Windsor Lancers

Friday, October 7, 2011

Picture Day

The Hawks women's basketball team held its picture day on October 6. Check out this behind-the-scenes look at the Hawks stepping in front of the cameras.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Where Are They Now: Erica Beverly (October 3, 2011)

The newest feature on the Hartford Hawks Women’s Basketball Blog returns for its first installment of the 2011-12 season. The Where Are They Now feature will be updated every few weeks with an update from a former member of the Hartford women’s basketball team. Cedric Quackenbush, women’s basketball Director of Operations, will catch up with former Hawks and provide an update on their life after basketball. If you have a question or a possible topic for a future Where Are They Now feature, email
Where Are They Now: Erica Beverly (October 3, 2011)

Beverly played for the Hawks from 2005-2010 and finished her career the only basketball player in Hartford history to amass 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.  After serving as the Director of Basketball Operations for the Hawks last season and recovering from a torn ACL, the 2005-2006 America East Rookie of the Year and 2009-2010 America East Defensive Player of the Year is now lacing up her sneakers while playing professionally in Switzerland.  She started her professional playing career this past summer while playing for the Southern Peninsula Sharks in Australia.
For starters, I was very blessed to have started my professional career in Australia. It was a crazy and fast decision to go there but I thank God I was given the opportunity. Playing in Australia was awesome! The culture was very different from the United States. The kind hearted and laid back people of the land were just so welcoming that it made my stay there very easy. My coaches and teammates were the best, they made me fit in. Australia not only gave me confidence but it also got me started on my on-court physical strength since my injury. At the beginning, it wasn’t a pretty sight seeing me play. but as time went on I gained a belief that each day I would get better and see progress. And it happened just like that, with the Grace of God and His guidance, I got through Australia and now I'm here in Switzerland!
In Switzerland I play on a team called Nyon Basket Feminin and the league I play in is call LNA, basically Division I. I am currently living in Crassier, Switzerland in my own apartment that is a very comfortable living situation. Right outside, I can go pick fresh fruit because the family who lives near has their own farm! My first impressions of the city was, "Wow, this place is beautiful and breath taking from the landscape of it." I have the Alps Mountain all around me and there is miles and miles of open land that most people have turned into farming land.
My first impression of my team and coaches were these are some very kind people! They speak such a gorgeous language but I don't understand any of it! I'm interested in the language and will start soon! So far I am really enjoying this country. I can't wait until the season starts on October 8th, it's going to be a great one!
Playing professionally has been a dream that I am finally living. I look forward to developing as a player, getting stronger and dominating when its time. Also, to meeting great people, visiting awesome places and developing as a person. So, I look forward to what my journey is becoming and I am forever grateful to be living it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Preseason Update with Freshman Shanise Bultron and Coach Rizzotti

Freshman Shanise Bultron's blog below talks about how her and the team are preparing for the start of practice in early October. In the video on the right, Coach Rizzotti talks about what the Hawks are working on during individual workout sessions.

After having the chance to play as a team last month in France, our team was very excited to get back in the gym and start working on getting better for the upcoming season.

Having the chance to play with my team during the summer helped us get to know the way each other plays. The experience showed us what we are good at and what we need to work on.

We are now in our second week of preseason individual workouts and although I was nervous at the start, it has been great to see how my teammates and I are improving each day.

In my group are the other freshmen guards. During the first and second sessions it took some time to get used to the drills but now that we are in our second week we know what is needed and are focused on bringing our own individual game to the next level.

With individuals, team lift and cardio, we are provided opportunity to become the best player we can be so that when we are able to start practicing together in October, our team can be at its highest potential.

Overall I have been having an incredible experience my first year here at the University of Hartford and I look forward to what is to come.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Final Blog from France: Freshman Amber Bepko talks about this once in a lifetime opportunity

This trip to France was a once in a lifetime experience. For me to be able to come here as a freshman and be a part of the team so early made the trip that much more incredible.

We spent two days in Paris, visiting places I’ve only seen on TV. The night cruise of the city was phenomenal! Being able to see the Eiffel tower all lit up was something I will never forget.

We traveled to Toulouse were we spent the balance of our trip and played our games. We had the morning off on Saturday and went to a town called Conque. What an experience within itself. To see this village which is considered one of the prettiest villages in France was incredible. The small town of only 300 people was beautiful and welcoming to our team as we walked around and saw all the sites from up in the hills.

It was a challenging three games against some very talented European teams. It was a different style of play that took our team some getting used to. By the third game we started to gel more as a team and that was shown by a much closer outcome.

Having the chance to play with my team so early as a freshman helped me to really be a part of the team which most freshman don’t get to see until late October. To be able to play against such difficult teams made the experience that much more fun.

