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UConn women won't play Louisville next season

It was Louisville coach Jeff Walz who first spoke last November of the possibility his Cardinals would play the UConn women’s basketball team in a neutral-site contest during the 2020-21 season.

And it was Walz on Wednesday who said that the game, which was expected to be part of an event scheduled for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, will not happen in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In between, UConn and Louisville never signed a contract to play though there were talks between the schools over the past few months.

So any matchup between the former Big East and American Athletic Conference (for one season) foes will have to wait.

“Because of what’s going on right now it was probably going to be difficult to be able to get much of a crowd in there right now,” Walz said on a conference call that was replayed on the Louisville athletic website. “So instead of just doing a wait-and-see, I think we’ve agreed to push it back a year. So we’ll hopefully get it worked out for next year and be able to get that up and going again.”

UConn leads the series with Louisville 18-2 including victories in the 2009 and 2013 national championship games, the 2008 and 2009 Big East Tournament finals, and the 2014 AAC Tournament final.

The teams have met three times since the Cardinals left for the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2014-15 season. UConn took a 69-58 win on Feb. 12, 2018 at Gampel Pavilion with Louisville returning the favor 78-69 on Jan. 31, 2019 at the KFC Yum! Center. Two months later, the Huskies avenged that loss with an 80-73 triumph in the NCAA Tournament Albany Regional final that sent them to their 12th consecutive Final Four.

With its return to the Big East on July 1 and a 20-game league schedule compared to the AAC’s 16-game conference slate, UConn is two games over the NCAA limit for games in 2020-21.

The Huskies have contracts to host Arkansas-Little Rock, Dayton, Maryland, South Carolina, and Texas, while visiting Baylor, California, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia. UConn will also face Quinnipiac and either Mississippi State or Maine in the Hall of Fame Challenge at Mohegan Sun Arena in November. That event, though, is considered a Qualifying Regular Season Multi-Team Event, meaning that it does not count against the regular season schedule limit.

Moore nominated

Former UConn All-American and WNBA standout Maya Moore is a finalist for the 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, ESPN announced on Wednesday.

Other Sports Humanitarian Awards to be given out on June 21 include the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award, the League Humanitarian Leadership Award, and the Sports Humanitarian Team Award.

According to an ESPN press release, the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award is given to an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports. The candidate must embrace the core principles that Muhammad Ali embodied so well, including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and respect. The winner will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts. The finalists will be able to direct a $25,000 grant to the charity related to their award-winning efforts.

Moore stepped away from the WNBA after the 2018 season to pursue finding justice for Jonathan Irons, who as a minor in 1993 had been sentenced to 50 years in prison for burglary and assault. Moore’s goal was to gain freedom for Irons, who has served 23 years of his sentence. In March, a Missouri judge overturned Irons’ conviction. Last month, the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals upheld the decision.

Other finalists for the award are Nelson Cruz of the Minnesota Twins, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Devin and Jason McCourty of the New England Patriots, and the WWE's Titus O’Neil.

Number check

The names will be different but the numbers will look familiar. Four of the five incoming freshmen for the Huskies will wear uniform numbers of departed players from 2020. Aaliyah Edwards will take Megan Walker's No. 3. Paige Bueckers will take Crystal Dangerfield's No. 5. Nika Muhl will take Molly Bent's No. 10. Piath Gabriel will take Batouly Camara's No. 32. The final freshman, Mir McLean, will have No. 11, last worn by 2018 graduate Kia Nurse ... Walker and two-time All-American and national champion Gabby Williams have signed to play with Sopron Basket of the EuroLeague, the team based in Hungary announced on Twitter.

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