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 Premium:
From The UConn Blog:
- Chasing Perfection: End of season grades; WNBA Draft preview
- Piath Gabriel enters transfer portal
- UConn women’s basketball: WNBA Draft preview
- Williams, Nelson-Ododa, Westbrook selected in second round of WNBA Draft
Last week’s Weekly:
Geno not concerned about outgoing transfers
Last Thursday, Piath Gabriel entered the transfer portal, becoming the fourth UConn women’s basketball player to do so since the end of the 2020-21 season along with Autumn Chassion, Saylor Poffenbarger and Mir McLean. So is there any reason to be concerned about the Huskies? Not according to Geno Auriemma.
“I don’t care if they leave. Players leave all the time. Coaches leave all the time. That’s life,” he said at the Final Four.
The caliber of players who depart is an important factor and UConn didn’t lose any major contributors. Chassion was a walk-on and Poffenbarger didn’t show much as an early enrollee, spent most of the offseason injured and got buried in a deep backcourt. McLean showed flashes of potential but struggled to put it all together while Gabriel came to Storrs as a project big and still had a long way to go in her development.
In fact, the Huskies have seen plenty of players leave the program throughout the years. UConn is one of the toughest places to play anywhere because it requires a high level of ability and mental toughness to deal with both the program’s expectations and Auriemma’s tough-love coaching style.
Despite that, the Huskies have never seen a star transfer out.
“I’ve never had a really good player leave my program in 37 years that left and made it big at a top 10 or top 20 school. That just isn’t going to happen. If you can’t play for me, if you can’t play for us at UConn, you can’t play anywhere at this level,” Auriemma said. “I let these guys be who they are. I just have certain demands on the court, and they have to meet them or they don’t play. They know. I’m fair. If nothing, I’m fair.”
The only example of a player rising to prominence after leaving the Huskies is Elena Delle Donne, though that comes with more than a few caveats. The No. 1 player in the class of 2008, Delle Donne left campus after 48 hours and transferred to Delaware, where she didn’t even play basketball as a freshman. Instead, she joined the volleyball team and only returned to basketball as a sophomore.
Meanwhile, some of UConn’s more recent departures — Andra Espinoza-Hunter (Mississippi State), Lexi Gordon (Texas Tech) and Mikayla Coombs (Georgia) — were never more than role players for their respective teams.
Auriemma might not be easy to play for but the results are hard to argue with — 11 national championship banners, 45 WBCA All-Americans and eight national players of the year are just a few of the accolades. He also cited a recent conversation with Christyn Williams — one of the team’s top players over the last few seasons — in defense of his coaching style.
“I asked Christyn one time, ‘Christyn, is it hard to play here?’ She said, ‘Damn right.’ I said, ‘Why?’ She said ‘because you’re demanding.’ I said ‘do you want me to change?’ She said no,” Auriemma relayed.
Since the transfer portal came to be in 2018 — along with the NCAA’s recent rule change that allows student-athlete to change schools once without sitting for a year — player movement has increased with over 1,000 players in the portal right now. But even though UConn has seen a relatively high number of players transfer out since last season, it doesn’t appear to be more than typical roster turnover.
Best of social media
Batouly Camara will be coming back to campus for a big honor:
Evina Westbrook’s reaction to getting picked:
How Azzi Fudd and Paige Bueckers reacted to UConn’s three seniors getting picked:
Azzi Fudd took over Steph Curry’s Instagram for the draft last night.— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) April 12, 2022
Here’s how she and Paige Bueckers reacted to Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Evina Westbrook getting picked pic.twitter.com/8sSn6VNyHT
Christyn Williams and Evina Westbrook both said goodbye to UConn on Instagram:
Christyn Williams posts a goodbye/thank you to UConn pic.twitter.com/I3r4wpAmia— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) April 9, 2022
Evina Westbrooks says her farewell to UConn pic.twitter.com/R6CJQp3lDA— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) April 10, 2022
UConn honors its graduating seniors:
Olivia, thank you for being a Husky. You showed up and put in the work every day. You’re one of only five Huskies ever with 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 blocks in her career. We’re so thankful for your presence on and off the court.— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) April 9, 2022
Love you, Liv pic.twitter.com/iClOpf2XW0
Christyn, thank you for being a Husky. You’ve grown so much in four years. Our National Shooting Guard of the Year ranks 15th in scoring in UConn history. Thanks for always being you. We can’t wait to see what you do next!— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) April 8, 2022
Love you, C (and sometimes Squeaks) pic.twitter.com/Lfx8weERGR