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.
"I was just shocked to hear that she had passed away. She was one of the nicest people in women's basketball."
Donovan, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 and was in the inaugural class of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999, died of heart failure on June 13 at the age of 56.
The 6-foot-8 center won an AIAW national championship at Old Dominion in 1980 and Olympic gold medals with Team USA in 1984 and 1988.
"She was ahead of her time in her size and skill," Dailey said. "When she was coming up, there was no one like her. She was a true pioneer in terms of what she did for the game."
Donovan also coached at the college, professional, and Olympic level. She guided the Seattle Storm to the 2004 WNBA championship and Team USA to gold in the 2008 Olympics. Her final college coaching job was at Seton Hall (2010-13) and her last WNBA job was with the Connecticut Sun (2013-15).
"When she was at Connecticut, we went to the same place to get our hair done," Dailey said.
Arrangements are set for Donovan. A visitation is scheduled for June 28 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) at the Feeney Funeral Home in Ridgewood, New Jersey. A public celebration of Donovan's life will be held at Paramus Catholic on June 30 beginning at 3 p.m.
Two months after having surgery on her left ankle, two-time All-American and AAC Player of the Year Katie Lou Samuelson is well on the road to recovery. The senior guard is no longer wearing a boot to get around.
"Lou looks great," Dailey said. "Her range of motion is improving and she's working hard in the weight room. She is doing a great job keeping everybody where they're supposed to be. She's really taken on the leadership role. We're looking forward to getting her back on the court."
Samuelson's surgery repaired shredded lateral ligaments and she also had a torn tendon in the ankle. There was no bone or cartilage damage found.
The Huntington Beach, California, native missed four November contests -- including her homecoming game at UCLA -- with a left foot sprain. She hurt the ankle in her first game back against Notre Dame on Dec. 3 and aggravated the injury on Jan. 18versus Tulsa. She missed the game at Temple three days later and played the rest of the season with a brace on the ankle. In 32 games, Samuelson averaged 17.4 points, and career highs 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
Sophomore guard Mikayla Coombs, who sat out the NCAA tournament after a blood clot was discovered in her leg, is also working her way back.
"Mikayla is still unable to have contact," Dailey said. "She is still on medication. But she's working on her shooting, doing all of the running."
Coombs played in 25 games. She averaged 1.1 points and 0.8 rebounds in 6.7 minutes per outing.
NON-LEAGUE SCHEDULE SET
UConn's non-league opponents for the 2018-19 season have been known for awhile. But now those games have dates to go with them. The school announced the 14-game slate Wednesday which includes four home games, six road games, and four neutral site games.
The Huskies' regular season opener will be home on Nov. 11 against Ohio State. They will then face assistant coach Jasmine Lister's alma mater Vanderbilt in the Hall of Fame Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena on Nov. 17.
UConn will travel to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam and will play Mississippi (Nov. 22), St. John's (Nov. 23), and Purdue (Nov. 24) in the Reef Division. The Huskies will then return home to take on DePaul on Nov. 28 before going back on the road to play national champion Notre Dame in the Jimmy V Classic Dec. 2 and Saint Louis University on Dec. 4 in a homecoming game for senior Napheesa Collier.
Former Big East rival Seton Hall visits UConn on Dec. 8. Following a break for fall semester final exams, UConn will visit Oklahoma Dec. 19 and California-Berkeley Dec. 22.
The Huskies will close out non-league play with games during their American Athletic Conference schedule. UConn will travel to Baylor on Jan. 3, visit Louisville on Jan. 31, and host South Carolina on Feb. 11.
Two exhibition games are set with the Huskies hosting NAIA Vanguard on Nov. 4 and Division II Southern Connecticut State on Nov. 15.
ADJUSTING ON THE FLY
It's been an interesting spring for the UConn coaching staff.
On April 18, assistant Marisa Moseley was introduced as the head coach at her alma mater Boston University. A day later, the announcement that UConn had hired Lister to replace her was made. The next day, Lister -- a former UConn graduate assistant (2014-16) -- was on her way to Virginia to recruit for the Huskies at the Boo Williams Invitational.
"That was probably the quickest hire in the history of UConn," Dailey said with a laugh. "Having had Jasmine on our staff before made the transition easy. But I have to remember she's still young so there are things that I have to help her out with. I have to make sure she's in a good place all of the time and understanding what we need."
Moseley's departure and Lister's hire marks the first change on coach Geno Auriemma's staff since 2009 when Moseley replaced Jamelle Elliott.
The next adjustment will come any day as assistant coach Shea Ralph is set to deliver her first baby.
"I don't remember a spring with this much change and uncertainty with what we're doing and how is this going to work," Dailey said. "But you know what? We've always adapted and whatever comes our way we'll handle. We're hoping Shea has a healthy baby and that she'll be able to rest up and we'll cover what we have to cover when she's not there. I hope next week we'll be celebrating the birth of a new Husky."
Dailey on the progress of freshmen Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa during the summer session in Storrs: "They're freshman, but they're not backing down. They're fighting through being tired and what we're asking them to do. That says a lot about them. They're two tough kids who are probably going to be thrown into the fire pretty early. It will be a test for them."