Jasmine Lister knows what it's like to be on the opposite sideline from the University of Connecticut women's basketball team. The former Vanderbilt University point guard faced the Huskies in the 2013 NCAA tournament second round at Gampel Pavilion.
She'll get a second shot at UConn Friday night, this time as a first-year assistant coach at DePaul as the Blue Demons entertain the top-ranked Huskies at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
Her experience in between, though, is what will bring out the emotions in the Corona, California, native. Lister earned her masters degree in sports management from UConn in 2016 and spent two national championship seasons as a graduate assistant on coach Geno Auriemma's staff.
"I see them a lot, but I still want to tell them, 'Thank you,' " Lister said. "They've done a lot for me. They taught me a lot about basketball and a lot about myself as a person. They took someone in from another program, someone they didn't know, and treated me like one of their own. And even though I've been gone for a year they are still looking out for me and still make me feel like I'm a part of it. They didn't have to do all that and I'll always remember it."
Lister, who was hired by Doug Bruno last June, has tried to put her memories of UConn to good use. She put together the scouting report DePaul will use to try and pull the upset.
The Huskies (7-0) have won a NCAA record 40 consecutive true road games and have beaten the Blue Demons 14 straight times over the last 12 years since DePaul won the first meeting of the series on Dec. 28, 1983.
"I started watching tapes in July," Lister said with a laugh, "and I finished it up right after their game with Notre Dame. You always want to see as much as you can.
"We have to go in and play the way that we do. We have to play 'DePaul Ball.' They put on their socks and shoes the same way we do, the difference is the uniform name on the front. Whether it's on offense or defense, we have to go hard and do what we do best. You can't make the game out to be bigger than it is."
DePaul (6-2) leads the nation in 3-pointers per game (13.6), is third in scoring offense (92.0), 3-point attempts (37.4), and assists per game (22.8), and ranks fifth in assist-turnover ratio (1.69).
The Blue Demons will also get a chance to show off their new home, Wintrust Arena.
"It is awesome," Lister said. "It's great that we have a place just for us, the men's and women's teams, to play in. It's state of the art and everything we need is here. I think it's a big help in recruiting. It's something that DePaul has earned. It's not something we have because we're Division I or because we're in the Big East. It's been earned."
And Lister has earned the chance to be part of the Blue Demons' success.
After playing and graduating from Vanderbilt in 2014 -- having started all 129 games of her career and establishing a Commodores' record for minutes played (4,626) -- she came to Storrs to continue her education on and off the court. In her two seasons with the Huskies, they went 76-1 and won the last two of their record four consecutive national championships. During the summer of 2015, she played in seven games for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and averaged 2.9 points on 53.3 percent shooting and 1.3 rebounds in 9.2 minutes. In February 2016, she took part in a United States national team training camp at the Werth Champions Center, playing for the scout team against some of the best in the world competing for spots on the Olympic team.
She spent last season as an assistant to coach Mike Neighbors at the University of Washington, where she got to work with 2017 consensus national Player of the Year and NCAA all-time leading scorer Kelsey Plum.
"Jazz has been great," Plum said in March. "As an addition to our staff she just brought a new energy. She works extremely hard and I don't know people know that about her. She is a young, bright mind in this game. Her future is going to be special."
Lister had the opportunity to return to Southeastern Conference country and follow Neighbors to Arkansas when he took the job with the Razorbacks but declined. Her hope was that Washington assistant and former UConn player Morgan Valley would be promoted to Neighbors' old job and she could stay as an assistant, but the west-coast Huskies hired Jody Wynn from Long Beach State.
Valley ended up as an assistant coach at the University of Arizona and Lister found her way to Chicago after DePaul assistant Bart Brooks took the top job at Belmont University.
"Morgan is ready to be a head coach and I thought she could get the job, but they passed her over," Lister said. "Then Bart Brooks left DePaul.
"My second year at UConn there was the USA national team camp. Coach Bruno was there and he later told me that I had caught his eye. And we had also played DePaul in Bridgeport and he had remembered me from then."
Bruno served as Auriemma's national team assistant for seven years (2009-16) and Team USA won two Olympic gold medals and two FIBA world championships gold medals in that time. Auriemma and Bruno have also been close friends for some 30 years.
For Lister, it's easy to see why.
"They are so similar," she said. "The style of play their teams have, the way the teams practice, the way they relate to their staff and players are very similar.
"One of the things that is different is Coach Bruno likes to be involved in everything. He wants to be part of all that's going on. Coach Auriemma will more delegate things to CD or Shea (Ralph) or Marisa (Moseley) and do what he needs to do."
Lister said she loves life in Chicago with "so many great places to eat and so many things to do. Just about everything that I need is within a 15-minute subway ride." The weather, though, is more Storrs than Corona or Nashville, but she's adapting.
She does admit that she's misses playing the game. After finishing up at UConn, she went to the Sparks' training camp but was among the final cuts when Los Angeles picked its roster.
"I don't have a lot of time, but I love to go up to the recreational facility where I can play and get some shots up," Lister said. "It's not bad. But my twin sister (Cinnamon) is playing professionally in Morocco. When I see her when she's home and we talk, that's when I miss it the most. I would love to be able to do both, play and coach. But I enjoy coaching. I feel fortunate that basketball is part of my life."
So is UConn. She remembers the feeling from last March 31 when Mississippi State's Morgan William sank a pull-up jumper at the overtime buzzer that ended the Huskies' record 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as national champions.
"My heart sank," Lister said. "I was with some of my teammates from Vanderbilt and they were happy because, 'Oh, UConn wins all the time.' But I was so disappointed. Good for Mississippi State, they earned it. I felt bad for the coaches and players."
She'll see those coaches and players Friday night, though only four players -- seniors Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams, and juniors Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson -- remain from when she left UConn 18 months ago.
Now she'll try to use what she learned with the Huskies to beat them.
"I remember Coach Auriemma asking me that at a shoot-around at Tulane," Lister said when asked about the most important lesson she took from UConn. "I learned that it's important to pay attention to details and to stay in the moment. He talks a lot about it's not what or how, but when. That's why it's important to stay in the present. You can't get ahead of yourself.
"A lot of people think players come to UConn and it's all basketball all of the time. So much more goes into it. You grow there, on the court and as a person. It's taken a lot of work to get what they have achieved and reach the standard that they have. That sticks with you."