STORRS, Conn. -- As the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's practice players ran offensive sets that the Huskies expect to see from Maryland on Thursday, one person who may know the Terrapins best stood on the sidelines.
Chloe Pavlech played in 107 games for Maryland from 2012 until her college career ended last March and helped the Terrapins make a pair of NCAA Final Four appearances. Her nine assists in the 2015 Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden a year ago Wednesday were the most against the Huskies during their 38-0 national championship season.
But as she serves an internship as a Program Specialist for the UConn Division of Athletics, Pavlech can only watch as the Huskies try to make more history. She'll be on the UConn bench at the Xfinity Center in College Park Thursday when the top-ranked Huskies put their 86-game winning streak on the line against No. 4 Maryland.
"I think there's a natural attachment that you have to your old school, your old coaches, and your old team," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Tuesday after his team's workout at the Werth Champions Center. "I'm not going to put her in a situation where I'm sitting down with her, 'So Chloe, tell me this ...' We're not going to do that. I think that hopefully there is part of her that wants Maryland to play great and have a great showing. And I think there is hopefully a big part of her that wants us to win. It was the same thing with Jazz (Jasmine Lister). You're not going to put them in a tough situation like that."
Months after receiving her bachelor's degree and wrapping up her playing career at Vanderbilt in 2014, Lister came to UConn as a graduate assistant. On Nov. 29, 2014, she was on the Huskies' bench as UConn routed the Commodores 91-52 in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida.
Lister, who also had a stint with the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks in 2015, was at UConn for two years and is now an assistant coach at the University of Washington along side former UConn player Morgan Valley on coach Mike Neighbors' staff.
Pavlech was a two-time all-Big Ten academic pick while at Maryland. She earned her bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Maryland in three years and used her final year of eligibility to get her Masters of Arts in journalism.
On her LinkedIn page, the Cincinnati native describes her duties at UConn as, "assisting with all areas of administrative support responsibilities for the women's basketball program, including student-athlete development, community outreach programs; will also provide support to coaching staff for various practice and game preparation activities; will assist with selected social media functions related to the women's basketball program, in coordination with communications and video staff."
Auriemma is happy to have her on the Huskies' team.
"Chloe, she's been good," Auriemma said. "It's not easy. The hardest part about going from being a player to the position she's in now is that you aren't really a coach and you aren't a player anymore. So you're hanging around with the players and the coach is looking at you like, 'What's wrong with you?' And if you're hanging around with the coaches, the players are like, 'Shhhh. Don't say anything.' So you have a tough line to walk when you're in that position until you've been in it for awhile. Jazz was pretty good at it, but it takes time."
Destiny Slocum has made an immediate impact at Maryland. The freshman guard from Meridian, Idaho, is averaging 10.7 points while leading the Terrapins in assists (4.1) and ranking second in steals (1.8) through 12 games.
But some of the Huskies are very familiar with her. Slocum was a teammate of UConn sophomore Napheesa Collier and freshman Crystal Dangerfield on the 2015 United States U-19 national team. She actually joined the roster late as a replacement for UConn sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson, who made the club at trials but dropped out due to family reasons.
"Destiny has a lot of energy and she's everywhere on the floor," Dangerfield said. "She likes to make plays and she can be really flashy with the ball. For us to settle her down would be huge."
The U-19 team compiled a 7-0 record en route to the gold medal at the FIBA U-19 world championships held in Chekhov, Russia, July 18-26, 2015. Collier was named to the all-tournament team as she was second on Team USA in scoring (12.7) while leading the Americans in rebounds (9.3) and steals (2.4) in 24.1 minutes per game. Dangerfield averaged 6.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 18.6 minutes off the bench, while Slocum also was in a reserve role and averaged 1.9 points, 0.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 13.1 minutes.
Dangerfield is eligible to try for a second U-19 gold medal next summer at the world championships to be held in Italy. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native -- who turns 19 in May -- made the 2016 U-18 team at trials but was forced to withdraw due to a hip injury that required surgery. Slocum will not be eligible as she turned 19 last September.
UConn has won all five games it has played against Maryland.
The series started at the XL Center in Hartford on Dec. 3, 2012, with the Huskies posting a 63-48 win. The teams would meet later that season in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena. UConn would pull away in the second half to defeat short-handed Maryland 76-50.
The only previous meeting in College Park came on Nov. 15, 2013. With UConn down to seven scholarship players after injuries to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Morgan Tuck, Breanna Stewart had 26 points in a 72-55 win before a crowd of 15,327.
The second NCAA tournament meeting came in the 2015 Final Four semifinals in Tampa, Florida, with the Huskies posting a convincing 81-58 triumph.
In last year's meeting in New York, the Terrapins closed within four before Saniya Chong's 3-pointer with 40.3 seconds left started an 8-2 run that secured UConn's 83-73 win.
"We've had some great battles with them, last year being one of them," Auriemma said. "They're a really talented team. They're well-coached, and every year they are one of the teams that everybody knows. They have a ton of talent."
Thursday's game is the second of a three-game deal between the schools. The final game will be played next season when Maryland visits UConn.