Stewart adds to growing trophy list

UConn's Breanna Stewart leaps over Notre Dame's Kayla McBride on the way to the basket during Tuesday's 79-58 victory over the Irish in the NCAA women's championship game in Nashville, Tenn.
UConn's Breanna Stewart leaps over Notre Dame's Kayla McBride on the way to the basket during Tuesday's 79-58 victory over the Irish in the NCAA women's championship game in Nashville, Tenn. Mark Humphrey/AP Photo

Nashville, Tenn. — While the UConn men were going about their business and winning the program's fourth national championship Monday night in Texas, the Huskies' top women's player was adding to her hardware collection.

Sophomore Breanna Stewart accepted her second national award when she was named winner of the presitigious Naismith Trophy as the national player of the year. The 6-foot-4 Stewart was named Associated Press National Player of the Year on Saturday.

Stewart, who led the Huskies against Notre Dame in a battle of unbeatens for the NCAA championship Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena, was chosen over three seniors - Notre Dame's Kayla McBride, Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike and Baylor's Odyssey Sims.

Stewart is the sixth UConn player to win the award and became just the seventh player to win the Naismith Trophy has both a high school and collegiate player.

"Having watched Breanna win the Naismith Trophy in high school, it's no surprise that she's dominating at the college level," said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. "And equally as impressive is the way she's contributing to her team's success - which reinforces her status as the ultimate team player. We are excited to present her with another Naismith Trophy."

Heading into Tuesday's title game, Stewart was averaging 19.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists for the Huskies (39-0). She was also honored as the first American Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Previous UConn winners were Rebecca Lobo (1995), Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (2003, 2004), Maya Moore (2009, 2011) and Tina Charles (2010).

He'll keep this job

There are many at all levels of sports that have coached both males and females. Some prefer coaching one gender for a variety of reasons and have stayed with it.

Auriemma has been UConn's head coach for 29 seasons. It's been his one-and-only head coaching gig. He was asked Monday why he stuck with women's basketball and hadn't dabbled on the men's side.

"Well, probably two reasons," Aureimma grinned. "One, for the longest time no one even in women's basketball wanted me. So I got the Connecticut job (in 1985) and I thought four years from now I want to go to a really good school and win a national championship. And nobody wanted me, so I'm stuck.

"Then when we got to be really good, there weren't any men's programs knocking on my door saying, 'I have a great idea - let's hire the women's coach from Connecticut.' That wasn't going to happen."

Auriemma did coach males nine years ago - the Connecticut Nike Elite AAU team featuring son, Michael.

"We had five Division I players on that team, and I said, 'now I know why I'm not coaching men,'" Auriemma said. "A lot of things have happened to make me think I've got a pretty good job where I am."

Asked to elaborate on what he learned about coaching males, Auriemma said, "They're uncoachable. Don't get me wrong. It was fun. You don't have to throw nine passes to get a shot. You just screw up a play, throw it up at the rim, guy catches and dunks and you go like this. I love that about coaching guys."

They said it

• Stefanie Dolson on memories of her time with Auriemma: "I would say his straight forwardness and not taking anything and his sarcasm. I was a freshman and I think it was one of our first practices and I got a rebound and he stopped the practice. He took out a piece of paper and put it on the floor and said, 'you just jumped over that to get the rebound.' It was one of those things where at the time it was like, wow. It was blunt and I was a little thrown off, but at the same time he kind of throws in that humor and I laughed it off. From that it makes you grow, and even though I might not be the best rebounder, I'm going to work hard."

News and notes

Whether one likes ESPN or not, it was the NCAA tournament's V-8 engine. It dedicated much airtime to the national championship on Monday and Tuesday. Yes, that was obviously in its best rating's interest to do so, yet it's that kind of promotion that builds interest. ESPN also tried Tuesday to get "#GenoVsMuffet" trending on Twitter. ... Via Hartford Courant scribe/raconteur John Altavilla — Bria Hartley only fouled out three times in her career. All three instances were against Notre Dame. Dolson's only foul out was against the Fighting Irish, too. ... It is just the eighth time in NCAA history in which the Division I national champion finished unbeaten. UConn has done it four times (1994-95, 2001-02, 2008-09, 2009-10). Bentley (Division II) and Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham (Division III) were both perfect this season, too.

n.griffen@theday.com

Hide Comments

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments