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‘This is your defining moment’: Geno Auriemma delivers commencement speech of UConn’s class of 2020

Auriemma was the featured speaker for the school’s virtual commencement on Saturday.

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Expecting Geno Auriemma to give a “normal” graduation speech was too much to ask. The legendary coach — as he often does — put his own twist on things when he addressed UConn’s class of 2020 during the school’s virtual graduation on Saturday.

“This is not a graduation speech, really,” he said. “This is something that I would say if you were here, standing right in front of me. This is stuff that I say to my players, my kids.”

With the world in the middle of a pandemic that has thrown everyone’s lives in disorder, Auriemma didn’t shy away from the topic. In fact, he embraced it as the centerpiece to his speech.

“This is your defining moment,” Auriemma said. “Each generation has a defining moment. That generation had the war. My generation had Vietnam. The next generation had 9/11... Now this is your time. This will define your generation. This is you now. Everybody’s looking for answers. Maybe you get to find the answers.”

Auriemma implored the graduates to make the best of this unique time. There are two options, he said. Either sit and watch TV all day in pajamas, or go make it better. While it’s easy to do nothing, he pushed everyone to do the latter.

“This will be your defining moment that you tell your kids and your grandkids ‘Hey, you’re not going to believe this: I missed my graduation.’ Why? ‘Oh let me tell you.’ You’ll be able to tell them ‘This is what I did during that time.’”

Auriemma also shared a message he got from another senior — a high school senior — and one of UConn’s incoming freshmen. He didn’t specify who it was, though it sounds an awful lot like Paige Bueckers. Auriemma broached her with the idea that everyone needs to “tone it down” with the current generation because they can’t handle adversity the way older generations did. Her response?

“‘I feel like today, we always hear stories about how our grandparents and even our parents had a harder life than us,’” she said, according to Auriemma. “‘I think in some way, they want it to be better for us by providing us with the things they didn’t have growing up. Toning it down with today’s kids sounds like...people around society feel that we are soft because of how we were raised and the things that make us comfortable, that actually disable us.’”

Auriemma wanted the graduating class to take that message to heart and used one of his defining philosophies — one that had made UConn the best basketball program in the country — as a way to tie everything together.

“This is an uncomfortable time. These are uncomfortable things that have to be done right now,” he said. “You’re living in uncomfortable times so in some sense, you’re living in the greatest time of your life.

“It’s great to be uncomfortable because that’s when you find out just how great you can be.”


Goodbye RPI, hello NET

NCAA

Two years ago, the NCAA replaced the classic, outdated RPI metric with NET — the NCAA Evaluation Tool — as a way to evaluate teams for seeding in the Men’s Basketball NCAA Tournament. Now, that same tool is coming over to women’s basketball.

According to Nina King, the Duke athletic director and chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee in 2020-21, NET “will be determined by who you played, where you played, how efficiently you played and the result of the game.”

As with RPI before, NET will be just one tool the selection committee uses to seed teams for the NCAA Tournament.

The specific algorithm for NET in the women’s game will be different than what’s used on the men’s side. The first NET rankings are released in December and from there, they will be updated daily through Selection Monday in March.

Geno’s “Fore The Kids” tournament postponed

Due to the ongoing global health crisis, Geno Auriemma’s “Fore The Kids” charity golf tournament has been postponed from June 22 to August 3. This is notable because the tournament is the first opportunity for the media to meet UConn’s new players (this is where Christyn Williams predicted a national championship before her freshman year) as well as one of the only chances to catch up with the rest of the team during the offseason.

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