Welcome to the UConn WBB Weekly, a recap of everything that happened in the world of UConn women’s basketball over the past week.
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From The UConn Blog:
Last week’s Weekly:
- Tina Charles: Change Beyond Surface (The Players’ Tribune) — More on this below.
- Dealing with travel restrictions, visa issues and more, international student athletes trying to get to UConn this fall remain in limbo (Hartford Courant)
- 2020 WNBA newcomer impact rankings (ESPN) — Azura Stevens and Katie Lou Samuelson both make the cut.
- Colleges best repped in the WNBA: It’s UConn, Maryland and Notre Dame at the top (Swish Appeal)
- WNBA 2020: Best 25 players age 25-and-under (ESPN) — Three former Huskies make the list.
In The News
Makurat working with nutritionist
Anna Makurat has been taking full advantage of the offseason. On Instagram, the rising sophomore revealed that she’s been working with a performance nutritionist, who’s helped her drop 4.5 kilograms (9.9 pounds) in body weight and add nearly two kilograms (around 4.4 pounds) in muscle mass.
It’s been a busy offseason for Makurat, who also spent time with the Polish National Team recently. Now, the question for her remains how to get back to Storrs this fall.
Muhl, Edwards to arrive soon
While Makurat’s status is up in the air, UConn’s other two international players — Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Muhl — are both planning to make it to campus in the near future. Per Hearst CT’s Doug Bonjour, Muhl “hopes” to obtain her visa to travel from Croatia to the US and plans to be in Storrs within the next week and a half. Edwards, meanwhile, is reportedly “optimistic” that she’ll make it to campus by this weekend from Ontario, Canada.
Geno Auriemma said earlier this month that the team will reconvene in Storrs on July 26 — this upcoming Sunday.
Charles receives medical wavier
Tina Charles will officially sit out the 2020 WNBA season. In an article on the Players’ Tribune, Charles announced that she received a medical waiver to sit out the WNBA season due to extrinsic asthma, which “impacts my immune system and would make playing during a pandemic a very risky and dangerous proposition.” The former UConn star said the condition came about five years ago from playing in China, where the air quality is poor.
However, Charles will not be idle during her year off. In her piece, she spoke at length about the racism and discrimination that Black people in the US have dealt with and still deal with to this day. Like her former UConn teammates Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery and Tiffany Hayes, Charles wants to work on fighting for social justice causes with her newfound free time.
She plans to donate $846 (representative of the eight minutes and 46 seconds in which the Minneapolis police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck) to various black-owned business and organizations and also help communities that are affected by COVID-19.
“Just know that while I’m away I’m going to be doing my part to help ensure that by the time I’m able to return to the court, God willing, this country will be in a much better and equitable place,” she wrote.
UConn women’s basketball rarely varies much with its uniforms. While the team switches up its threads every 2-4 years on average, the design is always on the simpler side (ie. not like Oregon) and there’s almost never more than the white home, navy away and —as of the last decade — gray for the XL Center. Alternate jerseys are rare and once the team ditches a set of uniforms, they never go back — so no throwbacks.
Though there isn’t much variation, that doesn’t mean UConn always maintains the exact same look. The Huskies uniforms may follow the same basic guidelines but when they do make changes, they’re typically something entirely new.
With that, we decided to rank the program’s 10 best uniforms of all-time. While this list is mostly subjective, the most important feature of a uniform is that it represents the UConn brand — meaning you know it’s UConn just by looking at it.
10. 1995-98 home
These uniforms were made famous by the iconic image of Rebecca Lobo running down the court with her hands up after UConn captured its first national title in 1995. However, the Huskies didn’t actually debut these duds until the Final Four that season, though they continued to wear them for the next three seasons. These wouldn’t fly today but they represent a classic ‘90s look with the script “Huskies” on the side panel and on the stripe across the left leg — and only the left leg.
When Megan Walker hinted prior to the Tennessee game this past year that the team would be wearing different uniforms, some of us on the beat were speculating that UConn would bring back these threads for the game. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
9. c.1990-91 home
The uniforms for UConn’s first Final Four team in 1991 were representative of the team itself. They weren’t flashy but they got the job done. It’s a simple look (as most uniforms were back then) but it’s still a strong set, even today. The red outline around the lettering and numbers stands out while the striping around the rest of the uniform gives it enough style without being over-the-top. Bonus points for Meg (Pattyson) Culmo’s water bottle.
8. 2002-03 home
On the surface, these uniforms are great with the side stripe and classic red-U “UConn” across the chest. However, they fall short in the context of their time. The Huskies wore these for just one season following the 2002 national championship and subsequent graduation of Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams, so changing looks to represent a new era is understandable. The problem is the uniforms are only slightly different from the ones UConn wore from 1998-2002 and practically every change is a downgrade. At that point, either completely change up the look or don’t touch it at all.
