The pregame festivities today at Gampel Pavilion stand to be doubly emotional for senior All-Americans Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley and the Huskies. Not only will Dolson and Hartley be honored during a Senior Day ceremony, they will also be inducted into the prestigious Huskies of Honor.
“It’s always like that to a certain degree,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Senior Night’s always special. There’s always a unique feeling to it that’s different than any other night of the year. You add to it that both Bria and Stefanie are All-Americans, that’s unusual. I know we had that scenario with Shea (Ralph) and Sveta (Abrosimova). They both left at the same time (in 2001), and unfortunately neither of them were playing by the time Senior Night came around. And then we had it with Sue (Bird) and Swin (Cash in 2002). It doesn’t happen very often, obviously, and I’m sure that their families and everyone that’s going to be in the building is going to feel it. They’re going to feel what that emotion feels like.’’
Said Hartley: “I’ll never know (how emotional it will be) until the moment comes. I wouldn’t say that I’m not a crier. I won’t say I haven’t cried about things. I just don’t usually do it when there are a lot of people around, and I don’t like to do it when there are a lot of people around. But if you ask my teammates, they have seen me cry before. So it’s not unimaginable. When the time comes we’ll see what happens.”
Dolson and Hartley will become the 14th and 15th players to be inducted into the Huskies of Honor. They will be the fourth and fifth active players to be inducted.
Renee Montgomery (2009), Tina Charles (2010) and Maya Moore (2011) were the first three active players to be honored.
“I think it’s awesome,’’ Hartley said. “I’m just really excited about it. I think it will be really cool. I just can’t wait for it to happen.’’
Dolson and Hartley were originally part of five-player recruiting class. Four years later, they are all that remain as Lauren Engeln (Boston College), Michala Johnson (Wisconsin) and Samarie Walker (Kentucky) have since transferred.
“Kids come and go for lots of reasons, and anytime you recruit five players in a class you’re always taking a chance that two of them hopefully are going to become All-Americans and the other three are going to become very, very productive players,’’ Auriemma said. “The last time I think we had a five-player class that I can remember we had Sue, Asjha (Jones), Swin, Tamika (Williams) and Keirsten Walters. Two of them were All-Americans. The other two turned out to be unbelievably good players. One of them didn’t play a lot because she was injured. So this five, kind of the same. Two were All-Americans and the other three not so much.’’