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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Last week’s Weekly:
- WNBA transactions: Bria Hartley signed with the Connecticut Sun; the Washington Mystics moved Evina Westbrook to a season-long contract
A wish list for UConn’s future non-conference schedules
UConn women’s basketball’s non-conference schedule is pretty close to perfect.
The Huskies have a good mix of high-end opponents (Texas), teams they have a long history with (Notre Dame) or both (Tennessee, South Carolina). There’s a quality middle class of interesting games like Princeton, Maryland, NC State and two of Duke/Iowa/Oregon State at PK85 while only having a couple snoozers in Northeastern and Florida State. It’s also well-balanced with five home games, three road games and three neutral games, which isn’t often the case in the non-conference portion of the schedule.
Of course, UConn can only play so many out-of-conference teams every year. So this week, we looked at opponents who be good additions for the Huskies’ schedule because of their level of play, the storylines that would surround the matchups, or a combination of the two. This list doesn’t include teams that UConn will play this year. For example, a meeting with Iowa in 2023-24 — when Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark will be seniors — would be great but the Hawkeyes aren’t mentioned below.
The two most consistently programs over the last quarter century met in the Final Four this past season but aside from that, there hasn’t been a regular season series between UConn and Stanford since 2013-14. With how well the Cardinal have recruited the past few seasons (they’re bringing in Lauren Betts, the No. 1 player in the class of 2023), they should remain one of the top teams in the country for the foreseeable future. Any matchups between these two squads would be must-watch television.
For some reason, UConn and Louisville have been unable to schedule a home-and-home series since the last one expired after the 2018-19 campaign. The two sides did face this past season at Mohegan Sun, but there’s no future dates set at the moment. Hailey Van Lith and Co. should keep the Cardinals in contention for the national title for the next couple of seasons and there’s never a dull moment with Jeff Walz and Geno Auriemma on the sidelines. This series should be a fixture on the schedule the way Notre Dame and Tennessee are.
We’re grouping these two together because both programs are led by former Auriemma deputies (Marisa Moseley at Wisconsin, Shea Ralph at Vanderbilt) and both look to be on the rise over the next couple of years. A series would benefit both sides: For UConn, it would be another game in the middle class of teams that we mentioned earlier — winnable but still challenging. For Wisconsin and Vanderbilt, the opportunity to play the Huskies would be a great measuring stick of progress for how far they still need to go.
In the same vein, former UConn forward Tamika Williams-Jeter recently became the head coach at Dayton. The two schools had a home-and-home a few years ago, so there’s a history of scheduling with each other. The Flyers are also coming off a 26-6 campaign, so they should be competitive more quickly than the likes of Wisconsin and Vanderbilt, which are beginning larger rebuilds.
Whatever your opinion of Kim Mulkey maybe, there’s no denying that she can coach. After taking over an LSU program that went 9-13 the previous season, Mulkey led the Tigers to a 26-6 overall record and the 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now, they’ll add Maryland transfer Angel Reese this season and Mikaylah Williams, the top-ranked player in the class of 2023, next year. If nothing else, it would be a competitive game.
On top of that, Mulkey may be a lot of things, but she’s certainly not boring. The last time one of her teams played at UConn, she broke out into song during the postgame press conference. The entertainment value of a series with LSU would be high — while also boosting the Huskies’ NCAA Tournament resume.
In her third third at Chapel Hill, Courtney Banghart led UNC on a run to the Sweet Sixteen this past season and gave eventual national champions South Carolina its best shot before ultimately falling 69-61. Recently, the Tarheels managed to beat UConn out for Ciera Toomey, the No. 3 recruit in the class of 2023, and have also landed two other top 10 recruits as well as five more top 30 recruits since Banghart took over. They’re going to a powerhouse sooner than later.
Best of social media
Important questions being answered:
Who would you want to survive on a deserted island with?— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) July 18, 2022
Paige Bueckers has a new workout:
Championships are on the mind for Paige Bueckers: