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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Geno's thoughts on close friend Phil Martelli's game vs. UConn

Geno Auriemma was on a recruiting trip in Kentucky watching dynamic sophomore Erin Boley play in the state tournament so he did not get to see close friend Phil Martelli's Saint Joseph's men's team be slotted in as UConn's opening-round opponent in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Auriiemma was an assistant on Martelli's boys' basketball staff at Bishop Kenrick High and it was Martelli who recommended Auriemma to Virginia women's basketball coach Debbie Ryan when Ryan sought out Martelli for an assistant coach vacancy on her staff.

While Auriemma was not ready to address where his rooting interests would rest during Thursday's game, he did express joy at seeing Martelli leading the Hawks back into the NCAA tournament after winning the Atlantic-10 Conference tournament.

"When they won, I contacted him," said Auriemma, after speaking at the monthly Middlesex Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Cromwell Monday morning ."I know how excited he is for this group of guys, this team. He's had an incredibly difficult year and it's got nothing to do with basketball so I don't think I have ever seen Phil that emotional after winning a game. I hope they play great but that is as far as I will go with that."

While he was thrilled for what Martelli was able to accomplish, he did not hide his pleasure at the season second-year UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie enjoyed when he addressed the sold-out crowd at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell.

"They missed out on that last year and for Kevin and those seniors to hang in the way that they did, to stay and do what they did this year and the way they did it ...," Auriemma said. "Nobody knew what it was going to be like when Coach (Jim) Calhoun stepped down but anybody who sat there and said 'don't worry about it, Kevin is going to win 20, 22, 23, 24 games every year and have the kind of program he has built already and the way these kids conduct themselves.' He should be coach of the year in any league he was in these last two years. I know you are all rooting for him as much as I am and I can't wait until they play Thursday night when they play St. Joe's who is coached by one of my best friends."

As for Auriemma's own team, he gave them plenty of time off in the week since the Huskies won the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament title.

"It's been OK," Auriemma said. "We can't be out there real long, we can't be out there every day and spring break starts today and there is not a lot going on here on campus. Stefanie (Dolson) has been  bothered by a cold but other than that, there is not much else that you can do. All you can do, you are just waiting around. It is just an abnormal amount of time to be off so I think everybody will be happy starting tomorrow because at least we will have some focus on what we need to do, what we are doing and where we are going, who are we playing.".


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