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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Geno thrilled to see former UConn players thrive as coaches

Geno Auriemma was a bit weary as the interviews wore down on Monday. He didn't get home until about 1 a.m. that morning after returning to see talented sophomore Erin Boley play in the Kentucky state playoffs. Later that morning he was in Cromwell for a speaking engagement at the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce. Now, mercifully, the inquiries from the assembled media was winding down after the NCAA Division I bracket was announced last night.

Then, just the mere mention of the name "Carla Berube" brought an energetic laugh of joy from the Hall of Fame coach.

Berube has found a home as the head coach at Tufts and on Friday night she will lead her team against FDU-Florham in the first Division III national semifinal.

Berube was a member of two Final Four teams including the 1994-95 squad which won the first of UConn's eight national titles. Now she is in her first Final Four as a coach and Auriemma could not be more pleased.

"God bless her," Auriemma said with a laugh. "I would never ever, ever, ever imagined that she would get into coaching but just like when she was playing, she is a quiet, determined kid and I am sure she has brought that same attitude to her team. I couldn't be happier for her. I am absolutely thrilled for her."

Auriemma is also excited that former UConn guard Mel Thomas is back in the NCAA tournament with her Florida Gulf Coast squad. Thomas is the director of women's basketball operations for a team making its second NCAA appearance in the last three seasons. Florida Gulf Coast is the No. 12 seed in the Notre Dame region and will play Oklahoma State on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the first round.

"They seen like they are always there," Auriemma said. "I saw Mel when we were down in South Florida, she loved what she is doing, having a great time and obviously she brings a lot of experience to that situation so the more UConn people in the tournament the better. I think Mel is a little more demonstrative and Carla is much older obviously but they both had that quiet confidence about them that allowed them to play well in big games and in big situations."

Auriemma also gave his thoughts on the U.S. senior national team he is coaching being drawn into Group D along with Angola, China and Serbia in the FIBA World Championships.

"Everybody's got to play somebody pretty good so when you get to that level you can't overlook anybody, you can't say that group is harder than that group," Auriemma said. "You have to win three games (in pool play) and then you are going to have to win three games. You are going to have to play the really good teams it doesn't matter where they are seeded right now."

Auriemma said he hasn't heard any updates on when his national team coaching staff is going to be announced.

"They haven't done anything," Auriemma said. "I got from Carol (Callan), the national team director) that it was going to be a while, it was going to be a long process. They had the whole collective bargaining thing to do in the WNBA and that took up a lot of time so I would think at some point soon that they are going to announce something, they are going to come up with something but what their timetable is, I have no idea."


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