After our last game we had a team dinner and then a surprise party for junior Alex Hall to celebrate her 21st birthday. We had cakes from a local French bakery that were delicious. This trip to France was one I will never forget.

Update from France: Hawks Fall in Final International Game

Before returning to the United States to begin classes on Wednesday, the Hawks took the court one last time to play the Toulouse Metrepole Basket team on Sunday afternoon. This game wraps up three games total that the Hawks will have played in Rodez, France, the second international trip for Hartford under head coach Jennifer Rizzotti. Below is a recap of their final game against Toulouse, written by Cedric Quackenbush.

Hartford rallied late but fell short in a 75-66 loss to Toulouse Metrepole Basket on Sunday in the final game of their 2011 European tour in France. Toulouse is a professional team from the second division in France.

The Hawks were led by Ruthanne Doherty who scored a game high 23 points to go with seven rebounds. Freshman Amber Bepko added 17 points, 10 if which came in the first half, to go with four steals and two assists. Overall, the Hawks shot 42% from the field.

Toulouse got off to a fast start, building an 18-7 lead late in the first quarter, but Bepko pulled the Hawks within 4 points heading into the second quarter with a steal and fast break layup followed with a made layup off of a baseline drive in the final possession of the quarter.

At the start of the second quarter, Toulouse again got off to a hot start building the lead back up to double digits, but freshman Shanise Bultron nailed a three and Bepko converted another fast break layup to bring Hartford back within 25-18 midway through the period.

Doherty then scored the next seven Hartford points and ended the first half with a nifty layup and got fouled to make the score 37-31 in favor of Toulouse at the break.

After Toulouse built their lead up to 17, Doherty continued to shine with an array of tough jump shots from the high post that pulled Hartford within 55-43 heading into the final quarter.

Hartford never got within single digits until a late rally forced Toulouse to call a timeout after Bepko scored inside and sophomore Alyssa Englert drove and made an up and under layup.

Also contributing for the Hawks was sophomore Taylor Clark who added six points and three rebounds and Alex Hall who added five points and three rebounds.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Update from France: Hawks Drop Consolation Game, will Play One More on Sunday

The Hawks took to the court for the second time playing on international soil on Saturday against Tarbes Gespes Bigoree in the consolation game of the 2011 BEST (Basketball European Star Tournament) in Rodez, France. The Hawks are one of four teams, the only international team, in the traditional tournament style event. Below is a recap of their first game against Tarbes Gespes Bigorre, written by Cedric Quackenbush.

Playing in their second game in France, Hartford fell 94-41 to Tarbes Gespes Bigorre in the consolation game of the “Basketball European Star Tournament.” Tarbes is considered one of the top professional teams in France and finished in second in the country last year.

Freshman Cherelle Moore led all players in scoring with 17 points on 7-15 shooting from the field. Alex Hall scored eight points to go along with three rebounds and one assist, while Ruthanne Doherty scored seven points and had a team high five rebounds.

The Hawks shot just 26% compared to 48% shooting for Tarbes. Sophomore Alyssa Englert who started the past two games at the point guard scored 6 points and had 5 assist.

Moore put Hartford on the board early with a jump shot but Tarbes jumped out to a quick 23-3 lead to claim control of the game. Hartford rallied at the end of the first quarter to pull within 27-9 heading into the second period.

A three by Moore pulled Hartford wihin 30-14 with 6:11 to go in the second but again Tarbes responded and took a 43-19 lead at halftime.

The Hawks were called for 26 fouls compared to 11 for their opponent and Tarbes attempted 39 free throws with Hartford attempting 10.

Hartford will take on Toulouse Metrepole Basket on Sunday to conclude their international campaign in France.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Update from France: The Hawks First Taste of International Basketball

The Hawks took to the court for the first time playing on international soil on Friday against FC Lyon as they opened up play in the 2011 BEST (Basketball European Star Tournament) in Rodez, France. The Hawks are one of four teams, the only international team, in the traditional tournament style event. Below is a recap of their first game against FC Lyon, written by Cedric Quackenbush.

In their first game playing in Rodez, France, the Hartford women’s basketball team fell 70-55 to FC Lyon. The Hawks had three players score in double figures as Hartford shot 31% from the field. Freshman Amber Bepko paced the Hawks scoring with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three point territory, off the bench. Junior Alex Hall just missed a double-double scoring 12 points to go with a team high nine rebounds. Fellow classmate Ruthanne Doherty added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Doherty scored the first two points for the Hawks on a turnaround jumper in the post, helping her team jump out to a 12-9 lead. From that point, FC Lyon took control scoring the next 13 points to end the quarter with a 22-12 advantage. The Hawks trailed at the halftime break 45-25.

