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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Texas A&M looking to build off last season

The always quotable Texas A&M coach Gary Blair was asked four questions by the Connecticut media in a Friday morning teleconference and managed to talk for about 35 minutes. In the next few days you'll likely be seeing snippets of Blair's interview appearing in newspapers and blogs through the state of Connecticut.

Among the highlights were Blair repeating what he said to me at the Final Four and that is Tuesday's game against UConn at the XL Center is part of a home and home with Texas A&M hosting UConn in either January or February of next year as part of a Big Monday game on ESPN. He said he'd have no problem seeing the series extended after next year. Blair said that seniors Sydney Carter and Adaora Elonu have emerged into key players as seniors to complement Kelsey Bone and last year's Final Four hero Tyra White. He also said he put in a stipulation that the game will feature the starting fives going head to head for all 40 minutes because that's the only way he knows how to slow down UConn freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

Naturally Blair was being his good-natured walking sound bite self on the last item but he was serious when talking about the responsibility of carrying the banner as the reigning national champions.

"I hope we handle it as well as Geno has handled it and Pat (Summitt) has handled it over the years," Blair said. "I realize the importance of being a champion and knowing how to act like a champion the following year. I have been around long enough, I have studied coaches, I have studied programs and really have admired how Geno has been able to handle all the fanfare that goes with what happens in Connecticut and being right there under ESPN and everything. He has done an amazing job. He deserves everything he has gotten, our Olympic coach, our President of the WBCA, he has done it all. The same thing with Coach Summitt, she has done it all with her thing. I am just a little dot on the horizon right now. I am a doggone old dot but I am a dot.

"I think to be recognized in this game, you need to do this more than once. That is what our goal is, not to win a national championship right now, that is not our goal. Our goal is to go out there, win and compete in every ball game and get better and to hold onto that national championship but not live off it. We want to be able to sell it, we want to able to be able to recruit with it. We want to get better and it is making us better coaches. The opportunities we've had over the summer, the speaking engagements, the ESPYs, the Winged Foot Award, taking my grandson and family to Disney World, the White House... Geno's done that seven times and that is pretty special. Our team is pretty grounded. We do not allow them to get too high and too low. Today at the practice court at 1 o'clock, we'll act like we are 0-6 by the time we get through with them because we have to get a lot better in a lot of areas. They can not take away from us what we have accomplished. We were not Cinderella last year and Notre Dame would not have been Cinderella if they would  won it. We were two very good programs that played great when it counted. We just happened to play a little greater when it counted in the second half but part of that team is gone and I have a new team in here."

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