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UConn WBB Weekly: Huskies get Geno Auriemma back

UConn’s head coach completed his quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 and has joined the team in San Antonio.

Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament - Championship Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

Welcome to the UConn WBB Weekly, a recap of everything that happened in the world of UConn women’s basketball over the past week.

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From The UConn Blog and Storrs Central:

High Point coverage

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Last week’s Weekly:

In the news

  • Paige Bueckers, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, and Christyn Williams were named to the WBCA’s All-Region team.

UConn happy to have Geno back

UConn women’s basketball is headed to the Sweet Sixteen, putting the Huskies just four wins away from a national championship. It also means head coach Geno Auriemma can rejoin the team after completing a mandatory 10-day quarantine following his positive COVID-19 test on Sunday, Mar. 14.

He arrived in San Antonio on Wednesday and got a big welcome from the team.

“This must be the most boring place on Earth,” Auriemma said in the video. “For six months you acted like that only when I left.”

Nobody is happier to have Auriemma back than associate head coach Chris Dailey. She took over as acting head coach in his absence — something she’d done four times before — and just UConn advance to the Sweet 16 with a makeshift staff that consisted of Jamelle Elliot and video coordinator Ben Kantor.

Though Dailey entered the tournament with a record of 10-0 as a head coach, she admitted taking over the team felt different this time.

“If we lose our season’s over, so that’s definitely a different feel to it,” she said prior to UConn’s matchup with High Point. “You want what’s best for the players and you want to make sure that you’re doing everything that you can to give them the opportunity to move on.”

The pressure especially weighed on Dailey in the lead-up to the Huskies’ matchup with Syracuse. She didn’t want to be the reason UConn went home early. Luckily, Auriemma helped alleviate some of the stress.

“This was a tough game because I didn’t want to be in a position where I cost our players an opportunity to keep playing,” Dailey said. “[Geno] was really actually calming when I was talking to him in text and then phone calls and that.”

After UConn crushed the Orange 83-47 to move on to the Sweet Sixteen — thus ensuring Auriemma could return — everyone postgame looked forward to seeing the coach.

“I know everybody’s gonna be really happy to have him here tomorrow,” Dailey said.

“We miss him a lot,” Olivia Nelson-Ododa added. “So we’re thankful that he’s going to be able to come up with us tomorrow and we’re just really excited to see him.”

Now, Dailey can go back to just being the associate head coach — a role she’s thrived in over the last 36 seasons. She’s looking forward to Geno’s return, but she joked the feeling might not last very long.

“I say that now but maybe like — he gets here at noon, I think by five I might regret saying that,” she laughed. “But for right now, I’m looking forward to having him here.”

Best of social media

UConn sang happy birthday to Geno on Tuesday:

Rudy Gay repping Rebecca Lobo:

Who would you pick to fill in on the bench?

Some entertaining highlights: