<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Dog House]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/blogs/dog-house http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Mon, 27 Apr 2015 22:08:01 -0400 Mon, 27 Apr 2015 22:08:01 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[UConn-Syracuse to Renew Rivalry]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:44:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

UConn and Syracuse last played football in 2012, when both were members of the Big East Conference. The Orange has since moved on to the AAC while the Huskies are now in the AAC.

But the two old rivals will be reuniting again on the gridiron over the coming years, according to ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy.

The details: Syracuse would come to Rentschler Field in 2016 and the Huskies would travel to upstate New York in 2018 for the return trip.

More from CollegeFootballTalk.com:

Syracuse will not meet its ACC power conference scheduling requirement with this series, but the requirement has already been met for 2016 with Notre Dame in MetLife Stadium and 2018 against the Irish in South Bend.

UConn leads the all-time series over Syracuse, 6-3.

According to SNY.com's John Silver, the Huskies' schedules are now set for 2016 and 2017 with two games needed in each of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. "There is also a yet to be scheduled home-and-home series with Tennessee," Silver writes. "The game were agreed too long before the conference realignment circus and while the contracts remain in place, the dates are TBD."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Former UConn C Alex Mateas Top CFL Prospect]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:40:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

UConn cornerback Byron Jones could be a first-round pick in this week's NFL Draft. He will also likely be the only Huskies player to hear his name called over the three-day event. But when the CFL holds its annual draft next month, former UConn center Alex Mateas could be one of the first players off the board.

According to the CFL's final Scouting Bureau rankings, Mateas is the third-best prospect behind Rice defensive lineman Christian Covington and UNLV offensive lineman Brett Boyko. Yale running back Tyler Varga is fourth.

Mateas, a redshirt senior from Ottawa, Ontario, started all 12 games at center for the Huskies last season. He's also excited about the prospect of playing professionally in Canada. "That would unbelievable, it would be just a dream come true," he said back in December. "I am going to take everything I learned here, apply it to whatever happens to the future."

According to the New Haven Register, scouts from Calgary and Toronto were at UConn's Pro Day last moth.

Varga, meanwhile, had a good showing at the January Senior Bowl and is currently preparing for the NFL Draft.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Reiterates He's Staying at UConn]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:13:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

A short time after UConn coach Kevin Ollie said he had no plans to leave UConn, the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder fired coach Scott Brooks. Rumors persisted, however, that Ollie could be an option for the Thunder, which prompted the coach to tweet Thursday, "Everybody has their sources but this is the only source I need. #FamilyFirstAlways. #UConnluv."

An hour later, CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, said that Ollie went so far as to remove himself from consideration for the Thunder job.

The Hartford Courant's Dom Amore reports that, despite reports that Ollie remained interested in the Thunder job after stating otherwise, there had been no communication between the NBA club and the Huskies coach. "But there are back-channel things going on," the source added.

Either way, Ollie, who signed a five-year, $15 million contract last May, is staying put. And his response this week is similar to the one he issued last summer, when rumors first surfaced about his NBA coaching prospects.

"I don't know about the future," Ollie said at the time. "The only thing I can do is take care of today. I got a five-year contract, and I believe I'm going to be here all five years. That's my motto, that's where I want to be at. I want to be here with my family. I want to see my daughter graduate high school here in Connecticut. And whatever happens is going to happen. There's going to be speculation ever year, but the kids know that I have their back, their best interest in mind."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Football Still in Rebuilding Mode]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:11:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob-diaco-boise-state-sept.jpg

SBNation rolled out a UConn football preview this week and thorough doesn't begin to describe it. Kudos to Bill Connelly for the exhaustive effort. Unfortunately, a team that we've all known to be in rebuilding mode well before coach Bob Diaco arrived on the scene in December 2013, remains so after his first full season yielded just two wins.

The issues haven't changes -- starting with finding a starting quarterback -- but Connelly does offer some hope by looking at other FBS programs that saw surprising success under new coaches entering their second season.

"There were second-year surges last year -- Sonny Dykes at California, Bret Bielema at Arkansas, Dave Doeren at NC State, Skip Holtz at Louisiana Tech, Sean Kugler at UTEP," Connelly wrote on Wednesday. "On average, these five went from three wins and an F/+ ranking of 103rd in 2013 to seven wins and 51st in 2014. None of the five was expected to do as well as he did. That's the Year Zero effect."

Sadly, Connelly doesn't expect that same good fortune to shine on the Huskies in 2015.

"Is there potential for a similar rise at UConn? Probably not. If the running game catches hold, then there's possible for improvement into the 90s or so on offense, and if the run defense improves as I expect, then maybe the defense will creep back into the 50s or 60s in Def. S&P+. Average that out, and maybe this becomes a top-80 team."

Hey, it's better than going backwards -- though, to be fair, UConn ranked near the bottom of all FBS programs in most major categories last season. That said, if you're a glass-half-full type, Connelly does expect some improvement, even if it's marginal at best.

But that's too big a leap to count on, especially considering how bad the offense has been for going on five years now. The odds are much better than UConn improves to around 100th, and while that's something you can build off of, it won't result in many 2015 wins, not with only four opponents who ranked worse than 73rd last year."

None of this would come as a surprise to Diaco, we'd imagine. He's been preaching longer than anyone that this wasn't an easy rebuilding project. The question now becomes whether the Huskies can get better -- even if incrementally -- this season and beyond.

<![CDATA[Coach Kevin Ollie Says He Has No Plans to Leave UConn]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:01:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

For the second consecutive offseason, UConn coach Kevin Ollie has been mentioned as a possible NBA coaching candidate. And for the second consecutive offseason, Ollie had to reiterated that his allegiances lie in Storrs, with the Huskies basketball program.

“As I have said many times, I am proud and honored to be the head basketball coach at the University of Connecticut and I have no plans to pursue other opportunities," Ollie said on Wednesday in a statement released by the university.

"We are already excited about next season and I am looking forward to preparing our team to be the best we can be on the court, in the classroom, and in our community.”

Last week, Yahoo.com reported that Ollie could be a candidate for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder job should the team decide to part ways with incumbent Scott Brooks. On Monday, SNY.com's Adam Zagoria wrote that, according to sources, Ollie was being “seriously considered” for the Thunder job. 

Ten months ago we heard similar rumors, and Ollie issued a statement to assuage concerns about his coaching plans.

"I want to be here at UConn," he said at the time.

"I don't know about the future," he admitted. "The only thing I can do is take care of today. I got a five-year contract, and I believe I'm going to be here all five years. That's my motto, that's where I want to be at. I want to be here with my family. I want to see my daughter graduate high school here in Connecticut. And whatever happens is going to happen. There's going to be speculation ever year, but the kids know that I have their back, their best interest in mind."

A month before Ollie made those comments, UConn signed him to a new five-year, $15 million contract, which made him the highest-paid coach in the American Athletic Conference.

<![CDATA[Williams Looking to Get Better This Offseason]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 11:03:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP263777918388.jpg

Gabby Williams had a solid freshman campaign, one that saw her grow as a player as the season progressed. It certainly helped that she avoided injury, something she couldn't say her last two years in high school.

“I stayed healthy and that was a big thing,” Williams reiterated, via SNY.com. “Just having an opportunity to play in [the NCAA championship] game was something I worked for all season. It all came down to this moment. All the awards, all the accolades, they would have meant nothing if we didn’t win this final game.”

Back in March, coach Geno Auriemma admitted he didn't quite know what he had in Williams, who ended up growing into her role down the stretch.

"I've started calling Gabby Williams 'Forest Gump,' " Auriemma said at the time, via the Hartford Courant. "You know when he talks about how you never know what you're going to get in the box of chocolates? Well, I come to games saying, 'OK, let's see what the Gabby Williams show looks like today.' And you have no idea what it's going to look like. It's like this at practice sometimes, too. You never know when it is going to blow up or something completely different."

Next up: preparing for her sophomore season where, like always, there will be stiff competition for playing time.

“I’m really looking forward to this offseason and I’m excited that I’ll be able to work on my game and improve,” she said. “I haven’t had the chance to do that the last couple of offseasons. Last year I didn’t even play full court until First Night. So, I’ll be ready to get back out there and try to expand my game.”

