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 WBB Weekly:
- Recruiting: UConn interest in Ciera Toomey appears to be heating up
- Recruiting: UConn offers 2023 post Ciera Toomey
- Film Room: How Paige Bueckers took over against South Carolina
- The stats that defined UConn women’s basketball’s 2020-21 season
From The UConn Blog:
- The hub for all our UConn in the Olympics coverage — Day by day updates of all the Huskies in the Olympics, including the current and former UConn women’s basketball players.
- UConn women’s basketball to open Battle 4 Atlantis against Minnesota
Last week’s Weekly:
- Meet the Diana Taurasi you didn’t know existed (ESPN)
- UConn to play exhibition game against Division II Fort Hays State (Carl Adamec, Manchester JI)
Stef Dolson becomes the latest Husky to win gold
At this time last year, Stef Dolson never could’ve imagined being an Olympic gold medalist. As COVID-19 had the United States (and the world) in its grips and sports leagues were only just beginning to resume in bubble formats, the Olympics seemed to be the last thing on anyone’s mind. Most people were just trying to get through day-by-day.
“If you would have asked or said to me that I was going to be here winning a gold about a year ago, I would not have believed it,” Dolson told reporters on Wednesday. “With COVID and quarantine and then the bubble, I mean there’s just been so many ups and downs in the last year. I didn’t know I could make it here and I didn’t know if we would even get this opportunity.”
Ultimately, Dolson got the opportunity. Not only did she play a major role in Team USA’s 3x3 qualifying efforts, she also made the Olympic roster. Once Team USA got to Tokyo, they cruised through the group stage with only one hiccup and advanced directly to the semifinals. On Wednesday, USA 3x3 beat France in the semifinals and then took down Russia in the finals to claim gold.
Although she won two national titles while at UConn, a WBCA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2014 and has been named a WNBA All-Star twice, Dolson believes this is the pinnacle of her career.
“I’d say [the gold medal is] pretty high, if not the top,” Dolson said. “Winning a national championship was amazing. All the other more individual accomplishments — great. But to win this one for you know my country, for the US is something that I’ve dreamed of and wanted for a long time. So to finally accomplish it is really special. So yeah, I’d say it ranks at the top.”
Since the Tokyo Games are the inaugural Olympics with 3x3 basketball, Team USA are the first to win gold — and with that, Dolson is the first UConn player to win in something other than 5x5 basketball.
While USA women’s basketball has dominated the Olympics with six-straight gold medals and zero losses in the games since 1992, there was naturally some uncertainty about whether or not that would carry over into the 3x3 game.
But Dolson and her teammates went 8-1 in the competition — the sole loss came in the final group stage game after they’d already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals — making the US the clear favorite going forward.
“You know, basketball runs pretty deep in in the US,” Dolson said. “So for us to come here and kind of prove ourselves and show everyone that we’re just at the same level (as USA’s 5x5 team), it’s really special for us and hopefully — we don’t know what’s down the road — but we hope that we’ve started some type of dynasty with 3x3 and this is just the beginning,” she said.
As Dolson sat on the virtual podium answering questions through Zoom, someone off-camera put a cup of champagne next to her. As she wrapped up an answer about the legacy of this first 3x3 gold medal for Team USA, she picked up the glass to celebrate in classic “Big Mama Stef” fashion.
“And cheers to that,” she beamed while taking a swig.
Best of social media
Olympic gold medalist Stef Dolson:
Katie Lou Samuelson tells her story of missing out on the Olympics:
Azzi Fudd doing what she does best with the U17 national team:
Paige Bueckers and Saylor Poffenbarger went to see future teammates Ayanna Patterson play:
Great first day for @Homestead_Bball at the @uabestofmd. 2-0 with a tough win in OT over @cdladyrams. 2 big games today in pool play! @paigebueckers1 stopped by to watch the girls and her future teammate @ayannap34. Let’s go! @mollystockk pic.twitter.com/8uHCC4fOMG— Todd Stock (@todd_stock) July 25, 2021