UConn's Auriemma pays tribute to Craig Sager
UConn coach Geno Auriemma won't pretend to have known Sager as well as the NBA players and coaches who have weighed in on social media since Sager's death on Thursday but he was impressed enough with Sager's work that he - acting on a suggestion from his wife - wanted to pay tribute to Sager.
While he didn't have a jacket in his collection anywhere near as colorful as the ones Sager used to don, Auriemma wore the closest thing to a colorful blazer that he owns for tonight's game against Ohio State.
"It was my wife's idea so blame her," Auriemma said. "It was kind of like last minute and I thought about it and it was the best that I could come up with."
Auriemma's dealing with Sager came during the Olympics and while Sager was not a part of the broadcast team for the 2016 Olympics due to his fight with leukemia, he was there four years early when Auriemma coached the U.S. women's team to the gold medal.
"We played eight games and he was there for all eight of them," Auriemma said. "He was as into those games as he was as if it was an NBA playoff game. He knew the players, he treated them the same as he would treat the best NBA players. He didn't mail it in, he didn't pretend it wasn't important and I really appreciated the interest that he took in our players, in our team. He just had a way about him and he was so disarming. TV people get a little bit full of themselves sometimes and he always knew what was important and I appreciated that.
"He is part of the fabric of the NBA and the thing that I took from it listening to what the players had to say, here is a guy who had a tremendous love for the game and for the people in it, he was always a gentleman about it. You didn't see him getting involved with players where it was hostile. It was 'I have a job to do, you have a job to do' and he made it easy for you to do your job. I enjoyed watching and listening to him because he was a real professional."
During Auriemma's time at UConn, you could count the number of players with at least 200 points in the first 10 games of a season on one hand - Maya Moore (who did it twice), Kerry Bascom, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi. Now you can add current stars Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier to the list.
Samuelson's 26 points gives her 204 points, the fourth highest total of a Husky since Auriemma's arrival in 1985 while Collier is sixth with 202 points.
Here's the list
Maya Moore (10-11) 10-240
Kerry Bascom (88-89) 10-212
Breanna Stewart (15-16) 10-206
Katie Lou Samuelson (16-17) 204Diana Taurasi (03-04) 10-203
Napheesa Collier (16-17) 202Maya Moore (09-10) 10-200
Collier and Samuelson combined for 53 points, 39 coming in the second and third quarters. They had a chance to set a record for most points by UConn teammates through the first 10 games of a season but had only seven points between the two of them in the final quarter in the Ohio State win.
The total of 410 set by Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes during the 2010-11 season still stands while Samuelson and Collier have 406 points between them.