The numbers associated with the Huskies never cease to amaze. They are currently competing in the NCAA tournament for the 25th straight season. However, what is more impressive is that with tonight’s win over eighth-seeded Vanderbilt they have now advanced to the regional semifinals for the 20th straight season.
To put this accomplishment in perspective, Stanford currently holds the nation’s second-longest active streak at five. The Cardinal will look to make it six Tuesday when they face Michigan in the second round.
“I didn’t know how many it was,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I think when you have the expectation level that we do here, you do get to the point where that’s what’s expected of you and that’s what’s expected of your basketball program. And as a player if you come to Connecticut, that’s what’s expected of you. But still my parents had high expectations for me, and I didn’t live up to them. To be able to do it 20 years in a row, I’m sure other teams have done it. I don’t know that we’re doing anything that hasn’t been done before, when you look back on it, that’s been pretty amazing.’’
UConn, who has reached the regional for the 21st time overall, will face fourth-seeded Maryland Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. The Terrapins are making their 10th trip all-time to the Sweet 16, including their fourth in the last five years.
“I think we come out here and that’s our goal,’’ UConn sophomore Bria Hartley said. “Our goal is to get the national championship and the Sweet 16 is one step closer to that.
“I think that just goes to show how successful this program has been and how good this coaching staff is and they come out and they prepare their kids to win, especially in March. March is usually the time where Connecticut plays their best basketball. So that just shows how well this coaching staff has prepared their players.’’
The Huskies certainly do not take reaching the Sweet 16 for granted. They understand how difficult it is. But, at the same time, they are not at all surprised by the program’s current run of success.
“It’s not surprising with how much hard work that everybody that’s come through here has put in,’’ UConn sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. “And the position that our coaches put us in every season is to make it to the Sweet 16. So it’s an awesome (accomplishment), but with all the work that’s been put into it it’s not that surprising.’’
Said senior Kelly Faris: “(It’s) not really (mind-boggling), and I don’t say that to sound cocky. That’s the type of program that Coach has built. Coach and (associate head coach Chris Dailey). And, obviously, there’s been some supporting people as well, but they’re the two main people that built this up to what it is now. And they’re all about doing it the same way and the right way, and that’s what it gets you.’’