Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma listens during a press conference after the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. (Kevin Jairaj)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma listens during a press conference after the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. (Kevin Jairaj)

Gabby Williams had seen the act before.

Five days before the University of Connecticut women's basketball team faced Mississippi State in the NCAA national semifinals at American Airlines Center in Dallas last Friday night she watched Morgan William and the Bulldogs stun Baylor in overtime to get to their first Final Four, earning the All-American junior forward's admiration and respect.

"It's what March is about," Williams said. "Teams are going to fight. Players are going to hit shots outside their comfort zone when it really matters. It goes to show it doesn't matter what your seed or anything is, it all depends on how you perform that night."

Truer words have never been spoken and last Friday night Williams saw it all happen again right in front of her. All that was left was to give props to the victors.

William's pull-up jumper at the overtime buzzer gave Mississippi State a stunning 66-64 win over UConn, ending the Huskies' four-year reign as national champion and their record 111-game winning streak.

"They played like it was their game to win," Williams said. "They were aggressive and forced us to do what they wanted us to do and they disrupted our offense.

"This stings and will hurt for a long time. I'm really proud of what we did this year. I'm really proud of the guys that stepped up. We did a lot of incredible things this year. It sucks that we couldn't cap it off. I don't think that diminishes anything we've done."

Because of what the Huskies did in a year that was supposed to be one to "get them," Mississippi State's win will go down as one of the great upsets in the 36-year history of the NCAA tournament.

But maybe the real surprise was that after losing three All-Americans, the top three picks in the 2016 WNBA Draft, and with no returning first- or second-team all-conference players it didn't occur sooner.

"You know how many times this could have happened and it didn't happen?" UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "The fact that it never happened, that doesn't mean I went home thinking it's never going to happen. I knew this was coming at some point. I'm just shocked that it took this long to get here."

Auriemma put together the toughest non-league schedule in the country to test his new group. After pulling out a win in the opener at Florida State, the Huskies stunned Baylor at home and continued to win. They went on the road in December and beat Notre Dame and Maryland.

They broke their own NCAA record with their 91st straight win at SMU on Jan. 14 and made it 100 consecutive wins by beating eventual national champion South Carolina at Gampel Pavilion on Feb. 13.

After sweeping through their American Athletic Conference schedule with only one test (at Tulane on Feb. 18), by March they were favored to make it an unprecedented five straight national championships.

Their run through the Bridgeport Regional changed no one's perspective. But the Bulldogs shocked the Huskies by taking a 16-point first-half lead -- their largest deficit in 10 years. And while UConn did edge in front in the second half, Mississippi State never flinched.

The Huskies did. With the score tied and the chance for the last shot of overtime, Saniya Chong attacked the basket and lost the ball out of bounds with 12.8 seconds to go. William then took control and her shot jump over Williams' hand found nothing but net.

"I would say there was a little disbelief," UConn All-American guard Katie Lou Samuelson said. "It didn't really hit me until we got closer to the locker room. When she hit that shot, it was kind of weird. I didn't really know how to act or what to do. Once we were walking over here that is when it hits you, and it hurts.

"We did have a great season, and I'm really proud of this team. We did a lot of things that a lot of people didn't think we could. We worked really hard. This season was extremely hard. I think all of us really wanted it to end on a better note, but you can't forget about what we did accomplish."

The final record is 36-1 with the AAC regular season and tournament titles, and a record 10th consecutive Final Four berth.

Three players - Williams, Samuelson, and forward Napheesa Collier - went from not making any of the three all-AAC teams in 2016 to consensus All-Americans. Guard Kia Nurse was an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press as she and Williams emerged as team leaders. Chong, who was no factor for three postseasons, set a school record for assist-to-turnover ratio as a senior. Auriemma did one of the best coaching jobs in his Hall of Fame 32-year career.

Their championship reign ended but the stage is set to start another one.

"Coach said it sucks to be in this position, and we're going to think about it for a couple of days," Collier said. "But he was proud of what we've done this year, and we should be proud even though we can't really see it right now. We did have a good year, and we can't let this keep us down for too long. We'll let it build for next year and help us in the future.

"No one wants to end this way but you have to let it motivate you for next year."

UConn loses Chong and classmate Tierney Lawlor, who were in Storrs for 152 wins - a NCAA record for a four-year span. Both will receive their bachelor's degrees in May with Chong hopeful that her strong finish will get her a shot with a WNBA team.

The Huskies will return their three All-Americans and Nurse, and welcome transfers Azura Stevens and Batouly Camara as well as one of the nation's top recruiting classes.

Williams' development from someone with great athletic ability to an All-American player was an example of hard work paying off. She finished in the AAC's top 10 in rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots, and field-goal percentage and won league and national honors as the Defensive Player of the Year. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas called her the "most complete player in the game." All that's left is for her to stretch her shooting range out past the 3-point line to make her an impossible matchup.