A year ago, Williams was part of the nation's best recruiting class. Now she'll be competing with another stellar freshman class. This one includes Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and De’Janae Boykin, who are all top-10 players. There's also Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

But Williams sounds like she's only worried about what she can control.

“I absolutely have my goals, that’s for sure,” she said. “I’m hoping that I can improve my shooting. I know that’s something I need to work on. Maybe they’ll pull me off the block a little bit next year and I can get some guard play back in my game. It’s about being able to expand my game. This year a lot of my shots were around the rim. If I can add more range, I’ll be tougher to defend.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UConn, Kansas St. Agree to Home-and-Home]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:59:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP227608622892.jpg

Starting next season, UConn and Kansas State will play in a home-and-home series, according to SNY.com's Carl Adamec.

The Huskies will host the Wildcats on Nov. 23, 2015, and UConn will make their way to Manhattan, Kansas the following season.

“I wanted three things out of scheduling UConn: a marquee opponent for our fans, a tremendous challenge for our team, and a unique women’s basketball event for our ‘Team Hally’ game and girls basketball players across this region,” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said in a statement.

More details via the release:

The return game in the series comes in the 2016-17 season and will be the Third Annual Team Hally game. The inaugural Team Hally game was played in the 2014-15 season against Kansas on Jan. 11, a 58-52 K-State win. The Second Annual Team Hally game will be against a Big 12 opponent to be determined following the announcement of the 2015-16 Big 12 schedule.

Hally Yust passed away at the age of nine during the summer of 2014 and had the dream of playing basketball for Kansas State. In her memory, her family has set up the Hally Yust Memorial Fund through the K-State Foundation. To date, the Hally Yust Memorial Fund has raised nearly $75,000 in support of women's basketball. To learn more about the fund or to make a donation, please contact the K-State Foundation by calling (800) 432-1578 or by sending an e-mail to foundation@found.ksu.edu.

This will be the second and third meetings between the two teams. UConn and Kansas State first faced off during the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Huskies won, 76-26 on their way to the Final Four, where they lost to Notre Dame.

<![CDATA[UConn Football Player Charged With Assault]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:19:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/sean+mcquillan+facebook+edit.jpg

UConn football tight end and Glastonbury native Sean McQuillan is facing assault charges after fighting with his roommate Friday night, according to the Daily Campus.

McQuillan was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct.

A report from UConn police states that McQuillan got into a fight at the Celeron Square Apartment complex and caused "significant facial injuries" to the victim.

The Daily Campus reported the victim was McQuillan's roommate

University officials declined to elaborate on the incident Tuesday night.

"The athletic department is aware of the situation and we will wait for the judicial process to take its full course. In the meantime, Sean has a responsibility to finish out the semester academically," UConn Athletic Department spokesman Mike Enright said in a statement.

According to McQuillan's bio on the UConn football website, the 22-year-old red shirt senior started 11 games in the 2014 season. He was team captain at Glastonbury High School and studies resource economics and communications at UConn.

McQuillan was released on $500 bond ahead of his court appearance Monday. He's due back before a judge May 21.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Ollie Being 'Seriously Considered' for Thunder Job]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 11:09:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

Last week, Yahoo.com reported that Kevin Ollie could be a candidate for the NBA's Oklahoma Thunder job should the team decide to part ways with incumbent Scott Brooks.

On Monday, SNY.com's Adam Zagoria writes that, according to sources, Ollie, who was mentioned as an NBA coaching candidate following the 2013-14 season, is being “seriously considered” for the Thunder job.

More from Zagoria:

Ollie teamed with Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City and remains close with GM Sam Presti. Ollie is considered to be one of the keys to convincing Durant to remain in Oklahoma City after he enters free agency in 2016, the source said.

In June 2014, two months after Ollie led the Huskies to an NCAA title, the then-second-year coach reiterated his commitment to UConn.

"I want to be here at UConn," he said at the time.

"I don't know about the future," he admitted. "The only thing I can do is take care of today. I got a five-year contract, and I believe I'm going to be here all five years. That's my motto, that's where I want to be at. I want to be here with my family. I want to see my daughter graduate high school here in Connecticut. And whatever happens is going to happen. There's going to be speculation ever year, but the kids know that I have their back, their best interest in mind."

A month before Ollie made those comments the University signed him to a new five-year, $15 million contract, which made him the highest-paid coach in the American Athletic Conference.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Laimbeer Excited About 1st-Rounder Stokes]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 11:02:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UCONN13.jpg

Kiah Stokes flew under the radar most of her career at UConn, and the same happened on draft night, when she was selected 11th overall -- and eight picks after college teammate Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis -- by the New York Liberty.

But Stokes, who never was much of a scorer but was dominant in the paint for the Huskies, has Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer very excited about his first-round pick.

"You can not teach the kind of size and athleticism that she has," Laimbeer said, via the Hartford Courant. "She's long with broad shoulders and she can run. And she's solid defensively with great timing, which is very hard to find in a college player. Women just don't instinctively have the timing necessary to have great shot-blocking ability. But she does. And that's a great anchor for us to grow the rest of her game."

Stokes was the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and finished her career with 325 blocked shots. But she averaged fewer than three shots a game last season. Put another way: there's work to be done on the offensive end to make her a well-rounded pro.

"Offensively, Kiah will admit she wants to improve herself," Laimbeer said. "I think it's just a matter of her not having had the opportunity because of all the scorers they've had [at UConn]. We are going to demand more of her offensive. We suspect she's going to be a quick learner and we're going to stick Herb Williams [Liberty assistant] with her in an attempt to get her offensive game to where we believe it should be. Geno says there's a tremendous amount of room to for improvement and we believe that, too."

And Stokes didn't shy away from Laimbeer's words.

"If they need me to [score 20 a game] then I will," Stokes said. "But honestly, I think I was drafted because of what I've done defensively. So I want to start it off knowing that's what I will bring to them every day at practice. I need to make sure I'm consistent on that end and then I can think about bringing offense to the table as well."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Recruits Adams, Enoch Play in Jordan Classic]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 10:42:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-2014.jpg

Incoming freshmen Jalen Adams and Steve Enoch will play important roles in UConn's 2014-15 season, and Kevin Ollie has to hope that they're ready for the challenge.

Last Friday at the Barclays Center, both players took place Jordan Brand Classic regional all-star game. When it was over, Adams, the next in line to be a great UConn point guard, had scored 27 points. Enoch, a presence in the paint, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Like Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright before him, Adams is going to play early and often. Coach Kevin Ollie doesn't really have a choice.

"Jalen Adams is going to be an instant — a player for us that's going to do things for us," Ollie said this week, according to the Hartford Courant. "He can do so much off the bounce. He's very athletic. People don't know how good a passer he is. I'm going to weigh on him to come in and do the different things we know he can do, ball-handling, pushing the ball. That's one of his strong suits, and I'm going to try to display that each and every day. Go out there and show his God-given talents, and God's given him a lot."

And like Ollie's relationship with Napier and Boatright, it sounds like he's close with Adams too.

"Me and Coach Ollie talk a lot," Adams said. "Me, him and all the assistants, we have a really close relationship. I want to go in and be a vocal leader and be able to get everybody in the right positions. He just wants me to come in and be ready to learn and get better."

Ollie also weighed in on Enoch: "Every time I see Steve, he's doing better. He's performing very well. He's rebounding the ball. He's got a chip on his shoulder. So I think he's going to be a phenomenal player for us, a serviceable big man coming in his freshman year, getting to learn from Amida [Brimah], from Kentan [Facey] and Phil [Nolan]. I see a lot of potential there, and that potential has to turn into skill."

And to complete the circle of compliments, Enoch also spoke about future teammate Adams: "Jalen, I think he'll have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders coming in. But he has a lot of help, a lot of good guards, hard-working guards who know how to handle the ball at the college level. I think he'll be just fine."

<![CDATA[Huskies Add Cornell Transfer Shonn Miller]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 10:05:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconnj.jpg

UConn has landed 6-7 forward Shonn Miller, who will be a graduate student for the 2015-16 season. Miller previously played at Cornell, where he averaged 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds last season.

Miller missed his junior season with a shoulder injury, and because the Ivy Leagues do not allow redshirting, he would have to transfer to continue his college basketball career.

