Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse (11) drives to the basket against Tulane Green Wave guard Kolby Morgan (3) in the first half during the women's AAC Conference tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena. (David Butler II)
Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse (11) drives to the basket against Tulane Green Wave guard Kolby Morgan (3) in the first half during the women's AAC Conference tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena. (David Butler II)

STORRS, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut women's basketball team has been ranked No. 1 in 46 of the last 58 Associated Press polls and not outside the top five since Jan. 26, 2007.

With the three best seniors in the country from a year ago -- Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck now in the WNBA, the returning and new Huskies hope to carry on the tradition of excellence.

That's not the only thing the four-time reigning national champions are carrying.

"We all kind of have a chip on our shoulder," UConn sophomore guard Katie Lou Samuelson said Friday night. "There's been a lot said about how we are going to do without the three of them. People don't think we can do it, and I think everyone wants to prove that we are going to play together as a team, we are going to play the best we can, and we are going to go as far as we possibly can.

"I wouldn't say we're overlooked. I think we're always going to have that target on us. We know that target is on our back and for sure everyone wants to take us down. Everyone, whether they do it themselves or see other teams do it. We know that going into every game, and every practice we want to make sure that we work harder than every other team in the country because that's where it starts."

The Huskies opened practice Wednesday and had a great time at the annual First Night program at packed Gampel Pavilion Friday night. But on Saturday it was back to work at the Champions Center practice facility. UConn will put its 75-game winning streak on the line in the season opener at Florida State in just 30 days.

"Based on the first few days, the players that are back are what I would have hoped they would be," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "All of them in their own way, they all have something that they give every day. But they are generally a quiet group on the floor. There is really no really loud extroverts. There wasn't last year either, but last year they could have played with headphones on and we could have been undefeated and won the national championship.

"This year it is going to be a challenge in so many ways. They are going to have learn to be leaders. They are going to have to learn to be the go-to guys down the stretch. They are going to have to learn that they just can't give us their 20 minutes and go sit down and let the other three do it. They are going to have to be able to go 30 minutes, 35 minutes sometimes, and that is all going to be a different deal for them, one that takes awhile to get used to."

The good news for the Huskies as practice as opened is they are healthy. Samuelson is back from the broken left foot she suffered in the national semifinal game against Oregon State and junior guard Kia Nurse is back after offseason sports hernia surgery cost her much of Team Canada's pre-Olympic training camp. Sophomore forward Napheesa Collier and freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield are back after each had offseason hip surgery and freshman forward Kyla Irwin has recovered from a broken right hand.

The only player being held back is sophomore forward Batouly Camara, who had right shoulder surgery. But she is sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules after leaving Kentucky for UConn.

"Whether or not anybody has made a huge jump, we will know pretty quickly in November," Auriemma said. "But I'm not going to judge this team on what happens in November. The silliest thing we could talk about right now is, 'This team is a definite for the Final Four. This team is a definite for the national championship.' Or, 'At the end of November, we're going to know whether we're good enough to be at the Final Four at the end.' They're not worth talking about.

"We could have a losing record at the end of November and still turn out to be one of the best teams in the country come March. We could win every game in November and fall apart down the stretch because a lot of these guys haven't been in this situation in March. Everything is wait and see. That's the way I look at coaching this year."

After Florida State, the Huskies host Baylor, which is expected to be ranked in the top five in the preseason. They then visit LSU before closing out November with home games against Dayton and Chattanooga. Their seven-game December schedule has them playing games against 2016 NCAA tournament qualifiers DePaul, Texas, Notre Dame, Kansas State, Ohio State and Maryland.

Over the last 10 seasons, UConn is 57-1 in November (the only loss being at Stanford two seasons ago) and 58-2 in December (losses at Stanford in 2010 and at Baylor in 2011).


Recruiting Report
While waiting for No. 1-ranked high school senior Megan Walker to make her college choice -- she is considering UConn, Notre Dame and Texas -- the Huskies are welcoming some younger talent this weekend.

Charli Collier (6-foot-4 junior forward, Baytown, Texas) took in First Night on Friday. Rated No. 7 in her class by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 1 by Prospects Nation, Collier released a list of 12 finalists this summer -- UConn, Baylor, Duke, Houston, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and USC. She is on campus for the first time but took in the Huskies' game at Houston last January.

