Mar 17, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Rhode Island Rams head coach Dan Hurley looks on from the bench against the Duke Blue Devils in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)
Mar 17, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Rhode Island Rams head coach Dan Hurley looks on from the bench against the Duke Blue Devils in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Geno Auriemma doesn't know new University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Dan Hurley all that well, but that, of course, will change when Hurley gets settled in a bit in Storrs and Auriemma and his women's team wrap up their run in the NCAA tournament.

But the good feelings about Hurley's hire in Connecticut made their way to the Times Union Center here where Auriemma and the top-seeded Huskies will go for their 11th consecutive Final Four berth against No. 2 and reigning national champion South Carolina Monday night in the Albany Regional final.

"I think there's a lot of excitement around the program about the hire and there's a lot of energy coming with Dan joining Connecticut," Auriemma said. "I think he'll do a great job. It's a great job to be in.

"We all want to be at a school that's good in everything they do. Connecticut men's basketball is one of the great brands in college basketball in at least the last 20 years. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that? For whatever reason it hasn't worked out the last couple of years and hopefully we'll get back on track."

Auriemma had a very good relationship over the years with Kevin Ollie, who guided his team to the 2014 national championship. It was the second time one school won both the men's and women's NCAA titles with UConn also doing it in 2004. No one else has done it once.

But Ollie was fired after his Huskies' second consecutive losing season and Hurley, who coached Rhode Island to back-to-back NCAA tournament berths, was brought in.

Auriemma again talked about the strength of UConn's brand.

"You can say what you will about how long does it really take to go from, 'You're a brand that has won four national championships in 20 years' to all of a sudden, 'We've lost it?'" Auriemma said. "I don't know that it happens quickly. Sometimes people want it to happen quickly, but this isn't one of those things where Connecticut's going away. We're still Connecticut basketball. We still have something very few other schools do have. Sometimes you just have to make some adjustments and everybody needs to go through that at some point.

"The last coach we hired won a national championship in his second year. So, anything's possible, right?"

STEVENS SURVIVES, ADVANCES

UConn forward Azura Stevens made her first appearance in Saturday's game against Duke midway through the first quarter and walked onto the floor with her warmup jacket still on. On her first possession, she got the ball in the lane, turned, and threw up an airball. The Blue Devils' bench erupted as if Duke had just won the national championship.

"I did notice that," Stevens said.

"There were certainly some jitters when I first went out there," she added. "But as the game went on I was just trying to make an impact and be a presence."

A foul and turnover followed within the next minute. But Stevens, who spent her first two years at Duke before transferring to UConn in 2016, settled down. In 18 minutes, she'd record eight points, 12 rebounds, and three blocked shots as UConn ousted No. 5 Duke 72-59.

"You know she wanted to go out there and dominate in this kind of game, but for us we just needed her to go out there and bang with the bigs and get some rebounds and take over if we needed her to," UConn guard Katie Lou Samuelson said. "Duke did a pretty good job on us in the lane and all of us had trouble finishing. That's a credit to Duke. But Z did what she needed for us to get the win."

The Raleigh, North Carolina, native became the second player to transfer in to UConn and face her former team in the NCAA tournament. The first was another transfer from Duke, Brittany Hunter, who played five minutes against the Blue Devils and did not score in an overtime loss in the 2006 Bridgeport Regional final.

When Stevens was asked Saturday if she was glad the game was over, she said, "Yes, I am."

The showdown with South Carolina Monday night will be Stevens' first Elite Eight game. She had just two points, three rebounds, and four fouls in 17 minutes in the Huskies' win over the Gamecocks in Columbia on Feb. 1.

"It helps we've played them before so we know what we're getting into," Stevens said. "For me, I need to be strong and tough in the lane, offensively and defensively, and make their big guys work."

LONG-DISTANCE REUNION

The two former teammates at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, California, played their first game against each other in the capital of New York state. And in the first quarter, UConn All-American Samuelson and Duke freshman Jayda Adams stood next to each other.

"She pinched me and I tapped her back, so it was like old times out there," Adams said with a smile.

Samuelson played 37 minutes and had 15 points in the Huskies' win. Adams was first off the Duke bench and finished with five points, three rebounds, and two assists in 22 minutes.

"It's hard in these kind of games because you have to be serious and we're both after the same things and the stakes are high," Samuelson said. "But it was awesome to have Jayda out there and getting great minutes. She was able to make an impact as a freshman and she's only going to get better."

It was a learning experience.