Nurse was the AAC Preseason Player of the Year but struggled with the expectations of being the top returnee on a team without the 2016 Big Three. But as Williams and the sophomores emerged, Nurse found her comfort zone and while she remained willing to stay in the background, she had stretches where she was UConn's best player. She set a NCAA Tournament record for 3-point baskets. Whether she has to play more point guard next year than before remains to be seen but the Huskies will be in good hands.

Natalie Butler had some good moments, particularly in a Dec. 4 win over Texas, but never gave the Huskies the inside presence they could have used. That left Williams and Collier having to face much taller players in the post and it was an issue against 6-foot-7 Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan. With Stevens and Camara coming in, Butler will have to develop her niche early or it will be too late.

Collier's season was simply remarkable, particularly on the offensive end as she led the AAC in points and field-goal percentage. While she shared the league's Player of the Year award with Samuelson, that she was beaten out by South Florida junior Maria Jespersen for the Most Improved Player honor is an embarrassment for AAC coaches. Collier makes things that are hard look easy. Getting stronger will help and while she did top the league in blocked shots the next jump in her game will be on the defensive end.

Samuelson expanded her game to help her become an All-American. After taking 66.4 percent of her shots from 3-point land as a freshman, that number dropped this season to 53.1 percent and she also took three times as many free throws than a year ago. As she gets stronger, she'll move even better without the ball and at her height could give UConn more inside than she has in the past. She and Collier were the highest-scoring duo in UConn history this year. But she knows there's more she can add.

Stevens and Camara spent the year sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules and earned the respect of their teammates for their work ethic. Auriemma believes that Stevens, who spent her first two years at Duke, will be a Player of the Year candidate next season. At 6-foot-6, she can go inside and outside and is a proven scorer and rebounder. Camara will give the Huskies a presence on the boards and hopes to continue her progress to getting a consistent jump shot. They certainly will fill two needs that UConn has.

Crystal Dangerfield had an up-and-down freshman year with the high coming in the Nov. 17 win over Baylor. There's no doubting her talent but Auriemma was not always happy with her work ethic. The Huskies would love to see the kind of jump with Dangerfield that Samuelson and Collier made coming into their sophomore year.

Molly Bent started the season in the rotation and saw key minutes in the opening games with Florida State and Baylor. But her minutes decreased as the season went on. For Bent and classmate Kyla Irwin, it will be about earning the trust of Auriemma and their teammates as they seek more playing time next year.

High school Player of the Year Megan Walker leads the Class of 2021 that will also include wing Lexi Gordon and guards Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Mikayla Coombs.

The Huskies will play another difficult non-league schedule with 11 of their 13 games against teams that reached the 2017 NCAA Tournament. While Auriemma hopes the AAC will improve, it's likely his team will continue its dominance there.

The 2018 Final Four is set for Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

"We did a lot to put ourselves into position to be successful," Samuelson said. "It didn't happen so we'll all remember this when we work this offseason to figure out stuff we can improve upon. In the future we will always remember we want to be back here."


 (David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)
(David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)

Nothing like traveling some 7,000 miles to break out of a shooting slump.

Kia Nurse won a gold medal at the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 Sunday with the Canadian national team but in six tournament games shot just 28.1 percent from the floor including 21.9 percent from 3-point land. But after traveling Monday from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Rome to join her University of Connecticut teammates on their tour of Italy, the senior guard found her shot.

Nurse scored 18 points -- making 5-of-7 shots including a trio from 3-point land along with all five of her free throws -- Tuesday as the Huskies rolled past the Netherlands national team 88-66 in Game 2 of four exhibition games on their tour.

Read More

SNY's Huskies All-Access team is on site in Italy with the UConn Women's basketball team as they start their preparation for the upcoming season.

Here are some behind the scene moments:

Read More

Connecticut Huskies guard Saniya Chong (12) drives the ball against Memphis Tigers guard Taylor Barnes (15) in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. UConn defeated Memphis 91-48. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Saniya Chong (12) drives the ball against Memphis Tigers guard Taylor Barnes (15) in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. UConn defeated Memphis 91-48. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- She played her final college game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Her new home court is the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, about a half-hour drive if the traffic cooperates.

But to Saniya Chong, it's an entirely different world.

The former University of Connecticut guard beat the odds as a third-round draft pick and proved many people wrong this spring by making the WNBA's Dallas Wings' roster. She has played in 28 of the Wings' 29 games -- the only miss was the Aug. 6 contest against the Los Angeles Sparks as she was in concussion protocol -- and is averaging 3.1 points, 1.1 assists and one rebound in 12.2 minutes off the bench. In her return to Connecticut Saturday, she had a steal in four minutes of a 96-88 loss to the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Tags: Saniya Chong, Carl Adamec
Read More

Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma, guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and center Natalie Butler clap on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. (Raymond Carlin III/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma, guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and center Natalie Butler clap on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. (Raymond Carlin III/USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS, Conn. -- There were no banners inside Gampel Pavilion the last time the University of Connecticut women's basketball team welcomed six newcomers. 