"I just felt accepted from the first moment I stepped up here," Miller told the Hartford Courant. "I felt like part of the family. I just got a good vibe from the whole situation."

The Huskies are familiar with graduate transfers; in recent years R.J. Evans and Lasan Kromah were contributors off the bench for UConn.

"What I hope to get out of this opportunity is to win, in whatever role the coaches want me," Miller said. "I feel like I can do whatever they need me to do — score, rebound."

So what are the Huskies getting in Miller? The Courant asked Yale coach James Jones.

"I think Shonn is a tremendous talent," Jones said. "He's big, strong, athletic, he had some thunderous dunks over his career, you shake your head at how awesome they were. He's a tremendous defensive rebounder. … He can fall in love with the three-pointer. I think he's more effective scoring around the basket and he could be a better offensive rebounder."

Miller will join a 2015 class that includes freshman point guard Jalen Adams and big man Steve Enoch.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Liberty Take Kiah Stokes With 11th Pick in Draft]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 10:23:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kiah+stokes_1.jpg

Most of the discussions in the days leading up to the draft were about where Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis would go (the Storm ended up taking her third overall). But, center Kiah Stokes, Mosqueda-Lewis' teammate at UConn, went mostly unnoticed through the process, though WNBA teams were well aware of who she was.

On Thursday night, the New York Liberty selected Stokes, a force in the paint but not much of a scorer in college, with the No. 11 pick. New York coach Bill Laimbeer thought so much of Stokes that he traded up to get her.

"I had not had any contact with anyone from New York, so this is all very exciting to me," Stokes said, via the Hartford Courant. "I'm taking a moment to take it all in, but I am also very anxious to get it all started. To hear your name called is an incredible experience. And now it's all about trying to do what I can to best make an impact."

Despite spending four years in Storrs, Stokes doesn't know much about New York City. That will change soon.

“I’ve been there a few times, taken a train ride,” she said, via SNY.com. “To live in New York is going to be amazing. It’s a new scenery. Connecticut has been great. So was Iowa.

“I just want to make sure that they know I’m working hard and I’m going to do everything I can to make the team and then be a consistent defensive threat. I’m going to do anything I can on and off the court.”

And Stokes is now teammates with former UConn All-American Tina Charles.

“This is an opportunity you dream of when you’re a little girl,” Stokes said. “To make this a reality is an honor and to play with Tina, someone that I’ve looked up to especially coming from UConn. I’m excited to get to know her better and learn from her. She’s a great player and I want to follow in her footsteps.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Ollie Could Be Candidate for Thunder's Job]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 10:22:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

A year ago, Kevin Ollie was fresh off a national championship and suddenly one of the hottest young names for possible NBA coaching vacancies. Nothing ever materialized, and UConn wisely renegotiated Ollie's contract, but the 42-year-old has again been mentioned as a potential candidate for an NBA team.

According to Yahoo.com's Adrian Wojnarowski, Oklahoma City Thunder are expected to evaluated whether they're committed long term to current coach Scott Brooks. And if the two sides part ways, Ollie could be in the mix as his replacement.

More from Wojnarowski:

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie would be a candidate for the Thunder's coaching job if it opens, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Ollie was a teammate with Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City and he's an individual whom Presti holds in high esteem.

League sources tell Wojnarowski that Florida's Billy Donovan "could emerge as a serious candidate" as well.

In June 2014, Ollie reiterated his commitment to UConn.

"I want to be here at UConn," he said at the time.

"I don't know about the future," he admitted. "The only thing I can do is take care of today. I got a five-year contract, and I believe I'm going to be here all five years. That's my motto, that's where I want to be at. I want to be here with my family. I want to see my daughter graduate high school here in Connecticut. And whatever happens is going to happen. There's going to be speculation ever year, but the kids know that I have their back, their best interest in mind."

<![CDATA[Storm Draft Mosqueda-Lewis With No. 3 Pick]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 10:20:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kaleena+mosqueda+lewis+uconn.jpg

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis grew up in California and now, after four outstanding years at UConn -- including three national titles -- she's returning to the west. She was selected third overall by the Seattle Storm in Thursday's WNBA Draft.

I’m excited,” Mosqueda-Lewis said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “My family is excited that they’ll be able to come to more games and see me more often.

“This is something me and my family have been dreaming about since I started playing basketball. To finally hear my name called and be part of something that I’ve been watching since I was little. It’s amazing. ...

“I’m really proud and honored that Seattle thinks I can be part of their organization,” Mosqueda-Lewis continued. “I’m really excited to play with Sue (Bird) and excited to play with Jewell.”

That would be Jewell Loyd, the Notre Dame standout whom Seattle took with the No. 1 pick.

“We won a gold medal together and we’re friends now,” said Loyd, who played with Mosqueda-Lewis USA Basketball’s 2010 national team that won the gold medal at the FIBA U-17 world championships. “I love playing with Kaleena.”

Heading into the draft, there were questions about where Mosqueda-Lewis would play -- off guard or small forward. Wherever the Storm sees fit to put her, she plans on having success.

“I think I’ll be able to get my shot off,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I think I’m going to have great teammates around me to help me. And I’m going to continue to work on my game and try to elevate it to another level. Hopefully my 3-point shooting didn’t end in college. I’m going to have to prove myself like every rookie in this league.”

<![CDATA[WNBA Teams Wonder About Mosqueda-Lewis' D]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 10:13:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP37428220699.jpg

The WNBA Draft is Thursday night, which means that the speculation will be over and we'll know exactly where Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis will be playing next season. For now, we're all still wondering -- based not only on how the players will go off the board once the draft starts, but how teams picking early in the draft feel about Mosqueda-Lewis.

As one of the best shooters to ever come through UConn, no one questions her ability to put the ball through the hoop. The issues arise when teams try to find a position for Mosqueda-Lewis, particularly on defense.

Geno Auriemma's response was typically Geno Auriemma. When asked how Mosqueda-Lewis would be able to guard a player like Diana Taurasi, he said (via the Hartford Courant), "Tell me who can guard [Taurasi]?"

Fair question. But also fair are the concerns about Mosqueda-Lewis on the defensive end. Indiana assistant coach Gail Goestenkors spoke about those concerns earlier this season.

"Well, there is no better shooter than she is," Goestenkors said, via the Courant. "If a team needs a shooter, she's going. But her defense and her conditioning are the question marks.

"She's going to have to defend, at the three on the perimeter, and the question is can she defend the most athletic players in the league. Will she get herself into the best shape of her life?

"Again, there is so much respect for Geno and what he is able to get from his players. So with [Mosqueda-Lewis] you wonder if she hasn't gotten herself into tip-top shape at UConn, will she do it at the next level. To have a job, you have to be in great shape and be able to do certain things. But she is big, strong and physical, so that's a good thing.

"But every team needs a player like her. Every team is searching for more shooters. They need one that in crunch time can be depended on. In terms of her defense, she may just need to be one of the smartest players on the floor, one that's able to use angles [to help]."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Auriemma Knows Stability Vital to Success]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 10:10:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-nat-champs.jpg

Thirty years ago, the men's game looked a lot like the women's game, at least in that a coach knew when he recruited a player, he had him for three -- and usually four -- years. We're now in the age of one-and-done, and sustained success (unless you're Duke) is pretty much impossible to come by.

Geno Auriemma, who won his 10th national title earlier this month, is well aware of this fact, and understands that it has allowed for stability to the program he built from the ground up more than a quarter-century ago.

"What happens, too, is the kids get a chance over a four-year period, if they are in the right place, to really create something for themselves," Auriemma said earlier this week, via the Hartford Courant. "Not only for the school and team and that the coaches get a chance to develop you, but you can create a brand for yourself. There probably isn't a basketball fan in America, man or woman, who doesn't know who Breanna Stewart is. If you leave after one year, that doesn't get traction. It's a special quality the women's game possesses."

Interestingly, Notre Dame's Jewell Lloyd said she was forgoing her final year in college to declare for the WNBA Draft. Like Breanna Stewart in a year's time, Lloyd will be one of the top picks, but Stewart, who remains college basketball's best player, has no interest in leaving school before she's required.

