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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

UConn's Auriemma, Notre Dame's McGraw downplay issues between them

The last time the Notre Dame and UConn women's basketball team squared off, the fact that they were vying for the national championship seemed to play second fiddle to the strained relationship between the team's A-list head coaches.

There was chatter that the home and home non-conference series negotiated between the schools after Notre Dame and UConn headed to play in different conferences was not going to last more than two years.

However, after yesterday's practice UConn's Geno Auriemma said he and Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw had cordial conversations when running into each other on the recruiting trail over the summer. On a Thursday conference call, McGraw echoed those sentiments.

"Geno and I are terrific," McGraw said. "We saw each other, we have no issues, no problems, it's business as usual."

Both McGraw and Auriemma seemed to be fine with moving forward with future games after the two-year contract expires next season.
"It is a great game for women's basketball," McGraw said. "This game has a special place, more so because we played so much over the last few years now that there's just one game, it is something everybody is looking forward to."
Auriemma's whose caustic comments have ruffled the feathers of plenty of coaches over the years and resulted in the end of some memorable non-conference series. He downplayed any particular issues between him and McGraw.

"The object in sports is to create rivalries," Auriemma said. "There have been different rivalries we have had and it varies from minor ones to major ones going back to years ago when we had a rivalry with Providence College, we had some great games with them. It poses the kind of challenge where we really have to work hard to overcome. I think it is a great rivalry.

"My relationship with Muffet, it was a big story at the Final Four last year and I don't get caught up in that. It wasn't like way before that Muffet and I were great friends that went to dinner and shared a lot of things together. I saw Muffet this summer, I talked to her and we talked about a bunch of things.

"There is this perception in sports that you are supposed to have this really intense rivalry which is great for the game and yet at the same time you are supposed to become something off the court. The last five years, all the people that I would say are my really close friends are still my close friends, all the ones that weren't still aren't. I don't know if I made any new ones and I might have lost some. I have grown accustomed to when you the success that we have had and in the limelight all the time and people are saying the things they say about us in the media, I don't think anybody is going to say 'thank God for Connecticut, I am so glad they are around.' That is just part of the deal and I don't know if it is any different in any other sport. I would like to think we respect each other a lot, the job that we do and the job that they do otherwise I wouldn't want to play them. If I didn't think they were any good, I wouldn't want play them. All the people that Deb asked me who do you want to play? I always name the best teams who have really good coaches and say I want to play them. I am OK with it being the way it is because it is not anything."

Rarely do story lines of personal issues between major college coaches in men's college basketball or football get the same amount of attention as those in women's basketball, something Auriemma also addressed.

"Do we want it to be a legitimate sport where people are competing or do we want it to be something else?" Auriemma said. "Do we want it something to be taken real seriously or do we want it to be something else. You can't have it both ways. I am sure if I was different from the way I am, acted different from the way I am and acted differently from the way I act or say things differently from the way I saw them but it is what it is."


Anonymous Joe said...

Most coaches probably realize that part of Geno's schtick is to insulate the players from too much stress being placed directly on them. No doubt they do something similar themselves (if less flamboyantly).

9:05 AM 
Blogger Jerome Danielson said...

I agree, Geno's been protecting his players for years...


3:18 PM 

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