In 1988, the Huskies had not won a league or national championship. Of course, then there was no Gampel Pavilion either as it would be their last full season playing in the Storrs Field House. But that fall six freshmen -- Debbie Baer, Wendy Davis, Meghan Pattyson, Pam Rothfuss, Shannon Saunders and Stacey Wetzel -- joined the Huskies, and five months later they were Big East champs for the first time and headed to their first NCAA tournament.

A lot has happened and a lot has changed in 29 years. This season, coach Geno Auriemma returns four starters, including All-Americans Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, from a 36-1 squad that advanced to the program's record 10th straight Final Four. The Huskies' only loss came in their last outing as their 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as NCAA champ ended.

Helping them start anew are four freshmen and two other players who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. And they get a head start. After a week of workouts on campus here, they will fly out of New York on Saturday to Rome to start an 11-day tour of Italy that will include playing four exhibition games.

Read More

 (AP)
(AP)

Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams have been part of two losses in three seasons with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

The seniors will get the chance to avenge at least one of them.

UConn will play Stanford in its season opener on Nov. 12 in the Countdown to Columbus event to be played at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The Huskies were originally scheduled to take on Ohio State in the one-day showcase at the site of the 2018 NCAA Final Four. But the Buckeyes will now face Louisville in the second game of the doubleheader. Times and television information are still to be determined.

The Huskies lead the overall series with the Cardinal 10-7, including 4-2 in NCAA tournament play. But in the last meeting at Maples Pavilion on Nov. 17, 2014, Stanford received a late 3-pointer from Amber Orrange to force overtime and pulled out an 88-86 victory to snap UConn's 47-game winning streak. The Huskies followed the defeat in Palo Alto by winning their next 111 games. That NCAA record run was stopped by Mississippi State in the Final Four semifinals last March 31 in Dallas.

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
Read More

 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

STORRS, Conn. -- Uniform No. 3 was just another number for the first 25 years of the University of Connecticut women's basketball program.

Only two players wore it -- Shea Matlock and Tammy Arnold. Matlock played one year here and transferred to Georgia Tech after the 1994 season. Arnold was at UConn for two years before transferring to Oregon State near her home of Oregon City after the 1997 season.

Then coach Geno Auriemma convinced Diana Taurasi to take No. 3 and the rest is history. Taurasi (2000-04) would become one of the greats of the game, a three-time national champion and All-American and two-time national Player of the Year. Tiffany Hayes (2008-12) would be next and she'd win two titles and finish among the the top 10 scorers. Morgan Tuck (2012-16) followed and was a four-time national champion and All-American.

So why would freshman Megan Walker, already under the microscope coming in as the 2017 national high school Player of the Year and the top recruit in her class, want to take on that responsibility?

Read More

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

STORRS, Conn. -- Diana Taurasi is considered by many to be the best women's basketball player in the world, and is quick to credit a number of her coaches for helping her along the way.

But when it comes to helping her be a better person, the former University of Connecticut star and four-time United States Olympic gold medalist is quick to give credit to Huskies' associate head coach Chris Dailey.

"She made me a respectable human being," Taurasi said last Friday. "When you're around CD, there's a certain way to live life. I didn't understand it at the time I was in school. But now that I look back on it, I learned as much about life as I did about basketball with her. Every time I see her, I thank her for that."

The WNBA's Connecticut Sun will show their appreciation Tuesday night when Dailey is given the Margo Dydek Award in a ceremony at halftime of the Sun's game with Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and the Seattle Storm at Mohegan Sun Arena. The award, named after the former Sun center, is given to an outstanding woman who has distinguished herself while positively impacting the local community...

Read More

Batouly Camara (Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports)
Batouly Camara (Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS, Conn. -- Batouly Camara can't wait for November and the beginning of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's season.

In a way, the redshirt sophomore forward doesn't have to. The Huskies will head to Italy on Saturday for an 11-day tour that will take them to Rome, Florence, Trieste and Venice and include four exhibition games.

"It's like we're getting a head start," Camara said after Monday's workout at the Werth Champions Center. "Going there, being able to bond as a team and also play some games, I'm super excited for this trip.

"I want to be able to pick things up quickly and to be efficient. But at this point of the season I want to show to my coaches and teammates that they can trust me. Being reliable is something I've tried to show the team from the start."

Read More

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 turned 35 years old on June 11. But there also days when she's 25 all over again.

 

Read More

Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

University of Connecticut sophomore Crystal Dangerfield has seen enough opponents celebrate in the last six months to last her a lifetime.

On March 31, it was Mississippi State that charged the court after its upset in the NCAA Final Four semifinals ended the Huskies' 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as national champion.

