On the day the UConn women‚Äôs basketball team became part of the Big East again, it announced one of the people who had a key role in its quarter-century of dominance will be on its sideline.
After serving as an interim assistant coach since February, Jamelle Elliott‚Äôs role on the staff became permanent Wednesday. She replaces Jasmine Lister, who resigned in May four months after taking a leave of absence for personal reasons.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs unfortunate that we had to go through that process,‚ÄĚ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters. ‚ÄúJas was able to do a lot while she was here. When we had to find a replacement for her, we were very fortunate that we had someone right in our own building.
‚ÄúImagine if you put it out on the street: ‚ÄėUConn women‚Äôs basketball is looking for a full-time assistant. All of a sudden you get an application: ‚ÄėI was an assistant coach for 12 years. I won (five) national championships. I won a national championship as a player. I was a head coach for nine years and I was an administrator.‚Äô I think my administration would go, ‚ÄėDamn, we want you to take over for our coach.‚Äô ‚ÄĚ
Elliott, a native of Washington, D.C., was at UConn for four years as a player (1992-96) and 12 years (1997-2009) as an assistant coach before a nine-year run as the head coach at Cincinnati (2009-18). When her contract was not renewed two years ago she returned to UConn as the associate athletic director for the National C Club.
She was part of the Huskies‚Äô first national championship team in 1995 and became the second player in school history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds a year later. She never missed a game as UConn compiled a 117-18 record. As an assistant coach, the Huskies won five NCAA titles (2000, 2002-04, 2009).
‚ÄúTo be able to get somebody like that to join your staff who I know and I love personally and means so much to me and my family personally ‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ Auriemma said. ‚ÄúShe is a great teacher. She is a great communicator. She is a great recruiter. A lot of great things have happened to our program, but this is right up there.‚ÄĚ
While UConn‚Äôs return to the Big East became official Wednesday, the day was like any other over the last year for Auriemma.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve kind of felt like we‚Äôve been in the conference from the time we had the press conference in New York City,‚ÄĚ he said.
UConn will play each of its 10 league opponents twice in the regular season.
The Huskies have not played Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, and Villanova since the Catholic 7 took over the Big East name in 2013. They have faced DePaul the last six seasons, Seton Hall the last two seasons, and St. John‚Äôs twice in that span. Their only meeting with Creighton came in 2014 and was the first victory in the NCAA-record 111-game winning streak. Their only game against Xavier was a come-from-behind win in the 1999 NCAA Tournament second round. They have never met Butler.
After his teams went 139-0 in seven seasons of American Athletic Conference action, Auriemma was asked what he was looking forward to most.
‚ÄúI‚Äôd say nights like the Seton Hall game we had at Seton Hall last year,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúNights like we had at DePaul where the game went down to the last minute or two. The game we had against St. John‚Äôs even though it was on a neutral court. I‚Äôm just looking forward to being in those situations more and more.
‚ÄúI have such great memories of all those arenas. I‚Äôve never been to Butler or Creighton so I‚Äôm anxious to see them. But walking into Georgetown, walking into McDonough Arena is just going to bring back great memories. Driving to Providence ‚Ä¶ For me it is just those little things, and the people. Some of the people are different, but there are a lot of people at those universities that are still there that were there when we left. So I‚Äôm looking forward to reconnecting with them.‚ÄĚ
UConn Class of 2021 commit Saylor Poffenbarger is working her way back after surgery on her left hip two months ago, the Frederick (Maryland) News-Post reported. The 6-foot-2 guard from Middletown, Maryland, was invited to take part in USA Basketball‚Äôs U-17 national team trials later this month but the world championships event scheduled for August was canceled by FIBA last month. ‚Ä¶ Former two-time UConn All-American Napheesa Collier was named a tri-captain for the WNBA‚Äôs Minnesota Lynx by coach Cheryl Reeve Wednesday along with veterans Sylvia Fowles and Karima Christmas-Kelly. Collier was the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year.