Welcome to the UConn WBB Weekly, a recap of everything that happened in the world of UConn women’s basketball over the past week.
The Weekly is a newsletter! Subscribe to get it in your inbox every Thursday at 7 a.m. before it hits the site.
From The UConn Blog and Storrs Central:
- Chasing Perfection: UConn women’s basketball season in review
- UConn hires Morgan Valley as new assistant coach
- UConn women’s basketball season in review: Backcourt
- UConn women’s basketball season in review: Frontcourt
- UConn women’s basketball: Outlook for 2021-22 season
Last week’s Weekly:
In the news
- The Connecticut Sun hired Jen Rizzotti as team president.
- The NCAA announced that all Division I athletes will be allowed to transfer once without having to sit out.
What to know about Morgan Valley, UConn’s new assistant coach
On Wednesday, the Huskies announced that Morgan Valley would become the program’s newest assistant coach, replacing Shea Ralph. Though many fans undoubtedly remember Valley from her playing days at UConn from 2000-04, it’s been over 15 years since she was part of the program.
So who is the Huskies’ newest assistant and what’s she been doing since her time in Storrs?
Valley came to UConn as part of the team’s class of 2000 that also included Ashley Battle, Maria Conlon, Jessica Moore, and Diana Taurasi. A native of Colchester, Vermont, Valley came to Storrs after a standout career at Rice Memorial High School. The team went undefeated in her final two seasons as she won Vermont Gatorade Player of the Year and earned multiple high school All-American honors as a senior.
During her four years in Storrs, Valley was part of three national championship squads but dealt with a number of injuries. She averaged 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds in 108 games with a career-high of 11 points, which came against Long Island in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a freshman.
That first season, Valley often played one-on-one with Taurasi and the two kept track of who won on a piece of paper in the latter’s locker, according to The Same River Twice by John Walters. By January, Valley had yet to win a game and she’d often get so angry about losing that she’d punt the ball into the stands.
“I saw her kick one into the upper deck once,” Conlon said in the book. “Morgan has a cannon.”
Her sister, Ashley, joined the team in 2001 and the two played together for three seasons.
Assistant coaching odyssey
After Valley graduated, she joined Auriemma’s staff as a student assistant for the 2004-05 season, where she scouted, edited game and practice film, and exchanged film with opponents.
She got her first gig as a full-time assistant with Holy Cross, who won the Patriot League conference title and made the NCAA Tournament in 2007. Valley left for UNH after two years but spent just one 7-22 season in Durham as an assistant and recruiting coordinator before she joined on at Towson ahead of the 2008-09 campaign.
In March 2010, Valley joined the staff at UMass and coached there for four seasons — her longest stint as an assistant coach. She was the program’s recruiting coordinator for her final two years in Amherst.
Valley finally got her big breakthrough in 2014 when Dennis Wolff — father of Nicole Wolff, one of Valley’s teammates at UConn from 2002-04 — hired her at Virginia Tech.
After one season, Valley moved out west and joined Mike Neighbors’ coaching staff at Washington. In her first year, the Huskies reached the program’s first Final Four and went back to the Sweet Sixteen the year after. There, Valley also coached Kelsey Plum, a two-time All-American and the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball.
During the 2017-18 campaign, Valley shared the sideline with Jasmine Lister, who joined the staff after two years as a graduate assistant at UConn and would return to Storrs as a full-time assistant from 2018-20.
After that season, Valley left for Arizona, where one of her former fellow Washington assistants, Adia Barnes, was head coach.
“Morgan is who I wanted from day one and I think this is the best hire in the country,” Barnes said at the time.
Valley helped the Wildcats bring in the top-ranked recruiting class in program history, headlined by McDonalds’ All-American Cate Reese. In 2019, Arizona went on to win the WNIT.
Head coaching tenure
Valley finally got her first shot at a head coaching gig in 2019 when she was hired at Hartford. Her first season didn’t go so great as the Hawks struggled with injuries and departures, resulting in a 0-28 start before winning their season finale.
This past year, Hartford lost its opening two games but then went on a three-game win streak, its only three victories. The Hawks went 3-9 before they decided to cancel the rest of the season due to COVID-19.
“With multiple quarantines, shutdowns, missed holidays, cancelled/rescheduled games, and many unknowns, we decided that this is the best path forward for our program at this point in time,” Valley said at the time.
Now in Storrs
Valley resigned from her position at UHart to take the UConn job.
“Words cannot express how honored and excited I am to come back home and represent the University of Connecticut,” Valley said in a release. “I am so grateful to Coach Auriemma for this amazing opportunity. This is a dream come true and I can’t wait to get started.”
Like many up-and-coming coaches, Valley hasn’t experienced much stability. Aside from UMass, all of her stops were two years or less. But considering the Huskies’ lack of coaching turnover over the last 25 years combined with her history with Storrs, UConn seems like a place where she can finally settle down.
Best of social media
Breanna Stewart just doesn’t stop winning:
3x Consensus College National Player of the Year— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) April 18, 2021
4x NCAA Tournament MVP
2018 FIBA World Cup MVP
2016 WNBA Rookie of the Year
2018 WNBA MVP
2x WNBA Finals MVP
2019 EuroLeague MVP
2021 Euroleague Final Four MVP
(We might have missed a few.) pic.twitter.com/47Cc0WA6EF
For the first time since 2007, UConn didn’t have anyone taken in the WNBA Draft:
We won’t have any Huskies drafted today but we’ll still take a sec to make this about us #WNBADraft pic.twitter.com/1QCbjUKBy5— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) April 15, 2021
Anna Makurat signed with an agent:
The family welcomes another!— SIG Sports (@SIGSports) April 20, 2021
We are thrilled to announce that Polish & @UConnWBB star Anna Makurat has joined the #SIGFam! pic.twitter.com/lOGizX1aFz