Then Sunday, Dangerfield and her United States teammates watched Russia grab the gold at the FIBA U-19 World Cup. The 6-foot-4 duo of Raisa Musina and Maria Vadeeva combined for 59 points and 29 rebounds as Russia ended Team USA's U-19 run with an 86-82 victory in the championship game in Udine, Italy.

Read More

Mar 29, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; McDonalds High School All-American East guard Megan Walker (3) shoots the ball against McDonalds High School All-American West forward Sidney Cooks (10) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports (Mike Dinovo)
Mar 29, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; McDonalds High School All-American East guard Megan Walker (3) shoots the ball against McDonalds High School All-American West forward Sidney Cooks (10) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports (Mike Dinovo)

To say Megan Walker has struggled with her 3-point shot at the FIBA U-19 World Cup would be an understatement. The University of Connecticut freshman wing was 1-for-14 from behind the arc in the United States' first five games in the event.

But with Team USA surging late in the second quarter half of its semifinal game with Japan Saturday, Walker delivered a dagger from the corner.

Her trey at the halftime buzzer gave the Americans a 14-point lead and was part of a 21-1 run that carried into the third quarter. Walker finished with 11 points as Team USA advanced to the gold-medal game with a 73-66 win over Japan in Udine, Italy.

Read More

Kia Nurse is back to her usual busy self.

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's senior guard was named Friday to the Canadian national team that will participate in the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug. 6-13. The top three finishers in the event receive bids to the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

After her time in Buenos Aires, Nurse will join her UConn teammates in Italy for the remainder of their tour there.

Tags: Kia Nurse, Carl Adamec
Read More

Nov 30, 2015; Chattanooga, TN, USA; Connecticut Huskies logo prior to the game between the Chattanooga Lady Mocs and the Connecticut Huskies at McKenzie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Brown)
Nov 30, 2015; Chattanooga, TN, USA; Connecticut Huskies logo prior to the game between the Chattanooga Lady Mocs and the Connecticut Huskies at McKenzie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Brown)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Stefanie Dolson has always been a unique individual but has never failed to be a team player.

After graduating from the University of Connecticut and winning her second national championship with the women's basketball team in 2014, the 6-foot-5 center from Port Jervis, New York joined the WNBA's Washington Mystics as the team's first-round draft pick. Part of her change to professional life was to dye her hair purple.

Read More

 (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)
(Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Moriah Jefferson has always been filled with positive energy.

Over nine seasons -- five years scholastically with THESA (Texas Homeschool Educators Sports Association) and four years in college with the University of Connecticut -- her teams never lost the final game of their postseason.

But in her second year with the WNBA's San Antonio Stars, she is being tested -- on and off the court -- like never before. The Stars Thursday night's home game with the Indiana Fever at 2-18, five games clear for the worst record in the league and seven games behind the final playoff spot with 14 games to play.

Read More

Aug 20, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; USA forward/center Breanna Stewart (9) shoots the ball against Spain power forward Astou Ndour Gueye (45) 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 forward/center Breanna Stewart (9) shoots the ball against Spain power forward Astou Ndour Gueye (45) 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)

If University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma takes time out to watch the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday, he'll see his own version of a magnificent seven -- of his own players.

Former Huskies Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm and Stefanie Dolson of the Chicago Sky were named as reserves for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference respectively for the All-Star Game to be played at KeyArena in Seattle, giving UConn a record seven graduates in the contest. Last week, five ex-Huskies -- Seattle guard Sue Bird, Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, and Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore for the West, and forward Tina Charles of the New York Liberty and guard Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream for the East -- were named as starters.

Read More

GEICO SportsNite: Vital 00:04:35
Taylor Rooks talks to UConn shooting guard Christian Vital about how playing chess has helped his style of play on the basketball court.

Connecticut Huskies players leave the court after losing to the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs defeated the Connecticut Huskies in overtime 66-64. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies players leave the court after losing to the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs defeated the Connecticut Huskies in overtime 66-64. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team has had more than its share of top moments at the ESPYs over the past 25 years.

The Huskies, though, were on the other end during the annual awards in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Mississippi State's 66-64 overtime win at the NCAA Final Four semifinals on March 31 that ended UConn's 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as national champion won the ESPY as "Best Upset" of the past 12 months. The Bulldogs were considered about a 21-point underdog.

Of course, the ESPYs were far from the first time -- or the last time -- UConn will be reminded of that night at the American Airlines Center when guard Morgan William hit a shot at the buzzer to send Mississippi State to the title game against South Carolina.

Read More

 (Jeffrey Swinger)
(Jeffrey Swinger)

In their first game as a starting backcourt, they combined for a pedestrian 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's 36-point victory over Villanova at Gampel Pavilion.

Who knew on Feb. 4, 2001, that Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi would go on to be the best their sport has seen? Their then-college coach and later their coach for seven years with the United States national team had an idea.

