UConn coach Geno Auriemma is poised to make history … again.
Not only will a victory over No. 3 Notre Dame tonight in the Big East tournament final at the XL Center give the Huskies their 20th conference tournament championship in his 27-year tenure, it will also give Auriemma his 800th career win. He would become the sixth coach in Division I women’s basketball history to reach the milestone as well as the fastest.
Tennessee’s Pat Summitt set the standard Jan. 14, 2003 when she reached 800 wins in her 958th game during her 29th season. Auriemma (799-128) will be coaching in his 928th game tonight.
“It’s something that few coaches are around long enough to have a chance to do,’’ Auriemma said. “I feel very fortunate that I’m in a position to have it happen. If it happens down the road, and it’s happened all at one place, it will be great.’’
Auriemma, who will turn 58 later this month, was 162-78 (.675) in his first eight seasons with the Huskies. But since the start of the 1993-94 season, he has led them to a combined record of 637-50 (.927) over the past 18-plus seasons.
Auriemma earned his 700th win against Hofstra Nov. 27, 2009. The Huskies have since gone 99-6 over the last 105 games to thrust him to the brink of reaching his latest milestone. And they are a combined 242-17 (.934) since the start of the 2005-06 season.
However, personal success is not a topic that Auriemma is comfortable discussing.
“Nothing good comes out of talking about it,’’ Auriemma said. “You hear, `You’ve coached a lot games, you’ve coached kids that now have kids that are in college …’ Nothing good comes out of that. All the players in Europe text you and say, `If it wasn’t for me you’d be in Philly running a hot dog stand or pizza joint.’ When the times comes we’ll talk about it.’’
Here is some reaction from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Bria Hartley and Auriemma after learning that future Huskies’ post player Breanna Stewart was named the Naismith High School Girl’s Player of the Year Monday …
“Big surprise, huh? It’s an award that Maya (Moore) won twice and it’s a great award to be a part of,’’ said Mosqueda-Lewis, who won the award last year. “You go to the banquet and see some of the recipients that have won the award before you … Breanna is a great player and has shown it throughout her high school career. She deserves it.’’
“To win an award like that is proof that she’s a great player,’’ Hartley said. “Someone with her talent and with her ability, the way she can block shots and be that long and defend and score and play really hard … There’s no one like her. We’re really excited to get her for next year.’’
“I’ll bet you Breanna was the last person to know and that her reaction was like her reaction to everything else,’’ Auriemma said. “She’s a nice kid that takes everything in stride and deserves it. That kid has done everything you could ask her to do. She’s been an unbelievable representative of USA Basketball. She’s just a unique individual and I’m really happy for her and her family.’’