LINCOLN, Neb. — For as many years as she can remember, UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey has tried to balance the pressure her players feel playing for UConn by engaging them in fun and games on game day.
And that tradition will continue Monday, Elite Eight game day for the No. 1 Huskies who play Texas A&M at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
"It started with something simple, just taking a walk. I want to get them outside, into the fresh air," Dailey said Sunday. "But sometimes the weather would just allow it, so I came out with some trivia games about the places we've been; the city, the university, for example. … Sometimes it's silly stuff about geography and population, just to keep them thinking.
"When we were in Dallas [in late March] we went to the JFK Museum [in Dealey Plaza] and I gave them a little quiz about it. Anything, something to get them away from it all for a little bit; sitting in a hotel all day gets dreary."
This all happens when the team travels on game day before the pregame. Dailey asks the questions; the players and managers, who draft teams, write down the answers.
"We turn it into competitions, with groups, but the first two we had were won the managers, so we had to break up their dynasties. So now the rest of them [the players] have identified them [the managers] as key players and try to get them on their teams."
The players seem to enjoy the camaraderie.
"Who wins totally depends on what the topic is," Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. "Stewie knows all the sports-related things and random facts. Pop culture is Stefanie's [Dolson] thing. If the quiz is about history or state trivia, we all try to make sure the managers our on our teams, because managers are really smart.
"What's my expertise? I am not specifically good in any particular topic."
Who Needs Three-Pointers?
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, who led the Aggies to the 2011 national championship with Danielle Adams on his side, was asked why the team took only two three-point shots in its win over DePaul in Saturday's regional semifinal.
"Why shoot the three if you can score with the two?" Blair said. "We shot 60 percent from the floor. That is the best we shot all year, the best any A&M team has ever shot in an NCAA Tournament game. It was about shot selection."
The last time UConn lost an Elite Eight game was to LSU in 2007. Bob Starkey, now an assistant to Blair, had just been named interim coach for the Tigers three weeks earlier after Pokey Chatman was asked to leave the program,
Friends For Life
UConn guard Moriah Jefferson, who is from Glen Heights, Texas, and Texas A&M's Jordan Jones, from nearby DeSoto, are inseparable friends. In fact, Jones described them Sunday as practically being sisters.
"I have the key to her house, she has the key to mine," Jones said. "We've talked about this [game] a lot. But we know once we step on the court it not about us, it's about UConn and Texas A&M. We learned playing against each other in high school that there is no friendship on the floor."
Blair said he wishes Jefferson had chosen his program instead of UConn.
"I used to go watch Moriah play at a recreation center after she was done with her home schooling. She would go over there and work out with the male players," Blair said. "The guys she played with there gave her absolutely no slack.
"Yes, we wanted her. I love her mother, I love her family. But she chose to go to Connecticut, so give her credit. At that same time, give us credit for what we have.
"That is going to be one great matchup. I hope they play 40 minutes each. But I would like Stewart, Dolson and Mosqueda-Lewis to foul out."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun