and Tennesee, among others.

I can tell you that, yes, the Huskies have interest in the guard, as program sources have confirmed as much. And a little birdie told me that contrary to Evans' claims, the Lady Vols just aren't that into her.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Star spotting and more

If you are at tomorrow's game or watching it on TV instead of the bowl game, keep an eye out for some people of note in the Husky universe. Former Huskies Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Ashja Jones, Maria Conlon and Ashley Valley, as well as recruit Stefanie Dolson are expected to be in the stands.

*****
Tomorrow's game against LSU will be the last game between the teams, at least that's scheduled, for some time. The deal between schools expires after this season. Personally, I've grown attached -- almost comfortable -- with the Lady Tigers. Baton Rouge is my favorite place that I've visited with the team and I have a lot of respect for the success attained there.

Geno Auriemma said that it's time for a "break" between teams. Maybe he's right. Let LSU reload in a couple of years and come back when there should be a little more juice. UConn leads 4-1, but that one loss came in Fresno to reach the Final Four a couple of years ago.

Next year, UConn will have its hands full: Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Duke and Stanford on top of an always tough Big East schedule. I can see how North Carolina might step in and become that rival that Tennessee was/is. I like LSU better, but UNC is so impressive.

*****

Renee Montgomery is hating life right now. Well, to be clear, she's hating her busted lip. It's considerably larger and she asked reporters to not look at her lip. Frankly, it's hard not to. There are people who have been in a car accident that had smaller lips.

She says it hurts badly in the morning, as if she "was hit by a truck." It's starting to heal and "Ne-Ne" wishes the swelling would go down because the game is nationally televised.

Montgomery said she can't pronounce the letter F, but when I asked her to say "food," she sounded fine. I also suggested she speak with her lip covered up if she's bothered. So she turned to a nearby camera and asked if they could hear her OK. Auriemma said he's never seen anyone use so much ice as Montgomery.