Category Archives: UConn women’s basketball

On Fenway, Fallon And Mohegan Sun

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Jimmy Fallon, Stefanie Dolson, The Tonight Show, UConn men's basketball, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

As we await the decision of A’ja Wilson this afternoon on ESPNU at 3 p.m. ….

The national champion UConn women and men will be heading to Fenway Park on April 22 to be honored by the world champion Red Sox. It is still unclear what kind of ceremony will take place before the game; you know, the first ball thing, who throws it, who catches it…But the Huskies will be there to share and get to see a baseball game. And what is better than that?

Stefanie Dolson [of the Washington Mystics] is still likely to show up on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, at some point, but as you can tell from watching NBC this week the show is already on a hiatus and in repeats. UConn is enlisting the help of NBC Connecticut executives in trying to put the gig together. If you recall, Stef asked Fallon to ‘Hit her up” during her impromptu address to the nation following UConn’s win over ND in the national championship game. Fallon did just that was using the first two minutes of his monologue one night latter to talk about the “Lady” Huskies and Dolson’s invite He invited her to play some one-on-one and XBox. Let’s hope it happens. And now, the WNBA can even help make it happen. It’s legal now.

The Mohegan Sun Arena and the American Athletic Conference will be announcing a one-year extension to their agreement to stage the conference tournament at the casino on Thursday morning. Let’s face it. the tournament would be there FOREVER, but no one is quite clear what UConn’s future is in the AAC and why would Mohegan Sun want a multiple-year deal with the AAC knowing its championship game might between East Carolina and Tulsa someday?

Give Thanks On Parade Day, Before The Parade Passes By

by Categorized: Geno Auriemma, UConn women's basketball Date:

I will not be at the UConn parade today. I am afraid of clowns. And you never know if someone from the SEC will show up to ruin UConn’s celebration at the state capitol.

I have transitioned into my summer job; covering the Connecticut Sun and WNBA, and I will be spending the day today fawning over the Mets, preparing for tomorrow’s draft and getting ready to watch Mad Men.

Before I do, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who came here to visit my blog this season for information – and hopefully entertainment. My bosses tell me the numbers are in the high hundreds of thousands. I don’t have that many of anything, with the possible exception of faux reading glasses spread around the house.

There are many, many places you could turn to on this well-covered beat, many informed voices and minds to choose from. Thank you for choosing mine on so many occasions.

As I prepare to head to the casino, I have one more thing I want to say. I have said this many times on many formats, but I think it bears repeating before parade begins.

UConn basketball fans, particularly the fans of Geno Auriemma’s program, are living in the gilded age of college sports. Seriously, what you have seen transpire over the last 20 years will never happen again, exactly like this again, in our lifetime. It can’t. It’s an original. You never forget your first.

There may come a time when another coach in another program learns how to sustain; but it will never approach what has happened at UConn since Auriemma won his first national championship in 1995. The circumstances are too unique, the environment too perfect, the coach too dynamic, the players too remarkable.

Look, I realize he could care less what I think, and his supporters and friends are far more well-positioned in life, but I sincerely believe, yes I do, that Auriemma is one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports, college or professional.

He is the Walter Camp, Knute Rockne, Connie Mack, Casey Stengel, Red Auerbach, John Wooden and Scotty Bowman of his sport and his time. He is generational in his impact.

If more people cared about women’s basketball in this country- I live in the world 24-7 and I know they don’t – he would be right up there with Coach K and Bob Knight, Joe Torre and Bill Belichick. He would be an iconic figure.

Someone would put his name on Sunday sauce or wine or a restaurant. Oh wait, they have. This is Connecticut. Check please?

What he has done for his sport, and his school, is remarkable. Women’s basketball is a heavy thing to lift and frankly he hasn’t had much help over the last 15 years. But there he is, with nine national championships, one world championship and one Olympic gold medal, many of the greatest players in the game’s history by his side, holding the sport – collegiate, professional and international – over his head.

So here’s what I have to say to UConn fans, some of the most loyal, fervent, but occasionally spoiled in the world. Take a second to take…this…all…in.

Sit back and savor the gifts of nine national championships and five undefeated seasons and national players of the year.

Don’t tie yourself into knots worrying about the little stupid things, like why there was only one freshman last year or why this or that happens or doesn’t. Let Geno and Chris Dailey worry about it. They have it covered quite nicely.

It is going to end someday. Even Geno said so. It has to. Nothing sustains, lasts forever. Not even Mad Men. Someday, UConn may be just another competitive program fighting to get to the Final Four, not one able to order room service for the 2015 Final Four before the regular season even starts.

Thank you for coming. Drive home safely. Enjoy the day. Beware of clowns.


