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UConn Women’s Basketball Offseason Recap

It was a pretty eventful offseason for the Huskies.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The last time we saw the UConn Huskies, they fell victims to a last-second shot in the Final Four for the second-straight season, this time to arch-rival Notre Dame.

After the final buzzer sounded, we reflected on the incredible careers of graduating seniors Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams.

The day after the national championship, Azura Stevens announced she was forgoing her final season of eligibility and entering the WNBA Draft. With the shocking news, we took a look at UConn’s outlook heading into the 2018-19 season.

In mid-April, Katie Lou Samuelson underwent left ankle surgery to repair an issue that bothered her all season long. The rising senior initially injured the ankle in the home opener against Cal and missed the next four games.

That same day, the three departing Huskies were selected in the WNBA Draft. Williams went fourth overall to the Chicago Sky, Stevens went sixth overall to the Dallas Wings and Nurse went 10th overall to the New York Liberty.

UConn also had some changes to the coaching staff. Longtime assistant Marisa Moseley left to become the head coach at her alma mater, Boston University and was replaced by Jasmine Lister, a grad assistant with the Huskies from 2014-16.

At Auriemma’s Fore the Kids Charity Golf Tournament, Lister explained how excited she was to be back in Storrs but also said how important it was to see an outside perspective at Washington and DePaul.

The tournament was also the first time for the media to meet the freshmen, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams. Nelson-Ododa has the potential to make history in her career at UConn, while Williams was more concerned about the Huskies’ tradition, most notably that of winning national championships.

“We’re going to get that championship. People are going to feel UConn. We’re going to win a national championship,” Williams said. “Mark my words. We’re going to get it back.”

Making a big impact as a freshman is certainly tough to do. Megan Walker can attest to that. But by all accounts, her teammates are expecting her to make a big leap this season, similar to what Crystal Dangerfield did from freshman to sophomore year.

Things were mostly quiet for the rest of the summer. Any news about UConn women’s basketball most related to what some former Huskies were doing in the WNBA.

That was until out of nowhere, UConn and Tennessee decided to renew their rivalry after it was dormant for over a decade. But, just don’t expect it to really be a rivalry anymore. Even though Auriemma agreed to play again without an apology from Tennessee like he previous demanded, he’s still not thrilled about it.

“I couldn’t care less whether we had the game or not because I did feel like there’s got to be some sort of acknowledgement, anyway,” Auriemma told the Hartford Courant. “If the Hall of Fame hadn’t gotten involved — the level of respect I have for them, and how the game is going to be handled, I decided it’s worth doing.”

Another thing that returned after a hiatus is First Night. The event was cancelled last season due to roof renovations at Gampel Pavilion.

BREAKING NEWS: The WNBA’s Breanna Stewart Era is now underway.

During USA Basketball Training Camp for the World Cup, Napheesa Collier was the sole player from college to attend and spoke about what she’s learned from playing with some of the best players in the world.

—We interrupt this program to bring you news that Stewart has now seized the WNBA, capturing the league championship and finals MVP with the Seattle Storm.

The Huskies also received some help for the future, securing their first 2019 recruit in Aubrey Griffin. She hails from Ossining, New York, the same school former UConn players Saniya Chong and Andra Espinoza-Hunter attended. We spoke to Griffin’s coach about what makes her stand out from the other two.

—THIS JUST IN: It appears Stewart has now taken over the entire world. It appears nobody, not even entire nations, are capable of stopping her.

UConn has been busy working on their future schedules, locking in a home-and-home with Oregon along with Baylor and Virginia. The game against Virginia will be a homecoming for Walker.