NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 09: Kelly Faris #34, Breanna Stewart #30 and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis #23 of the Connecticut Huskies run onto the court after defeating the Louisville Cardinals during the 2013 NCAA Women's Final Four Championship at New Orleans Arena on April 9, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kelly Faris began her UConn career with a national title and now, three years later, that's how it ends. In between: two Final Four appearances. All in all, not a bad run for a player who is obviously one of Geno Auriemma's favorites.
"She deserves this championship because she competes for a national championship every day in everything she does," the coach said of Faris Tuesday night after the Huskies rolled to a 93-60 win over Louisville. "I'm really, really happy for her."
But true to form, Faris' competitive nature always leaves her wanting more.
“It would have been nice to win the other two,” she said while fighting back a smile (via SNY.com). “But, man, I don’t even know what to say but thank you to everyone that was a part of it. My teammates? I’m so proud of them. I know a lot of people on the outside don’t know what they did for us. They did an amazing job.”
Faris scored 16 points in her final game, adding nine rebounds and six assists. It was a fitting end to a fantastic senior season, and one that, six weeks ago, Auriemma promised would end in a shot at a national title.
"The trick for us is to try to reward every senior who deserves it with a national championship,” Auriemma said. “When we recruit them, we tell them that is what is going to happen when you come to Connecticut. And the pressure is all on me. The pressure is on my coaching staff, that we need to get them to this point where we are right now. That is our job. And some players, quite frankly, don’t deserve it, because maybe they don’t put the time and effort in and they don’t work as hard. ...
"Morning to night, there is not a day that goes by that she is not winning a national championship in her mind with her sacrifice and her hard work and what she is doing. That is all she thinks about every single day."
Maya Moore, the Minnesota Lynx star and one of the best players to come through UConn concurred.
“I remember sitting on that podium next to Kelly after we lost to Notre Dame (in 2011),” Moore said. “To see her go out as a champion and the way they did it, it was unbelievable.”
Not a bad run for Faris who, since high school, has been apart of six championship teams.
“It never gets old. Are you kidding me?” Faris said. “I told (assistant coach) Shea (Ralph) I wish I could do this for four more years here. That’s something you can’t take for granted. Ten years down the road it will mean that much more when I think back about it. I would love to keep doing it.”