Chong signs on with UConn

By Carl Adamec

When Saniya Chong made her oral commitment to the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team last month, she said she was confident her Ossining High team could win a state title “with Breanna Stewart not in our way.”

Stewart ended Chong’s championship hopes a season ago as she had 42 points and 23 rebounds to lead Cicero-North Syracuse to a 79-51 win over Ossining in the Class AA state semifinals. It was the only loss of the year for Ossining (23-1).

With Stewart now at UConn and Ossining returning its starting lineup, the path is clear. Stewart, meanwhile, is already looking forward to having Chong help the Huskies win championships.

Chong made it official Wednesday by signing her letter of intent to attend UConn.

“I’m really excited for Saniya to get here next year just because I think we had a lot of fun when she came on her official visit,” Stewart said Thursday. “I didn’t know her that well during high school and we had a good time together. She’s just a really quick guard. She’s long, she’s taller, and she’s always looking for her teammates first. But then at the same time you have to be careful because she can shoot the ball as well so you have to contain her as best you can.”

Chong had 21 points in the loss to Cicero-North Syracuse. The game never came up on her visit.

“That’s just how I like to go about myself and Saniya is like that as well,” Stewart said. “I had a good game and that’s great. But it’s over with and done and you move forward from that.”

Ranked the No. 20 recruit in the country by the All-Star Girls Report, Chong averaged 33.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 10.0 assists, and 5.0 steals as a junior. In 70 career games, she has a school record 2,060 points, 412 rebounds, 473 assists, and 362 steals.
Last May, she attended the trials for USA Basketball’s U-18 team in Colorado Springs.

All-American Bria Hartley was Chong’s host on her visit.

“I don’t know how to describe her, really,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She puts points on the board. She’s just one of these kids that scores points. I watch her sometimes and at the end of a half I’ll just say to somebody, ‘How many did she have?’ And they’ll tell me, and I’ll go, ‘That’s impossible.’

“She’s fast. She can handle the ball. She’s a tough kid. And she scores. And she likes to pass the ball. She’s unusual for kids who score that many points.”

Auriemma did say Chong reminded him of former UConn All-American and current assistant coach Shea Ralph.

“She’s not as big and strong as Shea, but Shea wasn’t that big and strong either when she came in,” Auriemma said. “She shoots the ball from the perimeter better than Shea did. She reminds me a little bit of Shea in that she just scores points in a lot of ways. She gets to the free throw line a lot. She’s a little bit better passer than Shea. I just like her. She’s a nice kid and the kind of kid that will be successful here at Connecticut.”

If the Huskies do not sign a recruit in the spring, they will have six scholarships available for the Class of 2014. One is going to Courtney Ekmark, a 6-foot guard from Phoenix who committed last May.

“We knew going in that it wasn’t going to be one of those recruiting classes like we had last year,” Auriemma said. “But what’s better, one player that you know is going to play 30 minutes maybe or five players and only two of them are going to play? So I think for us with the advent of practice players and the fact that we’ve got such a good history here with them I don’t really worry about how many people are on our roster.”

Big East tournament tickets available

All-session tickets for the 2013 Big East women’s basketball tournament to be held March 8-12 at the XL Center in Hartford, Ct. will go on sale Monday, Nov. 19, at 10 a.m. via all Ticketmaster outlets.

Package tickets to all 14 games of the championship are $99. Ticket offices at all 15 Big East institutions will have all-session packages available.

To order tickets by phone, call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. In addition, tickets can be purchased online by logging on to the XL Center website at http://www.xlcenter.com or the Ticketmaster website at http://www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the XL Center Ticket Office beginning Monday.

Second-round games on March 9 will be aired as part of the Big East Network. SNY is the flagship station for the Big East Game of the Week during the regular season and will also carry all four second-round tournament games as well.