"I was pretty surprised," Stewart said of Lloyd's decision. "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Obviously, I'm only 20, so I can't do it, but I don't think I'd want to. You come here, college is the best four years of your life. Plus, I have my sights on winning four."

Morgan Tuck, who will be a redshirt junior next year, but will be able to leave school for the WNBA after that if she chooses, agrees with Stewart.

"I was pretty surprised about Jewell," she admitted. "It's not common. A lot of people have opinions about it, but she made the best decision for her. I'm happy for her.

"Right now, I'm planning on staying my fifth year and getting my master's degree. I'm not in a rush to get out. I like it here. A master's can only help me. It's free school. Why not use it? My goal coming in was four national championships. A chance to get five? It would be unbelievable."

Put another way: Playing for UConn doesn't hurt. But Geno Auriemma says he wouldn't change the way he recruited if the women's game allowed players to leave after one season.

"If I knew there was a chance Stewie might go after one year, I'd still recruit her if I thought she was serious about, 'Coach, I want to come to Connecticut and I want to be part of that,'" Auriemma said.

"We've always taken into consideration if the kid fits into what we were doing. I don't care how good they are. There has been a lot of first-team All-Americans we didn't make a phone call to. I didn't think they fit in with what I believe in. So, yeah, I'd do what Coach K is doing. I'd do it the exact same way. I'd go out and try to get the best kids who are the best players."

<![CDATA[Ollie Weighs in on Enoch, Adams]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 10:08:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

Kevin Ollie spoke at Husky Day earlier this week and he was asked about, well, everything, starting with how he can be a better coach in 2015-16.

“Everything -- management of the team, getting them in better positions," he said, via the New Haven Register. "I can always improve on everything. It’s not just one thing. I’ve got to get these guys better. We all fell short. We’re all UConn, and we’d like to get to the tournament. It’s a fine line between good and bad. We lost a lot of close games. You look back at those situations, I could have done things better, players could have made shots. We’re all in this together. It’s not one thing.”

Ollie also talked about possible transfers ("No one came in my office yet, it’s always an open door.") as well as the two incoming recruits who could have a big impact for the Huskies if for no other reason than they need help in the paint and, more importantly, have to figure out how to replace Ryan Boatright.

Ollie on big man Steve Enoch: "Every time I see Steve, he’s getting bigger, he’s getting better, he’s performing very well, he’s rebounding the ball. He’s got a chip on his shoulder every time I see him. I think he’s gonna be a phenomenal basketball player for us. He’s gonna be a serviceable big man coming in his freshman year, getting to learn from Amida (Brimah), Kentan (Facey) and Phil (Nolan) on how to conduct yourself as a UConn basketball player. I see a lot of potential in him. Now, that potential’s got to turn into skill. And that just depends on how hard he’s gonna work. What I see from him, I don’t see where that pattern’s gonna stop. Every time I see him, he’s adding something to his offensive repertoire, defensive rebounding -- doing things we lacked a little bit last year.”

Ollie on guard Jalen Adams: "Jalen Adams is gonna be an instant player for us that’s gonna really impact the game instantly. He can do so much stuff off the bounce, he’s very athletic. A lot of people don’t know how good a passer he is. I’m just gonna weigh on him to come in and do the different things we know he can do. But, athletically, ball-handling, pushing the ball -- those are his strengths. I’m gonna try to display that every single day, give him a platform where he can go out there and show his God-given talents. And God has given him a lot.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Could Suns Draft Mosqueda-Lewis?]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:45:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kaleena+mosqueda+lewis+uconn.jpg

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis leaves UConn as a three-time national champion and the NCAA leader in 3-pointers made. She's now setting her sights on the WNBA, where the only question is how high will she be selected.

The Seattle Storm have the No. 1 pick and coach Jenny Boucek said offered this glimpse into their draft plans.

"I think there's a 100 percent chance that we'll take one of them [Jewell Loyd, Amanda Zahui B. or Mosqueda-Lewis] at 1," she said, via the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. "And at 3, we're really exploring a lot of options with that pick. We are not restricting ourselves to a position. We're going to try to take who we think are the best players in those spots and really try to add two pieces for the future."

The Connecticut Suns select fourth, and while they're very familiar with Mosqueda-Lewis' game, they not tipping their hand ahead of the draft.

"It is going to be interesting," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "Every player in this draft has some liability, if you will, with the possible exception of Amanda Zahui B. [the 6-foot-5 center from Minnesota], which makes her very hard to pass up.

"Still, there is no one coming out in the draft who I would classify as a sure thing. I don't know if I see a starter in the draft. I see a lot of players with the capacity right now to make a bench stronger who in a couple of years could be an impact player. There is something about everyone that will require you to funnel them into the equation and see what you come out with. ...

"We've had a lot of offers [for the fourth pick], but there has been nothing so far that's been even remotely tempting," Donovan continued. "We got the most we could from the three pick. Getting another younger player [at the 4] to develop would be a good thing. But I would say right now, the odds are good that we would hang onto the four.

"As for the pick, we can go either way. We can afford to get our depth stronger at any position. And Zahui B. likely pushes a player down to us that I didn't think we might have a chance at."

Like, say, Mosqueda-Lewis.

<![CDATA[Byron Jones Invited to Attend NFL Draft]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:42:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/byron+jones+uconn+cornerback.jpg

Byron Jones has gone from obscurity to possible first-round pick pretty much in the time it took him to unofficially break the world broad jump record at the NFL Combine in February. And in two weeks, he'll be in Chicago, as one of the 26 players invited by the league to attend the 2015 NFL Draft in person.

Jones will join three other members of the secondary to get invites: Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson, Michigan State's Trae Waynes and Alabama's Landon Collins.

At Jones' pro day last month, he made it clear that being a good football player is about more than jumping high or running fast. It seems obvious, but fans, media and even some coaches lose sight of that fact this time of year.

"My main goal is not to be a world-record holder or run the fastest 40, my main goal is to be a great NFL player,"Jones said. "This is a small step in my journey towards being a great NFL player."

Jones is projected to go somewhere in the first two rounds.

Here's the full list of prospects set to attend:
Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon Vic Beasley, DE/LB, Clemson
La’el Collins, OL, LSU
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky
Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
Dante Fowler, DE/LB, Florida
Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin
Randy Gregory, DE/LB, Nebraska
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
D.J. Humphries, OL, Florida
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
Shane Ray, DL, Missouri
Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Danny Shelton, DL, Washington
Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Laken Tomlinson, OL, Duke
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Hamilton 'Never Had Any Thoughts' on Leaving]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:36:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/daniel-hamilton-uconn.jpg

Daniel Hamilton was one of the bright spots in what was an otherwise disappointing 2014-2015 season. The Huskies didn't make the NCAA Tournament, and lost in the first round of the NIT. And they'll head into next season without Ryan Boatright, who is set to graduate, and there was speculation that Hamilton, a standout freshman, could leave early for the NBA.

On Tuesday, Hamilton assuaged those concerns.

“I never had any thoughts (on leaving)," he said, via the New Haven Register. "I had a sitdown with Coach Ollie, and we talked about the season during the exit meeting. Everything was good. I’m excited to be coming back.

“He said I’ve got to shoot the ball better, and just getting to where I wanted to go, not forcing shots, not taking ill-advised shots.

“It never crossed my mind," Hamilton reiterated. "I know there were some rumors out there saying I might leave, but there was no thought of me going. Especially after the year that we had, I want to come back and do even better things next year. I wasn’t satisfied with the year we had as a team. Next year, I want to come back and be better than we were this year.

“I knew my grandma’s been sick the last couple of years. I was always talking to her, she was always watching my games. She was just proud of me throughout the whole year.”

<![CDATA[Breanna Stewart Wins Wooden Award]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:48:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-15-rebs.jpg

Breanna Stewart won the John R. Wooden Award as the nation's best player on Friday during the College Basketball Awards in Los Angeles.

"To win an award with John Wooden's name on it is an unbelievable honor," she said, via the Associated Press. "It just shows a lot of hard work pays off."

And in a season full of honors and accolades, it's only fitting that Stewart wasn't alone; senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis -- along with Stewart -- was named to the five-member Wooden All-American Team. Both players were also named to the USBWA and WBCA All-America Teams.