With about 5:00 left, UConn's Gabby Williams made a steal and raced down the floor with teammate Kia Nurse for a 2-on-1 with Adams back. What chance did a freshman have against the two seniors? Very little. The Huskies' All-American kept the ball and scored as she drew a foul.  

"I tried to play it like it was anyone else, try to bait her and see if she would make a mistake but she didn't," Adams said. "She can jump. She is really athletic. I wasn't trying to foul her but it happened."

Adams will give herself a couple days off -- "I don't like being away from the gym," she said. -- before trying to build on her experiences.

RECRUIT WILLIAMS ADDS GATORADE HONOR

It's been a memorable March for UConn Class of 2018 signee Christyn Williams.

The 5-foot-11 senior guard from Little Rock, Arkansas, and Central Arkansas Christian was named the Gatorade national Player of the Year on Saturday. She is the third UConn recruit in four years to win the honor joining Megan Walker (2017) and Samuelson (2015). As with Walker and Samuelson, Williams was presented the award by WNBA star and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Elena Delle Donne.

Earlier this month, Williams was honored with the Naismith Trophy and Morgan Wootten Award and was also the WBCA Player of the Year.

She averaged 26.8 points and 10.4 rebounds in leading CAC (36-1) to the Class 4A state championship. In three state tournament games, she averaged 39.0 points and had 42 points and 11 rebounds in the final against Riverview.

Williams will take part in the McDonald's All-America Game in Atlanta on Wednesday, and the Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center in New York on April 8. 

35 AND UP

UConn clinched its sixth straight 35-win season by beating Duke.

The Huskies have reached 35 wins 14 times (1995, 2000, 2002-03, 2008-11, 2013-18). The rest of the country has done in 16 times since 1982. Notre Dame has four 35-win seasons, Stanford and Tennessee three each, Baylor two, and Duke, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, and Mississippi State one each. The Cardinals and Bulldogs joined the club with their Sweet 16 wins on Friday.

Oregon can get to 35 wins by reaching the national championship game while Notre Dame can do it by winning the national championship. The Ducks and Irish play in the Spokane (Washington) Regional final Monday night.

The UConn-South Carolina winner will face the Notre Dame-Oregon winner this Friday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

FREE THROWS

With strong showings from UConn and Buffalo fans, the Albany Regional semifinals drew 10,658 to far outdistance the other regional sites. Spokane had 5,084 for its Sweet 16 games on Saturday. On Friday, Kansas City had 4,280 fans while Lexington (Kentucky) had 5,715. More than 8,000 tickets have been sold for the regional final at the Times Union Center ... UConn has not lost in the Sweet 16 since falling to Stanford in 2005 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. The Huskies' only other regional semifinal loss came in 1999 to Iowa State in Cincinnati ... Gabby Williams had seven rebounds Saturday and is eight away from becoming the seventh UConn player with 1,000 ... UConn is 18-5 in Elite Eight games overall and 5-2 against Southeastern Conference opponents. The wins were over Vanderbilt (1996), LSU (2000), Kentucky (2012, 2013), and Texas A&M (2014), with the losses to Tennessee (1997) and LSU (2007).  


Aug 20, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; USA guard Diana Taurasi (12) shoots the ball against Spain in the women's basketball gold medal match during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports (Jeffrey Swinger)
Aug 20, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; USA guard Diana Taurasi (12) shoots the ball against Spain in the women's basketball gold medal match during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports (Jeffrey Swinger)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Diana Taurasi was 21 going on 40 when she stepped on the court for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

Now at 36, the veteran Phoenix Mercury guard and WNBA all-time leading scorer plays like she's 26 with a bounce in her step, a joy for life, and a passion that does not waver.

"I actually feel like I can do more this year than in the past," Taurasi said Thursday after the Mercury practiced ahead of Friday night's game against the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena. "Physically, I feel great. That time off ... People take for granted that playing year-round takes a toll on you mentally. The game of basketball is only great when you can be creative and clear-minded and play with a fun soul. Sometimes it becomes work. Right now, that's not there. It's fun."

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Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma watches from the sideline as they take on the UCF Knights in the second half of the semifinals during the women's AAC Conference Tournament at Mohegun Sun Arena. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma watches from the sideline as they take on the UCF Knights in the second half of the semifinals during the women's AAC Conference Tournament at Mohegun Sun Arena. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Bria Hartley is living the good life.

