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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

UConn's Geno Auriemma continues to educate his players

Geno Auriemma is first and foremost a teacher. His ability to teach the game of basketball has taken him to heights that he never envisioned reaching. However, when Auriemma takes his UConn women's basketball team on the road, he never forgets that his players are college students and he wants to broaden their horizons.

There was that time back in 1999 when a trip to play Oklahoma included a trip to the site of the Oklahoma City National Memorial a few months before memorial honoring the victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was formally dedicated. A similar experience came on the team's first trip to New York City after the terroristic attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. When the team heads overseas as it did this summer, there is as much time built in for sightseeing as for basketball.

Well, this time Auriemma's teaching did center around the game of basketball.

There is not a basketball coach who Auriemma respects more than the late, great John Wooden. He cringed when people tried to compare his program to what Wooden accomplished, something that happened when the Huskies twice surpassed the 88-game winning streak of Wooden's UCLA teams. He did not want to say anything to detract from the remarkable accomplishments Wooden had during his team at UCLA.

When his team got to play at Pauley Pavilion for the first time since that wild 113-102 affair in 1998, he made sure his players understand the significance of the building they were playing at.

"It is a really gorgeous building and everything that UCLA is, we were driving around campus today seeing kids walking around with UCLA sweatshirts and t-shirts," Auriemma said. "It is just an iconic trademark. I am sure you go all over the world and say UCLA and they immediately know it is a basketball shrine, you say Pauley Pavilion anywhere in the building and they know what it is.

"UCLA is one of the best schools in America, sometimes it gets overshadowed by the UCLA name and basketball tradition that they have so to be able to walk into this building, the logo is still the same, to look up and see the banners to see the names on the jerseys that have been retired, it is a special place and I don't think there is any place in America for college that has the significance that this place has, This place has a history that I don't think any other college campus can match."

STAR POWERLos Angeles sporting events bring out some A-listers whether it is baseball, basketball, football, hockey ... Last night was no different. NBA legend Kobe Bryant attended the game with his family and sat underneath one of the baskets. Donovan McNabb, the uncle of UConn senior guard Kia Nurse, was also in attendance.

While the players have gotten to chat with McNabb before, they received an unexpected bonus of having Bryant come into their locker room after the win over UCLA

"Lou (All-American Katie Lou Samuelson) is kind of close to Kobe so we knew he was coming to the game beforehand," UConn freshman Megan Walker said. "We saw him sitting over there so she (Kobe's daughter) wanted to meet us and talk to us. We talked to Kobe a little bit after so it was good."

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