More details via the press release:

(Stewart) averaged 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game and also earned national player of the year honors from the Associated Press, WBCA (Wade Trophy), Atlanta Tip-Off Club (Naismith Trophy) and USBWA (Ann Meyers Drysdale Award). ...

Mosqueda-Lewis averaged 14.9 points per game and led the country in three-point field goal shooting at 48.8 percent. She established a new NCAA record for three-point field goals made in UConn’s NCAA Regional Final win over Dayton and ended her career with a record total of 398 career treys. ...

Mosqueda-Lewis and Stewart led the Huskies to their third-straight national championship, including their third in-a-row. UConn posted a 38-1 record en route to winning the American Athletic Conference Regular Season and Tournament championships. Mosqueda-Lewis was selected as the league tournament and Albany Regional Most Outstanding Player while Stewart earned Final Four MOP honors for the third-consecutive year.

Stewart becomes the third UConn player to win the award after Maya Moore (2009, 2011) and Tina Charles (2010).

<![CDATA[Shirreffs Plays Well in Blue-White Game]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:45:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

Blue beat White, 13-3, in the annual spring game over the weekend, but the final score doesn't matter. What's important is that the Huskies appear one step closer to finding a starting quarterback.

NC State transfer Bryant Shirreffs was 13 of 24 for 168 yards and a 41-yard touchdown, and he also rushed for 25 yards. And while those numbers don't jump off the computer screen, Shirreffs doesn't turn the ball over, doesn't take risky chances, and is an elusive, fast runner -- all critical components for the position.

“It eats at you if you give ball away. It’s a pet peeve,” Shirreffs conceded, via SNY.com. “You are not supposed to give ball away. Passing, if something isn’t open, you shouldn’t throw it.”

Coach Bob Diaco admits that Shirreffs has moved ahead of junior Tim Boyle as we move past spring workouts.

“There is a ball security issue with Tim,” the coach continued. “(Boyle’s) come a long way , but has to protect the football. Even today, you saw opportunities where the ball was protected or at risk. Not that there were many turnovers. But, that’s a critical piece. We are looking at what could have been.”

Of course, Diaco isn't naming a starter in April. In addition to Shirreffs and Boyle, there's also true freshman Tyler Davis, as well as walk-on Brandon Bisack and JUCO Garrett Anderson.

“I think that it is exactly where we want it to be. We can’t declare a starter for Villanova because we have two more players to join in fall camp,” Diaco said. “We will know right away. We have some real benchmarks and parameters in how to function. We have created the separation. ...

“Bryant has separated himself from Tim. We will maintain that piece and take a peek at other two and give them a chance.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Tuck Plans to Stay in Storrs after '16 Season]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:31:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP849959625930.jpg

After redshirting in 2013-14, Morgan Tuck still has two years of eligibility remaining. But because she's become such a dominant force in the paint, there's the real possibility Tuck could choose to forgo her redshirt senior season for the WNBA.

Staying in Storrs would mean the chance to be part of five consecutive national championship teams. While leaving would be the next logical step in her basketball career. For now, though, Tuck doesn't sound like she's in any hurry to leave UConn.

“At this point, I’m planning on staying no matter what happens,” she told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “In my fifth year I can get a Masters Degree and getting another degree can’t hurt you ever. I’d rather get it right after undergraduate instead of going back to school later to get it. I don’t think anything that happens next year will sway me either way because I’m bonded to the program and I love being here.”

And Tuck, like teammate Breanna Stewart, thinks that four national titles in four years is a real possibility.

“Coming here is a little different,” Tuck said. “When you come here, you really believe that you can because of the history of the program and that we’ve won so many championships. It’s not like they win when a certain person is here and the rest of the time they’re losing. The teams have changed. No other program can think that way. Others might have the same goal but coming to Connecticut you really do think it can happen.

“The teams I’m on, that’s the goal, to win the last game of the season. That’s why it doesn’t get old. When you reach one of your goals, you feel great. You have to work hard to reach it. I won by first three years in high school and didn’t my senior year. Coming into college, I didn’t want that feeling again. It was a tough way to end my high school career so now I really appreciate every time we do win because I know how it feels to lose a big game.”

<![CDATA[Hartford Brimming with UConn Huskies Pride]]> Sun, 12 Apr 2015 19:26:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UConn+Parade+Bus+1200.jpg

March Madness may be over, but UConn's celebration has not after winning their third straight national title and 10th NCAA championship.

Hartford was brimming with Huskies pride as thousands of fans lined the streets on a sunny Sunday afternoon to watch the women's basketball team's victory parade pass through the capital city, followed by a rally.

“I’m feeling happy and I’m so excited to see the parade because I love music and basketball," Ma'Kayla Todd, of East Hartford," said.

UConn's championship win over Notre Dame in Tampa, Florida marks the 10th national title for the Huskies and the third one in a row.

“It couldn’t get any better, the girls, 10, 10. Love it!” Pat Barnett, of Canton, said.

UConn seniors said it's a great way to leave.

"“We just want to thank you guys for coming out today," UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. "We really appreciate that. The past four years your guys’ support has been great.”

The victory also means that Coach Geno Auriemma is tied for the most tournament wins. The crowd was hopeful more titles and parades are in the team's future.

“30 years ago no one ever thought this was possible and here we are standing here trying to tell you if we keep doing this the right way, you keep supporting our university the right way, nothing is impossible. We just proved it," Auriemma said.

Their fans were filled with enthusiasm and compliments.

"I love them all. I really do. I mean there’s not one better than the other. They’re just wonderful," Louise Berchulski, of Middletown, said.

City crews were up before the sun to get the parade route ready and put up National Championship banners. The parade started in front of the state capitol building, headed down Elm Street and looped around Bushnell Park before ending on Trumbull Street in front of the XL Center.

Head coach Geno Auriemma, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, players and Auriemma's grandson addressed the roaring crowd at the rally.

The parade featured high school marching bands, the UConn cheerleaders and band, and, of course, the women's basketball players and coaches. About 30 organizations are participated in the parade.

Several businesses in the Hartford Business Improvement District financed the festivities.

There was plenty of parking around the parade route. Uber is also offering two trips beginning and ending in downtown Hartford for up to $25 each way through its app between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. if you enter the code "connchamps."

The CTfastrak will also be running its usual Sunday schedule as another option for UConn fans to get to the parade without having to worry about parking. The 101 bus runs every 20 minutes and 102, 121 and 128 leave hourly. Click here for more information on the CTfastrak bus schedules.

<![CDATA[UConn Parade Photos]]> Sun, 12 Apr 2015 16:21:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/UConn+Parade+6.JPG Hartford was filled with Huskies pride Sunday, April 12, 2015 as UConn passed through in a victory parade to celebrate its NCAA win.]]> <![CDATA[Uber Offers Free Rides for UConn Victory Parade]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 14:55:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Uber-Generic.jpg

Heading to downtown Hartford for the UConn victory parade on Sunday? Uber is offering free rides to get you there and back.

“We know many Connecticut fans will be sure to attend and support their favorite team, so we’ve decided to help make transportation to and from downtown Hartford as seamless as possible,” Uber said in a news release on Friday.

Uber is running the promotion only in Hartford County between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday. It will be valid for two trips for up to $25 each, beginning or ending in downtown Hartford.

On Sunday, enter the promotional code CONNCHAMPS to unlock the two free rides.

The parade will begin at 3:00 p.m. at the State Capitol building, on the corner of Trinity Street and Elm Street, and proceed down Elm Street moving alongside Bushnell Park, turn north up Trumbull Street, and end at the XL Center, where the rally will be held.

A victory rally on Trumbull Street, directly in front of the XL Center, will begin at approximately 3:30 p.m.

If you are traveling with fellow fans, split the fare with friends. Get the details here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Coach K Responds to Auriemma's 'Joke' Comments]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 20:08:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/duke-gana-titulo.jpg

Last week, before the Huskies won their 10th national title, Geno Auriemma explained that the men's game is "a joke." Days later, Duke beat Wisconsin in one of the best games of the season, giving coach Mike Krzyzewski his fifth national championship.

On Tuesday, Coach K was asked about Auriemma's comments.

"Geno and I are good friends -- he must have had a couple good glasses of wine before he said that," Krzyzewski joked to Jim Rome, via CBSSports.com. "That probably wasn't the smartest statement he made."

Still, Coach K conceded that the men's game could benefit from a commissioner of sorts, as well as a shorter shot clock and a wider lane.

Interestingly, Auriemma isn't alone in his thoughts. Dallas Mavericks owner, and Indiana alum, Mark Cuban said recently that the "horrible" state of the game is hurting the NBA.

"If they want to keep kids in school and keep them from being pro players, they're doing it the exact right way by having the 35-second shot clock and having the game look and officiated the way it is," Cuban said Wednesday night, via ESPN.com. "Just because kids don't know how to play a full game of basketball.

"You've got three kids passing on the perimeter. With 10 seconds on the shot clock, they try to make something happen and two other kids stand around. They don't look for anything and then run back on defense, so there's no transition game because two out of five or three out of five or in some cases four out of five kids aren't involved in the play.

"It's uglier than ugly, and it's evidenced by the scoring going down. When the NBA went through that, we changed things."

<![CDATA[Kia Nurse to Return to National Team Duty]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 20:07:55 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP914164763915.jpg

Freshman Kia Nurse was understandably nervous during her first NCAA Tournament. Yes, she started 36 games, and best she averaged 10.2 points per game -- and yes, she's a member of Canada's national team. But she's also a 19-year-old playing in arguably the biggest tournament of her young career.

And that experience will serve her well -- particularly her play against Notre Dame in the finals, when her nerves calmed and scored nine points and pulled three rebounds.

“It’s an emotion that’s hard to put into words but it’s definitely an incredible feeling,” Nurse said of UConn's national championship win, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec.

“There was a point in the season that I was inconsistent,” she continued. “I don’t know if I was physically tired or more mentally tired. It’s a matter of getting through it. Right now? I’m ready for my break.”

Nurse will get a much-needed break before rejoining the Canadian national team next month. Over the summer, she'll compete in the Pan-Am Games and the FIBA Americas Tournament.

“If you’ve ever traveled with the national team, it’s amazing when you don’t have to go anywhere,” she said. “Our older players have told me all of the terrible stories of the places that they have gone. They are beyond excited we’re at home and I can only feed off that energy.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco Says QB Shirreffs Has Slight Edge]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 20:06:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

N.C. State transfer Bryant Shirreffs, whom the Huskies scrambled to find after dismissing Kivon Taylor from the team, could prove to be exactly what the team needs to finally jumpstart this offense.

Granted, the bar has been set pretty low in recent years, and it's not easy to predict regular-season production based on spring-practice successes, but UConn really doesn't have much of a choice. The offense has been punchless long before coach Bob Diaco arrived, dating back to the 2011 Fiesta Bowl appearance.

Put another way: There's not much to lose if Shirreffs happens to pan out. And right now, he's has the edge as spring practice comes to a close.

“Bryant Shirreffs has separated from Timmy Boyle, who (both) have separated from Tyler,” Diaco said Thursday, via SNY.com's John Silver. “Competition is still ongoing as it relates to Bryant and Tim. They’ve separated significantly from Tyler.”

That would be Tim Boyle, who played parts of the last two seasons, and Tyler Davis, a true freshman.

“There’s more production on day-to-day basis,” Diaco said of Shirreffs. ” Tim is playing the best football he has played since we met him.

“Bryant has a higher ability to keep plays alive and be productive with his legs and do better positive when something positive is not happening, create opportunities for the offense. They are both good strong passers.”

Still, nothing has been written in stone. There's a lot of time between now and August and Diaco isn't in a hurry to name a starter.

” It won’t be settled,” Diaco said. “Won’t be declared a starter until end of fall camp. We have two functional and exciting players in June that will be eligible to compete (JUCO transfer Garrett Anderson and walk-on freshman Brandon Bisack)…neither would be a camp arm. These guys are legitimate guys that will come in and compete. They are going to get a legit chance to compete.”

And really, that's all you want: Competition, with the hope that it makes everyone better.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Victory Parade, Rally to Celebrate UConn Win Planned for Sunday]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 17:59:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+women+with+trophy+1.jpg

A victory parade and rally will be held on Sunday in downtown Hartford to congratulate the UConn Women’s Basketball team for winning the 2015 NCAA Basketball National Championship.

“The UConn Women’s Basketball team, led by Head Coach Geno Auriemma, has for the third year in a row shown the nation that the spirit and strength of college basketball resides in Connecticut,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement. “On Sunday, let’s show the team how proud we are of their success by honoring them with a victory celebration they will remember for a lifetime.”

The Hartford Business Improvement District, the City of Hartford and the State of Connecticut will host the event.

The parade will begin at 3:00 p.m. at the State Capitol building, on the corner of Trinity Street and Elm Street, and proceed down Elm Street moving alongside Bushnell Park, turn north up Trumbull Street, and end at the XL Center, where the rally will be held.

A victory rally on Trumbull Street, directly in front of the XL Center, will begin at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Parade and rally organizers are relying on private donations to finance the festivities, according to the governor’s office.

Businesses can choose from several sponsorship levels, ranging from $10,000 to $2,500 or less.

To discuss parade sponsorship opportunities, quickly call Michael Zaleski at the Hartford Business Improvement District at 860-728-2274 or email mzaleski@hartfordbid.com.

<![CDATA[Jefferson Appreciative of Stewart's Support]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 10:13:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/moriah+jefferson_1.jpg

Earlier this season, Geno Auriemma showed Moriah Jefferson clips of the Spurs' Tony Parker. The coach wanted his point guard to be more dynamic, more of a playmaker, more reliant are her quickness, ability to get to the basket and create chances for teammates.

We saw the culmination of a season's worth of work on Tuesday, when Jefferson scored 15 points -- included several clutch second-half 3s -- to go along with 5 assists and 4 steals.

It was a noteworthy performance, particularly since Jefferson combined to go 3 for 23 in six previous games against the Fighting Irish. And her effort wasn't lost on teammate Breanna Stewart, the national player of the year who also named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player -- an honor Stewart said Jefferson rightly deserved.

“Our relationship has been strong since the beginning,” Stewart said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “Anytime you see someone having success, you want to share it with them. Even if they don’t give her the MOP that I asked them to, at least she will know that I thought she should get it, and I told everyone that I thought she should get it.”

Jefferson was moved by Stewart's words.

“We’ve been close for a long time,” Jefferson said. “We played with each other and played against each other. She’s an incredible player and any time you have someone that cares about you a lot … For her to get up there in front of the big crowd and on national television to say that I deserved it means so much to me. But, honestly, I think she deserves it. She carried us this whole year and she means so much to the program. We wouldn’t be here with out her.

“I’m so proud of her.”

Either way, Jefferson's growth hasn't gone unnoticed; she won the Lieberman Award last week as the nation's best point guard.

“Oh my gosh, Nancy Lieberman has done so much for the women’s game on and off the court,” she said. “In Dallas, all you hear about is Nancy Lieberman. She’s amazing. To win that award, especially following all the guys that won it here, means so much to me.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Geno: 'I Kinda Like When We Lose During the Regular Season']]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 10:09:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-nat-champs.jpg

Sometimes you have to go backwards to move ahead. That's the general gist of Geno Auriemma's point, the one he made during Wednesday's appearance on Mike & Mike.

“I kinda like when we lose during the regular season, because it lets everybody in Connecticut know, hey you know what, you can still win the title without having an undefeated season," he said.

The Huskies did just that in the second game of the season, when they went out to California and lost in overtime to Stanford. Auriemma admitted he didn't trust his team then, only a little more so in December, and then as we moved into the new year and the end of the season, things started coming together ... and here we are.

It always seems to end this way, with the Huskies in the Final Four, and it's hard to take Auriemma seriously when UConn won it's final 37 games, and it's average margin of victory against conference opponents was by more than 40 points. But it's what goes on behind the curtain that we don't see -- and what ultimately proved to be the difference.

'We had to work hard this is one,'' national player of the year Breanna Stewart said. ''This is one of the hardest things we've had to do since I've been here.''

Coach Geno Auriemma sounded a similar tone as he spoke with ESPN's Holly Rowe after the game.

