Not only is Sunday’s game a match-up between No. 2 UConn and No. 16 Texas A&M, but it will also be a match-up of Hall of Fame coaches.
UConn’s Geno Auriemma was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2006. Texas A&M coach Gary Blair will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class in June.
Blair was introduced with his fellow Class of 2013 inductees, including former UConn All-American Jennifer Rizzotti, during halftime of the Kentucky-Baylor game Wednesday in Waco, Texas.
Blair is 210-91 in his 10th season at Texas A&M, guiding the Aggies to the 2011 national championship. Factoring in collegiate stints at Stephen F. Austin (1985-93) and Arkansas (1993-03), his career record is 620-254 (.709) in 28 seasons.
Blair began his coaching career as the head coach at Dallas South Oak Cliff High School, where he was 239-18 from 1973-80.
“I don’t know exactly when Gary started coaching, but I’m sure he asked Dr. Naismith, `Should the basket really be 10 feet?’’’ Auriemma said. “He’s been coaching so long that he must have started when he was 12, because when I got the job at Virginia in 1981 he had already been coaching a while. So as far as I remember coaching women’s basketball, Gary Blair was always a part of it. And he was always on winning teams whether he was a head coach, an assistant, and he was always surrounded by other great people.
“And I think it was fitting for him to win a national championship. I think sometimes in this game you’re rewarded for the time you put into it and doing it the right way. Give a lot of yourself to the game, and you get rewarded. It doesn’t always happen, but I’m glad it happened in his case. He’s been a lot of different places and done a lot for a lot of players and has given a lot to this game.’’
UConn freshman Moriah Jefferson, a resident of Glenn Heights, Texas, fielded a number of requests this week from people back home looking for tickets to Sunday’s game. Players get four tickets to the game. That was hardly enough to satisfy Jefferson’s battery of fans.
However, freshman Breanna Stewart was there to help. She said she was going give her tickets to Jefferson in an effort to aid her cause.
“She can have my tickets,’’ Stewart said with a chuckle. “I don’t have any friends in Texas.’’