Throughout the illustrious history of the UConn women’s basketball team, head coach Geno Auriemma has taken his Huskies from an afterthought to the best program in the sport. Now in his 38th season, the Philly native has racked up 11 championships, nine AP Coach of the Year honors and an induction into the National Basketball Hall of Fame. After so much success across so many decades, it’s difficult to narrow down his 10 best players to take the court, but Associate Sports Editor Stratton Stave and Senior Columnist Evan Rodriguez look to do just that.
Some notes: The rankings were done based on a combination of team and individual success; championships, player of the year awards and placement in UConn’s various all-time lists were considered and are generally weighted equally. Current players were not considered, largely because they have no championships and Paige Bueckers, the best candidate, has played just 46 collegiate games. Without further ado, let’s jump into the rankings…
- Breanna Stewart
Stratton: It’s tough to make any sort of argument against Breanna Stewart as the best player in UConn History. Going further, she has a great case as the best player in NCAA basketball history, men’s or women’s. She might have had a “slow” start to her freshman season, missing out on Player of the Year honors, but she figured things out in time to win Most Outstanding Player of that year’s final four during their championship run. The next three years, she collected every accolade possible, raking in three rings, three POYs and three MOPs. To be the best player on four championship teams is incredible, to go along with her place as the Huskies second all-time leading scorer and first in shots blocked. Clear No. 1.
- Maya Moore
Evan: Moore recently announced her official retirement from the WNBA, a career that included four WNBA championships, a 2014 MVP award and six all-star appearances. However, the talent that made her a WNBA legend and No. 1 overall pick in 2011 could be seen right in Storrs, where she took home two NCAA championships, two national player of the year awards and an MOP. Her name is all over the UConn record books as not only one of the most decorated guards in UConn women’s history, but also one of the best women’s college basketball players of all time. If it weren’t for Stewart’s incredible career, Moore would certainly be right at the top.
- Diana Taurasi
Stratton: Taurasi earned her spot as a top three Husky of all time, putting together an incredible three championships in her final three years in Storrs. She was a role player on the 2001 Final Four team and played second-fiddle to Sue Bird in her sophomore year during her first title run. The last two years, Taurasi made the team her own, winning POY and MOP honors twice each, and bringing home rings too. On top of these accomplishments, Taurasi ranks No. 9 all time in points and No. 2 in assists, making it hard to argue against her place in the rankings.
- Tina Charles
Evan: At the height of 6’5’’, Charles could do everything the Huskies needed her to do and much more. She’s No. 4 in all-time scoring, No. 5 in all-time blocks and the all-time leading rebounder in UConn women’s basketball history. When you add on two POY awards and a FFMOP award, it helps give some perspective on how phenomenal her career was at Connecticut. When you pair that with our No. 2 selection, Moore, that squad was absolutely dangerous, and that’s exactly how it was in 2009-10, as the pair helped lead UConn to a second consecutive national championship. On top of that, Charles predicted the 2010 NCAA championship victory in 2009, a year that included her breaking Rebecca Lobo’s all-time rebounding record. Rightfully so, the amazing play of Charles earned her a high spot on this ranking and in the hearts of UConn fans.
- Rebecca Lobo
Stratton: Lobo was the first truly great UConn Husky, as the first to get inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame, and thus to get her No. 50 retired. She was the best player on Connecticut’s first championship team, taking home POY and MOP honors. She also averaged a 17-point double-double on her career, helping her to third all-time on the rebound list to go along with second in blocks. Although she may not have the championships or multiple accolades of some of the other players on the list, her role in making Storrs a basketball powerhouse cannot be understated.
- Swin Cash
Evan: Cash recently became just the third UConn basketball player, men or women, to have their number retired and her career is rightfully deserving of it. With a last name like Cash, you’ve gotta be great. From 1998-2002, she collected two national championships, including the undefeated 2002 season. While she may not have the long list of individual accolades or a spot on all-time lists like many players on this list, Cash’s career cannot be understated with what she brought to teams that included her, Bird and Taurasi. Legendary performances like her 2002 national championship statline that included 20 points and 13 rebounds have helped define a terrific career.
- Sue Bird
Stratton: Bird was the understudy to Shea Ralph in the 2000 championship year as a sophomore, but quickly found herself taking the reins her final two years as a Husky. Bird helped the Huskies to a 32-3 record her junior season, losing in the final four–something she didn’t do again in her career. The point guard topped that season with a perfect 39-0 national championship campaign her senior year, scoring 14 and averaging six dimes en route to POY honors. Her high assist tallies leave her at No. 6 all time in UConn history, which is even more impressive when you realize she played just eight games her freshman year.
- Jen Rizzotti
Evan: Just like our No. 5 selection, Lobo, Rizzotti played a big part in taking UConn women’s basketball to the next level in terms of national recognition as a homegrown star from New Fairfield. As the starting guard in the team’s first NCAA championship in 1995, a season that saw the team go undefeated, her crucial plays in the title game helped cap off a terrific run for the Huskies. After the team saw players like Lobo depart the program, Rizzotti continued to get even better and notched a POY award in her final collegiate season. Her senior campaign totals for assists and steals still sit as the third highest and second highest respective totals in UConn women’s victory. She remains third on the UConn women’s all-time time list for steals and assists, representing an elite career as one of the greatest point guards in UConn women’s history.
- Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
Stratton: Many see Mosqueda-Lewis simply as a supporting member of Stewart’s first three national championships, but she was much more. Many will forget that she was the leading scorer on the 2013 championship team with 18 points per game on 50% shooting from deep. The biggest highlight of her junior season was the program’s third ever triple double. In Mosqueda-Lewis’ senior year, she was the second scorer behind Stewart as she helped take the team to another title. She finished her career as the Huskies’ sixth leading scorer and still holds the title for most threes–the most prolific shooter in UConn history.
- Moriah Jefferson
Evan: The UConn all-time leader in assists just cracks our list with an excellent career as one of the best guards in UConn women’s history. While she showed glimpses of her true potential in her freshman year, Jefferson truly kicked it into gear when she became the starting guard and showed off an elite combination of speed and defense that continued to push the Huskies to dominance. She continued to be the leading distributor for the team in her junior and senior season, remaining an integral part for two more NCAA championships to total four for her collegiate career. As her career progressed, she’d take home two Nancy Lieberman awards, and spots on the All-American second team in 2015 and first team in 2016. Without Jefferson, UConn Women’s hoops just wouldn’t be the same.
Honorable Mentions in no particular order: Stefanie Dolson, Kara Wolters, Nykesha Sales, Shea Ralph, Svetlana Abrosimova, Renee Montgomery, Napheesa Collier, Katie-Lou Samuelson, Kerry Bascom, Bria Hartley, Ann Strother, Jamelle Elliott, Gabby Williams, Peggy Walsh, Crystal Dangerfield, Pam Webber, Morgan Tuck