Despite coaching a team currently riding an 80-game winning streak that hasn’t lost in 745 days, Geno Auriemma is not happy.
“We used to be different. We used to be special. We’re just like everybody else now,” he said. “Our guys play when they’re in the mood, they get in the stance when they feel like it.
“So in the second half they felt like it, in the first half they didn’t feel like it. Hall of Fame coach or not, they really don’t give a s—. That’s the world we live in today.”
The team may be 5-0 with wins over two ranked teams, but they’re not head-and-shoulders favorites over everybody else like they have been in years past. They’re going to have to battle for every win.
“You’re gonna be faced with winning either one of two ways, and sometimes you have both. One is you win because you have tremendous talent. You just overwhelm every team you play with the talent you put on the floor and believe me I’ve coached a bunch of those teams.
“The other is you’re just a really hard-nosed tough team that you just doesn’t back down to anything ever under any circumstances. Then when you have both you have six undefeated seasons like we have. But this team isn’t like that.
“You have to acquire [toughness]. How do you acquire it? Well a lot of times it either comes from inside and you just have it and it just needs to come or somebody needs needs to whack you in the back of my head, like my mother used to do, and then you find out if you have any.”
That toughness will be tested in the coming weeks, as the Huskies will face five ranked teams beginning on Thursday with No. 15 DePaul and a matchup on the road against undefeated No. 1 Notre Dame on the horizon.
“I hope these ranked teams are as good as everybody says they are because we need to get our ass beat soon and bad so that some of our guys will come to realize that this is not as easy as they think it is,” Geno continued.
“Thursday night I know they’re (DePaul) good, I know Texas is good and I know the team we’re playing next Wednesday is really good. I’m hoping all the teams after that are really, really, really good because we need a good old-fashioned ass kicking right about now.”
With DePaul coming to town, Auriemma will face off against his friend and assistant under him for USA Basketball Doug Bruno. Below, Geno explains the unique challenge of facing such a close friend.
Unlike many leaders of powerhouse programs in college basketball, or most other sports, Auriemma isn’t afraid to play the best of the best, especially on the road. This stretch will show everybody what this team is made of before the lulls of the conference season begin, where 40 and 50-point victories will be the norm. At least one loss, if not more, should be expected. There’s nothing wrong with that—Geno seems to believe it might even be beneficial.
It’s for the good of women’s college basketball anyway. We would hate to keep killing the game for everybody else.