UConn Won, You Watched

by Categorized: ESPN, UConn women's basketball Date:

UConn’s win over Notre Dame in the NCAA Women’s National Championship earned a 2.8 US rating, the highest for any ESPN women’s college basketball game in a decade.  The rating is the highest for the sport since Connecticut’s victory over Tennessee for the 2004 title earned a 3.5. 


The match-up averaged 3.21 million households and 4.27 viewers (P2+) – fourth and sixth best, respectively, since ESPN began televising the women’s championship in 1996. In addition, the 2.8 rating represents an increase of 40 percent over a 2.0 a year ago for UConn over Louisville.

  In addition, nearly 100,000 fans turned to WatchESPN for the traditional telecast and the special ESPN3 Surround production of the match-up.  Those 100,000 thousand fans generated 3,800,000 minutes on the game, both all-time highs for a women’s college basketball game.  Additionally, the game generated the most minutes viewed for an ESPN3 Surround production to date. 



Among the metered markets, Hartford/New Haven led the way with a 29.3 rating, making it the market’s highest overnight for a program on cable in 2014. Nashville was the second highest-rated market with a 6.8 followed by Knoxville (6.0), Louisville (5.5), Indianapolis (4.8), Raleigh-Durham (4.7), Providence (4.6), New York (4.6), Memphis (4.5) and Greenville (4.5).



UConn Women Roll To Ninth Title

by Categorized: 2014 NCAA women's tournament, UConn women's basketball Date:

Shortly after defeating Tennessee for its first national championship in 1995, Chris Dailey saw Tennessee assistant Mickie DeMoss at an AAU tournament. They had an enlightening chat.
“She was very gracious,” said Dailey, UConn’s associate head coach. “And then she said, ‘We need to change the way we play to beat you.
“I remember calling Geno [Auriemma] saying, “Oh my god, Tennessee is going to change the way they play because of us! Can you believe it? It was disbelief and awe that little old Connecticut would have that kind of impact on Tennessee.’”
Imagine that.
Well, on Tuesday night at the Bridgestone Arena, smack in the middle of Tennessee, the program that currently defines sustained greatness in collegiate athletics surpassed the one it aspired to emulate.
UConn put the punctuation on its fifth undefeated season by blasting Notre Dame, 79-58.
The national championship is the second straight for UConn.  For Auriemma and Dailey, the game’s first couple, it is their ninth, eclipsing the mark set by Pat Summitt’s mighty program.
The victory extended UConn’s winning streak to 46, ended Notre Dame’s at 37. But more importantly, most historically, it secured, for just the second time in NCAA history, a dual national championship for the men’s and women’s programs operating out of the castle in the Storrs cornfield.
Senior Stefanie Dolson, whose zest for life and seriousness for the game turned her into one of the program’s most beloved players, said goodbye with 17 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, whose regular season was wrecked by injury and illness, completed a star run through the regionals and Final Four with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Breanna Stewart, the sensational sophomore, the national player of the year, the game’s new prodigy, added 21 points and nine rebounds.
And All-American Bria Hartley ended her career with 13 points, finishing six shy of 2,000.
The Irish was led by Kayla McBride, its All-American guard, who ended her fabulous career with 21 points.
This wasn’t the game everyone hoped for; you know, a scrum between two essentially level powerhouses with their own strengths and few perceptible weaknesses.
Nope, with the exception of the first four minutes, when the Irish took an 8-6 lead, this game went to the dogs.
Consider the second half: Down 45-38 at the half, Notre Dame scored just nine points in the first 16 minutes of the second half. The word stifled comes to mind.
UConn rolled over Notre Dame’s post, which has played so well against Maryland in the semifinals. It shut down Notre Dame’s guards who had made five threes in the first half.
UConn was everywhere Notre Dame was and everywhere Notre Dame couldn’t get to. And that is why UConn still has never lost a national championship game.
The Irish came in having defeated UConn in seven of their last nine meetings, although one of the losses was last year’s national semifinal in New Orleans. Times change, rosters along with it. But it all contributed to an added sense of urgency for programs with everything to lose with just one loss.
And as if the game needed any more edge, the byplay on Tuesday between Auriemma and Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, so reminiscent of past forays between he and Summitt had, added the spurs to the fence that now separates the programs.
The Huskies took a quick 4-0 lead just 45 seconds into the game, but soon found themselves down 8-6 on a McBride basket.
Then game had the transforming moment of the half.
The Huskies attacked Notre Dame’s backline, now without senior Natalie Achonwa. They used Dolson and Stewart primarily to go on a 16-0 run that lasted for 4:48 and pushed the Huskies into a 22-8 lead with 11:02 to play.
But the Irish refused to relent and used their backcourt strength to cut into the lead. Jewell Loyd, their WBCA All-American, and Michaela Mabrey, one of the best pure shooters in the nation, shot the Irish back into the game.
With two three-pointers from each, and another from McBride (13 first-half points), they slowly moved back, cutting the lead to 29-23 before baskets by Stewart and Moriah Jefferson re-established a 10-point lead for UConn (33-23) with 5:09 to play in the half.
The Huskies held Notre Dame to 15 of 35 shooting in the first half to build a 45-38 lead. Five of those field goals were the threes from their guards when all seemed lost.
But the bigger problem, the one that put this game in danger from the start, was the way UConn’s frontline was taking care of business. Stewart and Dolson were a combined 12-for-16 in the first half and the Huskies outscored the Irish, 32-10, in the paint.
Mosqueda-Lewis (14), Stewart (14) and Dolson (10) all had double-figures by the end of half. The Huskies also assisted on 16 of their 21 field goals with five blocked shots.
Loyd (11 points) and Mabrey (10) were 7-for-16 from the field.

