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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Geno has last laugh as he juggles UConn and USA Basketball duties

It almost seems preposterous to think that some opposing coaches have attempted to use Geno Auriemma's appointment as the U.S. coach at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics against him. However, that is exactly what has happened as there are rival coaches telling top recruits that Auriemma is too busy coaching the national team when he should be pursuing them.

Since first being named to coach the U.S. Senior Women's National Team all Auriemma has done is led UConn to a record of 183-11, the last five Final Fours and the Huskies have won three national titles during that span.

"I have read it before," Auriemma said, "USA Basketball is going to be the demise of our recruiting. I just hope it doesn't keep hurting us like it has been hurting us these past four years."

Auriemma didn't become a Hall of Famer by not being able to adjust on the fly. He knew that there were times when he should have been on the recruiting trail when his U.S. national team duties prevented that. This time around he was a little more proactive when it came to identifying top prospects in the Classes of 2015 and 2016 (the new NCAA regulations allowing earlier contact with recruits aided in this task).

"We did a lot during the spring and it paid off. We did a lot last winter and it paid off. I think the kids know that I m not going to be around in September so when I get back that first week in October, we will pick up right from there."

UConn, coming off signing an outstanding class with the additions of Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams, has already secured commitments from top 10 Class of 2015 players De'Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. UConn would love to add either Asia Durr or Arike Ogunbowale to the class signing with UConn in November. The Huskies are also ahead of the game when it comes to the Class of 2016 as six of the top eight players in ESPN HoopGurlz rankings (Lauren Cox, Jaelyn Brown, Sabrina Ionescu, Tori McCoy, Crystal Dangerfield and Erin Boley) are on UConn's recruiting radar. Add in  Kelly Jekot, another player UConn is very high on, and the Huskies have set themselves up to have another top-flight recruiting class.

 "Some people took advantage of it (the new rules allowing unlimited contact by way of text message, phone call and social media at the end of their sophomore year) and some people didn't," Auriemma said. "Some people thought it was a great idea and some people didn't think it was a great idea. To me the biggest advantage of the rule change is you can have contact with the kids early so you can find out at an earlier age whether there is an interest level and you are wasting all this time recruiting somebody and finding out at the last minute it was for nothing. At least now you find out right away, I want this kid or I don't want them. This kid wants us or doesn't want us. Identifying who we think we can get and working really hard to get them up to school, get them involved. For us, once we get them on campus and once they've spend enough time with our players, the rest is not that difficult."

Three of UConn's four current freshmen are on campus. The only one missing is Nurse but she has a pretty good reason as she is training with the Canadian national team.

Today, Friday and Saturday she will be in action when Canada hosts Brazil in three international friendlies. I haven't seen any links for a live stream or live stats but you can try to get updates using the #canvsbrayeg hashtag on Twitter.

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