Category Archives: Brian Agler

No More Denying It, Geno Will Run The National Team Again

by Categorized: Anne Donovan, Brian Agler, Connecticut Sun, Geno Auriemma, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball Date:

Shortly before leaving for the 2012 London Olympics, USA women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma stood with his arms folded at the team’s training facility in Washington, pondering all that had led him there.

   He said he was tired of the world travel. He said he felt enormous pressure to win gold so not to let his nation down. And he said this would be it, that he would be one-and-done as Olympic coach. And he said it in a way befitting his oval office status in the game.
   “If nominated, I will not run,” Auriemma said. “If elected, I will not serve.”
   Until recently, Auriemma steadfastly stuck to that story, dismissing suggestions that he was still USA Basketball’s choice for the job with varying degrees of annoyance.
   That was until a few weeks ago, when the persuasive administrative body of USA Basketball finally prevailed upon UConn’s eight-time national champion coach.
  Friday at Gampel Pavilion, Auriemma, relaxed and enthused again, will be re-introduced as USA Basketball’s women’s senior national coach. This next term will conclude with the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
  USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan and USA and WNBA executive Renee Brown will attend.
 Auriemma was traveling Thursday and not available for comment. And his current UConn players, a few of whom may eventually play for him in 2016, were advised to withhold comment until the press conference.
  “I am not as surprised as I would have been had he accepted the job again right away [after the 2012 Olympics],” said Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan, who Auriemma succeeded after winning gold in Beijing in 2008. “He is a little more distanced from things now.But more power to him. He did a great job in London. He’s willing to take it on again and he is more than capable of handling it.
 “I don’t know what he was thinking [in the past], but to me it’s similar to what they say about childbirth. As a woman delivers her child, she swears she will never have another one.”
  Auriemma, 59, apparently changed his mind in the short weeks leading up to an appearance at Mohegan Sun on Aug. 22 to present Tina Charles and assistant Jen Gillom with their Olympic rings. Callan was there with him to make the presentation. A source told the Courant Thursday that he had already agreed to take the job by then.
   Until then, Auriemma continued to be publically adamant in saying he was not interested in returning. When approached with the idea shortly before the start of the UConn women’s basketball season back in November 2012 and his answer was quick and to the point.
“One time is enough,” he said. “It was a great experience.”
And as recently as an appearance at the Traverlers Golf Tournament and his own charity golf event at the Hartford Golf Club, by which time rumors were swirling again that USA Basketball really wanted him, he denied he wanted the job.
  But many WNBA coaches considered likely Auriemma successors, Seattle’s Brian Agler, Washington’s Mike Thibault, Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve and Indiana’s Lin Dunn, all told the Courant they heard the job was being held for Auriemma.
  The coaches all said USA Basketball wanted to build a women’s program to model the one Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski will run for a third time in the upcoming quadrennial.
  Charles, who played for Auriemma at UCon, the 2010 World Championship and  2012 Olympic team, will likely help lead the 2016 team.
“It’s great,” Charles said. “He’s so able to evaluate the game of a player. It’s always an honor to play for him. He’s a great guy. He brought us so many words of wisdom. It was a great time in my life to be a part of that Olympic team.”
  Frankly, one thing that may have delayed his decision was his experience coaching the national team wasn’t everything he’d hoped it would be.
   Some of his collegial ways and methodologies didn’t universally translate at times with the 12 WNBA players he coached, including six of his former UConn stars – Maya Moore, Charles, Asjha Jones, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Swin Cash.
  “It was an adjustment for him and the players,” Gillom said. “Geno realized the mentality for the professional player is totally different. You can’t demand as much from them as you can from a college player. The players needed to adjust to his way; he’s a coach who likes to yell to get his point across. Many players are not receptive to that [as professionals]. And it took a while.”
 Once those issues were resolved in Auriemma’s mind, and once the air returned to his lungs, Gillom thinks he was more than happy to come back.
  “I think all he needed to do was get away from it for awhile,” said Sun assistant Jen Gillom, who was one of Auriemma’s assistants during his first term. “The closer you are, the more inclined you are to think you want to be away from it all. Then you take a step back and observe. I’ve seen him at some of our [WNBA] games. And he seemed to like it.
 “We all know the college game is much different than the pro game is. But now I think he misses [the USA Basketball] experience. And he changed his mind.”
 Gillom said the delay in hiring the new coach – Auriemma’s first assignment began in April 2009 – was the best sign possible that USA Basketball was trying to convince him to return.
  “He knows the game. He demands a lot from his players,” Gillom said. “And if he doesn’t get that in return, you are not going to play for him. The players know that now. Geno is real and I think the players will understand and respect that. He is who he is. The players know that.”

Still Enthused, Sue Bird Says, “What’s Another Surgery?”

by Categorized: Brian Agler, Seattle Storm, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball, WNBA Date:

Sue Bird, one of the greatest point guards in women’s basketball history, may also be its most surgically repaired.

     Ask her how many operations she’s had in her career, which began at UConn in 1998, and Bird starts counting them on both hands.

    “Are you including my nose?” she said. She finally settles on nine.

