STORRS, Conn. -- Diana Taurasi is considered by many to be the best women's basketball player in the world, and is quick to credit a number of her coaches for helping her along the way.
But when it comes to helping her be a better person, the former University of Connecticut star and four-time United States Olympic gold medalist is quick to give credit to Huskies' associate head coach Chris Dailey.
"She made me a respectable human being," Taurasi said last Friday. "When you're around CD, there's a certain way to live life. I didn't understand it at the time I was in school. But now that I look back on it, I learned as much about life as I did about basketball with her. Every time I see her, I thank her for that."
The WNBA's Connecticut Sun will show their appreciation Tuesday night when Dailey is given the Margo Dydek Award in a ceremony at halftime of the Sun's game with Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and the Seattle Storm at Mohegan Sun Arena. The award, named after the former Sun center, is given to an outstanding woman who has distinguished herself while positively impacting the local community.
Previous recipients include PGA of America vice president Suzy Whaley, former Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell, and 2017 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee and former UConn standout Rebecca Lobo.
"I don't think anyone gets into coaching thinking you are going to get an honor," Dailey said Monday. "You do it because you love being around the players. You love teaching the game. You love impacting young people. To be recognized for doing something that you love, it's a good feeling."
A number of former UConn stars now playing in the WNBA participated in a video for the occasion.
"I have heard some of them, and I have to say it made my day," Dailey said. "Whether it was about basketball and teaching them the game or the things off the court that they understand now and appreciate, it's special."
Dailey said it was comments by the Sun's Morgan Tuck that touched her the most.
"A lot of people talked about the tying your shoe and the presentation, and she talked about the basketball part," Dailey said.
"I'm getting a little emotional now because it is just nice to hear and it is unexpected. To hear several years later that players are understanding your impact, it makes all the missed family things and the time I've given worth it because I feel like I've done something good."
Dailey came to UConn with head coach Geno Auriemma when he was hired in 1985. The New Jersey native had played on Rutgers' 1982 AIAW national championship team and served as an assistant coach at Cornell and with the Scarlet Knights before teaming up with Auriemma.
During their tenure, UConn has won 991 games, a record 11 national championships, and 45 conference regular season and tournament titles. Dailey guided the Huskies to the 1989 and 1997 Big East Tournament in Auriemma's absence. Every player at completed her eligibility at UConn has earned her degree.
"It has been well documented over the years how much CD has done for Connecticut basketball, not just in winning and losing but how she affects our players on the court and off the court," Auriemma said. "She is also a great role model for women in the work force who want to be seen as people who affect change in other people. Someone who is in a position that CD is in, there are a lot of eyes on her. She is not just a woman coaching women's basketball, she is a woman in 2017 who has a unique platform to inspire kids or professionals. For all those reasons the Sun are doing a great thing."
Dydek passed away unexpectedly at the age of 37 in 2011. She finished her WNBA career as the league leader in blocks but was well known for a warm and open spirit that endeared her to fans around the world.
UConn played against Dydek in a pair of exhibitions when it made its first European tour in 1994. The Huskies would later recruit her younger sister, who would end up choosing Texas-El Paso.
"We walk into a gym and there is a 7-foot-2 player," Dailey said. "So our first thing is how tall is she? And the second question was does she have an eligibility left? Margo was really good. She had great skills."
In Dailey's name, the Connecticut Sun Foundation will donate $1,000 through the PGA Tour's Travelers Championship to the Jay S. Fishman Fund at the Bruce Edwards Foundation to help find a cure for ALS.
NURSE, CANADA OFF TO 2-0 START
UConn senior guard Kia Nurse had 17 points and eight rebounds as Team Canada improved to 2-0 in Group B play at the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by beating Puerto Rico 75-59 on Monday.
Nurse was 5-for-14 from the floor (2-for-5 on 3-pointers) and 5-for-7 from the foul line in 24 minutes. Canada led 38-29 at halftime and Puerto Rico got no closer.
Ashley Perez -- a guard from Manchester, Connecticut -- had nine of her 13 points in the fourth quarter for Puerto Rico (1-1).
Group B pool play continues Tuesday with Canada facing Mexico and Puerto Rico taking on Paraguay. The top two teams in the two five-team groups advance to the semifinals. The top three finishers in the event receive bids to the 2018 FIBA World Cup to be held in Spain.