As a sophomore, Collier averaged 24.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots to lead Barbers Hill High to a 27-8 record and the Texas Class 5A regional semifinals. She reached the 1,000-point plateau. She represented her country for the first time this year, averaging 5.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 7.7 minutes per game for the United States squad that won the bronze medal at the FIBA U-17 world championships in Zaragoza, Spain, June 22-July 2.

Collier's teammate with the U-17 team, Samantha Brunelle, was expected to arrive on campus Saturday for an unofficial visit and it is also her first time here. The 6-2 sophomore forward from Ruckersville, Virginia, is the consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2019.

Brunelle averaged 25 points and 17.3 rebounds as a freshman in leading William Monroe High to a 20-6 record and the Conference 28 and district titles. One of four players from the Class of 2019 to be invited to the U-17 trials in Colorado Springs by USA Basketball and the youngest player to make the club, Brunelle averaged 2.0 points and 1.0 rebounds in 4.2 minutes for the bronze-medal winning Americans at the world championships.

Also in attendance at First Night were UConn Class of 2017 commit Andra Espinoza-Hunter (5-foot-11 guard, Ossining, New York), U-17 national team finalist Aliyah Boston (6-foot-3 sophomore forward from Worcester (Massachusetts) Academy, Anaya Peoples (5-foot-10 sophomore guard, Danville, Illinois), and Aubrey Griffin (5-foot-11 sophomore guard, Ossining, New York).

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Carl Adamec

Feb 7, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; UCF Knights guard Zakiya Saunders (3) and Connecticut Huskies forward Azura Stevens (23) reach for the rebound during the first quarter at CFE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Feb 7, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; UCF Knights guard Zakiya Saunders (3) and Connecticut Huskies forward Azura Stevens (23) reach for the rebound during the first quarter at CFE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Pat Summitt, Tennessee's Hall of Fame women's basketball coach, ended the rivalry between the Lady Vols and the University of Connecticut after 12 years and 22 games in 2007. She retired as the sport's winningest coach (1,098) in 2012 after announcing in August of 2011 she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Glory Johnson was on her last four teams in Knoxville. As a senior in 2012, Johnson was named to the WBCA All-America team. Summitt made her way to the Pepsi Center in Denver, the site of the NCAA Final Four, for the announcement even as she struggled with the illness that would take her life four years later at age 64.

A few hours after Tuesday's announcement that UConn and Tennessee would renew the rivalry in January 2020, Johnson, now a member of the WNBA's Dallas Wings, recalled Summitt's spirit with the belief the resumption would be something that she would want now.

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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)

From 1995 through 2007, it was the best rivalry in women's college basketball. More than a decade later the University of Connecticut and University of Tennessee have found each other again.

UConn and Tennessee women's will resume their series beginning in 2019-20, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday.
 
As part of the two-year deal, UConn will host Tennessee during the 2019-20 season with a portion of proceeds benefitting the Pat Summitt Foundation, named after the late legendary Tennessee coach, and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In the 2020-21 season, the Lady Vols will host the Huskies in Knoxville, with a portion of proceeds again benefitting the Pat Summitt Foundation and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

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Connecticut Huskies guard Gabby Williams drives the ball against South Carolina Gamecocks center Alaina Coates in the first half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)
Connecticut Huskies guard Gabby Williams drives the ball against South Carolina Gamecocks center Alaina Coates in the first half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- It's been a season of change for Gabby Williams -- just from spring to summer.

The two-time All-American and national champion at the University of Connecticut helped the Huskies to an in-state record of 80-0 during her four years at UConn, including 16-0 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Heck, the Huskies didn't lose a game in regulation time in her college career.

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 (USA BASKETBALL)
(USA BASKETBALL)

Christyn Williams was familiar with the struggles players around her age group have had representing USA Basketball in international competition.

The 2015 U-16 team settled for the bronze medal in the FIBA Americas tournament as did the 2016 U-17 team in the FIBA world championships. A year ago, the U-19 team that included Williams won a silver medal at the FIBA World Cup.

So the University of Connecticut freshman guard was hoping for a turnaround when Team USA arrived in Mexico City for the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship, an event the Americans have dominated for almost two decades.

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

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Moriah Jefferson admits that it's going to take more time to get back to being the player she can be. But the Las Vegas Aces' point guard knows time is running out on her team's chase for a spot in the WNBA playoffs.

