Women's BIG EAST Basketball

Hall Of Fame-Bound Swin Cash Changed The Game At UConn

Hall Of Fame-Bound Swin Cash Changed The Game At UConn

Cash was part of a UConn team in 2002 that featured Sue Bird, Ashja Jones, Tamika Williams and Diana Taurasi.

Apr 5, 2022 by Kyle Kensing
Hall Of Fame-Bound Swin Cash Changed The Game At UConn

While Swin Cash and the 2001-02 Connecticut Huskies put the finishing touches on one of the greatest seasons in basketball history, University of Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen was among the spectators. 

Whalen—a multiple-time WNBA All-Star and a Gold Medal-winning teammate of Cash—credited seeing that UConn team for pushing her to a Hall of Fame career. 

“I went and watched [the 2002 Final Four] in San Antonio as a sophomore in college, and seeing her, seeing her team compete, maybe the best womens’ basketball team ever,” Whalen said at the introductory press conference for the 2022 class of Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductees. 

“From my eyes, I got to see what was possible by watching that team.

“Just being able to see from my own perspective, strong women doing great things, pushed me,” Whalen added, who is now the coach at Minnesota.

Whalen isn’t alone. As the Huskies completed a perfect season with a national championship, winning every game in the NCAA Tournament by double-digits, they inspired future generations of players and remain a benchmark for greatness years later. 

The 2001-2002 Huskies were also transformative for UConn itself.  

The program has been a basketball juggernaut for so long, it’s easy to forget a time when UConn didn’t dominate the landscape. But that was the case when Cash arrived in Storrs to begin a remarkable career that culminates with her 2022 induction into the Hall of Fame. 

“If you look back—[the recruiting class] actually came in in 1998—they had won one national championship,” Cash said. 

The Rebecca Lobo-led Huskies claimed the 1995 title, but the late, great Pat Summitt’s Tennessee Lady Vols remained at the sport’s pinnacle come the turn of the millennium. That changed with Cash’s teams, and it revolutionized women’s hoops.

“It was at a time when it was time to grow the game, and the game was changing,” she said. 

“It was getting faster.”

Speed and athleticism were the qualities that defined the 2001-02 Huskies—at every position. 

Cash was part of a senior class in 2002 that featured Sue Bird, Ashja Jones and Tamika Williams. Diana Taurasi, who graduated from UConn a few years later as one of the greatest players in college basketball history, rounded out the starting five.

“That was probably the most complete team I've ever been around,” Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said in a 2010 interview with the Connecticut Post. 

“We probably had the best player in the country at every position."

Twenty years later, the impact of that team is clear in the history built since. The 2002 national championship was the program’s third after the 1999-00 Huskies won the second. 

From ’02 through ’16, UConn added another eight. 

“The recruiting classes that came after that made [the program] what it is today,” Cash said. 

And the group continues to grow the game two decades after their defining moment as a team. Cash is a trailblazer as the vice president of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. Williams (now Williams-Jeter) was hired as head coach at the University of Dayton this March. Taurasi is one of the most prominent faces of women’s basketball, still starring in the WNBA and co-starring in the 2021 remake of Space Jam. 

Then there’s those that team influenced making their marks elsewhere, like Lindsay Whalen.