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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Geno empathizes with former assistant coach's struggles

As hard as it is to believe, 30-win seasons and Final Four appearances did not start rolling off the assembly line the day Geno Auriemma was hired at UConn.

The Huskies were just 18-26 in Big East play during Auriemma's first three seasons before sweeping the regular-season and tournament titles in Auriemma's fourth season in Storrs. So Auriemma does have a little bit of a sense of what a grind it has been for former UConn star and assistant coach Jamelle Elliott to change to culture in her four seasons at the helm of the Cincinnati program.

Heading into tomorrow's home game with the third-ranked Huskies, Cincinnati joins Pittsburgh as the only teams yet to win a Big East game this season. Elliott's record in conference play is 12-41. The 41 losses are five more than the total she suffered in 12 seasons as an assistant coach at Connecticut.

"It is always a struggle when you take over a program," Auriemma said. "Jamelle is pretty hard on herself. They can have the same exact injuries that say we have or have guys out for the year and we can withstand them because of the depth of the talent that we have but when you are building a program and you lose a couple of key guys and you don’t recover from that. I know they played a couple of key games that are really tough on them, the Louisville and soembody else got them really good, South Florida maybe (Cincinnati lost to Louisville and South Florida by a combined score of 149-77 in consecutive games in mid-Janaury) and the worst thing you can do is get discouraged, She is pretty positive. I am going to see her(to)night get to talk to her.

"Your first year you are working on adrenaline, you think that once you put your fingerprints all over it that it is going to change and you are going to be able to will it (to change). Your second and third year it is a lot harder and you are so dependent on the kinds of players that you have and everything going right. You always wonder if you can get over a certain hump. Can you finish .500 in the league? Can you beat the top teams a little bit? Can we be competitive in every single game? There are always a lot of questions you can ask yourself. It is very difficult especially at a place that hasn’t been successful for a long time."

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