Hayes Prepares for WNBA - NBC Connecticut
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Hayes Prepares for WNBA

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tiffany Hayes' UConn career ended with a loss to Notre Dame in the Final Four. She leaves the Huskies as something of an enigma: a long-range shooter who, when she gets hot, can take over the game, but also a player the media often characterize as one who didn't show up for the big games.

    Fair or not, here's the reality: she won't ever play college basketball again and now she's focusing on the WNBA.

    Unlike Maya Moore, arguably the best player to ever come through UConn, and the 2011 first-overall pick in the WNBA Draft, Hayes' future is less certain. She's expected to be a late first-round pick.

    "I think my transition is going to be a pretty good one, and playing [at UConn] is definitely going to help me out a lot," she told the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. "It's taught me a lot, from learning from the players to learning from the coaches."

    Hayes may be lacking Moore's talents but they share the same pedigree and that counts for something. More from Altavilla:

    "The one thing that I always say about players from Connecticut, and also players from Tennessee, the rich tradition-type programs, is that they always kept their college coaches, staffs in high regard," said Seattle coach Brian Agler, who has coached former UConn players Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Svetlana Abrosimova with the Storm. "The players speak highly of them; they tended to be a big part of their lives, even once they get in the pro level. I think that's important in our evaluation, because they are very team oriented.

    "And Tiffany definitely is like that. She's had a great career there. I anticipate her going in the first round at some point. You know, she's got some versatility and some length [5 feet 9]. But definitely her pedigree going to that program for four years, playing on the great teams that she has will help her. It's a very competitive situation, and that's what she comes from."

    Scouts and coaches know about Hayes' inconsistent career. But they're also in the business of projecting college talent into a much different pro game.

    "I think for Tiffany, when you make that jump to the WNBA, the expectations of her as a player will change a little bit in terms of what she is asked to do or what they needed her to do, and I think that led to some of the inconsistencies," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve told Altavilla. "For her, I'm sure she's better for it, all of the experiences that she had, and I think she'll be able to take all of those things and figure out how to be impactful in our league."

    That's an enlightened statement and one that can only be welcome news to Hayes. Wherever she ends up, the leadership expectations won't be what they were during her final season in Storrs. And we can talk all we want about "seniors needing to step up" but the reality is that not every senior is cut out to be a vocal leader. And that's fine.

    Geno Auriemma has exceedingly high expectations and it's served his players well. But in this instance, it seems that Hayes was never comfortable in that role. Maybe the faceless rookie in a new city will be what she needs to become a more consistent player.