Saluting top seniors in Nashville


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After Sunday's Final Four games, the women's college basketball world will say goodbye to some seniors who have grown into some of the sport's most identifiable names. Their careers are full of accomplishment. All six have achieved huge personal and team successes. They have their strengths on the court and some "weaknesses" off it, which are much more fun to discover. At least four won't achieve the ultimate finish to a career, but all are worth celebrating and smiling about a little, too (listed alphabetically, by team).

Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut

Strengths: The 6-foot-5 center excels in areas that aren't typically in a box score. Even as a center, she's more facilitator than scorer, and defensively, Dolson is more even keel than highlight reel. Bria Hartley labeled Dolson the best screener on the team. If that skill could be measured, the sturdy Dolson would likely rank among the best in the country. Her career assist numbers are a modest 2.1 per game, but Dolson is outstanding at making the pass that leads to the pass that becomes a basket. To call Dolson a point-center would be overstating her role, but she has been the fulcrum of the UConn offense for the better part of three seasons.

Weakness: The comedic stylings of Stefanie Dolson trump Stefanie Dolson the player. "She gets asked about her personality all the time," junior teammate Kiah Stokes said. There's dancing, sarcasm, even brazenness. She gave "bunny ears" to POTUS during UConn's championship visit to the White House. Who does that?

Sometimes she just gets too carried ... oh, never mind. Who's kidding who? Dolson's sense of humor and sense of self is great. She is funny and it detracts from nothing. Heck, even the rabbit ears made us giggle, right? Look at Breanna Stewart's face. She couldn't have been the only one laughing.

Career highlights: Dolson's development as player, both physically and mentally, and as a person -- yes, even the comedy -- will long be what she is remembered for in Storrs. Much was asked of her, stepping into the shoes of Tina Charles as a freshman, and while at times rough, Dolson never wilted from the challenge. Like Charles, Dolson won a championship -- and did something Charles never did: record a triple-double. Her best individual game came earlier this season against Oregon, marking just the second triple-double in UConn history (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis recorded the third in the second round of the NCAA tourney).

What's at stake: At UConn, it's all about championships, and Dolson has a chance to be the center, and a centerpiece, on the record-setting ninth title in school history.

Bria Hartley, Connecticut

Strengths: The 5-8 senior guard's game is based on a fearlessness, which has led to a solid and consistent career. Her first game at UConn was an 18-point, four-assist performance, and she hasn't really looked back. Hartley's greatest strength is that she really doesn't have a sizeable weakness.

Weakness: Her teammates would agree with that above statement, but only if the topic is about basketball. Hartley's game might make sweet music, but, apparently, she doesn't. To sing is just not her thing.

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