A pair of three pointers from Bepko along with back to back jumpers from sophomore Alyssa Englert and freshman Cherelle Moore pulled Hartford within a 56-40 deficit midway through the third quarter. However, FC Lyon quickly responded with five-straight points to finish the quarter and lead 61-40 going into the final period.

The Hawks would not go quietly as Moore opened the fourth quarter with an offensive rebound and put-pack that ignited a late surge. Back to back jumpers from senior Keyokah Mars-Garrick cut FC Lyons lead to 68-53 and Bepko added another bucket to bring the Hawks within thirteen with a minute left in the game. Overall, the Hawks held FC Lyon to just 25 second half points.

With two players out due to injury, Coach Rizzotti was able to give everyone valuable minutes including four freshmen. Bepko added five rebounds and two steals to go along with her team-high 14 points. Moore added four points and four rebounds while Shanise Bultron contributed six rebounds. Forward Shelby Fogarty chipped in four rebounds.

The Hawks return to the court on Saturday when they take on Tarbes Gespes Bigorre with game time scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday's update from France: The Hawks take the court in France for their final preparation before Friday's game

A few hours and two different modes of transportation later, the Hawks have arrived in Rodez, France and had the opportunity to practice in the facility they will be playing two games in on Friday and Saturday. The Hawks will be participating in a traditional tournament style event. They will first play FC Lyon at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Friday night and then play either Nice Basketball Club or Tarbes Geste Basketball at either 12:30 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Saturday. Stay tuned to the women’s basketball blog for game recaps following each game.

Below are the latest videos from France. Sophomore Milana Gilbert discusses her experience at The Louvre in the first video, while ending with a short French lesson for the fans. In the second video we take a peek into the Hawks final practice before beginning competition tomorrow.

Alyssa Englert Updates the Blog

Hey Hawk Fans!!!

Alyssa Englert here from the Hartford Hawks Women’s Basketball Team with a quick update from France. WOW, has it been a couple of busy but fun filled days here in Paris! Yesterday while on our tour of Paris, we got to visit and explore the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and then go on an amazing boat ride around Paris and see the city illuminated at night!! This place is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking!!!

Today they took us to The Louvre museum so we could see paintings and sculptures like the “Venus de Milo,” The Winged Victory of Samothrace, and best of all…the Mona Lisa! Never thought I would be able to see that up close, what a great experience! After the museum, we explored Montmartre and did a little bit of shopping. We are back at our hotel for a little while and then out for our final dinner in Paris!

It’s been such a great time here with the team, coaches and athletic staff! Certainly going to be hard to leave here tomorrow but we are off to Rodez, France to play some basketball!!! GO HAWKS!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day Two: The Hawks Tour Paris and the Eiffel Tower

The Hawks arrived in France in the early morning on Tuesday after a six hour flight that began in Boston. They spent their first full day overseas touring around Paris, including a tour of the Eiffel Tower. Below is an interview with junior Ruthanne Doherty and a short clip talking with members of the team as they wait in line before going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Keyokah Mars Garrick: The Anticipation of Playing in France

In the days leading up to our France trip we had two last days of practice. It was definitely a time when your mind is elsewhere; thinking of what you need to still buy and pack, getting anxious for the trip itself, and then back to the practice you’re in the middle of. Getting through the last two days was exciting knowing what was to come but also demanding of our focus and execution to not just have a good practice but a great one.

As the France trip came near it was almost unbelievable. We know what we’ve been preparing for but the thought of going to play in France is a little surreal. The part that will make the entire trip a little more concrete will be getting on that plane and flying over to Europe for the next six hours!

~ Keyokah

Monday, August 1, 2011

Final Blog from Chile: Returning Home with a Little Extra Gold!

So, we have started our journey home. Right now, I'm in the airport in Santiago, Chile where I found myself stuck two weeks ago with the teams from Brazil and Canada trying to get to Puerto Montt to begin our quest for the Gold Medal at the U19 World Championships. Now I sit here (after a short flight rather than a 12 hour bus ride) with a Gold Medal in my bag.

I feel as if we squeezed an entire basketball season into three weeks. We began in Colorado Springs learning about each other and starting to build that bond of trust that is so essential in winning teams. We traveled away together from the comforts of home to a tournament where everyone was rooting against us and yet the pressure to win at times felt overwhelming. We won together, we struggled together, we lost together. But at the end of it all, we found away to come together and play our best when it mattered the most.

I appreciate my assistant coaches Joi (Williams) and Sue (Semrau) so much for keeping me sane through all of this. Whether it was staying up late to finish a scout, providing constant suggestions and encouragement, or giving me much needed comic relief, I couldn't have done it without them. Thanks also to Caroline and Jim for the laughs, the runs and the pisco sours; Summer, Dave, Zach and Jamie for all their hard work; and of course to Carol Callan for her guidance and faith in me as the coach of this team. She seemed to know all along that we'd find a way to pull it off.

