Hartford women’s basketball coach and former UConn All-American Jennifer Rizzotti guided Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck to the gold medal at the 2011 FIBA U-19 World Championship in Chile. She also guided Dolson and Hartley to the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA Americas U-18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Heading into Saturday’s meeting against No. 2 UConn at Chase Family Arena, however, Rizzotti is hardly taking any credit for their individual success.
“I don’t know if I had anything to do with their emergence, but it’s kind of fun to think that I was there in the beginning and to see their growth,’’ Rizzotti said. “Even the difference from Stefanie and Bria from the
year prior to the year after they had been at UConn. It was great to see their maturity and the way they were as leaders. They really stepped up. And I love their personalities. They’re good kids. Breanna Stewart is one of the nicest kids. You’d never know she gets the attention she does. Morgan Tuck was probably the easiest of any of them to coach – a hard worker with a great attitude.
“It will be fun. I’m always cheering for them. They’re great because of what’s inside of them. They go to UConn because they want to be even better. That’s what drives them. It’s a present for me to have a chance to coach kids like that that are already so driven. So I don’t know if I can say I had anything to do with their success but I am happy to be a part of their past. It will be nice to see them Saturday.’’
The Hawks will “SH’’ patches on their uniform in honor of the 26 victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 14. They will also welcome members of the Newtown Youth Girl’s Basketball Association and their families to the game, and they will join players from both teams on the court for a pregame moment of silence and the singing of the national anthem.
In addition, members of the Hartford coaching staff and athletic department administrators will wear commemorative green ribbons. Ribbons will also be made available to the public. Donations will be accepted for the Ana Grace Fund in honor of 6-year-old Ana Grace Marquez Greene, the daughter of 1997 Hartford graduates Nelba Marquez and Jimmy Greene, who was killed in the massacre.