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UConn hires Tonya Cardoza, Ben Kantor as additional assistant coaches

The Huskies went with a pair of familiar faces for their new coaching positions.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Connecticut at Temple Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

UConn women’s basketball is bringing on two new assistant coaches: Tonya Cardoza and Ben Kantor.

The NCAA now allows basketball programs to hire up to five assistant coaches (instead of the previous three), though the two new positions created cannot do any off-campus recruiting. That means Cardoza and Kantor will join Geno Auriemma’s staff alongside associate head coach Chris Dailey and fellow assistants Jamelle Elliott and Morgan Valley. Kantor will start his new job immediately while Cardoza begins on Friday, July 14.

Cardoza worked as an assistant for the Huskies from 1994-2008 before taking over at Temple from 2008-2022 while Kantor has been the team’s video coordinator since 2015.

“We are so excited to be adding Tonya and Ben to our coaching staff,” Auriemma said in a release. “I’ve known both of them for a long time and trust that they’ll be great additions and mentors on the court.”

The hiring of Cardoza has been expected ever since UConn posted the job with requirements that fit her resume perfectly.

A native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, Cardoza helped the Huskies win their first five national championships before departing to become the head coach at Temple in 2008. There, she amassed a 251-188 record to en route to being the winningest coach in program history but saw her tenure finish at the end of the 2021-22 season after five consecutive campaigns without a trip to the NCAA Tournament or WNIT.

Prior to her coaching career, Cardoza played at Virginia from 1987-1991 under Debbie Ryan — who gave Auriemma his first coaching job at the Division I level — and beat the Huskies in the Final Four during her penultimate collegiate game.

“With the change in our roster makeup, it was critical that we get an experienced coach to work with our perimeter players,” Auriemma said. “Bringing Tonya here and having Morgan [Valley] gives us two amazing individuals and great teachers that our players can learn from.”

“UConn is where I gained my foundation as a coach,” Cardoza said in the release. “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to come back home to where it all started. I look toward to working alongside people who I consider my family.”

Despite his experience as video coordinator, Kantor has coached for the Huskies before. During the 2020 NCAA Tournament, then-assistant Shea Ralph departed the bubble in San Antonio out of an abundance of caution after a family member tested positive for COVID-19. With Auriemma also unavailable due to the virus, Kantor stepped in as a temporary assistant.

“Ben has been part of our staff for quite some time and has handled all our video needs,” Auriemma said. “I’m excited to see all the ways that Ben can continue to impact our student-athletes by being on the floor.”

“I’m incredibly grateful to Coach Auriemma for this opportunity,” Kantor said. “I’ve learned so much from the coaching staff in my time in Storrs, and it’s an honor to now be a member of it. I’m looking forward to spending more time on the court with our student-athletes and getting to work for the upcoming season.”

Kantor has previous experience as a full-time assistant, too. He worked on the sidelines with Houston Baptist in 2011-12 and at Colgate in 2010-11. He’s also spent time as a video coordinator at both Memphis and SMU. Kantor spent his college years at Illinois, where he was a women’s basketball practice player for three seasons before graduating with a degree in finance in 2006.