The feeling of winning a World Championship is indescribable. I feel honored to have accomplished this at such an early point in my coaching career. I'm not sure the players really understand all that they represent at this point in their lives. As a coach you do. The expectation in the United States to win in the sport of basketball is high and I hope that we will continue to develop and teach these kids at a young age what it means to develop their skills and work ethic, respect their opponents and play with pride for their country. I hope I was able to do my part in helping develop some of the future stars of our game.

And now, I can't wait to get home and see my family. This is the longest I've ever been away from my kids and they seemed to grow with every phone call and picture sent. I'm lucky to have a partner in my husband who understands how important this was for me to do even though it was a sacrifice for our family. Thanks to my parents who provided "Camp Rizzotti" for a few weeks for my kids to enjoy. Thanks also to my staff at Hartford who have been out on the road recruiting all of July with the goal of finding kids who will continue to assure our success and the growth of our program in the future. I feel very lucky and blessed today.

Thanks for following. Stay tuned in a few weeks for more blogs as our Hartford Hawks team travels to France for our own foreign tour!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Update from Chile: Gold Medal Game Day

Links for tonight’s Gold Medal game against France (6:45 p.m.)
Live Stats
Live Video (fee)
Live Audio

I can't believe we have finally made it to today. We have been working and waiting so long for this opportunity and it's finally here. After a scare versus France in the quarterfinals, we played our best game of the tournament yesterday in the semifinals against Brazil. Bria (Hartley) and Steph (Dolson) both played like college kids and we had great contributions from our young guys. Breanna (Stewart) has put us on her back this week and not allowed us to lose. Kaleena (Mosqueda-Lewis) has found her rhythm and given us another outside scoring threat. But the MVP of the Brazil game in my mind was Ariel (Massengale) who finished with 10 points and nine assists. She completely controlled the tempo and valued the ball against a Brazil defense that was averaging 15 steals a game.

So today is it! We face a very tough team from Spain at 6:45 p.m. tonight. They are smart, savvy, and have an edge. They play very well together on both ends of the floor and find a way to stay in games and then make just enough big plays to win in the end. For us to win, we need to control the pace and play in the full court as much as possible. We need to dominate the boards like we did yesterday (57-33) and work to get the shots we want every possession.

It's really hard to describe how difficult this tournament has been unless you are here to witness the level of play. I'm taking a group made up primarily of high school players and competing against players that are already playing professionally in their own countries. The international style is so different from American basketball. I'm really proud of how these kids have responded to the challenge and put themselves in the position they are today.

Forty more minutes of team basketball and at 9:00 p.m. tonight I hope to be watching our players stand up on the gold medal podium and listen to the National Anthem with tears in my eyes. Go USA!

Make sure to follow us during and after the game on!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Update from Chile: Despite Loss, Goal Remains Gold

Unfortunately, we lost our first game today. The good news is that we still advance to the next rounds, but we do so as the two seed from our group instead of the top seed. It basically just changes the path that leads to the gold medal. From here on out, any loss derails that opportunity.

We've been pretty inconsistent with our play over the past three games. My biggest challenge with this young group is to constantly remind them that up to this point, although they may have won games in their lives because of their talent, they need to have consistent effort, basketball intelligence and toughness to win going forward. Hopefully today's loss allowed that message to sink in a little better.

Canada was the better team today (Wednesday). They set the tempo of the game, used physical play and intelligence to take us out of what we wanted to do. When the game was in question they came out with huge hustle plays. The players were disappointed and I'm hoping they use that as motivation going forward. We watched the game film this evening and pointed out all the areas that we can improve and we defined roles so that everyone knows what they need to do for us to win going forward.

We head out to dinner in a few minutes and then we'll head over to watch the Brazil vs. Australia game since those are our next two possible opponents. We play again on Friday (versus France), time still yet to be determined (6:45 p.m.). Stay tuned for some good news from Chile over the weekend!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Update from Chile: A Little Fun Between Games

Photo Gallery from Orsono Volcano Trip
Japan Game Story
Russia Game Story, Quotes & Stats
Argentina Game Story, Quotes & Stats

We finished up pool play yesterday with a 3-0 record, with wins over Japan, Russia and Argentina. Our defensive effort against Russia and Argentina was much better than Japan. We disrupted flow and created a lot of offense out of our defense pressure. The kids are starting to understand the focus and determination that needs to go into our defense to stop these very talented international teams. We made some great rotations and had a better focus in our box-outs.

Today we went up to see the Orsono Volcano in Encenada, Chile. It was really cold and windy so some of us took a few pictures and then retreated into the warm lodge for hot chocolate. Some of our brave players decided to rent sleds and walk up the volcano for an adventure. It was quite amusing to watch 6’5” Stefanie Dolson and 6’4” Malina Howard sledding down the volcano 100 feet before rolling off their sleds and down another 10 ft. We stopped in the very nice town of Puerta Varas for lunch before heading back to get ready for practice.

