March 21, 2012
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's quest for an eighth national title brings with it a lot of expectations, anxiety and a pressure to perform on the basketball court.
Maybe that's why, off the court, the Huskies decided to do a little performing before the NCAA tournament by dressing up in wigs, visiting the local Wal-Mart and shooting a music video.
"It's just a lot of fun," said center Stefanie Dolson, who has been part of several of these team-made productions, the latest being a take on Carly Rae Jepson's song "Call me, Maybe." "Our team has so much fun together, so when we were all together, we wanted to make a video. It just kind of shows our personality."
Guard Caroline Doty served as the producer and director of the video, which had more than 25,000 views on YouTube as of Wednesday.
"Everybody was just being themselves," Doty said. "It was cool, because we really didn't have to edit anything out. We were just busting on ourselves. So I just had to clip different cuts that I had and put it all together. I was really, really happy with it."
The entire team participated in the video, which was shot over two days early last week, while the campus was on spring break.
Tiffany Hayes dances in the locker room while wearing a protective book on her injured right foot. She also can be seen lying amid packages of bacon at the store. Bria Hartley, and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis are there lip syncing behind the glass doors of the milk cooler. Lauren Engeln is in a feather boa, Kiah Stokes in a blond wig and Michala Johnson wears bunny ears and a pink bikini over a black body suit.
But Doty acknowledges that the 6-foot-5 Dolson steals the show, busting moves in much of the production while dressed in a Dalmatian suit and a bee-hive style wig. Dolson also starred last year in the team's sendup of the Sun Drop soda commercial, wearing a wig and dancing around the team's hotel in Indianapolis during the Final Four.
"She's just a big ol' goofball," Doty said.
Dolson, who early this season broke into a little dance on the baseline during a game while waiting for a TV timeout to end, said that while growing up, she was a bit self-conscious about her size and how other people viewed her.
"But I've grown out of that," she said. "I could just care less what other people think. You can ask anyone on this team; they think I'm the weirdest person there is. But I don't care, because I'm having fun."
Pat McKenna, the program's sports information director, said it's no accident that everyone on the team seems to be having fun in the video. He said the camaraderie on the team is something that has helped it to a 31-4 record, and a 19th consecutive trip to the regional semifinals.
"That's part of how the coaches recruit," said McKenna, who makes a cameo in the video. "They aren't just looking for great basketball players; they are looking for a certain type of person that can fit into this program. This team is very serious when it is on the court, but they know how to turn that off."
UConn isn't the only team out there making videos. Stanford's "Nerd City Kids" is a more professionally produced piece, written and rapped by Cardinal team members.
"It took about three weeks to make," said Stanford forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike, who wrote the lyrics with her sister Chiney. "We didn't want it to be just about women's basketball, we wanted it to be about Stanford. It definitely was a lot of fun to do."
UConn players were quick to point out how impressed they were by that work, especially the rapping of the Ogwumike sisters.
Ogwumike said she hadn't checked out the UConn video yet, but definitely would watch it when she finished finals this week.
Doty says the UConn videos are much more of an amateur thing, done on a flip camera, just as a goof.
But, she said it does make a point that not everything in life, or in UConn basketball is do-or-die.
"This morning I had a few emails from high-school coaches saying how they harp on hard work and being disciplined, but at the same time having fun and being sociable," Doty said. "They showed our video to help get that message out. And if we can send that kind of message, I think it's great."