"We have to work really, really hard to make it look easy," he said. "This is an incredible group. ... Every day this team just kept working and working. They deserve everything."

And that lost to Stanford five months ago? That must seem like a dream right now.

<![CDATA[Maya Moore Talks About Breanna Stewart]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 10:06:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP227608622892.jpg

Maya Moore is a former first-overall pick in the WNBA Draft, and is now one of the league's best players. But before her professional success, she was the best player in college basketball. On Tuesday, she was in the stands watching UConn, her alma mater, win it's third straight title, and it's 10th under Geno Auriemma.

Afterwards, Moore spoke with SNY.com's Carl Adamec about Breanna Stewart, the Huskies junior who in many ways as followed in Moore's footsteps: two-time national player of the year, the college game's best player, and a future top pick and WNBA star in the making.

But against Notre Dame in the championship game, Stewart scored just eight points -- she turned her ankle early in the first half -- but found other ways to help her team. Namely: Dominating the paint, where she pulled 15 rebounds and blocked four shots.

“That’s what it’s about,” Moore told Adamec. “There could be a time where another team is deeper and better. But it’s intangibles that these players carry themselves with, their attitude, their humility, their toughness. Breanna is a graceful leader and a gracious winner. She always gives credit to her teammates when it’s due. You can tell that her teammates love playing with her.”

We've already established that Stewart is currently the best player in college basketball, but where does she rank on UConn's all-time list of greats? Moore says Stewart has to be near the top.

“I think all of us would judge ourselves by what we did with the group that we had,” Moore said. “Breanna is someone who is absolutely maximizing the time that she has. The emotions she showed on the stage were very moving. She’s had to grow as a leader. To watch how things have come together for her is amazing.”

And Stewart has another year left in Storrs, where she can accomplish what no one who came before her did: winning four national titles.

“We want four. My last year, my senior year, I want to go out on a great note,” Stewart said.

<![CDATA[Geno Speaks on His 10th Championship]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 18:48:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno+rally_1200.jpg

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Seniors Thank Fans]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 18:44:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UConn_Seniors_Thank_Fans_1200x675_425128515845.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[UConn Alumni to Celebrate NCAA National Champs]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 12:44:35 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+2015+ncaa+win.jpg

Proud UConn alumni will be celebrating the championship winning women’s basketball team during a reception next week.

The team defeated Notre Dame on Tuesday night to win their 10th national title and the UConn alumni association has a special event planned to honor the team on Monday, April 13.

A reception will be held at the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Those who attend will be able to check out UConn’s basketball practice facility, interact with the coaches and players, and join head coach Geno Auriemma in celebrating the program’s 10th NCAA National Championship.

Complimentary beer and wine service, will be offered, along with assorted hors d’oeuvres and desserts.

Tickets cost $75 per person and are non-refundable.

If you plan on attending, register as soon as possible, because space is limited.

For more information, email Marinda Reynolds or call 888-822-5861.

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<![CDATA[President Congratulates UConn on 10th National Title]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 16:06:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+women+with+trophy+1.jpg

The day after the UConn Huskies defeated Notre Dame to take home a tenth national title – their third in a row – President Barack Obama called coach Geno Auriemma to congratulate the team.

"The President noted that under Coach Auriemma's leadership, the Huskies have won ten national championship titles and have made the University of Connecticut Women's Basketball program a sports powerhouse," the White House press secretary wrote in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

Obama told Auriemma he "looks forward to welcoming the team back to the White House to celebrate their victory."

The Huskies arrived home from Florida late Wednesday afternoon and will take a victory lap around campus when they return to Storrs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stewart, Jefferson Shine in Different Ways in Win]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 11:07:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-15-rebs.jpg

Notre Dame's plan was simple: Stop Breanna Stewart, contest every one of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' shots and make someone else on the top-ranks Huskies beat them.

Early in the first half, the court did what the Irish couldn't; Stewart rolled her ankle and hobbled to the bench to have it re-taped. At the time, she had four points. When she returned a minute later, she wasn't the offensive powerhouse we've seen take over games this season but she was something just as important: A rebounding machine who set the pace defensively and started just about every Huskies fast break. When it was over, she and eight points, but pulled a staggering 15 rebounds, blocked four shots and added two steals.

Oh, and the Huskies had their third national title in as many years.

'We had to work hard this is one,'' she said afterwards with tears in her eyes. ''This is one of the hardest things we've had to do since I've been here.''

Coach Geno Auriemma sounded a similar tone as he spoke with ESPN's Holly Rowe after the game.

"We have to work really, really hard to make it look easy," he said. "This is an incredible group. ... Every day this team just kept working and working. They deserve everything."

Stewart, fresh off the national player of the year award, was also named the most outstanding player of the Final Four, an honor she quickly said teammate Moriah Jefferson deserved. Jefferson, who went scoreless in UConn's first meeting with Notre Dame earlier this season, was the engine that made the Huskies' offense go on Tuesday. She scored 15 points -- including several crucial 3s -- had five assists and four steals.

"She's extremely quick, especially with the ball," junior Morgan Tuck said of Jefferson, via ESPN.com. "She's really quick with the ball. A lot of people are quicker without, but with the ball, she's so good with it and makes such good reads. She knows how to fake her defender and can pretty much get by anybody."

And Maya Moore, who cheered the Huskies on and was in the locker room after the game, told ESPN this about Jefferson: "She just has a powerful presence that she's grown into, which makes it that much sweeter to see her transformation as a leader. Her energy is so contagious. Her body language, her attitude, it's all just very life giving to her team. And then she can also back it up with her ridiculous talent. She's so fast, she's so quick, she's a great defender, she finds her teammates. Then what elevates her to another place is she can shoot the ball; she can knock down the 3."

Moore added, seemingly speaking for everyone, including Stewart, "I just admire her."

<![CDATA[Mosqueda-Lewis Goes Out on Top]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 11:11:35 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kaleena-cuts-nets.jpg

Last season, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis struggled with injuries and, occasionally, her shot. But as a senior, everything seemed to fall into place; she broke the NCAA record for career 3-pointers (breaking Diana Taurasi's old mark) and on Tuesday, she ended her college career with a national title, her third in as many seasons.

"Every senior who plays college basketball wants to win their last game in their career," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, via the Hartford Courant. "I'm happy for K that she got a chance to do that and Kiah [Stokes] as well.

"And I'm glad the two buckets that K made down the stretch were kind of the difference in the game. That's the way she's supposed to go out. She made a big difference all year and throughout her career."

Ah yes, those buckets. In typical Mosqueda-Lewis fashion, she took a pass several feet behind the three-point line -- and in one swift motion, with the purest stroke in college basketball -- she drained the look. Swish.

It's something Huskies fans have become accustomed to seeing, those made 3s, spoiled even. But this time, Mosqueda-Lewis drained the 3 while UConn was holding onto a six-point lead with 5:29 left in the game. So she did what she always does.

"I knew Notre Dame was trying to make a run and they were down six and we needed to get some momentum going for ourselves," Mosqueda-Lewis told ESPN. "I wanted to step up and make those shots for my teammates "It has hit me," she said. "Seeing the alumni here and realizing I'm going to be a part of that, that I'm almost part of that group, is crazy."

Junior Breanna Stewart, who earned most outstanding player of the Final Four, knows that this team won't be the same without Mosqueda-Lewis.

"We're going to miss Kaleena a lot," Breanna Stewart said. "The fact that she's the best shooter in the country. But she has more to her game than just three-point shooting. It's her time to move on to the professional level ... she's going to have a lot of success there."

Mosqueda-Lewis added: "It meant a lot to be able to step up for my teammates and I definitely had in the back of my mind that I wanted to go out with a national championship. Being able to hold that trophy up at the end of the game and end my senior year the way I wanted to, the way any basketball player wants to, was amazing."

<![CDATA[Huskies Should Be Favorites for 11th Title in 2015-16]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 10:52:55 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-nat-champs.jpg

Here's junior Breanna Stewart shortly after UConn beat Notre Dame Tuesday in the national title game.

"I think it's really surreal and I haven't had a chance to even think about that," she said, via the Associated Press. "I've won three national championships, but said I wanted to win four, you can't win four without winning three first."

So far, so good on that promise. And the thing is, not only will the Huskies be the nation's top team heading into the 2015-16 season, they're the hands-down favorite to win the whole thing again -- which would fulfill Stewart's prophecy. It would also mean that Geno Auriemma would surpass John Wooden's 10 national championships. Of course, any such talk begins with Stewart, the national player of the year.

"There just hasn't been a player like Stewie in the women's game in a long, long time," Auriemma said. "She might be two inches taller than Cheryl Miller and Cheryl Miller was one of best players I saw. ... Stewie's the kind of player that women's basketball probably hasn't seen."

Also helping: The Huskies are only losing Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes, and returns everyone else -- not to mention the nation's best recruiting class. That group includes Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and De’Janae Boykin, who are all top-10 players. There's also Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

<![CDATA[UConn Fans Hope for Big Win and 10th National Title]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 19:46:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn00000000.jpg

One of the most fascinating things about the UConn women's basketball team is that it's captured the hearts of fans who haven't been in a classroom in decades but just love the Huskies.

The most devoted fans travel behind the team to watch the NCAA finals, but many people who have stayed at home have been watching UConn win since the team's first title in 1995.

"Oh yeah, Rebecca Lobo, all of 'em, it's just Husky Nation," said Mary Ellen Eddy. "And the women Huskies, I hate to say it, are better than the men. The track record's proved it."

"And not only that," said her friend, Edie Rood, "but to that other coach that said people are getting tired of it, no we're not!"

That other coach, Brenda Frese, brought Maryland to defeat at the hands of UConn on Sunday. The UConn fans love seeing victory after victory on TV and expect another title, the team's 10th, tonight.

"Of course they're going to win," said Joan Donahue. "They're awesome, they're amazing, they're an unbelievable team."

"The girls have a reputation for being the best team in the country and I think they're going to pull some magic tonight and they're going to win big, by 30," predicted Herschel Tyler.

On campus, UConn is hosting a game watch at Gampel Pavilion. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. ahead of the game's 8:30 tip off.

<![CDATA[CT and Indiana Senators Bet on Women’s NCAA Championship ]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 16:37:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+women+huskies+trophy.jpg

The UConn women are hoping to beat Notre Dame for the second national basketball championship title in a row and the U.S. Senators for the two states are placing a wager on the game.

Connecticut U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have made a friendly wager with Indiana Senators Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly on tonight’s game between the UConn Huskies and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Senators Blumenthal and Murphy wagered an array of sweets from Munson’s Chocolates from Bolton on the Huskies, who are in the running for a third consecutive national championship and their 10th title in program history.

“The UConn women are once again rolling with unstoppable momentum,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “The Huskies have never lost a championship game, and with a win tonight, Coach Auriemma can tie the great Coach John Woodmen’s record of 10 national championships. I’ll be rooting for Coach Auriemma, Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck, and a Huskies roster stacked with talent tonight, and I look forward to enjoying treats from Indiana after UConn wins. The Huskies are heroes – winners on and off the court.”

Senators Coats and Donnelly have staked a basket of goods from South Bend Chocolate Co. on the Fighting Irish, who are appearing in their fifth straight Final Four.

“It doesn’t really seem fair to keep fleecing the Indiana delegation like this, but I will run out of Easter candy in a few weeks, so this new supply of chocolate will be very welcome,” Murphy said in a statement. “Notre Dame is a good team, but UConn has looked fantastic all tournament, so I’m looking forward to a big win tonight.”

When the two teams faced off last year, UConn won, 79 to 58.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Goes for 10th Title Tonight]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 19:30:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-champion.jpg

Geno Auriemma has never lost in an NCAA title game. He and the Huskies have been there nine times, and nine times they have emerged national champions. It's a remarkable feat, one of many on Auriemma's resume built over more than a quarter-century in Storrs.

"To be in that situation nine times and to have it all work out our way, that's kind of improbable, when you look back at it," Auriemma said, via the Hartford Courant. "You don't realize while you're doing it, but when you bring it up and you really force yourself to look back, man, I really can't explain it either.

"It's going to end. It might end [Tuesday]. Might end if we're in that situation next year, the following year. This isn't something that's going to last forever. We're not going to win every single championship game that we're in, if we're in some more, but up to this point, man, it's something that's really hard to explain. And I'm just incredibly grateful."

So perhaps it's only fitting that UConn will have to go through rival Notre Dame for title No. 10.

"The rivalry is as heated as ever," Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "UConn knows what Notre Dame is going to do. Notre Dame knows what UConn is going to do."

Auriemma didn't disagree.

"They're a lot like us," he said. "I think at Notre Dame and Connecticut, we don't try to have great teams. Our goal, and I don't think their goal is any different, is they're not interested in having a great team. Their program now kind of sustains great teams year in and year out."

Meanwhile, Auriemma is on the verge of tying John Wooden, the legendary UCLA coach, for most national titles. Not surprisingly, he was having none of that discussion.

"Trying not to listen to people talk about what the record is," Auriemma said. "Because if you play in enough of these games, you're going to lose at some point. We've played in a lot of these. We've played in nine of them. And we won all nine.

"I hope we play in nine more while I'm at Connecticut, and the thought that we're going to go 18-0 in these games ... if that happens ... it's ludicrous. Ludicrous.

"So we're going in on Tuesday, it's one game. One night for the season, really. The other nine aren't going to have any bearing on it. [They're] not going to mean anything. At least not for me."

And probably not to Notre Dame either.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jefferson Wins Lieberman Award]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 10:12:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP993505883306.jpg

While the Huskies look to win their 10 national title, the individual honors for the 2014-2015 season continue to roll in. The latest: junior Moriah Jefferson won the Nancy Lieberman Award, announced on Monday night by the committee at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, as the nation's best point guard.

Jefferson joins former UConn greats Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Renee Montgomery as previous Huskies to win the award.

“Moriah Jefferson has been an incredible asset to the UConn Huskies and we are pleased to honor her with this prestigious award,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, in a statement, via SNY.com. “Her play mirrors the floor leadership, playmaking and ball-handling skills of Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman and the many exceptional point guards who have received this award over the years.”

More from the press release:

The Husky point guard became the first Husky since Kelly Faris in 2012-13 to earn the conference’s Most Improved Player accolade when she earned the distinction on March 6 . The guard has enjoyed a stellar junior campaign, averaging 12.4 points in 28.4 minutes per game. In total, she ranks first on the team in assists (186) and steals (96) and is one of six Huskies shooting over 50.0 percent from the floor (59.6). During Connecticut’s five-game NCAA Tournament run, Jefferson has averaged 14.6 points and is shooting an incredible 68.4 (30-of-44) from the field.

“I haven’t seen any point guard better,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I think I’ve seen most of the good teams and players, but I haven’t seen anybody better than her this year on any team.”

<![CDATA[Mosqueda-Lewis' UConn Career Is Almost Over]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 10:09:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kaleena+mosqueda+lewis+uconn.jpg

On Tuesday night, another great UConn career will come to an end. Senior All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who now holds the NCAA record for 3-pointers, will have played her last collegiate game.

Her career will continue -- she'll be one of the top picks in the WNBA Draft -- but her four years in Storrs, which felt like a brief stopover for those who followed along, will be over. Mosqueda-Lewis was understandably nostalgic on the eve of UConn's title game matchup with Notre Dame.

"I feel sadness and happiness at the same time," she said, via the Hartford Courant. "It is my last game. I'm going to miss it a lot. But I don't think I would want my last game to be in any other position than trying to win a national championship."

Mosqueda-Lewis has always been the best shooter in the gym, but coach Geno Auriemma sounds most impressed by the development of the rest of her game.

"The beauty of [Mosqueda-Lewis] is that because she's such an incredible shooter, that if you're not paying attention, you think that that's all she does," he said, via the Courant. "And [Sunday], she had seven assists. And she's probably our best screener. She's one of our best passers. ...

"She's become a really good basketball player, somebody who is very dependable and reliable and somebody you can count on," Auriemma continued. "And that didn't used to be the case when she was a freshman. … That's what you want players to do. You want them to grow and become a little more than what they are coming out of high school. And she's had an incredible career and she's put her name in the record books, and those memories will last a lifetime."