UConn coach Geno Auriemma was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. And he has earned 804 wins in 933 games and has led UConn to seven national championships and 12 Final Four appearances during his 27-year tenure.
Leading Team USA to a gold medal in London is yet another memorable moment in what has been a memorable career. The impressive eight-game run by the U.S. at the Olympics concludes Auriemma’s four-year run as the head coach of the National Team.
“It was a lot of fun for like three years and 11 months,’’ Auriemma joked today. “That was really enjoyable. But that one month … You cram as many emotions and as many feelings and anything else you can think of more in one month than you do in the entire three years, (11 months) combined. People say this all the time … Unless you’re there, unless you’re part of it unless you go through it, it’s difficult to explain it.’’
Auriemma said that at this point he has no interest in returning as head coach for the U.S. at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“Everybody has their own reasons for doing what they do,’’ Auriemma said. “I was honored. I was thrilled. And I’m glad I did it. And I’m ecstatic I was able to experience it and how much I enjoyed coaching the team and we had the perfect blend of players. They did everything I asked them to do. I worked with great people in (Women’s National Team Director) Carl Callan and (USA Basketball Executive Director/CEO) Jim Tooley. But if you ask me right now, today, I would say it’s somebody else’s turn.’’
There has not been a repeat head women’s basketball coach since the U.S. competed in its first Olympic Games in 1976. And the process of selecting the next head coach of the National Team is not expected to begin until some point this winter.
Still, Auriemma is content right now focusing all of his attention on his team at UConn. It is a team that is expected to open the season ranked No. 2 nationally behind reigning national champion Baylor.
“There’s too many factors that go into it,’’ Auriemma said. “There’s too many variables that go into it. The way I feel right now I want to spend the next four years with this group of players I have right now because I think we’ve got a chance, especially the next two years with Bria and Stefanie being juniors … I think these next two years could be something really special here at UConn, not that we haven’t had some special teams before but I want to spend all my time and energy worrying about that and trying to make that as good as it can be. After that … But it would be pretty hard to top London. I’ve never been to Brazil, but it would be pretty hard to top London. It’s an amazing city.’’
Here is what Auriemma had to say about new Big East commissioner and Southport resident Mike Aresco …
“I love the guy,’’ Auriemma said. “I’ve known Mike for 20 years. He’s a super guy. Smart as a whip. He’s very engaging. He’s got the respect of everybody that I know. I thought it was really shrewd move by thee Big East presidents and I’m excited to be working with him. I think he’s a fabulous guy and I think he’s the perfect guy at this point in time to lead our conference.’’
Here’s Auriemma on some of his best moments at the Olympics …
“For me, it’s always personal,’’ Auriemma said. “There were a bunch of funny moments and there were a bunch of great moments. But I think the time that I spent with Diana (Taurasi). There were some moments that we had either before practice or after practice or at dinner which kind of brought me back to what it used to be like when she was in college and we were doing this for the very first time. So that’s probably the moments … Those three before practice a couple times, after practice and at dinner one night. The other stuff is stuff that everybody did. Everybody went to the Tower Bridge. Everybody went to the Tower of London. Everybody went to go see Big Ben and the Parliament buildings and all that other good stuff. But, for me, those three times were pretty special for me personally.
“And seeing Diana’s mom and dad … That was pretty funny. Just for the record, Lily, Diana’s mother, came up to me and she said, `Geno, I still hate you.’ I said, `OK. OK. You hated me in 2000 and you hate me in 2012. That’s OK. As long as your daughter loves me that’s all I care about.’’’
Here’s Auriemma on the mental fatigue of the Olympics …
“Kathy kept asking me when we got back, `What’s wrong with you,’’’ Auriemma said referring to his wife. “And not that she doesn’t ask me that a lot, but this time it was like she was really concerned. Like, `What’s wrong with you?’ And it takes so much out of you because you’re just so immersed in it 24-7. I got out to see a couple sites. I missed out on seeing the British War Museum where Churchill’s stuff is. I really, really wanted to go there. But it was get up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to practice, come home, take a nap, go to dinner, go to bed, get up, eat breakfast, watch film, go to shootaround, play, come home, go to dinner, go to sleep. It is an amazingly draining time.’’