Before being selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft and winning Rookie of the Year, Breanna Stewart had an unprecedented career at the college level. She guided UConn to four straight national championships, earning Most Outstanding Player honors during each of their NCAA Tournament runs.
As she prepares for her second season with the Seattle Storm, Stewart will be glued to the TV watching UConn shoot for five straight titles. She doesn’t see any reason why the Huskies can’t do it.
By Breanna Stewart, as told to WNBA.com
When I was a kid growing up in Syracuse, March Madness was always the best time of year. I would always ask my dad if I could stay home from school on Thursday and Friday, the first days of the tournament. I would just watch games all day. My favorite memory was Syracuse winning the national title in 2003, when Carmelo Anthony was on the team. I remember going to the parade and celebrating the championship.
Being part of the tournament my freshman year at UConn, that’s when it hit me: This is why I’m playing college basketball. It’s hard to describe the feeling and the emotions. It’s your chance to show everyone that you’re the best in the country.
Now that I’m playing professionally, I’ve tried to watch my Huskies as much as I can. When I was in Shanghai for a few months, it was a little more difficult. I could stream the games if I was in my hotel, but if we were on the road, I would have to just check the stats or have my mom give me updates. But since I’ve been back in the States, it’s been much easier to watch on my TV or computer. And I was also able to go to the South Carolina game, for the 100th win in a row, which was great to be part of.
Most people thought UConn would take a step back after Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck and I finished our careers. But I had faith in them, and I knew they would grow as players. They knew that roles needed to be filled, leadership needed to be filled, and people needed to step up. And they did just that. And the fact that everyone thought UConn was going to have a down year – they used that as fuel to the fire.
Now look at them. They’re the No. 1 overall seed, going into the tournament undefeated, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop.
I think when you watch their games, the main thing you notice is the consistency, how they’re playing every single night. They don’t take any games off, or any plays off, and they’ve been taught how to do that since their freshman year. They know it’s their responsibility every time they step on the court.
I still talk to Geno about every two weeks, and I talk to the players all the time. The relationship goes way beyond just being there four years. When I talk to the players, I just tell them once you get to the NCAA Tournament, it’s like a completely new season. Anything that you’ve done up until this point goes out the window. You need to make sure that you give it your all in the next six games, that you show why you came to UConn.
Every year, the goal is to win the national championship. This is the best time of year, because it’s time to go out and get it.