UConn coach Geno Auriemma: South Carolina’s undefeated title season ‘hard as hell to do’

Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma speaks on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis as part of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association awards. Video by Ethan Erickson

Geno Auriemma attended the dinner at the Missouri Athletic Club as the new namesake for the USBWA women’s coach of the year award.

Geno Auriemma says Dawn Staley’s undefeated season was ‘harder today’

If any college basketball coach can relate to the accomplishment of the South Carolina women’s team in 2023-24, it would be someone who has had not one undefeated season but six of them.

Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma knows the path well, and when he considers what coach Dawn Staley did with the Gamecocks, who were 38-0, he is quick to acknowledge that is something that automatically makes for a coach of the year.

“It’s hard as hell to do and probably harder today in some ways,” Auriemma said Wednesday night at the United States Basketball Writers Association awards dinner. “To go through a season and play the way they played, reload the way they did from the year before, I thought it was one of the top accomplishments in all of basketball. I’m glad it didn’t get overlooked with all of the other hoopla.”

Auriemma attended the dinner at the Missouri Athletic Club as the new namesake for the USBWA women’s coach of the year award. His name will be attached to the honor after he retires.

UConn women running out of options after South Carolina loss

Staley won the award for the third straight season after winning the third national championship of her coaching career.

“It’s not even part of what we do or think about,” Staley said of thinking about the unbeaten season. “We don’t focus on that in any way. I’m just wanting to do things for the fans who come to our games. I’m worried about the players and are they prepared to move on after this.”

UConn reached the Final Four this season for the 23rd time, losing to Iowa and Caitlin Clark in the semifinals. The defeat kept Auriemma from reaching his 13th championship game.

But now a good distance from that defeat, he looks at the season and what Clark did for women’s basketball as the watershed moment for the game.

Dom Amore: South Carolina's Dawn Staley, UConn's Geno Auriemma both  Philly-made, reaching to conquer March Madness – Hartford Courant

“It was a perfect time,” he said. “You have a kid doing things on the court no one has ever done before. Back in the day, how many people saw Pete Maravich play. I bet that kid never played on TV or maybe a few times. But they heard about him. Caitlin Clark had the Pete Maravich effect on the game.”

Auriemma has a player in Paige Bueckers who will carry the torch forward along with many others now that Clark has departed for the WNBA.

He has coached an abundance of players who have gone on to play professionally, including Rebecca Lobo, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart. They received considerable publicity in their own right, just nothing compared with what Clark commanded.

“There’s been a lot of great players in women’s basketball for quite some time now,” Auriemma said. “All those players that have been able to sustain the WNBA for all these years were playing college and having great careers and winning championships.”

Auriemma has won more championships than any women’s coach in history. Maybe most impressive is that he is 11-1 in title games. He is an eight-time Naismith coach of the year winner and is in both the Naismith and women’s basketball halls of fame.

Despite all of his accomplishments, none of it ever rose to the level that Clark garnered for the game this season. Games across the country sold out, and television ratings for Iowa and other games skyrocketed, in some cases surpassing men’s games.

“When we won four (championships) in a row, we didn’t get the attention that Iowa got this year and specifically Caitlin Clark,” he said “Up until now, there hasn’t been the willingness to put resources into it. People are now saying, ‘We should get behind this.’”

USBWA awards winners included men’s player of the year Zach Edey and women’s player of the year Clark; coaches of the year Staley and Kelvin Sampson, and freshmen of the year JuJu Watkins and Reed Sheppard.

Related Posts

Our Privacy policy

https://autulu.com - © 2024 News