You’ll recall one of UConn’s starting guards the last time they played here at the Paradise Jam was senior Mel Thomas. And Thomas is here again, only this time as the director of operations for Florida Gulf Coast University, for whom she has worked for three seasons.
“It’s weird being here again, only this time from a different perspective,” Thomas said. “None of my former UConn teammates are here, but I have all the memories. It’s a fun, new experience.
“Our team is very young, with nine new players, and we’ve already had a few knee injuries – and I certainly know how that goes. Right now, we may struggle a bit, but we will eventually be a good team. This is a new experience for us. We are throwing the girls into the fire and see how they make it.”
FGCU, which is located in Ft. Myers, Fla., played DePaul tough in their first game Thursday before losing.
Thomas remembers the great promise UConn’s 2007-08 team had and how it felt when it returned from St. Thomas.
“I remember thinking there was no way we could lose a game. That’s the mindset we had. And we didn’t lose while I was playing,” said Thomas smiling.
Her career ended with a knee injury at Syracuse on Jan. 15, 2008. It came just a few weeks after Kalana Greene’s year ended against South Carolina, also because of a knee injury.
UConn went to the Final Four 36-1, but lost to Stanford in the semfinal.
“It was very hard to watch Kalana go down, and then not be able to play, either,” Thomas said. “We had something special and we had a lot of fun.”