No, it’s not the Huskies in a loose adaptation of the Jimmy Stewart classic. It is simply yet another UConn sojourn to the nation’s capital to celebrate its eighth National Championship in 18 years and the third time doing so with President Barack Obama in the White House. The trip on Wednesday will be UConn’s first since back to back visits following 2009 and 2010 championship seasons.
That UConn will have all its key components on hand to celebrate is a minor logistical miracle in its own right. Freshman trio Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson will be coming back from Lithuania early this week, where they are currently playing for USA U19 Team in Klaipeda. Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis were in Kazan, Russia last week where the two helped Team USA capture its’ third consecutive gold medal in the World University Games. Even Connecticut Sun rookie Kelly Faris will be excused from practice Wednesday to join her old teammates in Washington.
A Busy Off-season
For UConn, the trip is just the latest in the whirlwind of events since UConn topped Louisville in the title game in New Orleans. In mid April, the University broke ground on a new basketball only training facility on the grounds of Memorial Stadium behind Gampel Pavilion. A week later UConn coach Geno Auriemma was inducted into the Connecticut Hall of Fame and in May, as part of the school’s rebranding, the University of Connecticut officially became UConn.
The name change, however, was not without some controversy, as along with the new identity came a new logo. Panned by many for resembling a wolf more so than a Husky, women’s groups protested over the menacing look of the University’s new signature icon.
A Change of Address
Coinciding with the rebranding, UConn officially said good bye to the Big East in July, calling the newly formed American Athletic Conference home. UConn, one of the Big East’s charter members with the conference’s inception in 1979, will now be a charter member in the new AAC with conference play starting this fall. The ten team AAC will initially be comprised of Big East holdovers Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati and the University of South Florida and will be joined by Houston, Memphis, the University of Central Florida, Southern Methodist University and Temple. Further changes in 2014 will include the departure of Louisville and Rutgers and the addition of Tulsa and Tulane.
The University placed another off-season feather in its cap when the AAC announced that the 10,000 seat Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT will be home to the conferences first post season tournament March 7-10. The tournament selection site is a testament to UConn’s fans, among the most ardent and loyal in all of women’s college basketball.
Even with the departure of veterans Kelly Faris and Caroline Doty, the nucleus of this year’s National Championship team returns and will add Parade Magazine National Player of the Year, New York guard Saniya Chong to the roster for the 2013-2014 season. Without nemesis Notre Dame in the conference mix, it would come as no surprise if UConn capped the AAC’s inaugural season by capturing both the regular season and Conference Tournament Championship. And with the graduation of some of the nation’s premier players, and the return of a very talented group of players, it would come as no surprise if Geno and his squad once again find themselves standing in the Rose Garden this time next year.