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Auriemma Speaks Highly of Taurasi, Bird at Charity Golf Tournament

The two UConn stars are adding more impressive feats to their outstanding WNBA careers

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

At his annual Fore the Kids golf tournament, UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma leads the effort to raise money for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Orthopedic Program. The event, held annually at the Hartford Golf Club, has helped raise nearly $1.5 million since it began 14 years ago.

The event also serves as the first public opportunity for the incoming freshmen class to represent the Huskies. And while Auriemma and top-ranked freshmen class talked about adjusting to college life and the team, the 11-time national champion coach couldn’t resist talking about Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, the two UConn legends in the midst of great WNBA seasons.

Since Taurasi came to campus in 2000 and played next to Bird for two seasons, the two have been forever linked and have become good friends off the court. After helping Team USA to yet another Olympic gold medal last summer, Taurasi and Bird have put together impressive WNBA seasons once again.

Both players will likely be among the top vote-getters for the 2017 All-Star game when the first voting results are released this upcoming Thursday. Voting continues through July 9, and votes can be cast through the WNBA website and on social media with player’s name and #WNBAVote.

Taurasi has rewritten the WNBA record books this season. After setting the record for career made 3-pointers on June 1, the four-time Olympic gold medalist and Phoenix Mercury star, broke the league’s all-time scoring record on June 18, passing Tina Thompson’s total of 7,488 points.

“I’m not surprised that she did it, I’m not surprised one iota,” Auriemma said. “She was the best player every time she stepped on the court in high school. She was the best player every time she stepped on the court in college, and with very few exceptions if any, she’s the best player when she steps on the floor at pros, at the world championships, at the Olympics. It doesn’t matter.”

Bird is in the midst of yet another stellar season with the Seattle Storm, averaging over 10 points and 7.7 assists per game alongside young stars Jewell Loyd and fellow UConn great Breanna Stewart. Like Taurasi, Bird has a chance to make her mark on the WNBA record books, sitting 111 assists behind Ticha Penicheiro’s record of 2,599.

The possibility of UConn having WNBA career record holders in two major categories is impressive. But having two players like Taurasi and Bird in the same backcourt like they were in college? Auriemma believes it might never be seen again.

“To think back and have the two of them be in the same backcourt and then be together for four Olympic gold medals,” Auriemma said. “I’ve always said that year in 2002, that was the best backcourt in the history of women’s college basketball, pro basketball, any kind of basketball. Time will prove that...You’ll never find that ever again.”