"I have always said from back in 2002 that they'd be the best backcourt in the history of women's basketball -- college basketball, pro basketball, any kind of basketball -- and I said time will prove that," Geno Auriemma said last month. "It certainly has. You'll never find something like that ever again. It's too improbable for it to happen again. Those two are pretty special. There's nothing to compare them to. There really isn't."

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
Read More

Connecticut Huskies guard Molly Bent defends against Tulsa Golden Hurricane guard Tatyana Perez during the fourth quarter at Donald Reynolds Center. (Brett Rojo/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Molly Bent defends against Tulsa Golden Hurricane guard Tatyana Perez during the fourth quarter at Donald Reynolds Center. (Brett Rojo/USA TODAY Sports)

On the second offensive possession of her career with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, Molly Bent reached the center-court line and threw a perfect lead pass to a sprinting Napheesa Collier for a layup.

A national TV audience and a crowd of 4,753 inside the Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida, saw it. One soul missed it -- the person doing the game statistics at Florida State, who gave the assist to Saniya Chong.

In a way, it sums up Bent's freshman season. As UConn coach Geno Auriemma put it, never had he seen a player work so hard and get so little reward out of it.

As the 5-foot-9 guard prepares for second year with the Huskies, she has a foundation for success. But she knows she must build confidence in herself and trust with her coaches and teammates to get meaningful minutes on what could be UConn's deepest roster in years.

Read More

Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (5) reacts in the second quarter against the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (5) reacts in the second quarter against the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Sophomore point guard Crystal Dangerfield spent a part of June talking to her University of Connecticut women's basketball freshman teammates about her experiences from her first collegiate season.

"I tell them my stories from last year and I have a lot of them," Dangerfield said. "I think ... No, I know, it will be different for each of them and it is going to be hard. But I want them to know I'll be there to listen and to talk to them."

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Carl Adamec
Read More

Kevin Ollie promoting basketball 00:03:07
UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie discusses his efforts to promote basketball in Connecticut, regardless of a player's skill level

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

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- During her incredible basketball career at the University of Connecticut, Breanna Stewart spoke often about her goal of winning four national championships. At least that's what the three-time national Player of the Year was asked about the most.

Little did anyone know she had so much more to add. Fifteen months after stepping off the court for the final time as a Husky at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and winning that historic fourth consecutive NCAA title, she's becoming known as much for her activism as for her skills on the floor.

"I wasn't asked about it at UConn. I wasn't asked about certain things that were happening in the world," Stewart said Thursday. "So it's you (media) guys' fault. I think I would have said the same things. CD (UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey) and I would have talked about it prior if it was something I wanted to do and was constantly asked about it.

"You don't think about it so much at UConn. There's so much going on. CD has you doing so many things. My first season at Seattle, there were things that needed to be talked about. When I was at the ESPYs last year, it seemed like there was a lot happening in our world and instead of having the generic 'Thank you very, thank you to my family, blah, blah, blah,' I wanted to make it about something really important, something that needed to be said and heard."

Read More

Mikayla Coombs (USA Basketball)
Mikayla Coombs (USA Basketball)

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Napheesa Collier has always let her actions speak for her, whether it was helping the University of Connecticut women's basketball team win a national championship in 2016 or earning consensus first-team All-America honors a season ago.

So when the junior forward was told Monday that the Huskies' freshman class has given itself the nickname of "Fantastic Four" months before its first official college practice, Collier chuckled, rolled her eyes a bit, and shook her head with a smile before staying in character with a brief comment.

"Oh my goodness. It's great that they have a name for themselves, I guess," Collier said.

For sure, UConn's Class of 2021 -- Mikayla Coombs, Lexi Gordon, Andra Espinoza-Hunter, and Megan Walker -- will get the opportunity to live up to their hype. Even with three All-Americans among their four returning starters and with transfers Azura Stevens and Batouly Camara now eligible, the Huskies will likely need their freshmen to contribute if they are to regain the national championship.

Read More

WNBA former player Rebecca Lobo speaks as NBA former player Tracy McGrady listens during the Naismith Hall of Game Press Conference at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Joe Camporeale)
WNBA former player Rebecca Lobo speaks as NBA former player Tracy McGrady listens during the Naismith Hall of Game Press Conference at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Joe Camporeale)

Could it have been anyone else?

Rebecca Lobo and Geno Auriemma are already linked together forever in University of Connecticut women's basketball history. The two will come together again in September when Lobo's place in hoop history becomes permanent.

Auriemma will serve as Lobo's presenter when she is enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, in a ceremony at Springfield Symphony Hall on Sept. 8. A presenter must be a member of the Naismith Hall. Auriemma was inducted in his first year of eligibility in 2006.

Read More

Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) reacts after a play against he Oregon Ducks during the first half in the finals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) reacts after a play against he Oregon Ducks during the first half in the finals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II)

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson was feeling her age Monday as she observed some of her teammates working at coach Geno Auriemma's Fore the Kids charity tournament at Hartford Golf Club.

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's junior All-American turned 20 two weeks ago.