The two-time All-American and national champion with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team is in her fifth season in the WNBA and second with her hometown New York Liberty. She has an 18-month-old son, Bryson. While the Liberty's 6-14 record isn't appealing, Hartley left Mohegan Sun Arena Wednesday with a smile after Shavonte Zellous' 3-point bank shot at the buzzer gave New York a 79-76 win over the Connecticut Sun.

While she has a lot to look forward to, Hartley has never lost her appreciation for the people who helped her get to UConn and to the WNBA. To that end she has founded an AAU basketball program - Bria Hartley Elite - as a way to give back to her community and sport.

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Connecticut Huskies guard Molly Bent brings the ball up court. (Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Molly Bent brings the ball up court. (Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports)

There's a sense of urgency in Molly Bent's voice as the junior guard talks about the start of the second half of her career with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

She's been to the NCAA Final Four twice with the Huskies and the team's record is 72-2. But both times, UConn's bid for a 12th national championship ended with a last-second overtime loss in the national semifinals.

What's been even more difficult for the Centerville, Massachusetts, native to take, though, is that she has not put herself in a position where she could make a difference.

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She was on the floor with two All-Americans and two others that would be WNBA first-round draft picks. But when the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's game at Texas last Jan. 15 came down to the final seconds, those four stars wanted Crystal Dangerfield to have the ball.

And why not? The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native was playing as well as any point guard in the country. Dangerfield capped her 40-minute effort by sinking two free throws with 8.3 seconds left to ice a 75-71 win over the Longhorns.

But the second half of the season proved to be a struggle in many ways as she dealt with shin splints. Her practice time was limited and she was held out of two games in February in an attempt to ease the discomfort. Still she was named to the all-American Athletic Conference second team and to a pair of postseason all-tournament teams.

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Connecticut Huskies forward Napheesa Collier attempts to control the ball as Quinnipiac Bobcats forward Jen Fay and guard Edel Thornton defend in the first half of the women's NCAA tournament second round at Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies forward Napheesa Collier attempts to control the ball as Quinnipiac Bobcats forward Jen Fay and guard Edel Thornton defend in the first half of the women's NCAA tournament second round at Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

If Napheesa Collier never takes another shot for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, she'd rank No. 3 on the school's all-time list in field-goal percentage at 61.8.

Of course, barring anything unforeseen, that's not going to happen. The Huskies' forward is looking forward to a big senior season in Storrs.

But though she could finish with numbers that would put her alongside some of UConn's greats, some of the things she's done have not been good enough in her mind.

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Feb 18, 2018; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams (15) and forward Azura Stevens (23) and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and guard Kia Nurse (11) and forward Napheesa Collier (24) return to the court after a break in the action against the Temple Owls in the second half at XL Center. UConn defeated Temple 106-45. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Feb 18, 2018; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams (15) and forward Azura Stevens (23) and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and guard Kia Nurse (11) and forward Napheesa Collier (24) return to the court after a break in the action against the Temple Owls in the second half at XL Center. UConn defeated Temple 106-45. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Yes, Napheesa Collier has watched the tape from that March 30 night, not that the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's All-American needed a reminder of how her junior season ended.

Arike Ogunbowale's jump shot from just inside the 3-point line over Collier's outstretched arm found nothing but net with 1.0 second left in overtime and gave Notre Dame a 91-89 win over UConn in the NCAA Final Four semifinals at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

"I could have been up on her a little more," Collier said on Monday. "I was worried about her driving past me so I gave her too much space and she pulled up. If I could do it again, I would have been closer to her."

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Jan 18, 2018; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma talks with guard Mikayla Coombs (4) from the sideline as they take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Jan 18, 2018; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma talks with guard Mikayla Coombs (4) from the sideline as they take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Mikayla Coombs' freshman season with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team ended prematurely with the discovery of a blood clot in her leg in the week leading up to the Huskies' first NCAA tournament game.

Three months later, she is still waiting for a fresh start. She has been cleared for most activities but not for any contact.

"I feel good, still in the recovery process trying to get healthy," Coombs said on Monday. "I've been training with the team so that's been good. I'm able to do weight-room workouts and basketball workouts, just nothing like defensive drills where there is contact.

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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson drives the ball against Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Marina Mabrey in the first half at XL Center. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson drives the ball against Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Marina Mabrey in the first half at XL Center. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson leaned against a wall at CFE Arena in Orlando last Feb. 7 after playing all but the final 2:12 of an 18-point win over Central Florida.

The pain from her left ankle showed on her face. Her limp as she made her way around the area near the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's locker room was noticeable.

"Do you need surgery?" she was asked.