We are about to leave for a one hour practice at the arena in preparation for the next round of play. We face China, Italy and Canada over the next three days and need to continue to work hard and improve to make sure we improve our record to 6-0! We will continue to focus on our defense but will also spend time working on our offensive execution because we will be facing a lot of zones and presses as we move forward. Stay tuned on our Facebook and Twitter pages as well as

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Greetings from Chile! Coach Rizzotti and Team USA Win Opening Game

The conditions here have been less than ideal, to say the least. It's cold and rainy and none of the practice gyms have any heat. The kids have been troopers seeing as we've had to practice some days in full sweats and hats. We had two "friendly" games against Russia and Australia to get us ready for the tournament and for future competition. But there is nothing like putting on the uniforms for real like we did this afternoon.

We opened up the U19 World Championships with Japan today at 1:30 pm. There were some good things - we killed them inside (but that wasn't too difficult since there average height was 5'7"), and we spread the scoring around very well. Bria Hartley showed she was a college player by leading us in scoring but more importantly, with her competitiveness. We also had some rough spots. Japan was able to expose us on defense. They are very fast and perimeter oriented so it was a tough match up for some of our posts. But we will face other teams in the tournament that are small and quick so we'll need to find a solution. We also did a poor job boxing out and Japan was quicker to the ball.

Our goal here is clear … we want to win a gold medal. But how we perform and play together are equally important to me. We just need to continue to improve every day and learn to play as a team on both ends of the floor. I look forward our next challenge, Russia, tomorrow at 1:30 pm! Go USA!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Coach Rizzotti's First Blog from Chile: Travel Troubles

After a great night with my family on Saturday celebrating my brothers' wedding, I began my journey to Chile to meet the team who had travelled the day before. Well... I'm still going! I arrived in Santiago, Chile at 10 a.m. Monday after taking a red-eye from Dallas where I struggled to sleep. The volcanic ash from the active volcanoes in Chile caused all flights to be delayed and then eventually cancelled. It's a pretty helpless feeling to be stuck in a foreign country, by yourself, with no working phone, and few English speaking people. Not a happy camper.

I did run into the Brazilian national team whose staff, after two years of playing each other, I know pretty well. It was a big relief to be with people who spoke Spanish and could explain what was going on. We also ran into some officials from FIBA and after a few more hours of waiting, we were told that they were getting us a bus to drive the rest of the way. So after getting only a few hours of sleep after the wedding, not getting much sleep on the red-eye, I am now about to embark on a 12-15 hour bus trip over night so that I can arrive in Puerto Montt by mid-day on Tuesday.

So while we wait for the Canadian team to arrive to come with us, I am sitting with the Canadian team doctor and a referee from Egypt having dinner and drinks. At 10 p.m., 46 of us will board a 50 person bus that hopefully has reclining seats. All I want is a shower and a bed.

Meanwhile, the team scrimmaged against Russia tonight. The update I got was that we won fairly easily, our point guard play was good, but our posts were a little soft and in foul trouble. The gym also had no heat and the bus drove over a cable so the clock didn't work. Tomorrow, we scrimmage Australia and I'm hoping to be there!!

Trying to stay positive and promise to keep you posted as long as I have access to my I-pad. After we win gold, this will be a distant memory. Good night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Final Preparations on US Soil; Coach Rizzotti and USA Basketball Head to Chile

Well, this morning we have our last practice here in the US. We've made quite a bit of progress this week and I feel positive about the direction our team is going. We've worked a lot this week on our defense in the half court and transition. Everyone is coming from different coaches and different philosophies and I appreciate the players working hard to buy into how I teach defense. I do think it will pay dividends down in Chile if there is ever a game where we struggle to score consistently.

We've put in some transition sets and well as half court sets this week and worked on patience and execution. But most of the points our staff has tried to get across were more about the intangibles. We've been pushing the kids to learn to go harder and find a way to be successful outside their comfort zone. We've asked them to learn to focus mentally when their bodies are tired. And we've asked them to respond better to adversity. Our goal last night was to rid ourselves of bad body language and energy draining responses to mistakes. I really felt like the kids made a great effort in those areas and consequently we played our best game against the guys.

The team heads out to Chile tomorrow afternoon, but I need to make a little detour back to Connecticut so I can attend my brother, Tommy's, wedding tomorrow! I am very excited to see my family, especially my two little boys and also see my brother, who has always been my biggest fan, get married. We are happy to be welcoming Marcia into our family.

