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Mitch Northam, Autumn Johnson | September 9, 2020

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

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

UConn women's basketball has had one of the most successful dynasties in NCAA history.

Since 1991, the Huskies have appeared in 20 Final Fours and captured a record 11 national titles. Of those national championship seasons, six have ended with undefeated records — including back-to-back titles in 2009-10, a three-peat in 2002-04 and four straight titles from 2012-16. The Huskies has 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. 

Along the programs' successful journey, some of the most notable names in basketball have put on a Huskies jersey. UConn has 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.

NCAA.com analyzed each position to create an all-time starting five for UConn's women's basketball.

It wasn't easy picking only five players. We based these decisions off the team’s record books, figuring out which players won the most awards, scored the most points and of course, who cut down the most nets. We only took into account what these players accomplished at UConn, but noted their WNBA and Olympic achievements as well.

Let’s get into the starting five. 

UCONN WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Players, stats, records and historic moments from the Huskies' dynasty

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.
Sue-Bird-UConn SUE BIRD STILL OWNS UCONN RECORDS FOR THREE-POINT AND FREE THROW SHOOTING.

Leading the charge is Sue Bird. Bird was — and still is, in the WNBA — one of the best guards to ever play the game. At UConn, she quickly established herself as one of the top shooters, passers and decision makers in college basketball. Bird still owns UConn's records for career 3-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 finished undefeated.

The 5-9 New York native is fifth all-time in assists at UConn and holds the single-season records for best 3-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. During her collegiate career, she only lost four games. 

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

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.
Diana-Taurasi-UConn DIANA TAURASI LED UCONN TO THREE STRAIGHT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS FROM 2002 THROUGH 2004.

Regarded by many as the best to ever play in the WNBA, Taurasi was dominant player at UConn too. Remember UConn's 2002 championship? Bird and Taurasi led the Huskies to an undefeated season and a national title that year. Bird and Taurasi became arguably the best backcourt duo that women’s college basketball has ever seen. After Bird left, Taurasi led the Huskies to 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 would make her opponents pay every single time on the offensive end as she claims the ninth all-time in scoring for the program with 2,156 career points. Taurasi is also third all-time in 3-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.
Maya-Moore-UConn MAYA MOORE IS UCONN'S ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER AND LED THE HUSKIES TO TWO UNDEFEATED SEASONS.

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. Moore was a scoring nightmare as she holds the 10th all-time in scoring in NCAA Division I history and owns the Huskies' scoring with 3,036 career points. She also owns UConn's records for career scoring average with 19.7 points per-game, and the Huskies' single-season scoring record, with 868 points in 2010-11 (22.8 points per game).

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 3-pointers made (311).

Moore was the driving force for the Huskies in her four years in Storrs. 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.
BREANNA STEWART IS THE ONLY PLAYER IN NCAA HISTORY TO LED HER TEAM TO FOUR CONSECUTIVE NATIONAL TITLES WHILE EARNING MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER EACH YEAR. BREANNA STEWART IS THE ONLY PLAYER IN NCAA HISTORY TO LED HER TEAM TO FOUR CONSECUTIVE NATIONAL TITLES WHILE EARNING MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER EACH YEAR.

Stewart — also known as Stewie —  is the youngest member of this team, but she might be the most decorated. Stewie never got tired of playing on the big stage. She helped UConn win the NCAA championship in each year she played for the Huskies. Stewart 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 6-4 native of Syracuse, New York, owns UConn's records for career free throws made (484), blocked shots (414) and the single-season record for free throws made (147). She is second only to 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 Stewart leading the way, the Huskies went undefeated in 2013-14 and in 2015-16. Overall, she had a 151-5 record in her collegiate career. 

In her WNBA career, she has already 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.

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.
TINA CHARLES OWNS UCONN'S CAREER REBOUNDING RECORD AND HELPED THE HUSKIES WIN TWO TITLES TINA CHARLES OWNS UCONN'S CAREER REBOUNDING RECORD AND HELPED THE HUSKIES WIN TWO TITLES

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 from 2006-10. She also still owns the Huskies’ single-game rebounding record, corralling 19 boards against Louisville in 2009.

The 6-4 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 UConn’s fourth all-time leading scorer, with 2,346 points. Charles led the Huskies in rebounding in each of her four years on campus, a feat only matched by Rebecca Lobo.

Charles shared a lot of her successful years with Maya Moore, Tiffany Hayes and Renee Montgomery, Charles helped UConn go undefeated in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and was the Most Outstanding Player at the 2009 Final Four.

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

Head coach: Geno Auriemma (1985 - Present)

We wouldn't do this list any justice without mentioning the heart and soul of UConn's winning culture —  legendary head coach Geno Auriemma. UConn women's basketball program gained all 11 of its NCA titles under Auriemma's leadership, which is the most NCAA Division I Championships as a head coach on the women's and men's side. 

The women's program started in 1974 and only had one winning season before Auriemma was hired in 1985. A decade later, he led the Huskies to win their first national title in 1995 with Rebecca Lobo, becoming the second undefeated national champion with a perfect 35-0 record. 

Geno Auriemma has been named AP National Coach of the Year nine times. He was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. As UConn's head coach, Geno Auriemma's overall record is 1091-142. 

UConn women's basketball dynasty

Reserves

Needless to say, we left a lot of other notable names out of this starting 5, but Diana Taurasi said it best: "When you think of UConn, you think of pure domination." That describes every player on this all-time lineup perfectly.

Here are some other household names to note: Rebecca Lobo, Moriah Jefferson, Napheesa Collier, Nykeesha Sales, Kerry Bascom, Renee Montgomery, Jennifer Rizzotti, Kara Wolters, Swin Cash. 

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