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Chris Dailey Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports (Steven Branscombe)
Chris Dailey Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports (Steven Branscombe)

CROMWELL, Conn. -- Chris Dailey was walking down the hallway in her hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee, two weeks ago when a door opened and out stepped Hall of Fame player Anne Donovan.

Donovan was in town for the induction of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018, which included Dailey, the University of Connecticut associate head coach, and Donovan's high school coach at Paramus Catholic in New Jersey, Rose Battaglia.

"We chatted for a good five minutes catching up," Dailey said Wednesday as she took part in the PGA Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am. "One of her former high school friends, Jen Bednarek, was there who coached (2009 UConn graduate) Tahirah Williams. Just a New Jersey connection. Rose Battaglia made sure to share that. I think there are six people with New Jersey ties in the Hall of Fame and Anne is certainly the leader.

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Jan 13, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma coaches his team during the first quarter against the Houston Cougars at H&PE Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports (John Glaser)
Jan 13, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma coaches his team during the first quarter against the Houston Cougars at H&PE Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports (John Glaser)

STORRS, Conn. -- Jasmine Lister spent her basketball playing days as a point guard so she's accustomed to having to make quick decisions.

This decision, however, would be the biggest of her young coaching career.

Lister was in her office at DePaul, where she was a first-year assistant for coach Doug Bruno, and decided to go watch a players' workout.

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UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey reacts to her surprise induction into the Huskies of Honor. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey reacts to her surprise induction into the Huskies of Honor. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS, Conn. -- Chris Dailey has watched her college coach at Rutgers University, the head coach she's worked with for 33 years at the University of Connecticut, and three former Huskies be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Now, it's her turn.

"Who would have ever thought I'd be looking forward to visiting Knoxville?" Dailey said with a laugh. UConn's associate head coach is among seven who will take their place in the WBHOF during Saturday's enshrinement ceremony in Knoxville, Tennessee, and will become UConn's fifth representative. Coach Geno Auriemma was inducted in 2006 and has been joined by players Rebecca Lobo (2010), Jennifer Rizzotti (2013), and Kara Wolters (2017).

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Gelbs chats with Dan Hurley 00:04:16
SNY's Steve Gelbs chats with UConn men's head basketball coach Dan Hurley about joining the prestigious program.

SNY's Steve Gelbs chats with UConn men's head basketball coach Dan Hurley about joining the program.

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Christyn Williams (USA BASKETBALL)
Christyn Williams (USA BASKETBALL)

Christyn Williams used an oxygen mask getting ready for USA Basketball's U-18 national team trials to help her prepare for the altitude in Colorado Springs.

"It's still kicking my butt," Williams said with a smile of the altitude of 6,035 feet.

Don't count on her throwing that mask away. Williams and fellow University of Connecticut incoming freshman Olivia Nelson-Ododa were selected Monday night to the 12-player squad that will take part in the FIBA U-18 Americas Championships. The team will return for a training camp on July 20 ahead of the tournament being held Aug. 1-7 at a site to be determined.

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 (Mandatory Credit: USA BASKETBALL)
(Mandatory Credit: USA BASKETBALL)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Olivia Nelson-Ododa graduated from high school Thursday, made the 1,500-mile trip here from Winder, Georgia, Friday, and was on the court Saturday morning for the start of USA Basketball's U-18 national team trials.

Her "down time" this weekend has been spent trying to earn a spot on the U-18 team. The finalists for the 12-player squad that will take part in the 2018 FIBA Americas U-18 Championship will be announced Monday night. Tuesday morning, she will be on a plane again alongside Christyn Williams to start their journey to Storrs and their first summer school session at the University of Connecticut as members of the women's basketball team.

"Well, at least I had a couple of weeks to get my things together and get ready," said Williams, who graduated from Central Arkansas Christian on May 13. "I'm excited with all that's to come."

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USA Basketball
USA Basketball

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Before joining Geno Auriemma's coaching staff at the University of Connecticut, Chris Dailey spent two seasons as an assistant at her alma mater Rutgers.

During her first year under Theresa Grentz, Dailey recruited a player from upstate New York named Michelle Bain, who would eventually turn down the Scarlet Knights.

Some 35 years later, Dailey is getting a second chance as the Huskies are recruiting Bain's daughter -- Cameron Brink.

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 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Hailey Van Lith wanted the ball.

A year earlier, with her unbeaten Cashmere (Washington) High girls basketball team down by a point to Mount Baker in the Class 1A state tournament final, Van Lith was unable to get out of a double team on the final possession and a last-second 3-point try by a teammate was blocked and Mount Baker took a 45-44 win.