We'll have a few practices and exhibition scrimmages against Russia and Australia once we get to Chile. There is still a lot of work to get done and I expect we'll continue to improve throughout the tournament as well. It will be nice to be together as a team and I think our team bonding and chemistry building will rise to a whole new level once we realize how everyone in Chile will be rooting against us! Go USA!

I promise to keep you posted throughout the whole thing so stay tuned!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Coach Rizzotti: “I conquered the Incline this morning!”

The Incline is an old rail bed from a no longer existing railway. It's in Manitou Springs and people go there to hike up 2800 railroad ties, which covers 1 mile and goes up to an altitude of 8600 feet. The average grade of the trail is 40% with the steepest at one point being 68%. Sounds crazy, right?

Well, the director of communications for USA basketball, Caroline Williams, Gail Goestenkors from Texas and I decided to hike the Incline this morning (Wednesday) at 7 a.m. We made it, but needless to say, my legs were very tired for practice today! Not sure the picture does it justice, but as tough as it was, the view from the top and the sense of accomplishment made it worth it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Coach Rizzotti’s Second Blog from Colorado Springs: Preparing for a Championship Run

Day Two is over. This morning's practice we broke a lot of things down and it seemed as if things were clicking for the players. Then we came back in the evening to scrimmage the guys and it wasn't a pretty scene. Now granted, these guys are really good. They have size, quickness, and skill unlike anyone we will see in Chile. But they are exposing our weaknesses and pushing our team to have to focus and compete at an entirely different level. I'm not sure any of these high school kids have seen anything like it!

We only have five more practices here in Colorado Springs before we take off for South America. We have a lot to do but I've already seen a lot of improvement and have been very happy with our point guard play. Of course I'm biased but you know I think that's the most important position!

Tomorrow morning I'll be getting up early to do the incline. Promise there will be more to come on that!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Coach Rizzotti Blogs From Colorado Springs with USA Basketball U19 Team

Coach Rizzotti returned to Colorado Springs this weekend to begin final preparations with the USA Basketball U19 National Team who look to defend their title at the FIBA Championship later this month in Chile. Throughout her time with USA Basketball Coach Rizzotti will be blogging through the Hartford Women’s Basketball Blog. Be sure to check back often for updates. You can also follow Coach Rizzotti with USA Basketball using the new Hartford Hawks Women’s Basketball Twitter page at


Today we had our first practice for the U19 World Championships. The players arrived to Colorado Springs last night and were eager to go when they showed up this morning. Play was a little rusty and sloppy at times but that's to be expected on the first day. The players also have to get used to the higher altitude - not quite as easy to breathe up here!

I'm fortunate to be coaching players who have all played USA Basketball before so they understand how much we have to get done in a short amount of time. Everyone around the world wants to be the team to beat the US so the target on our back is big but I do believe these players are up for the task. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks and my own challenge of getting the best players in the country at this age group to get the most out of themselves and find a way to play together to be the best team in Chile!

By the way, is everyone aware that it's winter in Chile right now!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Coach Rizzotti’s USA Basketball U19 National Team Takes Shape Following Exhibition Game

Credit: Steven Maikoski/USA Basketball
USA Basketball U19 National Team Website

Hawk’s head coach Jen Rizzotti and her USA Basketball assistant coaches Sue Semrau (Florida State) and Joi Williams (Central Florida) firmed up their 12-member roster for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship following an exhibition against Brazil. The U.S., three-time defending champions, will look to defend its gold medal at this year’s championship scheduled for July 21-31 in Puerto Montt and Puerto Veras, Chile.

As a conclusion for a weeklong training camp at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., the 15 finalists for the 2011 USA U19 World Championship Team the U.S. defeated Brazil by a 49-37 final. The training camp in Orlando was held in conjunction with the ESPN Rise Girls Showcase.

"This was very difficult and that's a credit to the girls, how hard they worked and how committed they were in their desire to want to be on the team," said Rizzotti. "It makes this process really hard. I'm excited about finally being down to 12 and thinking over the next few weeks about what I can do with this group of kids to make sure we are as prepared as we can be heading down to Chile and try to win a gold medal."

In an announcement on USA Basketball’s website following the game, the final 12-man roster for the 2011 Championship was announced. All 12 members of the USA U19 squad have prior international experience playing for USA Basketball, including four who were on the 2010 USA U18 National Team that qualified the U.S. for the U19 Worlds.

The USA U19 World Championship Team will reassemble for training camp July 11-15 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., before the team travels to Chile for its final preparations.

The USA has been drawn into Group B for preliminary round play. Tipping-off against Japan on July 21 at 12:30 p.m. (all times EDT), the USA will face Russia on July 22 at 12:30 p.m. and close the first round against Argentina on July 23 at 3:30 p.m. The second round will be played July 25-27, quarterfinals are slated for July 29, semifinals will be held on July 30 and the finals are scheduled for July 31.

