There still is no signed contract that would officially extend the series between UConn and Stanford beyond the 2012-13 season. But at this point it is a mere formality that the series will be extended.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said last week that she would like to see the series continue well into the future. UConn coach Geno Auriemma shares the same sentiment.
“As I’ve said with other games and other teams, as long as it works for everybody, and right now it seems to be working really well for both teams,’’ Auriemma said. “So I don’t envision it going away. I like the challenge that we get when we have to play them. They present a much different style of play than you would see in the Big East or with some other teams from around the country that you would play. They’re just different. They bring a different element. Every year that we’ve played them we go back and we always talk with our administrators and say, `This is something we want to keep doing, right?’ And everyone says, `Yeah. It works. It’s great. Let’s keep doing it.’ So I would envision that it’s going to be around for a while.
“From the time we’ve played Stanford, back in ‘88 it’s always been meaningful to our program because we were in different stages of development. I think that particular team when we played them early on we needed a challenge like that to validate that we were really good and we got it. And then in the early 90’s when we played them here and they kicked our butt, we needed that. Then in ‘95 when we played them in the Final Four in the semifinals, we needed that. We needed that win, that kind of win to kind of get us to where we were going. So there’s been quite a few really significant games with Stanford, and they’ve all been instrumental for us in getting to where we’ve been.’’
The Huskies and Cardinal have split the first 12 games of the series. Five of the games have been played in the NCAA tournament, including three in the national semifinals (1995, 2008, 2009) and one in the tournament final (2010). Last season Stanford ended UConn’s NCAA Division I-record 90-game winning streak at Maples Pavilion.
Tonight’s game at the XL Center will mark the earliest the teams have ever played. They previously met Nov. 22, 2007 at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever played them this early so I don’t I know what’s going to come out of (tonight’s) game,’’ Auriemma said. “Thankfully, it’s not 1 vs. 2 so we don’t have to make it this week’s Game of the Century. This is just a match-up between two really good teams early in the season. And when we come back in Tuesday and Wednesday to get ready for the weekend I think our players will be a little bit different than they are right now.’’