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.