2011 USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team
Jordan Adams (Mater Dei H.S. / Irvine, Calif.)
Cierra Burdick (Butler H.S. / Matthews, N.C.)
Diamond DeShields (Norcross H.S. / Norcross, Ga.)
Stefanie Dolson (Connecticut / Port Jervis, N.Y.)
Bria Hartley (Connecticut / North Babylon, N.Y.)
Alexis Jones (Irving MacArthur H.S. / Irving, Texas)
Ariel Massengale (Bolingbrook H.S. / Bolingbrook, Ill.)
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Mater Dei H.S. / Anaheim, Calif.)
Imani Stafford (Winward H.S. / Los Angeles, Calif.)
Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North Syracuse H.S. / North Syracuse, N.Y.)
Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S. / Bolingbrook, Ill.)
Elizabeth Williams (Princess Anne H.S. / Virginia Beach, Va.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tribute to the Flight Zone

Senior manager Cedric Quackenbush recently put together a tribute video to the Flight Zone, the Hartford Hawks women’s basketball officials support group. The Flight Zone has been around celebrated its 11th year in existence this past season and provides a tremendous amount of support to the team, players and coaches throughout the season. The Flight Zone holds the annual Tip-A-Hawk fundraising dinner as well as hosting a pre-season and post-season picnic for members. Member benefits also include special open practices, meet and greet events with the team as well as an annual trip with the Hawks. For more information on the Flight Zone visit

Monday, April 11, 2011

Where Are They Now with Danielle Wexler (April 11, 2011)

The newest feature on the Hartford Hawks Women’s Basketball Blog returns for its next installment. The Where Are They Now section will be updated every few weeks with an update from a former member of the Hartford women’s basketball team. Cedric Quackenbush, women’s basketball manager, will catch up with former Hawks and provide an update on their life after basketball. If you have a question or a possible topic for a future Where Are They Now feature, email

Where Are They Now with Danielle Wexler (April 11, 2011)

Senior guard Danielle Wexler was the only player on a talented Hawks roster, during the 2005-06 season, that started all 31 games. Wexler, a prolific shooting threat and fierce defender, played a major roll on a championship team that went 27-4 and earned the schools first win in the NCAA tournament. In her final season, she averaged six points and four rebounds per game.

“That year was very special,” said Wexler of her senior season, “our team was very talented and well coached. I think we surprised a lot of people who didn’t know anything about Hartford.”

During her days as a player Wexler realized she wanted to stay involved with basketball once her career was over. Knowing it wasn’t likely she would play overseas, it dawned on her that coaching would be a great opportunity to stay involved with her favorite sport. Along with learning from head coach Jennifer Rizzotti on the court, she majored in psychology to learn a mental approach to basketball.

After graduating from Hartford in 2006, Wexler became an assistant coach at the University of New Haven, a division two school in Connecticut.

“I had a chance to get my hands on everything at New Haven,” said Wexler as she described her first coaching job. “I had every coaching responsibility there is from recruiting, scouting and budgeting. Because we were a division two school we did a lot of fundraising too.”

Wexler stayed at New Haven for four years and throughout her tenure, the team experienced a lot of success. This past summer, she was given the opportunity move up to Division 1 and become an assistant coach Quinnipiac.

“It was a great situation for me, getting to stay in Connecticut. Everybody on the staff made the transition easy for me and Trish (head coach Tricia Fabbri) had a lot of trust in me. I didn’t have as many immediate responsibilities as I did in New Haven so the transition was very smooth”

This past season, Wexler’s responsibilities included working with the guards in practice, film exchange, practice planning, scouting and recruiting. The team finished 14-16 and had a 11-7 record in the Northeast Conference.

Having played for coach Rizzotti and now coaching with coach Fabbri, Wexler has had the opportunity to learn from two of Connecticut’s most highly respected coaches. “Both coaches have their own goals with their staff’s. We all want to win our conference and advance to the NCAA tournament. In order to do this you need to recruit good players.”

Wexler was recently engaged, to fiancĂ© Pierce, and when she’s not in the basketball office, she is busy planning for her wedding this coming August. Once married, she plans on moving to New York to live with her soon to be husband who works there. It may make the commute to work at Quinnipiac a little longer, but it’s worth it because she is very happy to be doing what she loves.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Coach Rizzotti Reflects on the 2010-11 Season

With the Hartford women’s basketball season over and the final four just days away, color analyst Brian Irizarry had a chance to sit down with head coach Jennifer Rizzotti  and reflect on the 2010-11 season and the Hawks fifth America East Championship. Throughout the spring we will continue to update you on the Hartford women’s basketball team with interviews and replays of feature stories from the Jen Rizzotti Coaches Show on CTSN.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mary Silvia Joins Hawks Color Analyst Brian Irizarry

