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Mitchell Northam | NCAA.com | January 23, 2020

We picked the all-time starting 5 for UConn women's basketball

UConn's Geno Auriemma discusses the program's history with New Orleans, the home of the 2020 Women's Final Four

The women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut is one of the most successful in all of sports. The Huskies started playing games in 1974 and in 1985 they hired Geno Auriemma.

Since 1991, they’ve appeared in 20 Final Fours and captured a record 11 NCAA titles. They’ve been to the NCAA tournament in every season since 1989. Between their runs in the Big East and the American Athletic Conference, they’ve won 24 conference tournament championships.

And with all of that success, they’ve produced some stellar players, some of the best to ever play the game. They’ve had 38 players drafted into the WNBA, 14 of which were selected to the league’s all-star game, and four of which went on to win the league’s MVP award. Nine UConn players have won at least one gold medal at the Olympics.

We thought we would take a stab at picking UConn’s all-time starting five.

The process was not easy, but we dove into the team’s record books, figuring out which players won the most awards, scored the most points and captured the most championships. We only took into account what these players accomplished at UConn, but noted their WNBA and Olympic achievements.

Let’s get into the debate.

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Guard: Sue Bird (1998-2002)

  • National Championships: 2000, 2002
  • Awards: A three-time winner of the Lieberman award and twice an All-American, she also won the Naismith, Wade, AP National Player of the Year awards.
UConn Athletics Sue Bird still owns UConn records for three-point and free throw shooting. (UConn Athletics) Sue Bird still owns UConn records for three-point and free throw shooting. (UConn Athletics)

Bird was — and still is, in the WNBA — one of the best to ever play the game. At UConn, she quickly established herself as one of the top shooters and passers in college basketball. She still owns Huskies’ records for career three-point shooting percentage (45.9), career free-throw percentage (89.2) and most assists in a single-season, dishing out 231 in UConn’s 2001-02 campaign — a season in which they also went undefeated.

The 5-foot-9 New York native is also fifth all-time in assists at UConn and holds their single season records for best three-pointing shooting percentage (49.7) and free throw percentage (94.2).

Bird tore her ACL as a freshman at UConn, but that injury never derailed her from becoming one of the most decorated players in college basketball.

After UConn, she went on to win four Olympic Gold Medals and was named to 11 WNBA All-Star teams. She helped the Seattle Storm win three championships and is the league’s all-time assists leader.

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Guard: Diana Taurasi (2000-2004)

  • National Championships: 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Awards: A three-time All-American, a two-time winner of the Naismith award, a two-time Big East Player of the Year, and a two-time winner of the Lieberman award, she also won the Wade Trophy and the AP National Player of the Year Award.
Naismith Trophy Diana Taurasi led UConn to three straight NCAA championships from 2002 through 2004. (Photo: Naismith Trophy) Diana Taurasi led UConn to three straight NCAA championships from 2002 through 2004. (Photo: Naismith Trophy)

Regarded by many as the best to ever play in the WNBA, Taurasi was dominant player at UConn too. Early in her career with the Huskies, she teamed up with Bird to form arguably the best backcourt duo that women’s college basketball has ever seen. The pair led UConn to an undefeated season and title in 2002, and then Taurasi led the Huskies win two more titles in 2003 and 2004. The difference between UConn and every other team during that three-peat run was simple, according to Geno Auriemma. He told reporters: “We got Diana and you don't.”

Taurasi was a well-rounded scoring threat for the Huskies, with the ability to score inside and out, and create for others. She is ninth all-time in scoring for the program with 2,156 career points, is third all-time in three-pointers made (318), sixth all-time in free-throw percentage (81.9) and is second all-time in assists (648).

The 6-foot California native has spent her entire WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury and has won three WNBA titles. She is one of four UConn players to win the league’s MVP award, doing so in 2009, and she has also claimed four Olympic Gold Medals.

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Forward: Maya Moore (2007-2011)

  • National Championships: 2009, 2010
  • Awards: A four-time All-American, a three-time winner of the Wade Trophy and a two-time winner of the Wooden and Naismith awards, she was also a three-time Big East Player of the Year and won the AP National Player of the Year twice.
UConn Athletics Maya Moore is UConn's all-time leading scorer and led the Huskies to two undefeated seasons. (UConn Athletics) Maya Moore is UConn's all-time leading scorer and led the Huskies to two undefeated seasons. (UConn Athletics)

Moore must be mentioned in any debate concerning who the greatest women’s basketball player of all-time is, and she is certainly one of best of the best to ever put on a UConn uniform. She is 10th all-time in scoring in NCAA Division I history and owns the UConn scoring record having totaled 3,036 points over her career. She also owns UConn records for career scoring average with 19.7 points per-game, and the Huskies single-season scoring record, totaling 868 points in the 2010-11 season for a 22.8 points-per-game average.

