Geno Auriemma is a Hall of Fame coach currently trying to lead the Huskies to their seventh national championship. He is a devoted husband and a loving father to three children.
What’s next on his resume? How about grandfather? Auriemma’s oldest child, Jenna, and her husband, Todd, are expecting their first child.
“It’s the next level of parenthood,’’ Auriemma said. “You have children and you hope someday they get to experience what it’s like. They do and all of a sudden you look up and you’re an old guy. Every single person I’ve met that’s had grandchildren says it’s the greatest thing that has happened in their lives. I’m looking forward to it.’’
Auriemma, who will turn 56 Tuesday, said he learned of the news on New Year’s Day when his family was at his home.
“Everybody was hanging around doing nothing and I said, `I’ve got to go,’’’ Auriemma said. “Jenna goes, `When will you be back?’ I said I didn’t know and she said, `Get over here, get over here, get over here.’ `What?’ Jenna goes, `I don’t want to say anything or make a big deal out of it, but I’m pregnant.’ My reaction was `Wow.’ The women were all screaming and yelling and going crazy. The women reacted like women do and I reacted like the dopey father does.’’
Temple coach Tonya Cardoza will face off with Auriemma for the first time in her career tomorrow night in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Spending 14 years as an assistant under Auriemma should aid her in her preparation, but don’t expect her to call another former UConn assistant coach searching for secrets on how to beat UConn.
Cincinnati’s Jamelle Elliott faced the Huskies for the first time as a head coach earlier this season. The Huskies defeated the Bearcats 83-51 Jan. 7 at Gampel Pavilion.
“I don’t think that Jamelle has a secret either,’’ Cardoza said. “She had a moral victory, and we’re not looking for a moral victory right now. So we’re just going to do the same things. Watch film and try to come up with a defensive scheme to try to slow them down as much as we possibly can.
“They really don’t have that many weaknesses. If so, I think they would’ve lost by now. If you try to take away something … Whether you try to take away Tina and Maya, Kalana, Tiffany and Caroline find a way to hurt you. If you try to take away their 3-point shooting they throw the ball inside. So you have to try to limit one thing or the other and hope that someone’s off that night.’’
Cardoza said that there has been no talk of beginning a regular season series with UConn. But that is expected to change in the future.
The Huskies and Owls have not met during the regular season since Jan. 16, 1982.
“I’m sure that’s something that will probably happen in the near future,’’ Cardoza said.