Geno Auriemma has watched all of his former players in the WNBA in action, whether by going to an arena or on television.
But Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game will give UConn’s Hall of Fame coach an opportunity he hasn’t had before. For the first time in his career and in All-Star history, seven of his ex-players will be in one game.
Former Huskies Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm and Stefanie Dolson of the Chicago Sky were named Tuesday as reserves for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively, for the All-Star Game to be played at KeyArena in Seattle on Saturday, giving UConn a record seven graduates in the contest. Last week, five ex-Huskies - Seattle guard Sue Bird, Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, and Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore for the West, and forward Tina Charles of the New York Liberty and guard Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream for the East - were named as starters.
It is the first time one school has produced seven players for one All-Star Game. UConn had six players participate in the 2011 event held in San Antonio - Bird, Charles, Moore, Taurasi, Swin Cash, and Renee Montgomery.
Overall, Bird will make her 10th All-Star appearance, tying former Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings for the most in league history. It is the eighth appearance for Taurasi, the fifth for Charles and Moore, the second for Dolson, and the first for Hayes and Stewart.
There was no All-Star Game a year ago due to the Olympic Games.
Stewart, the first pick of the 2016 WNBA Draft by Seattle, ranks in the top 10 in the WNBA in scoring (fifth at 19.7), rebounds (fourth at 9.0), and blocked shots (sixth at 1.5). The 22-year-old led UConn to four straight national championships and owns gold medals from the 2014 FIBA world championships and 2016 Olympics.
Dolson was a first-round pick of the Washington Mystics in 2014 and played in the All-Star Game at Mohegan Sun Arena a year later. She was traded last offseason to Chicago as part of the deal that sent Elena Delle Donne to Washington. Dolson is in the top 20 in the WNBA in scoring (19th at 13.8), rebounds (19th at 5.9), and blocked shots (ninth at 1.3). The Huskies won national championships during her All-American junior and senior seasons.
Starting for the East are Hayes, Charles, Delle Donne, and Jasmine Thomas and Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun, though Delle Donne will likely not play due to an ankle injury. The reserves are Dolson and Allie Quigley of Chicago, Layshia Clarendon of Atlanta, Candice Dupree of Indiana, Alyssa Thomas of the Sun, and Elizabeth Williams of the Sky.
Starting for the West are Bird, Taurasi, Moore, Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks, and Sylvia Fowles of Minnesota. The reserves are Stewart, Nneka Ogwumike and Chelsea Gray of Los Angeles, Seimone Augustus of Minnesota, Skylar Diggins-Smith of the Dallas Wings, and Brittney Griner of Phoenix. Griner will miss the game with a knee injury.
USA U-19 wins exhibition
The United States U-19 national team continued preparations for the FIBA U-19 World Cup Tuesday by defeating Italy 62-36 at the 2017 Refrion Cup round-robin exhibition tournament in Splimbergo, Italy.
Texas A&M freshman Chennedy Carter paced Team USA (2-0) with 11 points. University of Texas sophomore Alecia Sutton added 10 points and eight rebounds, while UConn freshman Megan Walker chipped in seven points and seven rebounds. UConn sophomore Crystal Dangerfield had four points and two assists. Team USA led 36-24 at the break and opened the second half with a 15-2 run to take an insurmountable 25-point lead.
The Americans opened tourney play Monday with an 84-72 win over Spain. Dangerfield had 17 points and three assists, while Walker had six points and five rebounds.
Team USA will conclude Refrion Cup play today against Latvia. The Americans will scrimmage France on Thursday and practice Friday before starting World Cup Group A play against Mali Saturday.
Sun to honor Dailey
UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey will be at Mohegan Sun Arena on Aug. 8 for the Connecticut Sun’s game with the Seattle Storm, but not just to watch former Huskies Bird, Stewart, and Morgan Tuck play.
The Sun will honor Dailey with the Margo Dydek Award as its 2017 Woman of Inspiration. Dailey will participate in a pregame reception and be honored at halftime. In her name, a $1,000 donation will be made by the Connecticut Sun Foundation, through the Travelers Championship, to the Jay S. Fishman Fund at the Bruce Edwards Foundation to help find a cure for ALS.
The Margo Dydek Award, named after the former Sun center, is given to an outstanding woman who has distinguished themselves while positively impacting the local community. Previous recipients of the award include PGA of America Vice President Suzy Whaley, former Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell, and former WNBA star Rebecca Lobo.
Dailey was Auriemma’s first hire in Storrs and has coached by his side for the last 32 years. In Auriemma’s absence, she guided the Huskies to the 1989 and 1997 Big East Tournament titles. In their 32 seasons, UConn has won 991 games and a record 11 national championships. Dailey also played for Rutgers’ 1982 AIAW national championship team.