UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The Connecticut fans gave Diana Taurasi exactly what she wanted, and more importantly, what she needed at the WNBA All-Star game. The chance to move on.
A sold-out crowd of 9,518 at Mohegan Sun Arena showered the former Husky and current Phoenix Mercury star with applause and cheers as she stepped onto the court on Saturday for the first time since serving a two-game suspension following a July 1 drunk-driving arrest.
"This is my home," said Taurasi, who scored 18 points. "I put a lot of sweat, a lot of tears in this state and they always seem to stay behind me 100 percent. That's why there's no better place to come and play basketball, I think, in the United States. Hands down."
According to a Phoenix police report, Taurasi's blood-alcohol level was 0.17 percent, more than twice the Arizona limit (0.08). But although her transgression has not been forgotten, all seems to be forgiven by the fans.
The 27-year-old expressed regret and embarrassment over the situation.
"It's been hard. It hasn't been an easy month," she said Friday. "I'm embarrassed. It's a bad situation, but I'm going to use it to make me a better person, a better basketball player . . . I'm ready to move forward. You learn a lot from things. I've always said it's how you come back from it, whether you're willing to learn from it. Everyone makes mistakes, and if you make them again, you're just ... stupid."
Those closest to Taurasi believe she'll rebound quickly.
"I talked to her at length, alone," UConn coach and women's national basketball team coach Geno Auriemma said. "She hasn't changed. She's carefree, a free spirit, lives life to the fullest and that's why people love her. This time it got the best of her. I think this will turn out to be a good thing for her."