By Carl Adamec
When Moriah Jefferson made her first trip to the nation’s capital in January for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s game with Georgetown, she hoped it wouldn’t take another game with the Hoyas for her to return.
When the Huskies won the national championship three months later, that hope became reality.
Jefferson and the Huskies will head to Washington, D.C., next week and be honored by President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday.
“I’m super-excited,” Jefferson said. “Anytime you can go meet the president, it’s truly an honor. So I can’t wait.”
The entire Huskies’ team is expected to be in attendance.
“I’m very excited to meet the president,” UConn sophomore Breanna Stewart said. “This will be the first time that I’ve ever met the president. I think it will be a fun experience. I just hope that I can get everything done that I need to get done before I have to go to it.”
The Huskies won their record-tying eighth NCAA title on April 9 with a 93-60 victory over Louisville at New Orleans Arena. Stewart was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.
“It’s kind of like the icing on the cake,” Jefferson said. “It was a tough year. Then we got on a roll and now we get to meet the president.”
Stewart, Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck will be done playing in the FIBA U-19 world championships in Lithuania by Sunday. Team USA begins single-elimination quarterfinal play Friday against Japan. The gold-medal game is Sunday. UConn coach Geno Auriemma is also in Lithuania watching the tournament.
The lone member of the team in the WNBA, Kelly Faris, does not have a game that day. The Connecticut Sun return from the All-Star break with a game against the Indiana Fever at Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday.
Tuck, a native of Bolingbrook, Ill., said she met Obama when he was a senator from Illinois (2005-09).
“He probably doesn’t remember,” Tuck said with a laugh. “But I’ve never been to the White House. I’ll tell him that I’m from the Chicago area and I hope that’s like a little connection.”
It will be the third time a UConn women’s national championship team has met Obama. The Huskies also visited after their 2009 and 2010 titles. During their 2009 trip to the nation’s capital, some Huskies got to play H-O-R-S-E with Obama on the White House basketball court. After the game, All-American Renee Montgomery asked the president for his personal basketball that he had had through the 2008 campaign. He obliged and autographed it for Montgomery.
What will Stewart say to the president?
“Hi?” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to say. Maybe if we have a conversation it will be about basketball. I don’t know.”
She has a few days to figure it out.