So last March 3, with Cashmere down by two to Lynden Christian and five seconds remaining, the game and a state title was in the hands of the sophomore point guard, who had already scored a tournament single-game record 36 points.

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 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Aliyah Boston felt helpless, but never more determined to help.

Early last September, Hurricane Irma smacked the Virgin Islands and Boston's hometown of St. Thomas as a Category 5 storm with wind gusts as high as 225 miles per hour. Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria -- another Category 5 storm -- hit the Virgin Islands with a storm surge followed by weeks of rain.

Boston, a junior at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts, lost contact with her parents and desperately searched for news.

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 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- After waiting a year for her opportunity, Caroline Ducharme knows she has only days to make an impression.

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 (Mandatory Credit: USA Basketball)
(Mandatory Credit: USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Haley Jones has persisted.

The 6-foot-1 guard/forward from Santa Cruz, California, is at the United States Olympic Training Center for her fourth USA Basketball national team trials this weekend as the club that will represent the United States at the FIBA U-17 World Cup in July is being chosen.

She is looking to make the cut for the first time.

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Jordan Horston (USA Basketball)
Jordan Horston (USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Perhaps Jordan Horston was destined to be a point guard, the quarterback of a basketball team's offense.

Hortson's great uncle is the late Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam, who was the first African-American quarterback to start a season opener (1974) after the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

"I know he had a lot of adversity through his career so he's an inspiration," Horston said.

Horston, though, already has a lot of inspiration and motivation as USA Basketball's U-17 national team trials began Thursday at the United States Olympic Training Center.

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Moriah Jefferson (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports Images)
Moriah Jefferson (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports Images)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Moriah Jefferson has caught the Vegas Golden Knights' fever.

"I went to the game (the opener of the second-round series with the San Jose Sharks) that they won 7-0 and it was incredible," Jefferson said on Sunday. "It was the first hockey game that I had ever been to and I got into it. I know nothing. I started learning a few rules, a few penalties. It was madness."

The expansion Golden Knights advanced to the Stanley Cup finals Sunday by finishing off the Winnipeg Jets in five games of the best-of-seven Western Conference final. Jefferson's Las Vegas Aces, who are in their first season in Nevada after relocating from San Antonio, can only dream of similar success.

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 (David Butler II)
(David Butler II)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Natalie Butler had not been in Connecticut in a year.

With her receiving her bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut followed by a record-setting season as a graduate transfer with the George Mason women's basketball team, being drafted by the WNBA's Dallas Wings, and receiving her masters in global affairs, it's been quite a year.

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Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse and forward Azura Stevens dance in confetti following the championship game of the Albany regional of the women's basketball 2018 NCAA tournament against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Times Union Center. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse and forward Azura Stevens dance in confetti following the championship game of the Albany regional of the women's basketball 2018 NCAA tournament against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Times Union Center. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Kia Nurse loved everything about the University of Connecticut. But after four years, she was ready move on.

The basketball part of her college career ended on March 30 when the Huskies lost to Notre Dame in the national semifinals at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The school part concluded Saturday when the two-time academic All-American was awarded her bachelor's degree during graduation ceremonies in Storrs.

"Graduation was amazing and my parents were excited about it as well," Nurse said Monday. "For me, it was a big goal. I'm fortunate that I had the opportunity to come back for graduation and walk, but I'm really excited to get started with this."

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First-year Connecticut Sun athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle, left, worked with 10 national championship women's basketball teams during her 18 years at UConn. (Stephen Slade/UConn)
First-year Connecticut Sun athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle, left, worked with 10 national championship women's basketball teams during her 18 years at UConn. (Stephen Slade/UConn)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Rosemary Ragle grew up in Alabama and spent most of her professional life in Storrs, Connecticut.

And while she wouldn't trade her two years in New York City working at the Hospital for Special Surgery and serving as the athletic trainer for the WNBA's New York Liberty, when the opportunity came to return to Connecticut she couldn't pass it up.

Ragle, who was the athletic trainer for 10 national championship women's basketball teams at UConn, is back in a familiar place as the first-year athletic trainer for the Connecticut Sun.

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Feb 21, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma looks on in the second period against Tulane Green Wave at Devlin Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen Lew)
Feb 21, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma looks on in the second period against Tulane Green Wave at Devlin Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen Lew)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- It was like old times for Morgan Tuck in Seattle last week.