Hartford color analyst Brian Irizarry had a chance to sit down with senior Mary Silvia prior to the Hawks game against Binghamton for a season update with the Reading, Mass. native.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nikkia Smith Joins Hawks Color Analyst Brian Irizarry

Hartford color analyst Brian Irizarry had a chance to sit down with sophomore Nikkia Smith prior to the Hawks game against Maine for a season update for the Montville, Conn. native.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hartford color analyst Brian Irizarry recently sat down with Coach Rizzotti to discuss the state of the Hawks following the first half of the conference schedule.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where Are They Now with MaryLynne Schaefer & Katie Kelley (January 27, 2011):

The newest feature on the Hartford Hawks Women’s Basketball Blog returns for its newest installment.
The Where Are They Now section will be updated every few weeks with an update from a former member of the Hartford women’s basketball team. Cedric Quackenbush, women’s basketball manager, will catch up with former Hawks and provide an update on their life after basketball. If you have a question or a possible topic for a future Where Are They Now feature, email

Where Are They Now with MaryLynne Schaefer & Katie Kelley (January 27, 2011):

When the 2008-09 Hartford women’s basketball season came to a close, seniors Katie Kelley and MaryLynne Schaefer weren’t sure what their future would hold. Kelley and Schaefer were an enormous part of the Hawks recent success that saw them win two America East championships, two NCAA tournament games and advance to the second round of the post-season WNIT twice.

Kelley was a versatile post player who peaked in her senior season and was named to the 2009 America East all-tournament team. Schaefer graduated as the school’s all-time leading three-point shooter, finishing with 222 including the game winner against Syracuse in the first round of the 2008 NCAA tournament.

Now, the two former college roommates are teaming up together, again, professionally in Leimen, Germany. They are suiting up in Germany's Damen Basketball Bundesliga Sud (Germany’s second women's basketball league south) and playing for the Leimen Young Guns. The team is currently tied for first place. Kelley is currently averaging a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds per game, while Schaefer is averaging 11 points and five rebounds to go along with two steals per game along with a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.

After the conclusion of their senior season in Hartford, Kelley and Schaefer traveled to Germany and competed for three days in a showcase camp. Coaches and managers from across Europe attended to evaluate the prospects from all over the world. Both Schaefer and Kelley were named to a list of the camp’s Top Five Performers.

After the camp, both players returned to their hometowns in the summer, Kelley in Syracuse, N.Y., and Schaefer in Centreville, Va. In October of 2009, Schaefer was offered a contract to join the Leimen Young Guns and went overseas last fall. She led the team to the championship in her first season in Germany.

“It definitely was an adjustment my first season here,” said Schaefer. “It was the first time that I was ever living alone, which was an adjustment especially coming out of college when you were almost always on the same schedule as one of your teammates and someone was almost always at the house. Most of my teammates were either working or still in some form of school so during the day each week I was sometimes on my own until practice that evening.”

Meanwhile, Kelley remained in Syracuse where she joined the Onondaga Community College coaching staff and coached the team to an undefeated regular season and an appearance in the junior college Final Four.

After last year Kelley got the itch to play again and the opportunity to join Schaefer in Germany presented itself.

“The coaching staff asked MaryLynne if she knew of a post player that drove and shot more and she mentioned my name,” said Kelley. “They got film on me from our agent and offered me a contract.”

Both players described their initial transition in Germany as tough at first, but because most people spoke English it didn’t take too long to feel at home. According to Kelley, playing with a former teammate in a professional situation makes it a lot easier because we both know each other’s game and play off one another very well.

Both players agree that the major difference between playing basketball in college and playing overseas is the degree of physicality. “There are times when refs will just let you play and you can almost get away with anything from a push to a constant hand check,” described Schaefer.

Kelley and Schaefer also have plenty of time off of the court to enjoy the European culture. Kelley recently traveled to Prague, while Schaefer explored Paris with her parents during a recent visit.

Schaefer plans on eventually pursuing a career in coaching when she retires from playing. She’s currently spending her spare time helping coach a 15U girl’s team within her club. “It just reaffirms to me that I want to become a coach in the future’” acknowledged Schaefer. “How quickly that future will be I am still not sure because I love playing this game. But when I do hang up the sneakers, I plan to pursue college coaching and see where it takes me.”

Both Kelley and Schaefer follow their former team at Hartford and have had time to reflect upon their days as a Hawk. Schaefer had the opportunity to watch this year’s squad in action at Hofstra and Coppin State when she came home for a winter break. Both miss the support from their fans including the Flight Zone, and Schaefer especially misses beating assistant coach Bill Sullivan at ‘horse’.

To follow Kelley and Schaefer throughout the remainder of their season, Click Here.