Not all that long ago, Svetlana Abrosimova didn't get a whole lot of love in the Greatest WBB Players' Bracket when she fell to Kia Nurse. Now I love Kia Nurse, but seriously folks, if you never watched Svet play or did some homework on her magnificent career at UConn, you missed out. Svetlana could flat out ball !!!
Coming from St. Petersburg, Russia, Svet was the MVP of the 1996 European Championships, averaging 18ppg and 6 boards per game...on a team that won back to back titles in 1995 and 1996. And she wasn't just a basketball player, she was a swimmer in school as well. Her next stop was Storrs and she didn't disappoint one bit....
Making an immediate impact on the 1997-98' Huskies where she started 24 of the 37 games played. Averaging 14.5ppg, 6.4 boards and 3 assists per game on a team that won the Big East Title. She promptly smashed the Freshman Scoring and Rebounding records set by Rebecca Lobo. In addition to recording 90 steals, 2nd best by a freshman. Her highlight was a 27pt outing against #2 Old Dominion at the Civic Center...But as a compliment to Nykesha Sales, Svet and her teammates were forced to pick up the slack when Sales ruptured her achilles on Senior Day. It worked in the Big East Tournament, where she scored 17, 16 & 13 points in helping win the Big East Tournament where she made the All Tournament Team. In the NCAA's, where UConn made it to the Elite 8, overcoming the injuries to Sales and Shea Ralph (ACL 1997) was too much in falling to N.C. State in Dayton. Svet was a second team Big East and All Rookie Team Selection
The 1998-99' season saw Abrosimova become the fastest Husky to get to 1,000pts in starting all 34 games. And her numbers went up, Averaging 16.6ppg with a healthy Shea Ralph back and a stellar freshman class that played without point guard Sue Bird for most of the season with a knee injury..That included a career high 39 in an early season win at UCLA...The Queen Thief led the Big East with nearly 3 steals per game as the Huskies again won the Big East and Big East Tournament. But again the Huskies fell short of a National Championship, losing in the Sweet 16 to Iowa State as the Huskies went stone cold from three (3-26) Svet just 1-8. Her 564 pts at the time was third best as a UConn Sophomore where she was named Big East Player of the Year, at the time a first for a Sophomore. And was named a WBCA, Kodak and AP First Team All American....
The 1999-2000 campaign ? A tremendous year for Svet and the Huskies as they roared to a 37-1 record, dominated teh Big East and won their second National Championship...And while her scoring numbers went down as a product of Ralph and the sophomore class starting to jell, it didn't diminish what she did. Eight double-doubles, averaging 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game...Once again a first team All Big East and Tournament selection as they dominated again. Then in the NCAA's Svet and Shea took off in dominating their opponents. Svet averaging 20ppg in the Regionals to earn MOP Honors. And averaged 14ppg at the Final Four in Philadelphia, where they beat Penn State and got revenge on Tennessee in the Title Game in what became a "backdoor clinic" for the Huskies with back cuts galore...Svet a unanimous All American choice, along with Ralph...And that summer, she represented Russia on the court at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Australia.
The Senior Season and the expectations were sky high with most everyone back from the Champs and the addition of Freshman Diana Taurasi. At 17-1 with their only loss to Conference Rival Notre Dame, the Huskies went to Knoxville for the second game of the season with Tennessee. Where in the second half, Svet suffered a foot injury...later it was discovered she tore a ligament, needed surgery and was lost for the season. At the time her 1,865 points were fifth in program history (now 15th) and was third in steals with 299 (now 6th) . And despite the season being cut short, Svet was named a WBCA Al American for a third straight year, a UConn first.
Abrosimova was the 7th overall pick of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, where despite missing the first six games, she led the Lynx in rebounding and was second in scoring in the 2001 campaign. A steady contributor in Minnesota thru the 2007 season, she played one year with the Connecticut Sun before heading west to play with old friend Sue Bird in Seattle. Averaging 8ppg off the bench in helping the Storm win a WNBA Championship. And in 2008, again represented her country in the Olympics, where Russia came home with a Bronze Medal.
Of course Svet had a fine European Career that began before she arrived in Storrs. Playing many years against Bird and Taurasi in Russia. On the Russian National Team, the teams she played on won a pair of European Titles and won a pair of Silvers at the World Championships. Renectly, she was GM for the Russian National Team. Yes, she has an instagram account as she just did a chat with Sue Bird and soon, will join her former Coach Geno Auriemma on one of his futute episodes.
If you didn't see Svet play, check out uconnhuskygames.com and check out the games from 1997-2001. There's a reason she was a three time All American and fan favorite..Svetlana Abrosimova, definitely a UConn Legend