Auriemma, UConn got it right with Faris

By Carl Adamec

STORRS, Conn. — It was about six years ago that UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey and assistant coach Jamelle Elliott returned from a recruiting trip and couldn’t wait to report to their boss.

“Jamelle and CD came back and said, ‘There’s a kid you need to go see and you’re going to love her,’ ” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I went out to Indianapolis to watch her play and told them, ‘You’re right.’ “

Kelly Faris would eventually accept Auriemma’s scholarship offer to join the Huskies. Saturday, the Plainfield, Ind., native says good-bye as she, Caroline Doty, and Heather Buck will be honored on Senior Day prior to No. 3 UConn’s Big East game with Seton Hall at Gampel Pavilion (3:30 p.m., SNY).

For Auriemma, it was love at first sight when he watched Faris play at Heritage Christian School.

“Anytime I see a 5-10, 5-11 kid playing center on their team and they win a state championship I go, ‘You know what? She’s going to be pretty good, ‘ ” Auriemma said. “It’s like Kerry Bascom, Meghan Pattyson, or Carla Berube. They’re playing out of position in high school and you know once they get to college the fact they have been able to do more than bring the ball up and shoot threes means they’ll be able to help you. Every kid we’ve recruited that played out of position in high school has been really good here.”

Faris led Heritage Christian to four straight Indiana Class 2A championships. In her high school and college careers combined she has lost a total of two postseason games, though the Final Four losses to Notre Dame the last two years annoy her to no end.

The Huskies’ record in her time here is 132-9 with the 2010 national championship, three Final Four appearances, three Big East tournament titles, and two Big East regular season crowns.

“It’s goes fast, a lot faster than you think,” Faris said. “They say in high school that those years go fast and they do. You get to college and in that first year you’re dying, it’s hard and it’s something you’ve never been put through before and you’ve never gone through before. Then that first year is done and you think, ‘I got one year under my belt.’ Then the next three are done like that.”

Faris made some history 10 days ago when she became the fourth UConn player to start in 100 consecutive games. Saturday will be No. 103. And she could make more history Saturday.

She enters the contest 18 points shy of 1,000 for her career. Meanwhile, sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is within six of 1,000. Though it would take a near-career best from Faris for it to happen, only once in UConn history have two players scored their 1,000th point in the same game. On Nov. 18, 1996, Berube and Nykesha Sales reached the plateau against Western Kentucky in a game played at
Stanford’s Maples Pavilion. Berube needed five points and got there with 11:24 left in the first half. Sales needed six points and got there about six minutes later.

The last time a UConn player got her 1,000th point on Senior Day was Ashley Battle in 2005.

Faris is also closing on joining three-time Wade Trophy winner Maya Moore as the only Huskies with 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 500 assists, and 250 steals. She is currently at 982 points, 733 rebounds, 493 assists, and 264 steals with at least six games to play.

But Saturday’s game won’t be the last for the seniors at Gampel Pavilion. UConn is hosting NCAA tournament first- and second-round games next month.