UConn and Auriemma surprise associate head coach Chris Dailey with plaque on “Huskies of Honor” wall
STORRS, Conn. – The No. 1 Connecticut Huskies, riding their unprecedented run of success, seem to have at least one person on the All-American team each season. That honor affords the player the right to have their jersey number immortalized in Gampel Pavilion as part of the Huskies of Honor wall. Only All-Americans, a few select special entire teams, and Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma adorn the wall.
People arriving at Gampel for today’s senior day, expected to see two numbers with black coverings to be unveiled; one for Breanna Stewart and one for Moriah Jefferson. Instead there were three, leading to a Twitter debate if Auriemma chose to break his own rule of who gains entry to the Hall of Honor and put Morgan Tuck, who has not been an All-American (yet) on the wall.
Much to the surprise and delight of all in attendance, after the unveiling of Jefferson’s number four and Stewart’s number thirty, a parade of people walked onto the court at the baseline opposite the Huskies. They were the family members of associate head coach Chris Dailey. She was presented with a bouquet of flowers, and the surprise was completed when “CD” was unveiled on a new plaque on the wall.
Husky fans recognize Dailey as Auriemma’s necessary and irreplaceable sidekick. She is the one who is the “parent away from home” for the Huskies, she is the one that dictates off-court rules regarding appearance and she is the one that steps between Auriemma and the referees.
“It’s never enough to just say she’s been here as long as I have,” Auriemma said. “Putting her up on that wall, kind of puts her next to, not above and not under, all of the people that wouldn’t be on that wall without her.”
Meeting with the media postgame is not Dailey’s usual thing she joked.
“Last time I was in the media room was when he [Auriemma] was suspended and I coached the team. Not that I don’t mind saying hello to you guys, but I’d much rather be in another room.”
Auriemma impressed Dailey in pulling off such a big surprise, she said. “I wasn’t expecting it, he doesn’t keep secrets very well,” Dailey said. “I didn’t know anything and he didn’t say anything. Usually you’d think someone would blab and it would usually be him.”
An emotional Dailey choked back tears when describing her feelings.
“To see your name up there it’s emotional,” she explained, “because I know my parents would be really, really proud. They were here at the very beginning, our very first game. I just know they are upstairs smiling down and being very proud and rooting for the Huskies.”
Auriemma said perhaps they waited too long to honor Dailey; maybe they should have done it when her parents were still around, but it was time now.
“Every one of those players up there there’s a pretty good chance they wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for a bunch of stuff CD did,” Auriemma said. “Not above, not below those guys, but next to all of the legends, including me,” he concluded to laughter.
As far as the seniors honored today, they were thrilled to have their coach put on the wall beside them.
“First of all, she deserves it more than anyone else to be in that Huskies of Honor,” said Stewart. “Her pride and joy is this team, and she puts everything into this team. We’re going to be next to each other for as long as Gampel is still around.”
“When we saw her family come out to surprise, it was awesome,” Stewart continued, “she just deserves it.”