UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Former UConn star Breanna Stewart returns to Connecticut on Friday for the first time as a WNBA player, dealing with something she had little experience with while in college — losing.
Her Seattle Storm are 3-5 as they prepare to face the Connecticut Sun (1-7) on Friday night.
“Losing games is difficult,” the four-time NCAA champion said during a conference call this week. “But (I’m) making sure that I continue to keep that mentality that losing isn’t OK. I’ve lost five games already this season and that’s the most I lost in four years at UConn. Obviously this is a whole different level, playing against the best players in the world every single night.”
Stewart, the top pick in the WNBA draft, is averaging more than 16 points and almost 10 rebounds a game. She’ll be facing former UConn teammate Morgan Tuck, the third overall pick, who is averaging 5.8 points and 3 rebounds.
“It’s going to be fun to be able to go up against someone that you’re really, really close friends with and you’ve done a lot together in basketball,” Stewart said.
It’s something Stewart will have to get used to. There are 12 former Huskies on WNBA rosters.
The Storm have three of them in Stewart, her former UConn teammate Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Sue Bird.
Stewart said because Bird has already gone through almost exactly what she’s going through, she has become a mentor.
“She’s working to help me adapt to this league and what’s going on as fast as possible,” Stewart said.
Bird, who led UConn to two national titles before becoming the WNBA’s top pick in 2002, said it’s always exciting to come back to Connecticut, where former Huskies invariably receive a warm welcome from the Connecticut fan base.
“They take ownership of you in a lot of ways,” she said. “You become their daughter.”
Stewart said she’s looking forward to the reception at the Mohegan Sun Arena and seeing the current UConn team and coaches, who plan to attend the game. Her parents also are planning to come down from Syracuse, she said.
But for now, her focus is on her new team and developing a chemistry there that will lead to more winning.
“I played at UConn for four years and, you know, got a pretty good understanding of what people like and what people don’t like,” she said. When you play on a new team, you kind of have to just start all over with that.”
AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg contributed to this report.
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