July 16, 2018 | ° F

Geno remains unsatisfied as records continue to pile up

Photo by Andrew Howard |

Head coach Geno Auriemma's Connecticut Huskies are in the midst of a record 72-game winning streak after a win yesterday over'West Virginia.

 Why is Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma the best coach in the history of women's basketball? Well the numbers behind it — six national championships and 729 career wins in 25 years — sure make an argument.

But Geno is so good because he is never satisfied.

After winning it all last season, all he did was complain.

He closes his autobiography "Geno: In Pursuit of Perfection" complaining that center Tina Charles is not good enough despite a national championship.

"She was a second All-America in 2009 and I know she isn't going to be happy until she's a first team All-America," he writes. "In the meantime, we've got work to do. The 2009 National Championship is already old news in these parts."

And what did he do? Continue success, snapping his old record and the NCAA record by winning 72 consecutive games including the Big East Championship last night over West Virginia.

He still was not satisfied.

"I can't speak for everybody else that's sitting out there and everybody that's anywhere that has a microphone or a pen that's going to ask me about it, but I'm sure that, I don't know that 71 changes anything," he said after beating perennial top-10 team Notre Dame for the third time this year to set the new winning streak record.

Could anyone pull off the upset? Nothing is impossible, but handing top-ranked Connecticut its first loss since President Barack Obama was just a junior senator from Illinois would rank even higher than Appalachian State over Michigan in football or George Mason's Final Four run.

And that's even if it is No. 2 Stanford or No. 3 Nebraska that pulls it off.

The best thing No. 7 West Virginia should do after making it and getting stomped, 60-32, in the finals is pat themselves on the back for essentially winning the Big East Tournament — Connecticut's games should not even count. The Huskies are not in the Big East. They are in a league of their own.

"UConn is on another planet," said Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer after a 37-point loss earlier in the season.

Against NCAA Division I teams, the division immediately below the Geno division in college basketball, the Huskies have an NCAA record 72 consecutive victories, breaking their own record two nights ago against Notre Dame.

The best part? Auriemma doesn't even care.

"I don't think about it," he said after tying the record in a rout of Syracuse in the quarterfinals. "I don't — you know, I just don't care, I guess, is my biggest thing. I know everybody else around the country does. I know everybody wants to ask me. I know everybody wants to write a story about it."

To junior Maya Moore, who was there since win No. 1 of the streak and played a key role in numbers 2-72, the achievement is a special one.

But it was not enough to draw emotion from the calm and collected two-time Big East Player of the Year. Because unless the winning streak reaches 78, it means nothing.

"You have to have great leadership first of all," Moore said on the accomplishment. "It starts with Coach Auriemma and goes down to our seniors and spreads to the rest of us, somebody to come every day with their hardhat on and really make sure that they come with that competitiveness."

How good is Connecticut? The 72-game winning streak is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes down to impressive statistics. Here are a few fun facts to dwell on while Selection Monday looms:

• During their 72-game streak, the Huskies won each game by at least 10 points and have not lost a regular season game since Feb. 3, 2008, against Rutgers.

• Connecticut leads the nation in eight major statistical categories including assist-to-turnover ratio (1.36), field goal percentage (52.1 percent) and scoring defense (47.5 points per game for opponents).

• Connecticut is 264-11 all-time as the No. 1 overall team in the Associated Press top-25 poll.

• The Huskies have gone 223 consecutive games without allowing an opponent to shoot more than 50 percent from the field. The last team to do so was Boston College in 2004.

• By shooting 16-for-19 from the floor in the win over Syracuse, Big East Player of the Year Tina Charles set a Big East Tournament record for most made field goals in a game.

• Junior forward Maya Moore became the fastest player in Connecticut history to cross the 2,000-point milestone with her 16 points against Syracuse.

• The Huskies are 46-4 as the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament.

— Sam Hellman accepts comments and criticism at sthellman@gmail.com.

Sam Hellman

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