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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, February 14, 2014

UConn's Auriemma reflects on death of the legendary Betty Jaynes

There a few people in the women's basketball world that Hall of Fame UConn coach Geno Auriemma holds in higher regard than former WBCA executive director Betty Jaynes.

He always admired that she treated him that same when he was a little known assistant coach at the University of Virginia as she did when he was leading UConn to eight national titles. It goes without saying that Jaynes' death on Monday hit him pretty hard.

"I knew she had been ill. I knew she had not been healthy for a while and I was unbelievably surprised when (her death came) that quick," Auriemma said. "From the time I was at UVA (University of Virginia as an assistant coach) and even before Betty has been a constant in her time at JMU as a coach, as an administrator and all the work she has done... I understand that little by little we are losing a lot of the pioneers of our game and certainly nobody has been a bigger pioneer than she was

"I think her legacy was how much she cared for the coaches of the game. Obviously the players are the heart of the game but what she did to try to make the coaching profession better, educate coaches into being better teachers, being better citizens, better stewards of the game and her legacy is that did more for other people than she ever did for herself. That is an enduring legacy for sure."

Auriemma also reacted to the news that the powerhouse Immaculata teams of the early 1970s and former Wayland Baptist coach Harley Redin were among the finalists for induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield.

"That is like telling some of the guys that watch ESPN that LIU, NYU, CCNY and all the great, great programs back in the day in men's basketball you are talking about the beginning of the game," Auriemma said. "For me the beginning of the game was Immaculata in the 70s because that is where I grew up and I knew a lot of those people personally. If you dig deeper, Delta State, Wayland Baptist, you are talking about the origins of the game. There's a special place for those people who were around when the game first took hold."

UConn placed items up for bid to raise money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the jersey of senior center Stefanie Dolson drew a winning bid of more than $1,700 which is more than three times what Bria Hartley's and Breanna Stewart's jerseys drew.

"House is going to smelling, do they wash those things?" Dolson said with a laugh. "I think that is awesome. It is an honor to be the highest auction item (teammates Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart's jerseys drew bids between $500-600) and for the money to be going to the (Kay Yow Foundation). I never thought they'd pay the most for my jersey."

Last but certainly not least, Auriemma discussed the health of USF coach Jose Fernandez who had been hospitalized due to a delayed allergic reaction to his prescribed medication to deal with an inflammation of the large intestine. He spent three days in the hospital to deal with the same issue which resulted in him missing the opening game in the 2009-10 season.

"I knew he had been struggling with it but I was as surprised as anybody when I heard he had been to the hospital," Auriemma said. "I talked to him about when we get there tomorrow and when we could get together for a little bit and then I as surprised when he went back into the hospital. I told him that K (Mosqueda-Lewis) has mono and we are not 100 percent healthy and he could himself a favor, everybody a favor and just stay in the hospital, get rest and get healthy. He could let Jeff Osterman coach the team. His response was something unprintable and 'no, he is 0-2 (as the interim coach) so I am not letting him coach anymore games. Even if he is in a wheelchair, Jose is going to be on the sidelines (when UConn plays at USF on Sunday)."

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