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Notebook: A Fond Farewell To Gampel For Dolson, Hartley

By JOHN ALTAVILLA, jaltavilla@courant.com

The Hartford Courant

3:50 PM EDT, March 24, 2014

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STORRS – All-Americans Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley play their final UConn home game Tuesday when the Huskies play St. Joseph's in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The game has been switched to ESPNU by the cable network. It will begin about 7:05 p.m.

What's certain is both will leave among the greatest to ever play at Gampel Pavilion.

Dolson will play her 150th game, making her 148th start, tying Renee Montgomery for the most in program history.

"We'll be trying to think about getting to the last round of the tournament more than anything else," Dolson said.

Hartley will play in her 149th game, now just 78 points from becoming only the eighth player in program history to score 2,000 points.

"It's not my personality to be overall sentimental, but that doesn't mean I don't value the experience I've had," Hartley said. "It's better right now to just focus on the basketball part of things."

Dolson (1,049) also needs just six rebounds to pass Jamelle Elliott into fourth place among UConn rebounders. She is still getting herself back into game shape after struggling through the effects of a bad cold that sapped her strength. And finally playing Sunday after almost two weeks off following the AAC championship game on March 10 only made it harder.

"It started with flu-like symptoms and then turned into a really bad head cold," Dolson said. "There were about five days when I really didn't do much of anything. So I've been trying to get my legs and my lungs back to where they should be. It's definitely getting there. I felt better than I thought I would [Sunday night]."

In The Family

Geno Auriemma was a girls high school basketball coach under Jim Foster at Bishop McDevitt in Philadelphia in the late 1970s. This was before Virginia. Before UConn. Way before the first national championship.

"It does seem like a long time ago, doesn't it?" Auriemma said.

It was long enough ago that he was sporting a totally different hair style.

"Geno had some crazy hair, he had that Afro going," said St. Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin.

Auriemma does not deny it.

"It was the 1970s," he said. "If you've seen the movie "American Hustle" you would know that taking care of your hair was high priority."

One his players at McDevitt was Kim Anderson, Griffin's sister, who graduated from high school in 1979.

"Girls high school basketball wasn't exactly a high profile sport back then," Auriemma said.

Griffin, a top point guard at St. Joseph's from 1987-92, led the Hawks to three straight 20-win seasons and three NCAA appearances during her career. Her coaching career began under her mentor, Jim Foster, at both St. Joseph's and Vanderbilt. She then went to Loyola (Md.) as an assistant to Patty Coyle before taking the program over midway through the 1998-99 season.

And when he was an assistant women's coach at St. Joe's, one of his players was Renie Shields, currently an athletic administrator for the Hawks and the mother of senior guard Erin Shields.

Hawks Flying

This has been a memorable year for St. Joseph's basketball. For the first time since 1997, both its men and women made the NCAA Tournament.

A strange quirk has resulted in UConn crossing both their paths. The men lost to the Huskies in overtime in Thursday's second-round game in Buffalo. Now the women will play UConn for the first time since 2003.

"We always say it's a great day to be a Hawk," Erin Shields said. "It's been awesome around campus for the last two weeks. You are proud to walk around campus. ... I think our two teams have showed class and competitiveness. We like say, 'the Ha wk will never die.' The guys won the A-10 tournament. We got into the NCAAs. It's been a great time for the university and the student body which has rallied around us."