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UConn WBB Weekly: Geno unsure if June workouts are necessary

While the coach acknowledges the benefits of extra time with his players in the summer, he also wants them to get the necessary rest before the upcoming season.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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Geno isn’t sure if summer workouts are worth it

Each June, UConn women’s basketball returns to Storrs to take summer classes and work out on the court for a little more than a month. It’s the first time the current iteration of the team comes together.

The time allows the players to bond and work on their games without the pressure that comes with the regular season. But it also happens less than a month after the spring semester ends, leaving the players with little time off. When everything is considered, Geno Auriemma isn’t sure if summer workouts are really worth it.

“I’m still old school saying to myself, ‘Why do we even do this?’ We had some pretty good players come through here and really get good and we couldn’t do anything with them in June, July, and August,” he said. “Now you got kids on campus all summer long working with them. By the time November comes around you go ‘Hey,’ and they go ‘You again?’”

It’s not that the coach doesn’t see the value. The summer allows new players to get acclimated to the program and the school. It’s also the perfect time for everyone to improve their conditioning and improve aspects of their game that they might not have time to work on during the regular season. A lot gets done over these five weeks or so.

“To me, the number one thing that they’re here for is they’re going to school, they’re getting acclimated to school — the younger guys, the newer players,” Auriemma said. “Two, learning how to stay in some kind of basketball conditioning. Learning how to condition... Right now, we’re just showing them, ‘This is how you do it.’”

There’s also value in playing live basketball with and against teammates. It helps build chemistry — especially with the newcomers — but also instills the competitive mindset that Auriemma and his staff want the players to have every time they step on the court, whether it be for practice, games, or even a simple drill.

“A big thing we’re trying to teach them also is as long as they keep score you have to play to win and that seems to have gone by the wayside over the years,” Auriemma said. “Do you understand winning or do you just understand working out? I think that’s a good lesson for our young players to learn and this is a non-threatening time to learn.”

None of the coach’s concerns are tied to the work that happens during the summer. Instead, he just wants his players to get the necessary time off — physically and mentally — that they need in order to be ready for the upcoming season.

“I’m a little bit torn, like, why are we doing this? Why can’t they just go to school and be normal people and not have to [worry] ‘What time is study hall? What time is breakfast? What time is lunch? What time is my individual? What time are we doing team stuff? When do I lift?’” Auriemma said. “September to the end of March, it’s a grind, right? And now you get three weeks off in May and then you got five weeks in June where it’s right back to the grind. I don’t get it.”

The on-campus workouts only take up a part of the summer, though. From the time the players depart in early July until the start of the fall semester in late August, they can disconnect to whatever extent they want.

“Fortunately for us, all July and all of August, I don’t see them. I don’t talk to them,” Auriemma said. “They have nothing to do with this place. They’re gone and I love that.”

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