MIlwaukee - March 25, 2002: The day before the UConn Women met Old Dominion in the Elite 8, Lady Monarch head coach Wendy Larry mentioned to the media if the Huskies had a weakness defensively, it would be Sophomore Diana Taurasi. The night after that comment, Dee and her back court mate Sue Bird took the comments personally.
What happened in the first half of the regional final was precision at it's best. A 55-33 half where the Huskies, specifically the guards were unstoppable. UConn made it's first 13 shots and 19 of it's first 21. Bird, who scored a career high 26, already had a double double by halftime with 14 points and 10 assists. Her second of the season...The Huskies ended up shooting 75% in the opening 20 minutes.
As far as Taurasi goes, she had 22...made 4 three's, added 7 assists and oh yeah, had 5 steals. Yes, the defensive liability had 5 and added a block. The Huskies played amazing offensive basketball in the first half and Bird was right in the middle of it. When it wasn't Sue or Dee putting the ball in hoop, it was Asjha Jones. She went 8 of 9 from the field for 18 points, had 7 rebounds and blocked 5 shots.
There were camera shots of Geno Auriemma not happy about some of the defense and rebounding from that game. But that particular team took well to criticism. They new what they wanted and yes indeed, ended up running the table en route to a perfect season. 39-0, the second perfect season in UConn Women's Basketball History and the programs' third national championship.
Bird, All American and National Player of the Year, was named the Regional's Most Outstanding Player. Taurasi was named to the Regional All Tournament Team along with Jones and Tamika Williams. The missing piece Swin Cash, didn't have a great regional and she'd be the first person to tell you that. But the first team all american had a great final four in San Antonio and was named The Final Four MOP.
This was a very special team. And in Geno's mind, the best team he's ever had. Four of the first six picks in the WNBA Draft with Bird going #1 to Seattle. Cash won titles in Detroit and Seattle with Bird. And now is working in the New Orleans Pelicans front office. Asjha Jones had a productive WNBA career that included a stop with the Connecticut Sun. And Tamike Williams is now Tamika Jeter, an assistant with the WNBA Champion Washington Mystics.Bird is still in Seattle, hoping to play one more season after a knee injury left her rehabbing last season. She won a third WNBA title in 2018 with Breanna Stewart at her side. And Taurasi, like Bird, battled back injuries last season, was the number one overall pick in 2004 and has been with Phoenix ever since.
When Geno became the Olympic Coach in 2012, His roster had 6 former Huskies.Bird, Taurasi, Cash and Asia Jones along with the next great player from UConn in Maya Moore. But Bird and Taurasi are the legends...the greatest backcourt in the history of women's basketball. And it started together in Storrs....