The first time Tuck and Breanna Stewart played a game together was for the United States national team at the 2010 FIBA U-17 world championships. They were together again last Thursday -- along with fellow University of Connecticut alums Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Tiffany Hayes, and Stefanie Dolson -- as the USA senior national team faced China in an exhibition game at KeyArena. It was the first time Tuck and Stewart were teammates since the Huskies defeated Syracuse in the 2016 NCAA national championship game in Indianapolis.

Of course, their team won as the Americans topped China 83-46.

Tuck enters Connecticut Sun camp feeling like old self

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Foley Fatukasi highlights 00:00:33
SNY rolls the highlights of UConn DT Foley Fatukasi, selected by the New York Jets in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Jets selected UConn DT Folorunso Fatukasi with their sixth-round pick (180th overall). 

Fatukasi, who also goes by 'Foley', is a Long Island ative. In his senior season, Fatukasi 45 total tackles, 7.5 for loss with 4.0 sacks. Fatukasi recorded 14.0 sacks during his career at UConn...

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Feb 21, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma looks on in the second period against Tulane Green Wave at Devlin Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen Lew)
Feb 21, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma looks on in the second period against Tulane Green Wave at Devlin Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen Lew)

Even as her coaching journey took her to Seattle and Chicago, Jasmine Lister never lost appreciation for the time she spent as a graduate assistant in Storrs on Geno Auriemma's staff with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

"I see them a lot, but I still want to tell them, 'Thank you,' " Lister said last December. "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."

Soon she just won't feel like a part of it, she will be a part of it. The 25-year-old Lister will be named an assistant at UConn to replace Marisa Moseley, who was introduced as the head coach at Boston University on Wednesday. An official announcement from the school could come as early as Thursday.

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 (Steven Branscombe)
(Steven Branscombe)

Marisa Moseley is getting a homecoming.

The University of Connecticut women's basketball assistant coach has been named the head coach at her alma mater Boston University, BU athletic director Drew Marrochello announced on Tuesday. Moseley becomes the eighth head coach -- and first alumna -- in program history. She will be formally introduced on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Francis D. Burke Club Room at Agganis Arena.

"This is a banner day for Boston University women's basketball," Marrochello said in a statement. "As we embark on a new and promising era, we are incredibly excited to welcome Marisa back to her alma mater to lead the program she played for.

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Texas A&M Aggies forward Anriel Howard controls the ball against LSU Tigers guard Jaelyn Richard-Harris during the second half at Bridgestone Arena. (Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports)
Texas A&M Aggies forward Anriel Howard controls the ball against LSU Tigers guard Jaelyn Richard-Harris during the second half at Bridgestone Arena. (Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports)

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team is losing Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse to graduation and to the WNBA.

The Huskies appear to be looking at a pair potential graduate transfers from Texas A&M as immediate replacements.

Forward Anriel Howard, the Aggies' leading rebounder this past season, and guard Danni Williams, their second-leading scorer, are planning on visiting the Storrs campus this weekend, according to a pair of sources. The New Haven Register's Jim Fuller confirmed Howard's trip and added she has already visited Florida State and will tentatively travel to Mississippi State, Tennessee and a fifth school to be determined.

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Feb 26, 2018; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams (15) (left) and guard Kia Nurse (11) center pose for a picture with her teammates holding the regular season championship toffee after defeating the South Florida Bulls 82-53 at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Feb 26, 2018; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams (15) (left) and guard Kia Nurse (11) center pose for a picture with her teammates holding the regular season championship toffee after defeating the South Florida Bulls 82-53 at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

Gabby Williams is usually very sure of herself on the basketball court and off of it.

But Thursday was different. The University of Connecticut senior forward had no control over her future as she attended the WNBA Draft at Nike Headquarters in New York.

"I was nervous, I was anxious, I just wanted it to be here," Williams said. "You don't know what city you're going to. You don't know who your teammates are. It's a scary thing..."

Tags: Azura Stevens, Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams holds up the regular season championship trophy as she and her teammates pose for a picture after defeating the South Florida Bulls 82-53 at Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams holds up the regular season championship trophy as she and her teammates pose for a picture after defeating the South Florida Bulls 82-53 at Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Gabby Williams, Azura Stevens and Kia Nurse were all selected within the top ten picks of the 2018 WNBA Draft. Williams was picked 4th overall by the Sky, Stevens went 6th to the Wings and Nurse went 10th to the Liberty.

The trio led the Huskies to a 36-1 record and another trip to the Final Four, where they lost to Notre Dame. 

This season, Williams averaged 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.4 steals in her senior season and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Albany Regional. 

