Eye Of The Storm

By Richard Kent
Updated: January 11, 2008

CONNECTICUT — She is the key to the team. No ifs ands or buts. She is the player that the team is simply not able to lose if they want to make a run at their first National Championship since 2004.

Her name is Tina Charles. She plays center for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team. She’s a 6-foot-4 player from Jamaica, New York and Christ the King High School.

That is the alma mater of former UConn great Sue Bird.

Charles was the Consensus 2006 National High School Player of the Year. She totaled 1,750 points, 1,224 rebounds and 440 assists in high school. She was heavily recruited by teams throughout the country but chose the Huskies because of their great tradition.

Last season, she started 32 out of the 36 Husky games. She was named the USVWA National Freshman of the Year. She ranked second on the team with 12.7 ppg.

She shattered the UConn freshman record with 296 rebounds. She recorded 10 double-doubles. Suffice it to say that Charles had probably the best freshman season of any UConn player since Diana Taurasi.

This year the Huskies are 14-0 for the first time since the 2002-03 season. They are winning their games by an average of over 40 ppg. Charles is one of the key reasons.

Take a look at her performance against Stanford. The Huskies won the game by only 12 points which is their closest margin of the season. Charles played 29 minutes and scored 13 points and had 11 rebounds.

She was one of the keys to victory in that 66-54 win.

UConn has already lost Kalana Greene to injury. They are still deep but are not as deep at the pivot position as they are at most other positions. Charles is a true center.

Brittany Hunter and Kaili McLaren are more or less power forwards.

It is not so simple as to say that as Charles goes the UConn season goes but she is certainly a key cog in the machine that is expected to win yet another National Championship under head coach Geno Auriemma.