"We have more younger guys than older guys and it's weird that now I'm one of the older guys," Samuelson said. "We need to bring a certain level every day to help us get where we want to go."

Only two Huskies -- seniors Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse -- have played more minutes at the college level than the 6-foot-3 guard. And while they return four starters -- including three All-Americans -- from their 36-1 team that reached the NCAA Final Four for the 10th consecutive year, nine of the 13 on the roster will be playing their first or second seasons at UConn. That group includes transfers Azura Stevens and Batouly Camara and four freshmen who make up what is considered a top-three recruiting class nationally.

Read More

 (AP)
(AP)

CROMWELL, Conn. -- For the first time in nine years, Geno Auriemma has a summer without United States women's national basketball team responsibilities.

The University of Connecticut's Hall of Fame coach has worked on his tan but not so much on his golf game, though that would be hard to believe after seeing his drive off the first tee at the Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am at TPC River Highlands Wednesday find the fairway.

"It's been busy," Auriemma said. "You don't realize that when you're doing the national team stuff, they leave you alone. The minute they think you don't have anything to do? It's been a lot. And there's a lot more to come. So this will be as busy a summer as I have ever had. I'm looking forward to it."

Read More

 (Jonathan Dyer)
(Jonathan Dyer)

For almost two decades, one of the highlights of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's schedule was its annual nationally televised game played in January on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Starting with their memorable win over Tennessee in 1995 at Gampel Pavilion through 2013, the Huskies compiled a 15-4 record on the holiday against some of the best competition the Big East and the nation had to offer.

When UConn made its move four years ago to the American Athletic Conference, though, the schedule also changed. But as dates are being made public for the Huskies' 2017-18 season, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day game tradition is returning.

Texas will host UConn on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 15, at the Frank Erwin Center. The game is the second of a home-and-home series with the Longhorns. UConn defeated Texas 72-54 at Mohegan Sun Arena last Dec. 4. It will be the second holiday meeting between the Huskies and Longhorns. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2005, UConn posted a 73-57 victory in Hartford.

With UConn releasing the dates for its non-league home games Monday, the only date still to be announced on the Huskies' 13-game non-league slate is their trip to national champion South Carolina.

Read More

Connecticut Huskies center Kiah Stokes (41) defends against East Carolina Lady Pirates guard/forward Jada Payne (23) during the second half at XL Center. (David Butler II)
Connecticut Huskies center Kiah Stokes (41) defends against East Carolina Lady Pirates guard/forward Jada Payne (23) during the second half at XL Center. (David Butler II)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- From the night two years ago that the New York Liberty traded up into the first round of the WNBA Draft to select her, Kiah Stokes has been proving people wrong.

Yet it seems that the biggest challenge for the 2015 University of Connecticut honors graduate and third-year New York Liberty forward is proving to herself that she belongs at the highest level.

"I'm just trying to be more confident," Stokes said Wednesday. "That's always been my issue. My coaches mean a lot to me and my teammates mean a lot to me and I'm just trying to fill the role that is asked of me.

"It's not like I doubt myself. I want to do well and do what I can for my teammates."

Read More

Kara Wolters always dreamed big.

As she grew up in Holliston, Massachusetts, the daughter of former Boston College basketball star Willie Wolters picked up the game that helped her father reach his school's Hall of Fame. As she grew to 6-foot-7, maybe she could be the next Anne Donovan, an Olympic gold medalist and Hall of Fame center who would later be her coach with the WNBA's Indiana Fever.

Wolters became a star at Holliston High School and caught the eye of University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who offered her a scholarship that she accepted early in her senior year.

In the Fall of 1993 she arrived in Storrs. But instead of showing her stuff on the court at the start, the Olympic gold medalist she needed to emulate was someone more like Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Read More

Dan Rolfes looked forward to having the chance to watch his former player, Napheesa Collier, and the University of Connecticut women's basketball team play.

But throughout the 6-foot-1 forward's All-American sophomore season he kept having flashbacks to their time at Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis when the Rolfes-coached Red Knights captured three straight Missouri Class 4A state championships.

"It's so amazing," Rolfes said during a break in the United States U-16 national team trials in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he served as a court coach. "I'd sit there and watch with my assistants and it's so much like Incarnate Word with the high-percentage shots, a lot of times defending the post because of her size, being able to guard a guard or guard a post. What I saw this year was what I saw at Incarnate.

Tags: Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
Read More

Maddie Burke (USA Basketball)
Maddie Burke (USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Celeste Taylor took part in the United States U-16 national team trials in 2015. When she returned to the United States Olympic Training Center for this past weekend, she brought some company: Philadelphia Belles AAU teammates Maddie Burke and Kylee Watson.

"I told them that it's a great opportunity," Taylor said Sunday. "They've put so much into it."

The three have taken advantage of that opportunity. On Monday, Taylor, Burke, and Watson were among 18 players named as finalists for the U-16 team that will take part in the FIBA Americas Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 7-11.