Tags: Azura Stevens, Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse
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Feb 18, 2018; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams (15) and forward Azura Stevens (23) and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and guard Kia Nurse (11) and forward Napheesa Collier (24) return to the court after a break in the action against the Temple Owls in the second half at XL Center. UConn defeated Temple 106-45. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Feb 18, 2018; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams (15) and forward Azura Stevens (23) and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and guard Kia Nurse (11) and forward Napheesa Collier (24) return to the court after a break in the action against the Temple Owls in the second half at XL Center. UConn defeated Temple 106-45. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, and Azurá Stevens will travel to New York Thursday and attend the 2018 WNBA Draft being held at Nike Headquarters there.

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How did the Huskies lose? 00:03:25
Michelle Yu, Kara Wolters and Meg Culmo discuss what went wrong for UConn women's basketball against Notre Dame in the Final Four.

Ollie dismissed after six years 00:03:47
Taylor Rooks, Vin Parise and Tarik Turner recap Kevin Ollie's six-year tenure as the head coach of UConn men's basketball.

 (Aaron Doster)
(Aaron Doster)

Napheesa Collier's dream of cutting down the nets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, did not come true.

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 (Reinhold Matay)
(Reinhold Matay)

Azura Stevens' playing career with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team is one and done.

Stevens, a 6-foot-6 forward from Raleigh, North Carolina, will give up her final year of college eligibility and enter the 2018 WNBA Draft, according to a source familiar with the decision and confirmed by UConn Monday afternoon. Stevens has the option to leave as she is 22 years old, and her original college class is graduating in May.

The WNBA Draft will be held April 12 at Nike Headquarters in New York City.

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GEICO SportsNite: UConn's loss 00:00:45
UConn women's head coach Geno Auriemma discusses the team's response after losing to Notre Dame in the Final Four to end their season.

UConn women's head coach Geno Auriemma discusses the team's response after losing to Notre Dame in the Final Four to end their season.


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- From the moment it clinched its spot in the NCAA Final Four, the University of Connecticut women's basketball team promised it would be different here.

But the heartbreaking end for the Huskies was the same, almost eerily so.

All-American Arike Ogunbowale's jump shot from just inside the 3-point line with one second left in overtime Friday night gave Notre Dame a 91-89 win over UConn in a national semifinal game before a crowd of 19,564 at Nationwide Arena.

"My team trusted me to have the ball at the end," Ogunbowale said. "I mean, it felt good. I didn't know it was going in, but it felt good..."

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GEICO SportsNite: UConn loses 00:02:47
Hear from UConn women's head coach Geno Auriemma and players after their heartbreaking, 91-89, loss to Notre Dame in the Final Four.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Arike Ogunbowale's jumper from the corner with a second left lifted Notre Dame to a 91-89 overtime victory over UConn on Friday night in the national semifinals.

She finished with 27 points and Jackie Young had a career-high 32 to lead the Irish back to the championship game for the first time since 2015.

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Geno on Final Four 00:01:33
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma talks about what went wrong for the Huskies in last year's Final Four, and how they can win it all this year.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There will be 19,000 fans inside Nationwide Arena and many more at home watching Napheesa Collier as she tries to help the University of Connecticut women's basketball team get past Notre Dame Friday night and earn a spot in the 2018 national championship game.

But after struggling in last year's national semifinal loss to Mississippi State, the junior forward will not be out to prove anything to anyone -- except herself.

"I never want to be timid like I was that night ever again," Collier said. "All I could think of was to not make mistakes, but then by doing that I did make mistakes. It was one of the reasons we lost. I think we were all timid and afraid to make mistakes. When that happens, you get beat..."

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Feb 26, 2018; Storrs, CT, USA; Seniors Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams (15) and guard Kia Nurse (11) high-five fans after defeating the South Florida Bulls at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Feb 26, 2018; Storrs, CT, USA; Seniors Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams (15) and guard Kia Nurse (11) high-five fans after defeating the South Florida Bulls at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gabby Williams has picked up her share of honors as a member of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

But the Senior CLASS Award she got on Thursday figures to find a special place in the trophy case of her Sparks, Nevada, home.

"It means a lot to me because it's something that's beyond basketball, which we don't always get recognized for," Williams said. "It's too bad it gets lost because there are so many athletes doing so many good things. Sometimes athletes struggle with showing that they're more than athletes in a world that perceives them as just athletes. They're capable of more and should be allowed to be capable of so much more. That needs to be recognized more..."

