UConn's Auriemma named AP Coach of the Year for ninth time
"The reality of the situation is we probably didn't do anything different this year," Auriemma said. "We didn't work any harder, we didn't put in more hours, we didn't watch more film or come up with new drills. It really is about putting the players in a tough spot and letting them do the rest, they did and that is why we are here.
"If you are consistent and you try to put the same effort into it all the time, that is the best that you can do. Some years it is going to work out perfectly, some years it is not, some years it ends in a championship and some years it doesn't. Not every year turns out to be perfect but I like to think that every year our coaching staff puts the effort in, puts the time in and try to give our players the best chance of being successful. This year the challenges were different than they were last year, for sure. There were a lot of things we tried to cover up and we covered them up pretty well up to this point.
"I'll bet you there were times that we won national championships, went to the Final Four and didn't get coach of the year so it is not like you are undefeated and go to the Final Four, you are going to get coach of the year. Some years they vote for you, some years they don't."
I asked Auriemma what the best part was about coaching this particular group of players.
"What is different is that since October to now, they have become something different, they have changed individually, as a team they are not anywhere near the team that they were in October or November for that matter," Auriemma said. "That has been really rewarding. Some teams are already amazing October 15, last year's team and this team has changed incredibly and that is probably the thing that makes us feel the best about it."
Washington senior guard Kelsey Plum was named the AP's Player of the Year receiving 30 of the 33 votes (UConn's Gabby Williams and Katie Lou Samuelson as well as South Carolina's A'ja Wilson received the other votes).
Plum became the NCAA Division I women's all-time single-season and career scorer this season.
"I got the best shot every night, different defenses, I think I got the kitchen sink thrown at me with box and 1s, triangle and 2s, switching, hedging and all that stuff so it was great as a player you get to challenge yourself within the game, when things are going on, you have to figure out how to adjust but that is really cool because a lot of people don't get that opportunity," Plum said.
If she has a regret it is that her Washington team isn't the one playing UConn tomorrow as Mississippi State knocked the West Coast Huskies out in the Sweet 16.
"I actually dreamed about playing against Connecticut in Storrs although that will never happen now," Plum said. "He's the greatest of all time and to hear what we said today, I was like a kid in the candy store."
Plum does have a connection to UConn as former UConn graduate assistant Jasmine Lister is in her first season as an assistant at Washington.
"Jas has been great and the addition to our staff, she brought a new energy, she works extremely hard," Plum said. "She is really like a young, bright mind in this game. Her future is going to be special."