Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Historic 25th straight March Madness appearance

When I was at TD Bank Sports Center yesterday watching the uncontrollable level of joy coming from the players and coaches as the Quinnipiac women's basketball secured its first NCAA tournament appearance as a Division I program, I was struck by the contrast from what Selection Monday has become at UConn.

When you are on the verge of setting a Division I record with a sixth straight Final Four appearance, it's easy to understand why the UConn players and coaches don't get too worked up by their seedings or brackets these days.

This will be the 25th straight tournament appearance for the Huskies, only Tennessee (which has appeared in every tournament and will make its 32nd trip in a row) and Stanford, in the field for the 26th straight time, has been in more consecutive tournament.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma took a trip down memory lane when reflecting on how times have changed both in the scope of the tournament and the pressure cooker he has built with the Huskies.

“It was a little thing us against LaSalle (in 1989),” Auriemma said. “It was a tiny little speck in the world of women's basketball. Up in Storrs UConn is playing LaSalle, it meant nothing to anybody including the people in Connecticut and to think 25 years later that it is national news who we are playing and where we are playing, not in anybody's wildest imagination could you have predicted that.”

The quest for an eighth national title will begin Saturday against Western Athletic Conference tournament champion Idaho at approximately 1:30 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion with a matchup with either Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) or Vanderbilt waiting in the second round on Monday.

UConn earned a No. 1 seed for the seventh season in a row and 16th overall time and to the surprise of nobody, are on a collision course with Notre Dame if both are able to make it to the Final Four.

While Auriemma takes great pride in the juggernaut he has built at UConn, he does miss some of the innocence that was prevalent when the Huskies were just starting to make a mark on the national scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“I miss a lot of that.” Auriemma said. “I don't miss my paycheck back then but I miss what winning meant back then, and what doing things for the first time trying to prove yourself, challenging the established teams and trying to find a way to beat them, go to the Sweet 16 for the first time, how much we look forward to that and when it did happen we felt like a million bucks. Then, oh my God I hope we go to the Final Four and when we did that it was like a dream come true and it was like nothing could ever be better than this. Now you go to the Final Four and you don't come back with a national championship and it is like devastating, you can't face anything. There was an awful lot to love back then. You have to love this but you have to love it in a different way.”

In that NCAA tournament game in 1989, the crowd of 1,535 was the second largest home crowd at that point in the program's history. Following the game, the teams had a gathering.

"Both teams, the coaching staff and the kids got together for a little reception and we lost and here we are today 25 years later," Auriemma said.

UConn senior guard Kelly Faris, battling the flu, was not at Monday’s practice but former Mercy High star Sadie Edwards, now at Blair Academy, took in the practice along with her mother Lisa.



Anonymous Joe said...

Starting in 1994, UConn advanced at least to the Elite Eight in all but two years (1999, and 2005).

Their overall NCAA tournament record is 87 - 17, for a 83.7% winning percentage.

3:20 PM 

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