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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Last month has been a whirlwind for Geno Auriemma

In the last four weeks his duties as the U.S. senior national coach have been put on a backburner by UConn coach Geno Auriemma.

Auriemma had plenty of work to get done on the recruiting trail, even more than the typical September since he will be coaching the U.S. squad in the FIBA World Championships next year at this time so he not only needed to connect with players from the Class of 2014 but also those from the Classes of 2015, 2016 and even 2017.

"My whole month, my August was August, most of my Augusts are the same no matter what but in September I was in 14 cities in 20 days including (Xapala) Mexico," said Auriemma before the Jimmy V Classic dinner and charity auction at Gotham Hall in New York. "I don't think I was ever in the same city two days in a row. I was doing my part for UConn because that was my No. 1 focus, that is my job and that is my first and foremost responsibility and I enjoyed it. We made a lot of inroads and we got a lot done because next September I am not going to be around and I am not going to be here next September, I am going to be in Istanbul so I don't want one of these kids to go 'well Coach Auriemma is not here' and have some of these other coaches go 'I am here and Coach Auriemma isn't.' Well the reason he is not is because he is coaching the best players in the world trying to win a gold medal so I just wanted to make sure I made some contact with all of these kids so I got to know them personally and they got to know me so in that respect it was maybe one of the best 20 days I have spent in a long, long time."

Auriemma leaves in the morning for Las Vegas, the site of the first U.S. national team training camp since he was named the U.S. national team coach through the 2016 Olympics.

"It is so hard, we are really hamstrung by the whole WNBA season just ended for some of these guys, some of them lost in the playoffs so there is that disappointment, they have their trips to Europe looming," Auriemma said. "There is never an optimal time for us to do this, my guess is we can get my philosophy moving forward and what I want and that will be something. However many show up, they are all going to be thrown in there and it is going to be sink or swim."

A different wrinkle is the addition of some of the top college players at the training camp including UConn stars Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Beanna Stewart.

"A lot if is going to be difficult for them because most of the college players, I would say 90 percent of them, 99 percent of them aren't good enough to play for the Olympic team, they never played international basketball at that level," Auriemma said. "It is going to be difficult so being there is going to remind them how difficult it is and also what they want to do if they want to get to that level and some of them will get to that level by virtue of when they get into the WNBA and they do go overseas. Right now they are in college so they re going to see the difference between professional basketball and they are also going to get a sense of what USA Basketball means at that level not like 16 and under, 17 and under, this is something at a whole other level."



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