LONDON – Several University of Connecticut alumni and supporters piled into a pub to celebrate their success on the USA women’s basketball program.
UConn is responsible for six Olympic players, including Phoenix Mercury powerhouse Diana Taurasi.
“She is a quintessential basketball player,” said John O’Brien, a UConn ’75 alumnus. “She’s probably the only one to play for [UConn coach] Geno Auriemma that would give him lip back.”
O’Brien, a UConn season ticket holder for nearly 15 years, said Taurasi is something special on the court. Many crowded around him at the Marlboro Arms pub agreed.
“When she was at UConn, every time she stepped on the court you knew that game was probably going to be a win for UConn,” O’Brien said. “I’ve seen her go on the court when they were losing games and she wills the team to victory. She can pick up that whole team and carry them on her shoulders. There aren’t a lot of players like that, men or women. Michael Jordan could do that. The only person to compare her to in the men’s game is Michael.”
Later that night, when the celebration among the former Huskies was reaching a fever pitch, the UConn’s coach walked in the door and mingled with the group.
The games have reunited Taurasi and Auriemma, who is the Olympic women’s coach.
“His famous line for when we were winning those national championships was, ‘We have Diana and no one else does,’” O’Brien said. “When she was injured, which was earlier this season, someone asked Geno what’s going to happen if she doesn’t play. He said, ‘She’ll play, I know her.’”