"It's just about getting back in a rhythm, getting back to where I was before and trying to get better," Jefferson said Sunday prior to the start of the Aces' game with the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena. "I would say that I'm pretty close. We have a few games left and I'm going to do my best to keep progressing each game."

Las Vegas' playoff hopes took a hit Sunday with its 109-88 loss to Connecticut. The Aces (12-15) are 1 1/2 games behind the Dallas Wings (14-14) for the eighth and final playoff spot. Dallas owns the tiebreaker against Las Vegas.

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September 29, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; during the second half in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports (Gary A. Vasquez)
September 29, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; during the second half in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports (Gary A. Vasquez)

Renee Montgomery was part of two WNBA championship teams in the three seasons of her second tour with the Minnesota Lynx.

But when she became an unrestricted free agent after 2017 campaign, the former University of Connecticut two-time All-American was looking to move on. That the stop would be the Atlanta Dream, who won just 12 games and missed the playoffs a year ago, seemed unlikely.

"I knew we had talent," Montgomery said. "The main thing for us was putting it together. It takes time. Like when LeBron James went to Miami, everyone thought it would be instantly amazing. It doesn't work like that, no matter how much talent there is.

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

It was 3 a.m. Monday in Minsk, Belarus, as Jordan Horston spoke on the phone at the airport while waiting for the first of her flights that would eventually get her home to Columbus, Ohio.

There was no time for sleep, just celebrating the FIBA U-17 World Cup coming back with her to the United States.

"I am not tired at all," Horston said with a laugh. "I'm still on a high, Cloud 9. I think our whole team is. I'm just so happy and excited to be with them and for us to win the gold."

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 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Christyn Williams won't play her first game for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team for four more months, but there's no doubt she is part of the Huskies' family.

The 5-foot-11 freshman guard from Little Rock, Arkansas, raised some eyebrows a month ago at coach Geno Auriemma's charity golf tournament when she predicted that UConn would win the 2019 national championship. The Huskies have seen their last two bids for a 12th NCAA title end in overtime of the Final Four semifinals.

"I was hurt. It was devastating," Williams said. "But we're going to get it back. Mark my words, guys, we're going to get it back. We're going to get that championship. People are going to feel UConn. We're going to win the national championship."

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Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird (Matt Eisenberg)
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird (Matt Eisenberg)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Sue Bird set the WNBA mark for games played on Sunday and will play in a record 11th WNBA All-Star Game this Saturday in Minneapolis. With every assist, the Seattle Storm point guard adds to her all-time league-leading total. 

This fall, she'll likely look to collect a fifth FIBA world championship medal with the United States national team. She is already to only player with four (three gold, one bronze).

But the former University of Connecticut star didn't accomplish all this via her work over the last week or month. Bird's commitment to take care of herself and her body has been going on for years. It has allowed her, two months shy of her 38th birthday, to be playing some of the best basketball in a career that will include her induction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame once she is eligible.

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Aug 7, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; United States forward/center Breanna Stewart (9) leads the team back on to the court against Senegal during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Youth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)
Aug 7, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; United States forward/center Breanna Stewart (9) leads the team back on to the court against Senegal during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Youth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. - With a month to go in the WNBA regular season, Breanna Stewart may be the leading candidate to be the league's Most Valuable Player.

Her most valuable work over the past year may have been done off the court.

"I don't know if I'm playing my best basketball because hopefully I can play better," Stewart said after wrapping up practice with the Seattle Storm here Thursday. "I think I'm in a good place on the court. It's Year 3 so another year of being comfortable at the professional level and knowing what I want to do and what this team wants to do...

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Credit: USA Basketball (USA BASKETBALL)
Credit: USA Basketball (USA BASKETBALL)

It was less than two months ago that Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa left Colorado Springs, Colorado, after being named to USA Basketball's U-18 national team.

As the two University of Connecticut freshmen return to the United States Olympic Training Center to begin final preparations on Friday for the 2018 FIBA Americas Championship that will be played Aug. 1-7 in Mexico City, they are different players now from what they were in May. It will be the first chance to see the progress they made during the five-week summer session they spent in Storrs.

"There was an incredible difference to anything I've done," Nelson-Ododa said. "There's this expectation at UConn to perform at a certain level and it's more than I've ever done. There are so many things I've had to learn. It was an incredible experience."

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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.