June 11, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Rebecca Lobo doesn’t think much of being the first player from seven-time national champion Connecticut to be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. To her, she’s just the first of many Huskies who will eventually follow coach Geno Auriemma into the Hall.
“I guess it just shows that I’m the oldest,” Lobo said Friday.
Auriemma became a member in 2006. Lobo, who helped lead Connecticut to its first national title and a perfect 35-0 season in 1995, is one of six 2010 inductees to the Hall of Fame. An exhibit honoring Lobo, Teresa Edwards, Teresa Weatherspoon, Chris Weller, Leta Andrews and Gloria Ray was unveiled Friday.
The hall’s 12th class will be inducted during a ceremony Saturday night.
Lobo played a major role in building the foundation for a Connecticut program that has won all seven of its national titles in the last 16 years. She was the 1995 Naismith Player of the Year and remains the Huskies’ all-time career leader in rebounds and blocks.
“Probably the most memorable and meaningful part to me was my time at UConn and the national championship at UConn,” Lobo said.
“That was the only time in my career where I was with the same core group of players for four years, the same coaching staff for four years. I went from an 18-year-old who didn’t know anything to a 21-year-old who kind of was a woman who knew what she was going to become.”
Now a women’s basketball analyst and reporter for ESPN, Lobo attributed her success to Auriemma.
“I know I wouldn’t be here I wouldn’t have a chance to be inducted if I had gone anywhere else and played for anybody else,” she said.
Lobo also won a gold medal on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team and played in the WNBA from 1997 to 2003, joining the New York Liberty for the league’s inaugural season and spending her final two years with the Houston Comets and the Connecticut Sun.
Edwards is the most decorated U.S. basketball player in Olympic history, having won four gold medals and a bronze between 1984 and 2000. She’s the only American basketball player, male or female, to compete in five Olympics and both the oldest and youngest U.S. Olympic basketball player to win a gold medal.
She also made two Final Four appearances and won three Southeastern Conference championships at Georgia.
“I think I’m very fortunate to be the type of person that can take one step at a time, so I’ve just tried to make the most of everything I’ve done,” Edwards said. “Along the way, I’ve really had a chance to have a lot of great wins and a lot of great championships.”
Weatherspoon played with Lobo on the New York Liberty, winning three WNBA titles after leading Louisiana Tech to the 1988 national championship.
Now a head coach at her alma mater, Weatherspoon also was Edwards’ teammate on the 1988 U.S. Olympic gold-medal team.
“There’s nothing but great things to say about the WNBA and the exposure that all of us have received playing this game,” Weatherspoon said. “My name being known in New York City and being accepted playing in the Garden, I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Weller was a longtime coach at Maryland, where she won eight Atlantic Coast Conference championships and appeared in three Final Fours, eight regional championships and 10 regional semifinals. She was the Naismith Coach of the Year in 1992.
Andrews is the nation’s winningest high school girls basketball coach with 1,328 career victories. In 48 seasons, she has made 16 state final-four appearances and won the Texas state title in 1990.
“Of all of my years of coaching, when I got the call that I had been chosen to be inducted with the 2010 group, I was just elated,” Andrews said. “This has to be the utopia of women’s basketball.”
Ray was Tennessee’s first women’s athletic director, establishing the Lady Volunteers as a nationally recognized program. She’s also responsible for the design, development, construction and management of the Hall of Fame, which opened in 1999.
“I feel like I’m representing the scorekeepers, the ticket-takers, the managers and the volunteers coaches in AAU,” Ray said. “They’re never going to be in this hall, and the majority of the players aren’t. But without that core group of people, there wouldn’t be superstars and there wouldn’t be all kinds of winning coaches, or there wouldn’t be this building.”