STORRS - Chris Dailey made her way to Knoxville, Tennessee, and was in the audience last June when former UConn All-American Kara Wolters was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
The roles could be reversed later this June.
Dailey, in her 33rd season on head coach Geno Auriemma’s staff at UConn, is one of 10 finalists for the WBHOF’s Class of 2018, it was announced Thursday night. The inductees will be announced in February with the induction scheduled for June 9. The Hall’s by-laws require a minimum of four inductees per year with a maximum of seven. Six have been inducted each year since 2003.
“It’s something that I never considered or thought was a possibility,” Dailey said. “I’m dumbfounded. I’m speechless, and that doesn’t happen very often. To even be considered is an honor. I know the people in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and what they represent and what they have accomplished. I’m thrilled to be considered.
“I was there last year for Kara’s induction. But she did something on the court. She was a dominant figure in women’s basketball. It’s hard for me to put my head around me being in that same area with people who I watched play, I coached or coached against, or I know personally. It’s just an honor. I don’t know what else to say.”
UConn has four representatives in the WBHOF. Auriemma was inducted in 2006 and has since been joined by players Rebecca Lobo (2010), Jennifer Rizzotti (2013), and Wolters (2017).
It’s the first time Dailey has been named as a finalist.
“I’m surprised it’s taken this long, really,” Auriemma said. “But I can’t think of anyone that’s more deserving than her. I always thought there would come a time that CD would become part of this mix. I was hoping it would be sooner than later and I’m sure she’ll be ecstatic to find out.”
Dailey, a native of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was an All-State player at St. Peter’s High in New Brunswick, and went on to play for coach Theresa Grentz at Rutgers. She was the Scarlet Knights’ captain as a junior and senior and helped Rutgers to the final AIAW national championship in 1982.
She started her coaching career as an assistant at Cornell and then returned to her alma mater as an assistant to Grentz for two years. The first thing Auriemma did when he got the UConn job in May 1985, was hire Dailey and they’ve been a team since.
Since their arrival, UConn has won 11 national championships, 23 conference regular season titles, 22 conference tournament crowns, and 1,005 games. Dailey coached UConn to the 1989 Big East Tournament title - the program’s first - as Auriemma served a suspension due to a scheduling error, and the 1997 Big East Tournament crown after the death of Auriemma’s father, Donato.
Also among the finalists is Mickie DeMoss, a long-time assistant to late Tennessee Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt. DeMoss’ coaching career has spanned more than 40 years and includes two stints with the Lady Vols that included six of their eight national championships.
“I don’t know if there are any assistant coaches in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame,” Auriemma said. “But I can’t think of anyone that would be better than Chris and Mickie with what they’ve done in their coaching careers and how they’ve done it and how they have helped the programs they’ve been a part of be successful.”
The other finalists are University of Tennessee all-time leading scorer and rebounder and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Chamique Holdsclaw; Four-time WNBA champion and nine-time all-star, and two-time Olympic gold medalist Tina Thompson; Three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time WNBA champion Katie Smith; Two-time University of Kentucky All-American Valerie Still; Three-time Auburn University All-American Vickie Orr; Former University of Colorado coach Ceal Berry; 1992 Olympic gold medalist Yelena Baranova of Russia; and Dr. Rose Marie Battaglia who won 702 games at the college level (Iona and Bergen Community College in New Jersey) and 274 more at the high school level.
UConn seniors Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse along with juniors Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier were named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced Thursday. Collier and Samuelson were 2017 Wooden Award All-Americans. … UConn Class of 2018 signees Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa were named to 2018 Naismith Trophy high school midseason team, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday. … Auriemma said Thursday there was still no resolution when it comes to freshman Andra Espinoza-Hunter, who has missed the last four games as she deals with personal issues. “We’re almost there,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have something by the end of the week.” Spring semester classes start Tuesday. … Top 2019 recruit Sam Brunelle has eliminated Louisville and Texas from her college list and has UConn among nine schools she is considering.