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