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Carl Adamec
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 (Rich Barnes)
(Rich Barnes)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gabby Williams' answer was short and sweet when asked if she could get the three rebounds she needs for 1,000 in her career with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's during Friday night's NCAA Final Four semifinal game with Notre Dame at Nationwide Arena.

"I'll try," she said with a smile.

To Williams, rebounding is all about effort and there's little short or sweet about it. The only short part would be her height. If she gets the three rebounds, the 5-foot-11 All-American senior forward would become the seventh UConn player with 1,000 but, the first to be listed at under 6-feet tall.

Tags: Azura Stevens, Gabby Williams, Carl Adamec
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Mar 17, 2018; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies Kia Nurse drives the ball against Saint Francis Red Flash guard Leah Morrow (10) in the first half of the women's NCAA Tournament first round game at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 17, 2018; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies Kia Nurse drives the ball against Saint Francis Red Flash guard Leah Morrow (10) in the first half of the women's NCAA Tournament first round game at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The road has taken the University of Connecticut women's basketball team to a record 11 consecutive NCAA Final Fours, but it's a journey it's never taken for granted.

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GEICO SportsNite: UConn advance 00:01:20
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma and guard Crystal Dangerfield discuss their 94-65 win over South Carolina to advance on to the Final Four.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Crystal Dangerfield arrived in Storrs being thought of as the next great point guard for the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team.

She had her moments -- think Baylor in her second career game -- in an up-and-down freshman season that ended with her watching the final shot of the season in Dallas from the bench. She returned with a new confidence as a sophomore and through the first half of the regular season was as good as anyone in the country before shin splints in her left leg began limiting her practice time and in some cases her effectiveness.

But on a magic night Monday at the Times Union Center, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native put forth a first half that was as good as any of the Huskies' greats have played. By the time she fed Azura Stevens for a layup to close out the second-quarter scoring, UConn's berth to the NCAA Final Four was all but secured.

Dangerfield scored 19 of her 21 points in a decisive first half as the top-seeded Huskies blasted No. 2 and defending national champion South Carolina 94-65 in the NCAA Albany Regional final before an enthusiastic pro-UConn crowd of 9,522.

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Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield reacts to a made basket against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half in the championship game of the Albany regional of the women's basketball 2018 NCAA tournament at Times Union Center. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield reacts to a made basket against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half in the championship game of the Albany regional of the women's basketball 2018 NCAA tournament at Times Union Center. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

Crystal Dangerfield scored 19 of her 21 points in the first half, and top-seeded UConn routed No. 2 South Carolina 94-65 on Monday night to reach the Final Four for the 11th consecutive year.

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Connecticut Huskies forward Napheesa Collier reacts to a play with teammate Crystal Dangerfield against the Duke Blue Devils during the first half in the semifinals of the Albany regional of the women's basketball 2018 NCAA tournament at Times Union Center. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies forward Napheesa Collier reacts to a play with teammate Crystal Dangerfield against the Duke Blue Devils during the first half in the semifinals of the Albany regional of the women's basketball 2018 NCAA tournament at Times Union Center. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

The road to a 12th national championship has been paved in marshmallows thus far for Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut women's basketball team.

With one pivotal matchup on Monday, however, all that ease disappears.

The Huskies (35-0) will square off with Dawn Staley and defending national champion South Carolina (29-6) in the Albany Region final at the Times Union Center.

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Connecticut Huskies Kia Nurse drives the ball against Saint Francis (Pa.) Red Flash guard Leah Morrow in the first half of the women's NCAA Tournament first round game at Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies Kia Nurse drives the ball against Saint Francis (Pa.) Red Flash guard Leah Morrow in the first half of the women's NCAA Tournament first round game at Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Katie Lou Samuelson was coming off one of the best sophomores seasons for any University of Connecticut women's basketball player and set her expectations even higher for her junior year.

But in the second quarter of the second game of the season on Nov. 17, against California at Gampel Pavilion, Samuelson fell awkwardly after collision with the Bears' Mikayla Cowling and eventually limped off the court. She would miss four games with a left foot sprain. In January she would get a black left eye against Texas and injure her left ankle versus Tulsa, which cost her another game, and led her to joke that everything happened on her left side.

As the Huntington Beach, California, native heads into Monday night's NCAA tournament Albany Regional final against South Carolina, she and the top-seeded Huskies are all right.

Tags: Azura Stevens, Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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GEICO SportsNite: UConn 00:01:43
Justine Ward chats with UConn assistant coach Chris Dailey, who has been with Geno Auriemma on the Huskies' bench since 1985.