STORRS, Conn. -- Just hours after Midnight Madness marked
the opening of practice for the Connecticut men, the women's team
took a bow Saturday afternoon before thousands of fans at Gampel
And two more championship banners were unveiled.
The school made history last season winning the men's and
women's NCAA title. The returning players and five newcomers,
including Duke transfer Brittany Hunter, burst into the gym through
flashes of fire and music.
The women's "Supershow" treated fans to a video retrospective
of the women's run, culminating with the championship game over
Tennessee in New Orleans. The film allowed them one last look at
All-American Diana Taurasi, who helped lead the Huskies to three
straight NCAA titles.
"Seems just like yesterday we were here back from New Orleans
celebrating our championship," coach Geno Auriemma told the fans.
The returning players received their championship rings and fans
counted down for the unveiling of the championship banner, the
program's fifth since 1995.
Auriemma has a strong core of returners in center Jessica Moore,
guard/forward Ashley Battle, guard Ann Strother and Barbara Turner,
a strong junior post player who can also play the wing.
Moore, who is recovering from knee surgery, and Battle are
fifth-year seniors who have been to four Final Fours and have three
Strother, Turner and the rest of the junior class have finished
each year with a title. Auriemma said, in a sense, he's coaching
two teams because of the disparity in experience.
"Then you've got five new guys who don't know any of our
drills. There's no in-between," Auriemma said. "So it's going to
be kind of a delicate process for us to bring those two together.
We have to make sure the gap isn't too wide. It doesn't seem to
Auriemma told the rookies that the veterans arrived in Storrs
with a goal to win a national championship. He hoped they picked UConn
"to try to put a couple more of the banners up."
The rookies include Charde Houston, the all-time leading
California high school scorer. Her 3,837 points broke Cheryl
Miller's mark of 3,446.
"(The rookies) are all very hard-working and they all kind of
know the right thing to do," Turner said. "The older guys have
been doing a good job of leading them. They know they have to do
these things for us to be successful."
Turner has become a prolific scorer at UConn. She's reached
double figures 44 times in her career, including a 26-point
performance against Penn State in the NCAA East Regional final last
Without the charismatic Taurasi, Turner said it may be
leadership by committee this season.
"We're going to be a good team. We're not going to have a
superstar," Turner said. "We're going to lead with all 12 of our