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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Geno's double life

These are hectic times in Geno Auriemma's life.

Fresh off guiding UConn to its second straight undefeated season and seventh national title, Auriemma only had a couple of days to unwind before preparing to run a training camp with the U.S. senior national team. The camp opened on Sunday night at Gampel Pavilion and will end with a scrimmage on April 18.

"There are a lot of things that I have to do at Connecticut between now and next October and I am lucky that our staff is going to able to help me do that and there is a lot that I have to do for USA Basketball including win a world championship," Auriemma said. "Right now my main focus between now and the start of preseason practice on Oct. 15 is to win a world championship and everything I do this summer between now and then is going to be geared towards that.

"As soon as I am done with that, just kind of turn the switch and get ready for UConn basketball again in October. I have always been pretty good about that, just kind of picking things up and putting them on the shelf and then coming back to them when I need them and go onto the next thing. The first couple of days were tough, Wednesday/Thursday were not easy after we won because of the intensity level of what happened. I feel good, I feel better now than I did Wednesday, I was shot on Wednesday."

Auriemma's next public act as UConn's head coach will come at the April 18 parade in Hartford but behind the scene he will be coordinating his staff's game plan for the NCAA evaluation period which runs from Friday-April 20.

"This coming week there is practice for the national team, the young guys - the college guys - are coming in midway through the week, I have some recruiting to do, we have the parade, the scrimmage," Auriemma said. "It's probably good that we cram all that in because my Sunday night, Monday morning I know I am done and I can really kind of step back and observe the whole thing and see where it is. I am kind of looking forward to next Monday, it will really be the first time that I don't really have anything looming except the Kentucky Derby."

Auriemma said he won't be going out on the road as associate head coach Chris Dailey and assistant coaches Marissa Moseley and Shea Ralph will be the ones making the rounds.

"I am going to miss it, it is this coming weekend. All the coaches will be gone and I'll be here," Auriemma said. "We are involved with some really good players and we have an opportunity to get further involved."

NCAA rules prohibits Auriemma from discussing individual recruits but the Huskies have received commitments from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, a highly-decorated 6-foot wing out of Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., and Brianna Banks, a 5-foot-10 guard out of Northgate High in Newnan, Ga. UConn is expected to focus its recruiting efforts on landing a post player or two with Elizabeth Williams out of Virginia Beach, Va., Kiah Stokes of Marion, Iowa and Ally Malott out of Middletown, Ohio at the top of the list. UConn has previously offered scholarships to two other perimeter players (Delaware wing Betnijah Laney and California wing Bonnie Samuelson).

One player not on UConn's radar is Kelsey Bone. A recruiting source told me that UConn is not interested in the 6-foot-5 Texas native who recently announced she was leaving South Carolina despite being named the Southeastern Conference's Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press. UConn pursued Bone out of Dulles High in Sugar Land, Tex. but the Huskies were not a finalist for Bone's services.

Swin Cash knows a thing or two about being part of a five-member freshman class, coning into UConn in 1998 along with Sue Bird, Asjha Jones, Tamika Williams and Keirsten Walters so I asked her if she had any advice for UConn's five-member incoming freshman class.

"Don't name themselves," Cash said with a laugh as she recalled how her class named themselves the TASSK Force. "Have a lot of energy. You are going to make a heck a lot of mistakes but if you go hard, going hard will win you a heck of a lot more games than you think. That is my advice.

"I remember asking Coach (Auriemma) 'why am I starting (as a freshman)?' I came in and Tamika (Williams) was the No. 1 ranked (high school) player in the country, we had Asjha (Jones), Stacy (Hansmeyer), Paige (Sauer) and I am just a skinny little kid and nobody from my neighborhood thought I'd be playing a lot of minutes let alone starting on the team. I think it was the high level he expected us to play, the energy we needed out there."

Former Stanford star Jayne Appel was at the training camp but her injured ankle and foot will keep her from taking part. Appel said she is probably a couple of weeks away from being able to get back on the court but no surgery will be needed. She is not rushing back to be ready in time for the start of training camp with the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars on April 26, determined not to be back until she is 100 percent so she doesn't reaggravate her injuries.

There will be more from my interview with Appel in the next day or two.

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