Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, April 05, 2013

After falling short in Big East title quest, Huskies eye ultimate prize

Dating back to the remarkable run to the program’s first national champion 18 years ago, Geno Auriemma has already tried to lessen the emotional burden on his players by compartmentalized the season into one of the three championship quests.

This season Auriemma’s approach was no different. After a grueling 30-game regular season he implored his players to leave that part of the season in the rear-view mirror and focus on trying to win three games in three days during the Big East tournament. Once that ended, Auriemma’s next step was to get the focus entirely on winning the six games necessary to capture the program’s record-tying eighth national title.

The philosophy has seemed to work as it keeps his players from feeling like they can’t be beaten during seasons when they ran through the first two stages with nary a hiccup. It also works well the other way when there are disappointing results in the pursuit of the Big East regular-season and tournament titles which is the case with his current squad.
“I always thought that we have entered the NCAA tournament, certainly in the last 20 years from the end of the regular season, It is a completely different animal, a completely different atmosphere and we approach it completely different from the regular season,” Auriemma said. “Physically we are not exactly where we want to be but we haven't been all year but mentally we are probably in a better place than we have been than at any team all season.”

The frustrating way the Huskies lost to Notre Dame in the Big East final led to a players’ only meeting and the early returns have been encouraging with four straight impressive victories to set up another matchup with Notre Dame.

“You can see how much talent we had and how good we can be,” UConn junior guard Bria Hartley said. “It took a lot to get here, you can see all the struggles that we had this year but I think we are in a really good place right now.”

Hartley is not alone in that opinion.

“I think that game in particular in the Big East, I don’t want to say devastating, but you saw the effect it had on the kids when we got back to the locker room,” UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph said. “They were (angry). They were distraught. You could tell. Since then it has been a different kind of resolve, and it was a different atmosphere after the loss. I don’t know if that had something to do with it, but I know the players have kind of banded together. You can tell the difference.”

The ultimate litmus test will come when the Huskies square off the team that has eliminated them from the last two Final Fours.

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Blogger James Kerwin said...

Nice story on OUR women. I don't want to see Dolson or Faris or any of the kids crying. They have nothing to cry about. They have been extremely successful this year, perfection is to be sought, hardly ever is perfection attained.

I shall love each and everyone of these kids from the graduating Senior to the Jr's, Sophs, and the new kids on the block--regardless of the outcome of either of the two next games.
Success, love, Enjoyment may they all go with you kids always.

7:03 PM 

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