STORRS — The raising of the uniform numbers of Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley to the Huskies of Honor Saturday put a symbolic bow on the All-American careers of two of the finest players in UConn women's basketball history.
"There was never a time I threw anything [responsibility] at Bria when she gave me the idea she didn't want it or couldn't handle it," coach Geno Auriemma said. "She wanted the pressure, wanted the ball late in the game. She wanted it all on her shoulders. And it hasn't changed since she walked into the building."
But it also recalled a time when the two were part of a five-player freshman class that also included forwards Samarie Walker and Michala Johnson and guard Lauren Engeln.
Walker left the program midway through her freshman season and transferred to Kentucky. Johnson (Wisconsin) and Engeln (Boston College) left after their sophomore seasons. All three are playing regularly with their new programs.
Auriemma knew then, and he knows now, there is no way to predict how things will go.
"It hasn't changed anything for us," Auriemma said. "Kids come and go for lots of reasons. Anytime you recruit a five-player class, you are always taking a chance. You hope two of them will be All-Americans and the other three will be productive players.
"The last time we had a five-player class was when we brought Sue Bird, Asjha Jones, Tamika Williams, Swin Cash and Keirsten Walters (Class of 1998). Two of them were All-Americans (Bird and Cash). Two were unbelievable good players (Williams and Jones) and one didn't play because of injuries.
"This five was kind of the same; two All-Americans and the other three, not too much."
If Louisville defeats UConn on Monday, the Cardinals and Huskies will end the regular season tied for first place in the American Athletic Conference with 17-1 records. Each team's loss will have come to the other.
This is how the tie would be broken, according to the AAC bylaw:
The top six seeds earn a berth into the quarterfinals of the American Women's Basketball Tournament. Overall conference record is used to seed teams 1 through 10.
A two-team tie is subject to the following procedure — regular season head-to-head results (tied), each team's record vs. the team or tied teams occupying the highest position in the standings (tied).
Next would be a coin flip, which would take place immediately after the game at the KFC Yum! Center. Associate commissioner Danielle Donehew will handle the chore after first awarding each team a trophy.
The winner of the coin flip will be awarded the first seed, the loser the second.
Stringer To Return
Rutgers Hall of Fame women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer, now in her 19th season at the school, said Friday that she and the school are in the "final stages" of negotiations for a new contract.
She is in the final season of a seven-year contract that paid her a little more than $1 million in 2013. Her contract expires June 30.
"To allay any fears and concerns, I haven't been concerned about that," said Stringer. "[AD] Julie Hermann and I are committed to one another. For sure, I'm committed to Rutgers and Rutgers is committed to me."
"We're in the final stages of our contract (negotiations) now. So we're working on things. I'm not really concerned about that. We're fine. I'm just trying to focus on winning basketball games. That's what Julie wants me to do and that's what I want to do. I don't want the kids to worry."
UConn has won at least 30 games 19 times in its history, all since the 1993-94 season, when it finished 30-3. This is its ninth straight 30-win season since going 25-8 in 2004-05. ... The victory was the 36th straight for the Huskies. It's the third-longest winning streak in program history, next to the 70- and 90-game streaks that are among the greatest in the history of intercollegiate sports in any division. ... UConn added three blocks Saturday to give it 253 this season. That's a program record, breaking the one (250) set by the 1994-95 national champions. ... Dolson's 10 rebounds enabled her to become just the fifth player in program history with 1,000 rebounds, joining Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Rebecca Lobo and Jamelle Elliott. "She deserves to be in that group," Auriemma said. ... After starting the past four games, freshman Saniya Chong played just 13 minutes, none in the first half.Copyright © 2015, CT Now