Read More

 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- First there was a thunderous block. Then there was a steal followed by another steal and the players and spectators watching Sunday morning's session of the United States national team U-16 trials were buzzing.

All that was missing was a dunk, not that she can't do that.

Read More

 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Paige Bueckers plays basketball with a poise that belies her age.

The 5-foot-10 guard from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has already been part of two state championship games and has been named to the all-state tournament team twice. She is currently involved in USA Basketball's U-16 national team trials at the United States Olympic Training Center here. The final day of her freshman year at Hopkins High is Thursday, though she hopes she'll still be here for the U-16 training camp before the 12-player squad heads to Buenos Aries, Argentina, for the FIBA Americas Championships June 7-11.

Read More

 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Aliyah Boston's effort as an applicant candidate at the 2016 United States U-17 national team trials earned her an invitation from USA Basketball to this weekend's U-16 trials at the United States Olympic Training Center.

But the 6-foot-3 forward from Worcester Academy in Massachusetts knew that being a finalist for the U-17 team meant nothing as far making the U-16 team. So she used last year's bid that fell just short as motivation to represent her country for the first time.

"Being last year helped with my preparation because I saw what I needed to work on," Boston said on Friday. "I worked on all of that and the usual things I do to get better -- jump shots, free throws, post moves. I just kept working every day to get better. I wanted to be better running the floor and posting up strong every possession. I want to show that I have an outside game. And I want to show that I'm mentally tougher."

Read More

Photo by: USA Basketball
Photo by: USA Basketball

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Sam Brunelle -- a member of the Future Business Leaders of America chapter at William Monroe High in Standardsville, Virginia, -- considers this weekend's stay at the United States Olympic Training Center a business trip. 

"And we're pushing for the gold," Brunelle said Friday. 

"Last year here was a great experience to learn from all the older girls. Coming into this year I'll have more of a leadership role. I have the experience, I know what the trials will be like and what to expect." 

The 6-foot-2 forward, considered the top player in the Class of 2019, was the youngest member of the 2016 United States national team that won a bronze medal at the FIBA U-17 world championships in Spain. 

Read More

 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Carla Berube got a taste of what it would be like working with USA Basketball a year ago as a court coach at the U-17 national team trials.

The former University of Connecticut star and the 15-year Tufts University women's basketball coach now has a full plate in front of her. She is at the United States Olympic Training Center here as the head coach of the U-16 team that will take part in the 2017 FIBA Americas Championship June 7-11 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"Carol Callan (USA Basketball women's national team director) gave me a call around Final Four time and asked if I would be interested in being the coach for this," Berube said Thursday night. "And when Carol Callan calls you, you jump at whatever she needs. The opportunity to represent your country and USA Basketball is amazing.

"Last year working here definitely piqued my interest, and certainly that experience was important for USA Basketball and the committee. I guess they liked what they saw. It was such an awesome experience last year."

Read More

 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

Crystal Dangerfield and Megan Walker will have something to talk about with University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma when they get on campus next weekend to start summer session classes.

Maybe they can do it in Auriemma's native Italian, since Dangerfield and Walker will be spending a good portion of their summer in Italy.

"It would be good to know a few words," Dangerfield said with a laugh Sunday after she and Walker were named to the USA Basketball national team that will play in the FIBA U-19 World Cup to be held July 22-30 in Udine and Cividale del Friuli, Italy.

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield
Read More

 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

Mikayla Coombs and the Class of 2017 graduated from the Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, Saturday morning. 

But instead of wearing a cap and gown, Coombs was in her sneakers, shorts, and USA Basketball uniform shirt No. 36 at the U-19 national team trials at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. For the 5-foot-8 guard from Buford, Georgia, making a run at representing her country beats walking across a stage to get a diploma anytime.

Read More

 (USA Basketball)
(USA Basketball)

Charli Collier is a veteran of two USA Basketball national team trials and is used to facing older players, but her bid to make the 2017 U-19 squad this weekend has a different feel.

The 6-foot-4 forward and University of Connecticut Class of 2018 commit from Mont Belvieu, Texas, is one of three players at the trials with high school eligibility remaining. 23 of the 33 players invited to the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, recently finished their freshman year of college, including UConn guard Crystal Dangerfield and seven others who played against the Huskies.

"I trained differently than I did a year ago for this age group because you have players that have college experience here," Collier said in a phone interview Friday. "They're stronger and faster and more physical and playing against them is going to be great for me going back to my high school team. Next year, I'll be a senior, I'll be 18 and headed to Connecticut, so this is a cool experience...

Read More

Sophomore Crystal Dangerfield and incoming freshmen Mikayla Coombs and Megan Walker will get to visit Italy with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team during its tour in August.

They'd also like to make the trip in July for the FIBA U-19 world championships with the United States national team.

