Geno on the latest exodus of Big East teams
Geno Auriemma isn't overly concerned that the next step in the destruction of the Big East Conference is going to wreak havoc with the future of his program.
However, after Saturday's 85-51 win over South Florida, Auriemma did admit to being sorry to the impending departure of the seven Catholic, non-BCS schools including original Big East members Georgetown, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova.
"Anytime you get those kinds of changes and you lose something that special of course it bothers you," Auriemma said. "It bothers you because not only do you lose a lot of tradition and rivalries but a lot of your friends, a lot of people you enjoy spending time with at the Big East meetings or just in general you don't get to have those relationships as much as you did. Change is part of it and you have to deal with it and that doesn't make it any easier."
Auriemma takes great pride in seeing the Big East transform itself into the best women's college basketball in the country especially considering just how far the conference came in a relatively short amount of time.
"We went from the worst, we went from one that nobody gave us any respect ever in 1995 to we became the best women's basketball league in the country by adding the Conference USA teams," Auriemma said.
If the Catholic 7 venture out on their own for the 2013-14 season as reports indicate they are and teams like Rutgers, Notre Dame and Louisville opt to leave early for their new conferences, the Big East will go from a league typically as many teams with top 25 RPIs as any other to one where the next best RPI could be in the mid-50s.
"The RPIs when I started at Connecticut I don't think we had anybody at 57 in the RPI," Auriemma said. "In 1995 when we won a national championship I don't think if we had somebody else other than us or Providence maybe in the top 50 in the RPI. I guess what goes around comes around. We did it once maybe we have to do it again."
Auriemma said he doesn't anticipate UConn's recruiting or non-conference scheduling to be impacted by the weakened state of the conference it will be playing in.
"We can still play all of those guys if we wanted to," Auriemma said.
South Florida coach Jose Fernandez also expressed regrets at the disintegration of the once proud Big East Conference.
"Women's basketball is not on the high end of that totem pole when those decisions are made," Fernandez said. "It is tough because I think what we had as a basketball conference, I think, is unparalleled on the men's and women's side. It is the best league in the country without a doubt on both sides, it is tough because not only are we losing some great teams but we are losing some great people, administrators and coaches that you are not going to be dealing with but it is what it is and you have to move forward. For us, Connecticut and Cincinnati our travel is going to change"
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