But the Suwanee, Georgia native wasn’t all about scoring. She is second all-time in rebounds for the Huskies (1,276), fourth in career steals (310), eighth in assists (544), eighth in blocks (204), eighth in free throws made (383) and fourth in three-pointers made (311).

Moore was the driving force for the Huskies in her four years in Storrs, Connecticut. She led the team in scoring in each of the four seasons she was there, a feat no other player has accomplished for UConn. She also owns three of UConn’s 10 greatest single-game scoring performances. Moore and Tina Charles paved the way for UConn’s back-to-back undefeated campaigns in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

In the WNBA, Moore helped the Minnesota Lynx win four championships. Between 2011 and 2018, she was named to six all-star teams and won a WNBA MVP award in 2014. She owns two Olympic Gold Medals.

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Forward: Breanna Stewart (2012-2016)

  • National Championships: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Awards: She is the only UConn Player to win three Naismith awards and three AP National Player of the Year awards. She is also a two-time winner of the Wade Trophy, a three-time AP All-American, a three-time AAC Player of the Year and a two-time winner of the Wooden Award.

Stewart is the youngest member of this team, but she might be the most decorated. Not only did she help UConn win the NCAA championship in each year she played for the Huskies, but she was also named the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four in each of those seasons, an accomplishment unmatched by any other player in the history of women’s college basketball.

The 6-foot-4 native of Syracuse, New York, owns UConn records for free throws made in a career (484), blocked shots in a career (414) and the single-season record for free throws made (147). She is also second to only Moore on the UConn scoring charts, totaling 2,676 points in her career, and is fifth all-time in rebounding, grabbing 1,179 boards for the Huskies.

With “Stewie” leading the way, the Huskies went undefeated in 2013-14 and in 2015-16.

Already in her WNBA career, she has won a championship and an MVP award, both coming in 2018 with the Seattle Storm. Stewart also helped the U.S. win a Gold Medal in the 2016 Olympic Games.

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Forward: Tina Charles (2006-2010)

  • National Championships: 2009, 2010
  • Awards: Won the John R. Wooden Award, the Naismith Player of the Year Award, the AP National Player of the Year Award and the Big East Player of the Year award in 2010. She was also a three-time All-American.
UConn Athletics Tina Charles owns UConn's career rebounding record and helped the Huskies win two titles. (UConn Athletics) Tina Charles owns UConn's career rebounding record and helped the Huskies win two titles. (UConn Athletics)

Charles was a dominant force in the paint for the Huskies in her four seasons playing for Auriemma’s side. She owns UConn’s career rebounding record, grabbing 1,367 boards between 2006 and 2010. She also still owns the Huskies’ single-game rebounding record, corralling 19 boards against Louisville in 2009.

The 6-foot-4 New York native was an efficient scorer too and is still has the fourth best field goal percentage for a UConn player, knocking down 61 percent of her shots over her career. She is also UConn’s fourth all-time leading scorer, totaling 2,346 points over her career. Charles led the Huskies in rebounding in each of her four years on campus, a feat only matched by Rebecca Lobo.

Along with Maya Moore, Tiffany Hayes and Renee Montgomery, Charles helped UConn go undefeated in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Charles was the Most Outstanding Player at the 2009 Final Four.

In the WNBA, Charles claimed the 2012 league MVP award, has led the WNBA in rebounding four times and is a seven-time All-Star. She has helped Team USA win two Olympic Gold Medals too.

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Sixth Woman: Rebecca Lobo (1991-1995)

Lobo was the first UConn player to win the Naismith, Wade and AP Player of the Year awards. She led the Huskies to their first NCAA championship in 1995, a season in which the Huskies went undefeated. Lobo still holds the UConn record for career double-doubles, posting 59 in her career.

Reserves

Moriah Jefferson, Napheesa Collier, Nykeesha Sales, Kerry Bascom, Renee Montgomery, Jennifer Rizzotti, Kara Wolters, Swin Cash

IMPACT ROOKIES: These are the 5 women's basketball freshmen standing out

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