No one in the Final Four is peaking at the same level as UConn. Players like freshmen Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson are playing better than they have all season.
Geno Auriemma gets a lot of credit for their development and for the teams success. But don't ignore associate head coach Chris Dailey. She is as responsible for the improved play and also the growth of the program as Auriemma.
Dailey is a 1982 graduate of Rutgers and was the captain, although not a starter, on the Rutgers 1982 AIAW National Championship team. Her teammates looked to her for guidance and advice. She knew the game and became a student of the great Louisiana Tech teams coached by Leon Barmore and led by now-Baylor coach Kim Mulkey.
She served as an assistant at Rutgers under her coach, Theresa Grentz. She then went to Cornell as an assistant and met Auriemma on the recruiting trail. He was an assistant at Virginia.
One of the first things he did upon taking the UConn job in 1985 was to hire Dailey as an assistant. It was the best move he ever made.
She has spearheaded a national recruiting movement which has brought in players from 29 states, the District of Columbia and 6 foreign countries.
She has assisted in building the careers of the bigs at UConn like Rebecca Lobo and Kara Wolters. More visibly, she puts the breaks on Auriemma when he appears out of control over a referees call. That was never more evident than in the Sweet 16 win over Maryland when she literally went side to side chasing him and stopping him from getting a second technical. It looks like a routine, but it isn't. And even if Auriemma had been bounced, Dailey could have taken over the reigns. She stepped in for Auriemma in 1989 and 1997 to win the Big East Tournament.
Dailey has turned down numerous head jobs to stay at UConn. She earns in the range of $250,000, but the reason she stays is more related to her belief in Auriemma and the UConn system than the salary. She prides herself on recruiting UConn type players. Good kids. Strong academics. Teachable kids.
You know, kids like Dailey when she was at Rutgers.