Dangerfield, Coombs, and Walker are among 33 players who have accepted invitations to take part in the U-19 trials that will be held May 18-21 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Also headed to the trials are UConn Class of 2018 commit Charli Collier and 2018 recruiting target Christyn Williams.

Team USA will go for its seventh straight U-19 gold medal at the tournament to be held July 22-30 in Cividale del Friuli and Udine, Italy. The Americans will be led by University of Pittsburgh coach Suzie McConnell-Serio...

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Carl Adamec
Read More

 (Jim Brown)
(Jim Brown)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Bria Hartley may have had the most interesting offseason of any WNBA player.

Instead of going overseas to play like many or working on their game at home like some, the former University of Connecticut two-time All-American gave birth to her and longtime boyfriend Shakim Phillips' first child -- a boy, Bryson -- on Jan. 14. Two weeks later, Hartley was traded by the Washington Mystics to her hometown team, the New York Liberty.

Read More

A WNBA basketball sits on the floor. (Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports)
A WNBA basketball sits on the floor. (Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Kelly Faris walked off the floor for the last time at New Orleans Arena with 2:04 remaining and the University of Connecticut women's basketball team well on its way to a win over Louisville in the 2013 NCAA championship game.

It would mark the sixth time in eight years -- four times at Heritage Christian in Indianapolis and twice at UConn -- her team would win its final contest of the season.

But the winning didn't follow her to the WNBA. In four seasons with the Connecticut Sun, the former first-round pick has not seen the postseason.

"It's been frustrating, very frustrating," Faris said. "I was fortunate enough to be on some great teams in high school and college. I'm going into my fifth year as a professional and I would love nothing more than to be in the playoffs."

Read More

 (Mark L. Baer)
(Mark L. Baer)

The Oakland Raiders took UConn defensive back Obi Melifonwu in the second round of the NFL Draft Friday.

Read More

Connecticut Huskies forward Morgan Tuck (3) speaks to the media after defeating the Syracuse Orange 82-51 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Brian Spurlock)
Connecticut Huskies forward Morgan Tuck (3) speaks to the media after defeating the Syracuse Orange 82-51 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Brian Spurlock)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Morgan Tuck was in the stands at the American Airlines Center in Dallas watching her old University of Connecticut women's basketball teammates struggle with Mississippi State in the NCAA Final Four semifinals on March 31, and the 2016 All-American was ready to start looking for her old No. 3 Huskies uniform.

Read More

Jan 14, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and center Natalie Butler (51) clap on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. Connecticut won 88-48, for their 91st consecutive victory an NCAA record. (Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 14, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and center Natalie Butler (51) clap on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. Connecticut won 88-48, for their 91st consecutive victory an NCAA record. (Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports)

When Natalie Butler arrived at the University of Connecticut after her Big East Freshman of the Year season at Georgetown in 2014, she seemed to be just what the Huskies needed.

With UConn losing WNBA first-round draft picks Stefanie Dolson in 2014 and Kiah Stokes in 2015, Butler was in the perfect spot to give the Huskies the post presence they'd need going forward.

The 6-foot-5 native of Fairfax Station, Virginia, impressed her teammates in the year she out due to NCAA transfer rules. But a thumb injury early in the 2015-16 campaign set her back and she never found the confidence she needed to be a consistent contributor in her two seasons.

UConn announced Wednesday that Butler has decided to transfer from UConn to her hometown school George Mason University. 

Tags: Natalie Butler
Read More

Mar 11, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs and UCF Knights warm up before the start of the semifinals during the AAC Conference Tournament at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 11, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs and UCF Knights warm up before the start of the semifinals during the AAC Conference Tournament at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

The NCAA men's basketball tournament is returning to Hartford, Connecticut.

The NCAA announced Tuesday that the XL Center in Hartford will hold 2019 first- and second-round tournament games with the University of Connecticut as the host school. The dates are March 21 and 23.

Read More

Fordham guard Antwoine Anderson dribbles around George Washington's Joe McDonald (22) last season. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Fordham guard Antwoine Anderson dribbles around George Washington's Joe McDonald (22) last season. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

Antwoine Anderson, a graduate transfer from Fordham University, will play at UConn next season, according to multiple media reports.

Read More

UConn guard Saniya Chong (Melina Vastola/USA Today Sports Images)
UConn guard Saniya Chong (Melina Vastola/USA Today Sports Images)

Saniya Chong was hoping to have a chance to play in the WNBA. The University of Connecticut senior guard will get that chance.

Chong was taken by the Dallas Wings with the second choice (No. 26 overall) in the third and final round of Thursday's WNBA Draft held in New York.

"I am truly blessed to be able to get this opportunity," Chong said in a statement released by UConn. "I am grateful and excited to start my new journey. Thank you to everyone out there that supported me."

Read More

UConn Women Season in Review 00:03:54
Kara Wolters and Meg Culmo discuss how the heavily favored UConn women's basketball team was upset by Mississippi State in the Final Four.