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...
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
SNY's Steve Gelbs chats with UConn men's head basketball coach Dan Hurley about joining the program.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- After waiting a year for her opportunity, Caroline Ducharme knows she has only days to make an impression.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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...
Ever since he was named the new head coach at UConn on March 22, it has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for Dan Hurley.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Napheesa Collier's dream of cutting down the nets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, did not come true.
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.
UConn women's head coach Geno Auriemma discusses the team's response after losing to Notre Dame in the Final Four to end their season.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- From the moment it clinched its spot in the NCAA Final Four, the University of Connecticut women's basketball team promised it would be different here.
But the heartbreaking end for the Huskies was the same, almost eerily so.
All-American Arike Ogunbowale's jump shot from just inside the 3-point line with one second left in overtime Friday night gave Notre Dame a 91-89 win over UConn in a national semifinal game before a crowd of 19,564 at Nationwide Arena.
"My team trusted me to have the ball at the end," Ogunbowale said. "I mean, it felt good. I didn't know it was going in, but it felt good..."
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Arike Ogunbowale's jumper from the corner with a second left lifted Notre Dame to a 91-89 overtime victory over UConn on Friday night in the national semifinals.
She finished with 27 points and Jackie Young had a career-high 32 to lead the Irish back to the championship game for the first time since 2015.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There will be 19,000 fans inside Nationwide Arena and many more at home watching Napheesa Collier as she tries to help the University of Connecticut women's basketball team get past Notre Dame Friday night and earn a spot in the 2018 national championship game.
But after struggling in last year's national semifinal loss to Mississippi State, the junior forward will not be out to prove anything to anyone -- except herself.
"I never want to be timid like I was that night ever again," Collier said. "All I could think of was to not make mistakes, but then by doing that I did make mistakes. It was one of the reasons we lost. I think we were all timid and afraid to make mistakes. When that happens, you get beat..."
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gabby Williams has picked up her share of honors as a member of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.
But the Senior CLASS Award she got on Thursday figures to find a special place in the trophy case of her Sparks, Nevada, home.
"It means a lot to me because it's something that's beyond basketball, which we don't always get recognized for," Williams said. "It's too bad it gets lost because there are so many athletes doing so many good things. Sometimes athletes struggle with showing that they're more than athletes in a world that perceives them as just athletes. They're capable of more and should be allowed to be capable of so much more. That needs to be recognized more..."
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gabby Williams' answer was short and sweet when asked if she could get the three rebounds she needs for 1,000 in her career with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's during Friday night's NCAA Final Four semifinal game with Notre Dame at Nationwide Arena.
"I'll try," she said with a smile.
To Williams, rebounding is all about effort and there's little short or sweet about it. The only short part would be her height. If she gets the three rebounds, the 5-foot-11 All-American senior forward would become the seventh UConn player with 1,000 but, the first to be listed at under 6-feet tall.
Tags: Azura Stevens, Gabby Williams, Carl Adamec
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The road has taken the University of Connecticut women's basketball team to a record 11 consecutive NCAA Final Fours, but it's a journey it's never taken for granted.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Crystal Dangerfield arrived in Storrs being thought of as the next great point guard for the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team.
She had her moments -- think Baylor in her second career game -- in an up-and-down freshman season that ended with her watching the final shot of the season in Dallas from the bench. She returned with a new confidence as a sophomore and through the first half of the regular season was as good as anyone in the country before shin splints in her left leg began limiting her practice time and in some cases her effectiveness.
But on a magic night Monday at the Times Union Center, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native put forth a first half that was as good as any of the Huskies' greats have played. By the time she fed Azura Stevens for a layup to close out the second-quarter scoring, UConn's berth to the NCAA Final Four was all but secured.
Dangerfield scored 19 of her 21 points in a decisive first half as the top-seeded Huskies blasted No. 2 and defending national champion South Carolina 94-65 in the NCAA Albany Regional final before an enthusiastic pro-UConn crowd of 9,522.
Crystal Dangerfield scored 19 of her 21 points in the first half, and top-seeded UConn routed No. 2 South Carolina 94-65 on Monday night to reach the Final Four for the 11th consecutive year.
The road to a 12th national championship has been paved in marshmallows thus far for Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut women's basketball team.
With one pivotal matchup on Monday, however, all that ease disappears.
The Huskies (35-0) will square off with Dawn Staley and defending national champion South Carolina (29-6) in the Albany Region final at the Times Union Center.