The Times West Virginian

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Bob Herzel

January 12, 2009

Montgomery turned herself into superstar

MORGANTOWN — It should have been quiet time at the Coliseum. The echoes of the crowd that had been there to watch the unbeaten University of Connecticut women’s basketball team embarrass West Virginia had died down an hour or so earlier.

It was Saturday night and most of the 3,167 masochists who had paid their way in to witness this execution had gone their way. But at the Blue Gate there were 50 or 60 so fans milling around, chattering and laughing, not yet ready to make their way out into the cold of night to get on their church bus for the return ride to St. Albans.

These were West Virginians all, but West Virginians donning Connecticut jerseys and sweatshirts, waiting for one of their own, one who just may be the best women’s college basketball player in America today.

Her name is Renee Montgomery and if the name is familiar it should be; four years ago she was leading South Charleston the state girls high school championship.

At the time, she wasn’t considered the best player in the state. She wasn’t even considered the best player on her team, that honor belonging to Alexis Hornbuckle, a marvelous athlete who went to the University of Tennessee and led the Vols to national titles in her junior and senior seasons, becoming the No. 4 player selected in the 2008 WNBA draft.

But while Tennessee cast its eyes on Hornbuckle, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma was enraptured with the slick 5-7 guard who was her teammate, a player who has achieved so much more than he ever dreamed she would to the point that he now says she’s the best guard in college basketball today.

“We never thought, ‘Wow, this kid has a chance to be the best guard in America in the next three years,’” Auriemma said. “I don’t think there is anything anybody did. It is all on Renee, her passion for the game. If every kid loved the game as much as Renee did, they would all get to be a lot better than they are.”

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Bob Herzel
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