What Do I Think About UConn-Notre Dame?

by Categorized: UConn football, UConn men's basketball, UConn women's basketball Date:

Glad you asked:

* This dust up between Geno and Muffet is not surprising to me at all. In fact, its quite normal in the human condition. Do you have a rival, professional or personal? Do you say things behind their back or suspect they are doing so about you? Are there people you simply are tired of seeing or dealing with? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you likely already understand why these two have grown apart.

Now, just add the pressure of championship and recruiting competition, the insecurity of having your university’s academic standing discounted and insulted [UConn], the feeling you are being bullied and your players ignored [Notre Dame] and you are left with a script TLC would look at.

* I believe UConn is going to win tonight, but I would not be surprised if it was by less than six points. I love Notre Dame’s team, particularly Kayla McBride, one of my favorite college players in the last two seasons. She is a warrior and the WNBA team that gets her Monday will be one lucky bunch. But I think UConn will win because of its fabulous starting five and its front court experience and brawn.

* I am happy for UConn because of how terribly stupid and short-sided its success makes the Big Ten and ACC look. Can you imagine how dumb the Big Ten, in particular, must feel now about courting Rutgers and Maryland, as if their football programs and footprint in major media markets is so vastly superior to UConn’s.

Thanks to its new AD, who continues to talk and act her way into a contract buyout, the Scarlet Knights don’t compare in any athletic measurable to UConn, particularly in the New York market. Really, Rutgers over UConn? And really, can someone tell me what is so special about Maryland?

Not only did the UConn men kick some NCAA butt on Monday, they helped to humiliate the major conferences who chose to ignore the power of basketball.

But I will say this one more time: The most important man in Connecticut right now is not Geno or Kevin Ollie. It is Bob Diaco, gulp, a Notre Dame guy.

Once UConn wins some football games, the Huskies will be the ones calling the shots.

Muffet McGraw Says The Civility Is Gone

by Categorized: 2014 NCAA women's tournament, Notre Dame women's basketball, UConn women's basketball Date:

On the eve of the first championship game between unbeaten basketball teams in NCAA history, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw acknowledged the relationship between she and Huskies coach Geno Auriemma has deteriorated over the years.
When asked Monday when she thought a sense of civility might return to the greatest rivalry now in the sport, she was pointed.
“I think we’re past that point,” she said.
Notre Dame has beaten UConn in seven of their last night meetings, although the Huskies avenged three losses last season by defeating the Irish in the national semifinals in New Orleans.
Over the last few years, the coaches have been exchanging subtle barbs in the fine tradition of Auriemma’s famous jousts with Pat Summitt.
Last month, bothered by Notre Dame’s assertion that UConn was the one responsible for the teams not playing in the regular season this year – after the breakup of the former Big East – Auriemma fired back.
“It’s not nice for Muffet to fib during Lent,” he said.
McGraw apparently was extremely angered by that statement.
On Saturday, the teams were seated together in a press conference honoring Breanna Stewart as the Associated Press player of the year and McGraw as its coach. The tension was palpable.
“Yeah, I think there was definitely tension in the room.  I think for us we wanted Kayla McBride to win the Player of the Year award,” McGraw said. “So I think it was a little bit of that.  And certainly the rivalry has gone a little away from the civility it was when we were in the league together.”

