The UConn women’s basketball program’s history book is one of the most decorated documents in all of American sports. The Huskies have won 11 of the 38 Division I women’s titles, all in a 21-year span from 1995 through 2016. Six of those 11 seasons finished without a loss. Three others ended with only one.
Many great players contributed to this golden age, which isn’t over yet, but the one constant, from 1985 to now, has been head coach Geno Auriemma.
Like Jim Calhoun and the men’s program, Auriemma would be the only apt choice for coach when picking an all-time UConn team.
As for the starting five, here’s our crack at it.
Guard: Diana Taurasi (2001-04)
Taurasi’s three-peat with the Huskies from 2002-04 helped reaffirm UConn as a dynasty with staying power.
And, while the 2002 title was won alongside her backcourt mate Sue Bird, the titles in ‘03 and ‘04 were accomplished by Taurasi with a less talented roster.
How did the Huskies win in those two years? “We got Diana and you don’t,” Auriemma famously said. (He has also referred to her as “the best player maybe in college basketball history.”)
Taurasi finished her college career a three-time champ and a two-time Naismith Player of the Year.
● Swin Cash: A two-time champion who beat out Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi for Most Outstanding Player of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
Guard: Sue Bird (1998-2002)
Bird missed most of her freshman season at UConn with a torn ACL, but returned to eventually win the program’s second and third national titles. She holds the program’s record for single-season assists (231) and won the first three Nancy Lieberman Awards, given annually to the country’s best point guard.
Bird, who went No. 1 to Seattle in the 2002 WNBA Draft, is still playing for the Storm and just won her fourth WNBA title. She also holds the league’s career record for assists at 2,888.
● Jennifer Rizzotti: Started every game in her UConn career, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and helped lead the Huskies to their first title in 1995.
Small forward: Maya Moore (2007-11)
Maya Moore’s accomplishments are uniquely not limited to the basketball court, but what she did at UConn still resonates a decade later. She won two national titles — which were back-to-back 39-0 seasons — and two Naismith Player of the Year awards. She also played in every game during UConn’s 90-game winning streak, was a four-time All-American, and holds the Huskies’ all-time points record at 3,306, which is 360 points ahead of second place.
Since joining the WNBA in 2011, she’s won an MVP award and four titles in eight seasons.
● Kerry Bascom: Helped legitimize UConn in the early 1990s and took the Huskies to their first Final Four in 1991.
● Napheesa Collier: Third all-time in program history in scoring (2,401) and helped UConn to its most recent title in 2016.
Power forward/Center: Rebecca Lobo (1992-95)
Among the many indicators of Lobo’s importance to UConn is the fact that, in 2019, her No. 50 uniform was the first jersey, either men’s or women’s, to be retired by the school.
She was the best player on the Huskies’ first title team, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and helped usher in a 20-plus year run of unprecedented dominance. She’s 11th on the school’s all-time scoring list (2,133) and was the first from UConn to win Naismisth Player of the Year, but her impact on the program can’t be measured in traditional stats.
● Tina Charles: A case could be made for Charles to be in Lobo’s place on this list. She won two national titles (2009, 2010) and was named the Naismith Player of the Year in 2010, going No. 1 in the 2010 WNBA Draft.
Power forward/Center: Breanna Stewart (2012-16)
Stewart’s collegiate career holds up against any of the greats, from some of her UConn teammates to the likes of Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton.
In four years with the Huskies, she won four titles, four NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player awards, three Naismith Player of the Year awards and went 151-5 overall. Since entering the WNBA, she’s won an MVP award, two titles, and two Finals MVPs. Her amateur and pro careers have been defined by winning.
● Kara Wolters: The AP National Player of the year in 1997, Wolters played a key role in UConn’s 1995 title run.