Women’s Hall of Fame inducts Auriemma

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Coaches are dependent on other people for their success, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said during his induction Saturday into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with people that wanted us to be successful, they wanted us to be national champions and would do whatever they had to do and give us what we needed to be successful,” he said.

“So I am the recipient of people who wanted me to be good and have given me the opportunity.”

Auriemma headlined a group of six new members at the hall. All-Americans Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil of Texas, Janice Lawrence Braxton of Louisiana Tech and Katrina McClain Johnson of Georgia played in the 1980s.

The other inductees were Bentley College coach Barbara Stevens and former Brazilian Olympian Paula Goncalves da Silva. Stevens is the winningest women’s coach in Division II history with a record of 711-193. She became the coach at Bentley, in Waltham, Mass., in 1986 after coaching at Clark University and Massachusetts.

Auriemma has spent 21 seasons building UConn into a national powerhouse, amassing a record of 589-116.

Under him the Huskies have won five national championships, including three straight from 2002-04.

He holds the NCAA record for consecutive wins with 70.

Auriemma was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., this year and will be inducted in September.

“If every athletic director in the country cared as much as the ones that I’ve had the privilege of working for, there would be a lot more women’s programs that win national championships,” he said. “That’s one of our goals as coaches – to make more athletic directors care about women’s basketball.”

Davis-Wrightsil was a freshman when Texas won the 1986 national championship, capping a 34-0 season. She was a national player of the year as a senior and won a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics.

Braxton helped Louisiana Tech to a 130-6 record between 1980 and 1984 and national titles in 1981 and 1982. She won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics and played professionally for 15 years in Italy and two with the WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers.

Johnson was the 1987 national player of the year and a three-time Olympian. Georgia went 116-15 during her career and was the national runner-up in 1985.

Da Silva, known as “Magic Paula” in Brazil, played on her country’s national team for 22 years. She won a gold medal in the 1994 World Championships and a silver medal in the 1996 Olympics.

The ceremony included a tribute to former LSU coach Sue Gunter, a Hall of Fame member who died last August.

Earlier in the day, the inductees and members of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association framed a Habitat for Humanity house dedicated to Gunter. The house frame will be moved to Baton Rouge, La., for final construction.



On the Net:

Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame: www.wbhof.com

AP-ES-04-29-06 2238EDT

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