17 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists - Stefanie Dolson's stat-line from Tuesday night's Women's NCAA National Championship game screams of the pro-potential she will bring to the WNBA next season. Dolson's impressive performance against Notre Dame helped lead the University of Connecticut past the Fighting Irish to captures its ninth NCAA title - more than any other women's program in Division One history.
If one was to ask Dolson if she would have found herself in such a position four years ago, however, the answer most likely would have been no.
In telling her favorite story concerning her relation with coach Geno Auriemma the afternoon before the title game tipped-off, Dolson gave the world a bit of an insight as to her struggles to get to where she currently is - at the top of collegiate women's basketball. During the middle of a practice her freshman year at UConn, Coach Auriemma stopped the session to share some crucial information with the 6'5" center:
"He took out a piece of paper and put it on the floor and said, 'You just jumped over that to get the rebound," Dolson said. "At the time I was thinking 'Dang, man!' It was blunt and I was little thrown off. At the same time, Coach has a way of throwing in humor to get you to laugh things off. But I remember what the message meant and I grew from that moment. I started thinking, 'Okay, I am not the best rebounder and I can't jump that high but I am going to work to a point where I am now with my body."'
— stefanie Dolson (@bigmommastef) April 9, 2014
And work Dolson did. Not only was she able to lead UConn to its second consecutive national title by helping the Huskies dominate the paint (52-22 point advantage in the paint and a 54-31 rebounding margin), but Dolson also racked-up numerous personal awards in recognition of her outstanding senior year.
Dolson was named to the All-American second-team by Associated Press and to the WBCA’s All-American team for the second consecutive year. She was also named to the American Athletic Conference's first team, was announced as its Defensive Player of the Year, and also won the AAC sportsmanship award. On Friday, Dolson was also awarded the 2013-14 Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School (CLASS) award.
“I’m extremely honored and I know my family will be so proud and excited. This award is special because it recognizes more than just basketball and celebrates what student-athletes also do in the classroom and in the community. I take a lot of pride in being a leader on this team, so I’m very happy to be recognized,” stated Dolson.
In post-game interviews following their victory against Notre Dame, Dolson displayed her enduring confidence and comedienne demeanor:
"We knew we were going to win tonight.Right from the beginning we went into it so excited and so pumped. Everyone said we had a lot of pressure on our backs, but we didn't. We went in there having fun, we were loose and playing great. We knew it right at the beginning."
Dolson continued her interview by pleading with Jimmy Fallon to invite her to the show, stating, “Oh, Jimmy Fallon, please hit me up,” after which she challenged President Obama to a personal battle:
Fortunately for Dolson, her future does not depend on whether she wins her dance-off against President Obama or not. As of now, Dolson is slated to be the top-pick in this year's WNBA draft.
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