By Carl Adamec
HARTFORD, Conn. — Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey have been side by side on the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s sideline for so long that it seems somewhat odd that Auriemma’s name is on the Gampel Pavilion wall with the “Huskies of Honor” and Dailey’s is not.
While the head coach said there are no plans for additions to the wall this season, there will be in 2013-14 when Bria Hartley, a WBCA All-American a year ago, and the 2003 and 2004 national championship teams are inducted.
And what about associate head coach Dailey, who came to Storrs with Auriemma in 1985?
“I was the most surprised person when they put my name up there,” Auriemma said. “I’m the coach. Why is my name up there? I’m not retired. If they wanted to do it when I retired I would say, ‘OK, I’ll come back, wave to everybody. Hi. How are you doing?’ But why? I’ve always thought that’s a place for players that made first-team All-American. Then if you want to do something for coaches after they’re not here that’s great.
“And I’m sure at some point CD’s name will be up there. It deserves to be up there. When? I don’t know. If you asked her, three years ago. But I made a decision when it first started. I said if you make first team All-American then you go up there. That takes all the guesswork out.”
Auriemma called 2002 graduate and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Asjha Jones the best player not on the wall. UConn had three players on the 2002 WBCA team — Sue Bird, Swin Cash, and Diana Taurasi — and no team has put four players on the 10-member squad in its history.
The Hall of Fame coach said the Huskies of Honor might become a multi-tier program that will include worthy players that weren’t All-Americans.
“You’re going to have levels,” Auriemma said. “At the top level you’ve got all your first team All-Americans. Then on the next level, with a barrier in between, you’ve got the next guys that without them we wouldn’t be as good as we’ve been.”
USA U-19 coaches named
UConn freshmen Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck, and Moriah Jefferson were members of the United States U-18 national team last summer that won a gold medal at the 2012 FIBA Americas Championship. So their invitations to attend the trials for the U-19 world championships team this May in Colorado Springs should be in the mail.
When they arrive, they’ll see some familiar faces. USA Basketball announced that Miami (Fla.) coach Katie Meier, who coached the 2012 U-18 team, will be in charge of the U-19 team. Also returning for a second straight summer as Meier’s assistants are Nikki Caldwell of LSU and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga.
“Playing for Coach Meier last summer was great,” Stewart said. “It was a great experience. It’s not too often you have three big-time coaches on the same staff for a U-18 or U-19 team but we had that with Coach Meier, Coach Caldwell, and Coach Graves. The practices for the USA team were just like college practices and we all had a great time and learned a lot.”
Stewart was the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 FIBA Americas Championship and as a 17-year-old in 2011 was a member of the all-tournament when Team USA won gold in the FIBA U-19 World Championships in Puerto Montt, Chile. Stewart’s UConn teammates Tuck, Hartley, Stefanie Dolson, and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis were also on the U-19 team guided by former UConn All-American and current Hartford coach Jennifer Rizzotti.
Team USA will go for a fifth consecutive gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U-19 World Championships, hosted by Lithuania, from July 18-28.
Taking care of the ball
UConn senior Kelly Faris, who has dropped from first to seventh over the last month in assist-to-turnover ratio nationally, ended a streak of eight straight games with a turnover Tuesday night in the Huskies’ 76-43 win over Villanova at the XL Center. She had four assists against the Wildcats in her first outing without a miscue since Stanford on Dec. 29.
“I get to the point where I want to do so much, and that’s how I’ve always been,” Faris said. “So it’s got to be one of those things that I sit there and think, ‘OK, just relax. Slow down.’ I do best when I’m not trying to fix everything, and sometimes it’s hard for me to keep myself from doing that. So I’ve got to slow it down a step.”
Faris also had six points and eight rebounds Tuesday night but that didn’t stop her coach from having a little fun at her expense when he was asked about the outstanding play the Huskies have been getting from Dolson and Mosqueda-Lewis.
“We put Kelly Faris on Mount Rushmore and she hasn’t played well since,” Auriemma said. “So I think we need to slow down and make sure we don’t carve out any more busts of any of our players.”