7. 2010-12 road
With the success that UConn’s had over the last 30 years, it doesn’t need to do anything flashy or eye-catching with its uniforms. That’s what makes this away set work — it’s simple and doesn’t take more than a second to know you’re watching UConn. The all-red collar is a little aggressive but compared to the white collar the team switched to after, it’s better than no red at all.
6. c.1990-91 road
Essentially the navy inverse of the 1991 home uniforms — but that’s not a knock. It’s a simple design but it still stands out thanks to the hint of red in both the lettering and the stripes. Plenty of ‘90s uniforms are beloved (sometimes ironically) because of their over-the-top designs or bold color usage. But this set still stands up three decades later and shows that something basic can still look good as long as it’s done right.
5. 2016-20 white home
UConn’s current white set, which — barring new uniforms for this upcoming season — will be entering their fifth year of use. If that happens, it’ll be the longest the Huskies have worn one set of duds since at least the early ‘90s. Overall, these are really strong uniforms, knocked down only by the bizarre glossy lettering. Without that aspect, these would be ranked higher.
4. c.1994-95 home
For better or for worse, the No. 10 uniforms on the list have become synonymous with the ‘95 team since that’s what they wore for the national championship game. However, this home set is what UConn wore for the entire 1995 season prior to the Final Four. The block lettering is easy to read as one solid color while the trim uses just enough red to stand out. The best part of these though? The waistband — it’s the first thing that catches the eye and ties the whole uniform together.
One interesting sidebar about this photo: Not a single person in the background appears to be wearing any UConn gear.
3. 1998-2002 road
The best away uniforms UConn has ever worn, these were close to perfect. Having “Connecticut” across the chest on the away jerseys were one of the best traditions both basketball programs had while the the script font gave the women’s program a distinct, defining look of its own. The red outline around the number is subtle but it really helps the front of the jersey pop. The piping around the collar and arms is the perfect balance of red and while the white section with red outline on the sides gives it just enough of a design element to prevent it from being too bland.
2. 2015-16 white home
UConn’s decision to stick with its current uniforms for so long could be tied to the fact that the Huskies changed up looks so frequently during Breanna Stewart’s career. If you go back and look, Stewart and the Huskies had a different uniform in all four national championship games during her career — even with the team wearing white every time. On top of that, there were a handful of alternate uniforms mixed in there as well.
However — like the teams themselves — no uniforms were better than Stewart’s senior year. The striping down the legs is unique but doesn’t completely take over the uniform and has just the perfect splash of red at the bottom. The blue section above the numbers is also sharp and the subtle design on the back — which teams unfortunately seem to be moving away from — gives the jersey extra points.
The 2016 team is arguably the greatest in the history of the sport and as great as these uniforms were, it’s fitting that they were retired after the season so they’d only be associated with one team, forever.
1. 1998-2002 home
If there’s a team that can challenge the 2016 squad for the greatest of all time, it’s UConn’s 2001-02 team. It’s also the only uniform that can beat the 2016 set. The red-U “UConn” across the chest was an iconic look (that the school should go back to) in the aforementioned font that was unique to the program. The red outline around the numbers helps compliment the red U and red piping around the rest of the uniform while the blue side-stripe provides just enough navy blue without taking over the entire uniform. If there was one uniform that perfectly embodies UConn women’s basketball as a visual brand, it’s these.
Best of social media
Bria Hartley’s son Bryson is with her in the bubble and he’s better getting plenty of experience behind the camera. This entire Twitter thread will make you day:
Our intern Bryson is really growing before our eyes. Today he learned how to photograph sports and got some cool shots off the tripod. He had an exciting morning meeting @sophaller and posing with BG. We think he has the potential to be a dual-threat photographer & model. pic.twitter.com/5G7I397Bzx— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) July 16, 2020
After Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird sat out the 2019 WNBA season due to injury, the Seattle Storm are back to being UConn West in 2020:
There’s nothing that puts UConn’s dominance over the last 25 years in perspective quite like this:
Only 8 teams in the history of college basketball have been undefeated champions pic.twitter.com/eWTTzyJhjf— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) July 15, 2020
The Huskies have twice as many undefeated seasons as everyone else in women’s basketball. Tennessee — unquestionably the second-best program of all-time — only pulled off the feat once. UConn did it in its first try back in 1995.
UCLA is the closest thing Auriemma’s Huskies have to a peer in all of college basketball and the Bruins only pulled off perfection four times — all in the span of 10 years. UConn has done it in three different decades, 19 years apart.
One final stat to drive the point home: The Huskies have won the national championship while undefeated more times (six) than they have with a loss (five).