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UConn WBB Weekly: Geno Auriemma goes off on NCAA’s “mess” of a transfer portal

Even though he’s warmed up to it a little lately, Geno still isn’t looking too hard into the transfer market to build his team’s roster.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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Geno Auriemma explains why he doesn’t add many transfers

Historically, UConn women’s basketball has not been a major player in the transfer market. Though the Huskies have two transfers on their current squad in Evina Westbrook (Tennessee) and Dorka Juhász (Ohio State), they’ve only had four others since 2010.

Auriemma clearly prefers building by recruiting and developing high school prospects, which has mostly worked out really well for him. There’s another aspect of it, though: Geno Auriemma won’t just accept any player in the portal. He wants to make sure they have — in his mind — a valid reason for leaving.

“Every time that we’re in this situation, I always ask the kid, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ That’s my first question whenever a kid wants to transfer (to UConn),” he said. “I say, ‘What’s wrong with you? You’re at a great place, you’re starting, you’re playing a lot of minutes. You seem to be really successful. So there’s got to be something wrong with you.’ And then when they answer me, if I like their answer, then I go forward. If I don’t like their answer, then I say I’m not interested.”

Auriemma, like many men’s and women’s coaches around the country, believes transfers have gotten out of hand in recent years. Much of that is due to the transfer portal. There are around 1,000 women’s basketball players in the portal now — at least from what Auriemma’s been told.

“The transfer portal is a mess,” he said. “It was going to be a mess from the beginning and it’s a mess now and it’s going to be a bigger mess each and every year.”

It’s not so much the concept of transfers that bothers Auriemma. He acknowledged there are times when it’s appropriate for a player to change schools — Evina Westbrook is a clear example of that — and even supported the NCAA’s new policy that allows players to change schools once without sitting out.

He’s more concerned about the (alleged) 200 players hadn’t been contacted by any school yet, leaving them in limbo as many programs are finalizing their rosters across the country.

“A lot of these kids are delusional. They have so many voices in their ear,” Auriemma said. “Those (200) kids aren’t going back to their original schools and now they’re going to find themselves worse off than they were.”

His “delusional” comment aside, much of Auriemma’s criticism landed on the “system” and the “culture” of the sport at the moment, as opposed to individual players themselves.

“For 1,000 kids to be in that portal, that means there’s something wrong with the system,” he said. “There’s something wrong with the recruiting system. There’s something wrong with the culture of college basketball today. There’s something wrong with the entitlement that happens to exist today.”

Though the portal is designed to make it easier for players to find a new school, Auriemma believes it’s starting to have the reverse effect where it’s no longer helping them.

At any rate, with how well recruiting has been going and UConn’s success on the court, Auriemma’s probably not changing his approach any time soon.


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Quotable

Back in 2004 when UConn football was preparing for its first-ever bowl game, Geno Auriemma gave quarterback Dan Orlovsky a pep talk before the team left.

“I just wanted to give him a hard time. That’s one reason why I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to say, ‘God dammit, you better play your ass off and come back here with a win. I mean, you and Diana (Taurasi) are good friends and she never loses. Get your ass in gear, dude.”

Orlovsky confirmed the story.