    The latest, to remove a large cyst that had grown in a bone in her left knee on May 9, is keeping her out of the WNBA for the first time since she joined the Seattle Storm in 2002. But she was with her team Sunday, watching it defeat the Connecticut Sun at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

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Brian Agler Says He Wouldn’t Be Surprised If USA Basketball Still Wants Geno

by Categorized: Brian Agler, Geno Auriemma, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball Date:

We ask Geno Auriemma the question just ab0ut every three months: Do you want to return to coach the 2014 World Championship and 2016 Olympic team. So far he has steadfastly said no. But to this point, USA Basketball still has not named a replacement.

On Friday in New Jersey, Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said it was “Geno’s job” if he wants it. And on Sunday, Seattle coach Brian Agler, considered a strong candidate for the job, also said he wouldn’t be surprised if USA Basketball is still trying to talk Auriemma into taking the job again.

Agler said he hasn’t been interviewed by USA Basketball.

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10 Things To Remember About “Skate To Eight”

by Categorized: 2013 NCAA Tournament, Big East women's basketball, Breanna Stewart, Brian Agler, Geno Auriemma, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Kelly Faris, saniya chong, UConn women's basketball Date:

It was quite the season, as it usually is with UConn. It featured 35 wins, three losses to Notre Dame, two All-Americans and an eighth national championship.

Not bad for five months work.

Here are some things to remember about it all played out:

   Slim Margins

UConn lost only four games this season. Three were to the Fighting Irish, which made some people fighting mad and was the reason there was so much concern about their paths crossing again at the Final Four. But those three defeats were by a combined 12 points, In fact, if you add their loss to Baylor, UConn’s margin of defeat was just 18 points in four games. Entering the national championship game against Louisville, its scoring margin all season was +32.7. They beat the Cardinals by 33.

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UConn: Where Dreams Often Become Reality

by Categorized: 2013 WNBA Draft, Big East women's basketball, Bria Hartley, Brian Agler, Geno Auriemma, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, St. John's women's basketball, Stefanie Dolson, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball, WNBA Date:

Now that her junior year is about to enter its stretch run, Stefanie Dolson’s mom sat her down the other day to discuss her options for life after college.

“I’m just trying to figure it out, slowly but surely,” Dolson said.

This scene is sure to repeat all across the nation. But there is a difference in the Dolson household: If things go according to plan – the way they’ve gone with the UConn women’s basketball program since 1995 – her first job won’t be on the bottom rung of some corporate ladder.

It will be on the top, playing professional basketball in the United States and overseas. And she’ll be making good money doing it.

“Playing professionally is a dream many of us have,” Dolson said. “It is something that I want and that I have worked for. If the opportunity eventually presents itself, than that’s what I will do that. If not, then I hopefully will find a job that I love.”

Since the WNBA began play in 1997, few programs have enjoyed as much inclusion as the Huskies. During the 2012 season, UConn placed more players in the league (13) than any other.

On this current UConn team, ranked third(19-1) and on a seven-game winning streak heading to Saturday’s game at St. John’s, there are a number of players poised to continue the tradition.

That will begin with senior Kelly Faris, the Huskies all-purpose guard.

“She is terrific player,” Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault said earlier this month. “She is what you want in a college player because you can use her in so many different spots. She is strong enough and tough enough to defend power forwards. She is such a great defender who is really improving offensively. She has great instincts and is a great athlete.

“If Kelly keeps improving, there will not be a question about her. She is getting better at knocking down outside shots and even looking for them, which I think she stopped doing for a while last season.

“But I tell you this, if you had to pick a kid to represent your program, she is a pretty good one.”

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Seattle Takes A Look At Kelly Faris

by Categorized: Brian Agler, Kelly Faris, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

Among the spectators at Saturday’s UConn-Cincinnati game at he First Third Arena was Seattle coach/GM Brian Agler.

Agler said he was there scouting Kelly Faris, which is interesting because the Storm has the sixth pick in the 2013 Draft and teams usually don’t waste valuable time looking at players they feel they can’t get.

Agler said league rules prevented him from speaking specifically about Faris’ ability. But he did say this about UConn players in general – and he has coached Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Svetlana Abrosimova with the Storm.

“I can tell you that UConn are almost always ready to play in the WNBA after they graduate,” Agler said. “They just seem to get better as they get older.”

Agler said Bird just made her Euroleague debut with Moscow last week and had 10 assists after missing the first part of the season rehabbing hip surgery at UConn. She is teammates this winter with Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker.

“People look at Sue and think of her as a girl next door type. But she has a lot of toughness,” Agler said. “She is persistent and takes good care of herself. But she has played a lot of basketball and the years of wear and tear take a toll. She’s looking at beginning of the end of her career; it won’t be anytime soon, but sometime in the next five or six years. She wants to finish strong and we’d like her to do it here in Seattle as healthy as possible.”

Agler heard from Abrosimova’s agent last week who expressed her desire to return to Seattle. Agler said he’s in the process of putting the team together.

As for the draft …

“It has the three players who most think will go 1-2-3 [Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins]. I don’t know about that. There are other players who can make impact,” Agler said. Agler added he has 20 to 25 players targeted and will really start to scout hard in the conference tournaments.

As for the Huskies …

“My prediction before the season was that UConn was going to make a run at the title,” he said. “They are a year older, had a great recruiting class and they are hungry. Everyone talks about UConn’s ability to run and score, but they are such good defenders.”