A Look At UConn-Notre Dame

by Categorized: 2014 NCAA women's tournament, Notre Dame women's basketball, UConn women's basketball Date:

Time: 8:30 p.m.
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
TV: ESPN (Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke and Holly Rowe)
Radio: WTIC-AM 1080, WILI-AM 1400 (Bob Joyce and Debbie Fisk)
Series history: UConn, 30-11
Last meeting: UConn, 83-65, April 7, 2013, national semifinals in New Orleans
Streaks:  Notre Dame W37, UConn W45
Notre Dame (37-0)
23 Kayla McBride, G, 5-11, Sr., 17.5 ppg – Scored 28 points (12 of 21) with seven rebounds in national semifinal
12 Taya Reimer, C, 6-3, Fr., 7.5 – Replaced injured Natalie Achonwa in starting lineup with nine points, five rebounds
32 Jewell Loyd, G, 5-10, So., 18.7 – Along with McBride a WBCA All-American, shooting 52.5 percent from field
44 Ariel Braker, F, 6-1, Sr., 4.1 – Averaging 4.8 rebounds with 45 steals
34 Markisha Wright, F, 6-2, Jr., 2.4 – Averaging 8.9 minutes off the bench, shoots 57.7 from floor
15 Lindsay Allen, G, 5-7, Fr., 6.3 – Shooting 81.5 percent from free throw line
22 Madison Cable, G, 5-11, Jr., 5.6 – One of the nation’s top three-point shooters (25 of 53, 47.2 percent)
23 Michaela Mabrey, G, 5-10, So., 8.5 – Has one start, leads team with 165 three-point attempts (42.4 percent)
UConn (39-0)
4 Moriah Jefferson, G, 5-7, So. 10.2 ppg – Shooting 58.5 percent from the field; 14 assists, five turnovers in NCAAs
30 Breanna Stewart, F, 6-4, So. 19.4 – Unanimous first-team selection as Associated Press All-American
14 Bria Hartley, G, 5-7, Sr. 16.3 –  Needs 19 points to reach 2,000 in her career
31 Stefanie Dolson, C, 6-5, Sr. 12.4– Had 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks in Lincoln regional final
23 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, F, 6-0, Jr. 13.2 – Scored all 15 points in second half of national semifinal
41 Kiah Stokes, C, 6-3, Jr., 4.5 – Had nine points in 22 minutes in national semifinal
Historic night: For the first time in the history of the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournament unbeaten teams will play for the national championship. And to make it even better, the teams are perhaps the most heated rivals in the sport after years of battling each other in the Big East for regular-season and tournament championships… This is Notre Dame’s fourth straight Final Four appearance … Notre Dame’s 48 points were the most ever scored in the first half in women’s Final Four history, as was their rebounding margin (29) against Maryland.
Rebounding: The loss of Achonwa, one the team’s leaders and strong post presence, was hardly felt as the Irish demolished Maryland off the boards in the national semifinals. But UConn’s front line almost certainly will provide a great challenge off the glass.
Stars: The teams combined for five WBCA All-Americans this season. Stewart was the Associated Press player of the year; Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw its coach of the year. McBride, Hartley and Dolson almost certainly will be among the top 10 players taken in next week’s WNBA draft at Mohegan Sun Arena

UConn Places 3 On WBCA All-American Team

by Categorized: UConn women's basketball, WBCA Date:

Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart were named members of the WBCA All-America team Saturday afternoon at a ceremony at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

It was  Dolson’s and Hartley’s second time on the team and Stewart’s first.

 Jewell Loyd and Kayla McBride of Notre Dame, South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell, Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike, Baylor’s Odyssey Sims and Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas also were honored as All-Americans.

  It was sixth time UConn has had three players on the team and the first time since the 2008-09 season when Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore made the team for the second straight year.

Geno (And USA Basketball) Love Kayla McBride

by Categorized: 2014 NCAA women's tournament, Geno Auriemma, Kayla McBride, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball Date:

After competing against him for three years, helping to beat his team more frequently than anyone in recent history, Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride was somewhat at a loss for words in a huddle at USA Basketball camp listening to its national coach, Geno Auriemma.
“I was definitely different,” McBride said Saturday. “It was a little weird knowing I go to Notre Dame. But it was a great opportunity. He is the Olympic coach for a reason. Being able to learn some things from him was a great opportunity for me to have.”
Auriemma loved what he saw from McBride during the brief weekend the team met in Las Vegas last October. It was the same camp UConn’s Breanna Stewart, Stefanie Dolson and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis attended.

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The Best UConn Lineup Ever? Apples And Oranges

by Categorized: 2014 NCAA women's tournament, UConn women's basketball Date:

It happens every season, in time with the another great UConn women’s basketball season. People look at their lineup, the depth and talent of it, and ask Geno Auriemma if he thinks it’s the best one he’s ever had.
Auriemma knows this is an impossible question to ask, like comparing Babe Ruth to Derek Jeter. Generational shifts change the game, enhancing the skill set of players along with.
So asking Auriemma is the starting five he takes to the Final Four semifinals Sunday against Stanford is his greatest is like asking him to compare apples to oranges. It depends on your taste.
In reality, it’s like comparing diamonds to rubies.

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